How To Cut Dog Nails? Tips and Techniques

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Author: Jacob Kay

Cutting a dog’s nail is an essential yet crucial part of a dog’s grooming. The main concern of paw parents is how to cut a dog’s nails. Nail trimming of the dog becomes easy if you are aware of what to do and what not to do. One wrong step in cutting your dog’s nail can either injure him or give him fear for a lifetime.

How To Cut Dog Nails?

But no need to worry, with the right technique and a little bit of patience this crucial task can be accomplished easily.

Why You Should Cut Your Dog’s Nails?

We, humans, grow our handnails, but at the same time, cut our toenails, because if they grow too long they may lead to discomfort in walking. Now imagine your dog, who walks on four legs. If with grown nails we face problems then they too face it.

Grown nails not only cause discomfort to your dog but to you too. If your dog’s nails get stuck in carpet or cushions, it can tear them. Not only that but with the growth of nails the quick also grows, further enabling you to cut your dog’s nails shorter.

The dogs with dew claws require nail trimming more because if the dew claw is not cut on time can grow back into the skin[1]. This may lead to serious infection in your dog.

If your dog’s nails get stuck in carpet or cushions, it can tear them. Learning how to groom a dog correctly prevents issues like these.

How Often Should You Cut Your Dog’s Nails?

You should cut your dog’s nails every 3-4 weeks, if possible. If your dog’s nails are growing rapidly then you should consider trimming them in a period of 20 days. Dogs who are used to regular exercising and walking on hard floors require less nail trimming than the ones who are not walking or exercising daily.

If your dog has dew claws, which are on the backside of its paws, then you should cut it before it grows too long. Long dew claws can cause discomfort to your dog.

What Do You Need To Cut Your Dog’s Nails?

To cut your dog’s nail you will require a best dog clippers, guillotine scissor, or a nail grinder. Clippers are generally used for puppies as they are easy to use. For adult dogs with thick nails mostly guillotine scissors are used.

Grinders may seem an easy option for cutting a dog’s nails but are not recommended for puppies with fur. While using grinders you need to be careful, as your dog’s fur can get stuck in it. If you are choosing to use a grinder, make sure you trim your dog’s paw fur first.

As quoted Dr. Teresa Manucy in petmd, "For very small or very young dogs, you can use human nail clippers, but it’s generally easier to see what you are doing with trimmers made specifically for dogs."

How Short Should You Cut Your Dog’s Nails?

The main concern of paw parents while cutting a dog’s nail is how short you should cut your dog’s nail. Dog nail trimming depends upon whether they have white nails or black nails.

White nails

Quick in dog's white nails

If your dog has white nails then it is easy to cut. Dogs have blood vessels in their nails called quick. As white nails are transparent the quick is easily visible. When you start trimming your dog’s nails stop before the tip where quick starts to appear[2].

Black nails

It is difficult to cut the nails of a dog with black nails. In black nails quick is not visible. So if your dog has a black nail look for a white chalky dot and stop right before the chalky white tip ends.

Steps To Cut Your Dog’s Nails

Before cutting nails it is necessary to make your dog comfortable with the process.

Start young

One of the best ways to make your dog comfortable with nail trimming is to start young. The earlier you start the easier the process will be. You can start trimming your dog’s nails as early as 6th week. It is a lot easier to handle puppies than adult dogs.

Introducing nail trimmers

Making your dog familiar with nail trimmers is important. So as a first step let your dog just sniff the trimmer. Once your dog is comfortable just touch the trimmer to the nails no need to cut let your dog feel safe with it.

Dog nail trimmers

Start with one nail at a time

After your dog gets familiar with the trimmer start by cutting just the tip of the nail and one nail at a time.

Isolate the nail to cut

Decide which nail to cut and then expose the nail by removing the fur. If your dog has long fur then try trimming them before cutting nails, by doing this you will get a clear view. Then extending the nail start by cutting one nail at a time.

Nail grinding

Nail grinding adds a finishing touch to the trimming. For nail grinding you can use tools available or sand paper. Normally it is easier with the tools, as your dog may not like the sandpaper process. But before using nail grinding tools make sure to make your dog comfortable with its sound.

Give treats

Try giving a spoonful of peanut butter to your dog while trimming nails, so that he remains distracted. Reward with treats every time your dog lets you cut the nails peacefully.

Before cutting nails it is necessary to make your dog comfortable with the process. Understanding how to use dog clipper correctly is key before getting started.

What To Do if You Cut Your Dog’s Nail Too Short

For any dog owner, it’s a nightmare to cut a dog’s nail too short. Cutting a dog’s nail too short can lead to bleeding and can give your dog fear of nail cutting.

While cutting dog nails always keep the styptic or cornstarch handy. If you cut your dog’s nail too short and it starts to bleed apply styptic on it to stop bleeding. If styptic is not available then you can use cornstarch too.

Even after applying styptic and cornstarch if bleeding doesn’t stop, consult the vet as soon as possible.


How can I cut my dog’s nails at home?

To cut your dog’s nails at home you need a clipper, guillotine scissor, or a nail grinder. Firstly take your puppy to a calm, distraction-free place, and then by holding the paw gently yet firmly, cut the nails one by one.

What happens if I don’t cut my dog’s nails?

If you don’t cut your dog’s nails from time to time, they will grow causing discomfort in walking your dog and arthritis. If your dog has dewclaws then not cutting may lead to causing it to grow back in the skin. If the nail of the dewclaw grows back into skin it can cause infection too.

Can I use human nail clippers on dogs?

Dog’s nails are thicker than human nails. If you use human nail clippers on dogs, you may not be able to cut their nails, and on the contrary, it may cause injury to your dog and give him the fear of cutting nails for a lifetime.

How can I cut my dog’s black nails at home?

If your dog’s nails are black then you have difficulty cutting them. In black nails quick is not visible, that is why you may accidentally cut your dog’s nails too short causing bleeding. That is why while cutting a dog’s black nails always look for a white chalky spot, when the white chalky part disappears stop cutting your dog’s nails.

What is an easy tool to cut dog nails?

The tools used to cut a dog’s nails are clipper or guillotine scissors and a grinder. But if you are trying to cut a dog’s nails first time you should use a clipper or guillotine scissors which are easy to handle.


The crucial process of dog nail trimming becomes easy with knowledge and precautions. In the beginning, the process may seem complicated to you, but with time and technique, both you and your dog will get used to it. Before cutting nails let your dog be comfortable don’t rush.

Even after following all the ways, if you still face problems in your dog’s nail trimming then visit the professionals. Professionals may help you better and you can observe how they do the process and further implement it.


  1. How to clip a dog’s nails. (2022, March 10). Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
  2. Bleeding time tests. (2022, January 6). Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
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Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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