Are you supposed to trim the hair between dogs toes? A Comprehensive Guide

Is the Hair Between Your Dog’s Paws Hiding Hyperkeratosis?

Have you ever heard the term dog hyperkeratosis? We didn’t…until we started researching more about caring for our dogs’ paws.

According to, “Canine hyperkeratosis is a skin condition in which excess keratin is produced, in particular in the nose and/or paw pads; causing skin thickening and hardening, sometimes to the point of cracking, thus leading to the emergence of secondary infections.”

What does hyperkeratosis have to do with the fur between your dog’s paw pads? While hair between your dog’s paw pads won’t cause or lead to canine hyperkeratosis, it might hinder your ability to catch the symptoms.

Are you supposed to trim the hair between dogs toes?

Canine hyperkeratosis can be very painful for your dog, making it difficult to walk or stand. When you examine the paws of a dog who has this condition, you’ll understand why.

Without even knowing much about the condition, it looks uncomfortable: your dog may have dried out, calloused-looking paw pads. The skin may be cracked, which increases the risk of infection. At a certain stage of hyperkeratosis, it even looks like the skin on the paws is coming apart and mimics the look of hair or fur.

If your dog has a lot of fur between its paw pads, it may be difficult to see that something is wrong. That is why it is recommended that you trim the extra fur between your dog’s paw pads so that you can quickly recognize if your dog is affected by canine hyperkeratosis. Take it a step further and make sure you’re educated on hyperkeratosis so that you can take preventative measures.

Here are some causes of canine hyperkeratosis:

  • Age: As dogs grow older, their chance of developing canine hyperkeratosis increases.
  • Breed: Some breeds have a genetic makeup that is more prone to hyperkeratosis.
  • Canine Distemper: Schedule an appointment with your trusted veterinarian and begin shots for canine distemper. Treat this like you would with any other vaccination.
  • Zinc Deficiency: Dermatosis stemming from zinc can open up an arena of issues, including canine hyperkeratosis.
  • Other causes of canine hyperkeratosis are rooted in auto-immune issues like leishmaniasis, which is a disease caused by sandfly bites.

    Canine Journal reports, “Unfortunately, there is no known cure at this time. However, the skin condition can be managed by softening and then removing the hardened skin on your dog’s paws and nose. Make an appointment with your vet to have this done frequently.”

    If you discover that your dog has canine hyperkeratosis, after grooming your dog and trimming the extra hair between your dog’s paws, you can apply a paw balm. This will help rejuvenate your dog’s paw pads. Using a moisturizing paw balm specifically formulated for dogs will help keep the dry calluses under control by softening the excess keratin. You want to look for natural, dog-safe products and try to limit your dog from licking the area after you apply the paw balm. Dog socks can help with this.

    If you suspect that your dog may have canine hyperkeratosis, make an appointment with your vet right away. Since hyperkeratosis is usually a symptom of another underlying problem, you should get a thorough checkup to make sure your dog isn’t sick with something else, too.

    So remember! Keep the extra fur between the paw pads trimmed for better visibility of symptoms and increased chances of handling canine hyperkeratosis effectively once diagnosed.

    Are you supposed to trim the hair between dogs toes?

    Now Remove the Hair from a Dog’s Paws

    Hold your dogs paw firmly in one hand and use pet hair clippers (or scissors, if you insist) with the other hand. As I demonstrate in my video, youll need to gently spread the paw toes apart and then clip the hair in between.

    Continue clipping paw hair until it is level with a dogs pads or just slightly below the pads. This will prevent any matting or build-up that could occur.

    Do not cut all the hair away, though, because it protects the skin between the paw pads.

    Tip: You should trim the hair between a dogs pads and the hair between the toes, and any long hair on the top of the paws.

    You can use a soft-bristled comb to help get the hair to stand up enough to trim it if you need to.

    Here’s how I trim my dog’s paw fur:

  • Use a smallish pair of scissors when trimming the fur on your dog’s paws (and other places) — because they’re easier to hold onto and work with in tight spaces. TIP: You don’t have to use fancy dog grooming scissors. I just use the smallest pair of scissors from this scissors set (the 5.5-inch size craft scissors).
  • Rest the scissors on your dog’s paw pad and trim away the hair — just tiny amounts at a time — cutting in the direction away from your dog’s skin. TIP: The sharper the scissors, the better. If you have to “saw” at the hair, your scissors are too dull! Use several tiny snips in the same area to precisely cut the fur on your dog’s paws.
  • Give your dog a break for a few minutes. TIP: The idea is to get your dog’s mind off of being grooming temporarily, so you can continue the paw grooming session again in a few minutes.
  • Observe your work — see if there are places you should cut shorter, or that you could make the cut sections blend in better with the non-cut sections. (You don’t want it to look too choppy.) TIP: If the dog will stand still long enough, I like to trim entirely around the sides of each foot — between the bottom of the dog’s paw and the floor.
  • Hairy Dog Paw Pads – How to Trim Hair Between Toes