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Want to learn how to cut dog nails?

Keeping your dog’s nails neat and tidy can be a struggle.

Let’s face it, it’s stressful for you and your dog.

Nail health is important for your dog. Neglected dog nails can actually lead to pain, discomfort and irreversible damage to your dog’s nerves and posture.

If your dog doesn’t get a lot of exercise, then it’s a grooming task you need to do regularly.

In fact, once you start to hear the clicking of your dog’s nails on a hard surface, it’s time to get those nails chopped.

The problem is you’re scared you’ll hurt your dog. And your dog gets stressed out when you attempt to cut their nails.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be that way.

With the right technique and tools, you can change the nail cutting worry for both of you.

This guide is just for you. You’ll learn how to cut your dog’s nails the right way.

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Dog Nail Cutting Tools

For cutting your dog’s nails you’re going to need the right tools.

You have two options:

Dog Nail Clippers

Dog nail clippers are specialist scissors that handle your tough dog’s nails.

You can buy these as a curved scissor shape or a guillotine style.

Always opt for the curved scissor style. The guillotine style of clippers squash he nails, making the experience more uncomfortable for your dog.

Nail Grinder

Just like a human nail file you can use a grinder to file down your dog’s nails.

This option is a lot better for maintenance of trimmed nails.

You may find it easier to get your dog to allow you to file the nails rather than clip. Especially if they had a previous bad experience.

Dog Nail Anatomy

The most important thing to learn about cutting your dog’s nails is the anatomy.

You need to know where the ‘quick’ is. The quick is the sensitive part that provides a blood supply to your dog’s nails.

Just like cutting your nails, you know it’s painful if you trim too far into the quick.

Once you know how to avoid the quick, cutting your dog’s nails isn’t that difficult.

Take a look at your own nails. You’ll see the area you cut is an off-white color. Your quick is a pink color.

Well, dog nails are the same.

If your dog will let you, inspect their nails to get familiar with seeing ‘the quick’. This can be very difficult if your dog has dark colored nails.

The longer your dog’s nails get, the longer the quick gets. The shorter the nails get the shorter the quick gets.

If you cut the quick, it’s painful for your dog and will bleed a lot. Your dog may find the area sensitive to walk on for a day or two.


How to cut dog nails

1. Safe environment

Take your dog to an area they feel safe in. This will instantly calm them. They will also soon associate this area with having their nails clipped.

2. Get them in position

You may find a particular position easier to cut your dogs nails. You can try

  • Your dog sitting in front of you
  • Dog Lying down
  • Dog sitting as you hug their back (great for steadying them)

Choose the method that’s most comfortable for you and your dog.

3. Hold the foot

It’s important to hold your dog’s foot gently. Don’t squeeze the paws together, it’s painful for them.

Try gently separating the toes and steading the nail you are working on.

If your dog is nervous about letting you touch their feet. Give them lots of praise and a treat when they let your touch them.

4. Snip the Nail

Cut of a small end of the nail at the angle shown below. This is the best angle to use is 45 degree as it avoids cutting the quick and hurting your dog.

Do this for all nails, including the dewclaws if your dog has them.

The correct length is when your dog nails don’t touch the floor when they walk.

5. Maintain

If your dogs nails are long, don’t try to cut them short in one day. Cut only a small section, then repeat in 2-3 days time.

This gives time for the quick to shorter and you are less likely to hurt your dog.

Once your dog nails are the correct length, maintain them with a trim every week or two.

Tips for Cutting Your dog’s nails

Get a professional

If you’re unsure about how to get started, as your vet or a good dog groomer to show you how to do it. Once the initial length is cut, you can them maintain the nails weekly.

Keep Treats handy

Treats are great for reinforcing good behavior from your dog. That’s important when they are usually nervous about getting their nails cut.

Give your dog a treat if they sit well, remain calm, and for each nail you let them cut. They’ll soon learn to love getting their nails cut.

Use Corn starch

Always keep a small tub of corn-starch close by when cutting your dogs nails. If you cut the quick, place the nail into the tub of corn-starch, and it will give instant relief to your dog.

Start at the back

If your dog hates getting their nails cut, always start at the back. These nails are often shorter and a lot less sensitive than the front ones.

Once you’ve cut the hind paws one and given a treat, your dog is more likely to let you do the front paws.

Check your environment

Always use a well-lit room so you can see what you’re doing. If you need reading glasses them uses them when cutting your dog’s nails, it will help.

The best environment is somewhere quiet, without doorbells or a passing cat to distract your dog.

Trim the Hair

If your dog has long fur, trim the hair around the nails with a pair of scissors first. That way you won’t pull the fur and pinch your dog as the nail is cut.

A pair for baby or child hair scissors is perfect for this.

Change tactics

If your dog is refusing to let you clip their nails try using the grinder instead. Although the grinder is a little noisy, it takes away that fear of having the quick cut.

Each nail only requires a quick placement on the sanding band, and then onto the next nail.

Little and often

It’s better to trim a small part of your dog’s nails regularly than to trim a big part every so often.

Remember you are more likely to cut the quick the longer their nails get, as the quick gets longer too.

Regular trims will get your dog comfortable with nail trimming and leave them less anxious when you need to cut their nails.


Cutting your dog nails can be daunting as a dog owner.

However, it’s essential to keeping them healthy and preventing health problems.

This guide will help you to cut your dog’s nails properly. Use the tips to make the experience a lot less stressful for you and your dog.