This is my girl Jessie's foot, just so you know it was an image request shot from a dog magazine. I do not paint my dog's nails, just wanted to clear that up. :)
Nails, almost everyone I talk to are mystified and petrified about nails, dog nails that is. Many people like to just ignore nails entirely. Do you have to cut your dogs nails? Have them cut by the vet or the groomer? Most dogs these days need assistance in shortening their nails, they don't get out hiking enough to wear them down naturally. Although there are dogs that will never need their nails clipped until they are well into their senior years.
Several different elements factor into nail wear and tear. Where you take your dog for walks, what is the surface that your dog typically walks on? Are they usually walking or running in a field? Or do you walk them down the street and paths where they are striding along on pavement? Next is your dog's physical structure, their gate is a large factor in the natural grinding effect. Dogs naturally wear nails down more when they are running around, so if you have a slow saunter type pooch, chances are their nails need some attention.
So perhaps it is mani pedi time, yes? If you are squeamish about the whole process, your veterinarian or groomer will be happy to oblige. But I must say it is easy to do yourself. I use to use clipper type nail trimmers but have since switched to a dremel tool. After many years of clipping, my little gal Jessie decided that she really hated having her nails cut. I took this as my cue for change, I bought my first dremel and now my maintenance process has been altered. Both methods are simple, the dremel is a tad less scary when contemplating hitting the quick. The quick is the tender tissue part beneath the surface of the nail. Not seen in a black nail, but you can see it if your dog has clear nails. Once you start cutting or grinding nails it becomes a very easy process, you simply take off the point that grows quickly from week to week.
Nails should just touch the floor, they should not lift the foot at all. When standing still the dogs nails can clear the floor or just touching which is the proper length. Left too long they can alter the way a dog walks. Many dogs never grind their nails down naturally and they continue to grow until they cause pain.
When starting out, take your time; use lots of treats and start with baby steps. Never hold your dog down to cut their nails, this only causes them to panic and prove to them that it is horrible having your nails cut. It should be a positive activity, if that means one nail per day then that is how you start. Lots of treats and patience.