How To Clip Dog Nails

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How To Clip Dog Nails – Dog Nail Trimming And Grinding

Part of the dog grooming process is dog nail trimming and dog nail grinding. It is really quite easy to learn how to clip dog nails, and you will only need a dog nail trimmer to clip your dog’s nails yourself. The only variable in the process is your dog, and how she reacts to the dog nail trimming process.

How To Clip Dog Nails

On this page we will show you how to clip dog nails, what to do if you clip your dog’s nails too short, and also how to do dog nail grinding.

Trimming Dog Nails Is Easy!

Learning how to clip dog nails is really quite easy. The main thing to remember is not to clip the dog’s nails too short. If you do trim your dog’s nails too short, you will clip into the “quick” (the living tissue), and the toe nail will bleed.

Don’t worry though, your beloved pet will not bleed to death, not will it require a trip to the vet. Make sure you have styptic powder on hand, and this will stop the bleeding.

Before we proceed to the actual process…

How To Trim Your Dog’s Nails

In most grooming shops they use Kwik-Stop – because it stops the bleeding the quickest. Yes, even the  best groomers clip a dog’s nails too short now and then.

So, we have figured out not to cut the dog nails too short, and we know what to do when we do trim the nails too short.

Use The Correct Tools

Dog Nail Clippers

Get Decent Clippers – Don’t Use Scissors!

Using proper clippers that are specially designed for your dog’s nails is the only way to go.

You should not use scissors or human nail clippers on your dog’s claws.

The reason for this is because their claws are shaped like a “V”. If you use ordinary, straight blade scissors, then they can crush the nail while cutting. This is what will hurt you dog.

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You definitely want to avoid hurting him or her at all costs, because then you will most likely have problems trimming the nails from that point onwards.

Here I have a close-up photo of a set of my own clippers. You can see the curve of the cutting blade, and that it is very sharp. it is designed to slice through a curved nail without splitting or crushing it.

Where do you cut a dog’s nails at to make sure you don’t get it too short?

How To Clip A Dogs NailsThe best way to learn to do this is to err on the side of caution. You should clip your dog’s nails right before the curve in the nail. You will usually find that you are trimming a surprisingly small part of the nail.

But if you stop and think about it and compare it to trimming a human nail, you will see that it makes sense that you are only going to trim off a small percentage of the nail.

A good way to start as a beginner is to just clip off the very end of the nails, and do this every couple of days until you get to the curve. Believe it or not, this will “train the nail”, and you will only have to clip your dog’s nails every two or three weeks.

How To Do It

Get your clippers ready and find somewhere your dog likes to be. Depending on the size, you may like to hold your dog on your lap or have him lay down on the ground – what ever is easiest for you to get the right angle.

Now make sure both you and your dog are calm. You can give the dog a yummy treat – as long as it won’t over-stimulate him. The best thing is a lovely petting or scratching so you dog is really relaxing.

Pick up the first paw and find the nail by very gently putting pressure on the top and bottom of the toe. The nail should be very obvious. Using your clippers, snip off the sharp end of the nail, taking care not to cut the quick The quick is the fleshy inside of the nail and it can usually be seen through the nail.

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If your dog has dark nails, the quick can be harder to see. So just snip a little amount at a time.

Work your way around the first paw, then if your dog is still calm and not objecting – move on to the next paw and finish with the other two.

Keep in mind that you do not have to do this job all in one bite. If your dog is very upset or hard to keep still, then just do one or two nails in a sitting.

* TIP: Another good idea is to trim your dogs nails when they are asleep.

Close Up Of The Process

See A Dog Claws Getting Trimmed

This video I have chosen to show here give a really good close-up view of the correct way to trim the nails of a dog (the procedure is very similar for a cat, too)

As you can see, good nail clippers are being used, the dog is calm and the whole process is fast and painless. No stress.

You will hear a mention of Styptic Powder in the video. This is used when you accidentally cut too close – or actually on the ‘quick” and the dog’s nail bleeds. This special powder helps to stop bleeding in this area very quickly.



Let me say again here that I DO NOT recommend that you use human nail clippers when trimming your dog’s nail, even if your dog is small breed with small, short nails. If you are going to do it yourself- I DO recommend that you invest in a good pair of dog nail trimmers.

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Recommended Types of Dog Nail Clippers

Resco Candy Colored Dog Nail Trimmers
Resco Candy Colored Dog Nail Trimmers

Resco Deluxe Dog Nail Trimmer
Millers Forge Heavy-Duty Nail Trimmers

Resco Pro-Series Scissor Style Pet Nail Trimmers
Resco Pro-Series Scissor Style Pet Nail Trimmers


Dog Nail Grinding Instead Of Trimming Your Dogs Nails

Dog Nail Grinding Sounds Simple, But…

Some folks like to do dog nail grinding instead of dog nail clipping, and it is harder to make a mistake and get your dog’s nails too short with a grinder. Not only that, but the edge of your dog’s nails will be smoother, and dog nails don’t tend to crack, as they sometimes do when you use dog nail trimmers.

So, why doesn’t everyone just grind their dog’s nails? Well, the variable here is the dog itself. A dog nail grinder is essentially a dremel tool (that’s exactly what most of us use). If you have ever used a dremel, it’s a pretty loud tool, and most dog’s don’t do loud noises well. As a matter of fact, when that loud noise is rubbing up on their body parts, most dogs become downright ornery.

Before you try to grind your dog’s nail, and you have a dremel around the house, or can borrow one, try it out on your dog and see how he reacts to the sound.

Dog Nail Grinders

Oster Spin Nail Grinder with Lithium Ion Technology
Oster Spin Nail Grinder with Lithium Ion Technology

Oster Gentle Paws Cordless Nail Trimmer
Oster Gentle Paws Cordless Nail Trimmer

Andis Nail Pro Dog Nail Grinder


Did You Learn What You Needed?

So, if you were lacking confidence when you came to this page, I hope you now have the knowledge that you need. You should now be able to clips those long claws – as long as you have the proper clippers. Remember to keep calm and keep your dog calm, and if all else fails, then do it when the dog is sleeping!

If you have problems, work your way through my free puppy training lessons online. That should help a lot.


One Response

  1. Taj July 29, 2014