How To Cut Your Dog’s Nails At Home

how to cut your dog's nails

So you’ve decided to save some pennies, bond with pooch and learn how to cut your dog’s nails. If you’re new to clipping your dog’s nails this is exactly where you should start. Learn how to cut your dog’s nails at home, save on grooming costs and make it fun for your pooch. Cutting your dogs nails needn’t be a hassle, this is the foundation that every DIY dog groomer should know.

What we’re going to cover;

  • When & why to cut your dog’s nails

  • The tools you will need to cut your dog’s nails

  • The importance of Positivity

  • Identifying the quick

  • How to cut your dog’s nails – The different types of nail

  • Walk through talk through


When & why to cut those nails

Just like human nails, your dogs nails are constantly growing. How often a dog’s nails need to be cut will depend on a few things. These are things such as the breed, the dogs diet and his lifestyle.

Plenty of dogs naturally wear their nails down by playing and walking, especially if the walk involves hard surfaces. An inactive or older dog may not wear their nails down however due to the lack of exercise or preference to walk on softer surfaces such as grass, more on older dogs later on.

how to cut your dog's nails

Weimaraner puppy ready to have his nails clipped

Generally most dogs will need their nails clipped every couple of weeks. If the nails are making a clicking sound when your dog walks on hard surfaces, they are likely too long. Try holding your dog’s foot and press the toe so that the nail extends fully. If the nail curves beyond the bottom of the toe  pad, it’s too long. It is very important to keep your dogs nails nice and trimmed as not doing so can cause health issues some of which include;

  • Torn nails leading to infection

  • Strained muscles and spine due to incorrect posture

  • Ingrown toenails again leading to infection

  • Injury due to falling (think slippery laminate flooring)

These health issues are easily preventable by clipping your dogs nails regularly. Once it gets to this stage it can be expensive to treat and (more importantly) isn’t something your pooch will be too happy about. Lets not let that happen!

Tools You’ll Need

  • Good Quality Nail Clippers: A set of good quality nail clippers is absolutely essential. Think about it, Dogs nails are thicker than human nails so you want a sharp reliable tool which can do the job right first time. Check out Clipz by clicking HERE or on the image below, They’ve been designed by us to make cutting your dog’s nails as easy as possible. Also, they come with a FREE nail file which is one less thing for you to buy. Alternatively you can use a Dremel, these file your dogs nails down, although good they are slightly more expensive, just make sure you’ve trimmed your pooches hair around his paw before using. 

how to cut your dog's nails

  • Treats: Having treats to reward your dog is fantastic for making the experience more positive for the both of you. Since you will be wanting to reward heavily (especially if this is new to your dog) you should get small treats (like the ones below) so that you don’t end up overfeeding your fluffy companion. Overweight dogs are a whole other issue which we’ll cover at some point in the future. 

how to cut your dog's nails

  • Styptic Powder or Other Clotting Powder: This is to hand just in case you cut into the quick (cutting the quick = alot of bleeding)! Although it is best to avoid cutting the quick altogether, mistakes happen, this is here to stop the bleeding fast! Having gone through this ourselves, we recommend Nail-Safe which you can get by clicking Here or on the image below. Baking soda, baking flour and cornstarch can also work if you find yourself in a pickle. Simply hold your dogs nail in the powder and the bleeding will stop before long.

how to cut your dog's nails safely


The importance of positivity

how to cut your dog's nails

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

This is where the treats come in (well, treats and your positive energy), your job is to try to make the whole experience as positive as you can for your dog!

Don’t feel like you need to be a hero and trim all the nails at once. Start with one, reward and come back later if you or your pet is nervous.

If you have a puppy we recommend handling their paws as early as you can. This will help the puppy associate getting their nails clipped with treats and fun and they will likely carry this over as they grow, this makes it easier for you later on. (More on puppies later)


How to Identify the quick

Before we start clipping, its important to first identify where the quick is on your dog. The quick is the pink area within the nail where the nerves and blood vessels are. Cutting the quick can be painful for your dog, it will bleed and result in you having a more difficult time cutting your pooch’s nails in future, avoid clipping the quick! To do this, ensure you have a good idea of where the quick is and make good use of the safety guard if your Dog Nail Clippers comes with one.

Note: The line in the diagram shows the correct angle to cut the nail

how to cut your dog's nails

The quick is a group of blood vessels and nerves, you do NOT want to be cutting this

How to cut your dog’s nails – The different types of nail

Black Nails

If your dog has black nails it can be very difficult to see the quick. We recommend starting at the tip and clipping a very little at a time, after each clip, the nail should be checked. If in doubt stop and come back again at another time, it isn’t worth ruining your dogs trust. Before the quick there is a black coloured pulp (as seen in the picture below) it is safe to clip up until this point.

how to cut your dog's nails

Notice the inner black ring in the nail, once this is visible you shouldn’t clip anymore or you risk cutting the quick

Another method is to look at the underside of the nail and you will notice that towards the tip the nail separates out into a triangular shape with two outer “walls”. At this point, there is no quick and it is safe to cut the tip off.

Older dogs

Older dogs tend to end up with long quicks, elongated nails and often extremely hard nails. Nails can also grow back deformed if there has been any trauma to the nail bed, such as when the dew claw has been caught and torn. As you can imagine, this can make cutting your more “senior” dogs nails quite difficult.

There are a few methods which can help. Clipping after bathing can help with the hardness issue as the nails will be softer. If the dogs nails are overgrown then chances are the quick has grown also, if you gradually take the tips off, you can often make the quick recede a little over time, but you will need to be patient. 

how to cut your dog's nails

Overgrown nails on an older dog

So long as your dog’s nails are not touching the ground, getting caught in anything and causing the toes to splay out or bend, there is no need to worry too much about keeping them extremely short.



Before you clip the nails you will have to get the puppy used to having his paws handled, do this as part of your training by regularly handling your puppy paws while handing out treats. 

how to cut your puppies nails

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff from Pexels 

It’s worth getting your puppy used to this particular area of dog grooming at an early age. Start right away when he’s 7 or 8 weeks old and it’ll make the whole thing a lot easier. We recommend slowly introducing this to your puppy and rewarding heavily utilising a clicker. Take time with this and get it right and you will find your puppy views this as attention and may even come to love having his nails clipped.

Once the puppy is comfortable having his paws handled, follow the steps in the next section.



How to cut your dog’s nails

  1. Start by having your Nail Clippers around your dog letting him get used to them, click and reward if he interacts with them

  2. Once he’s happy around them, take it a little further (but not too far). Try touching them on his paw once again clicking and rewarding him for his good behaviour

  3. When he is comfortable with this, try putting the metal around his nail, not yet cutting but clicking and rewarding instead

  4. Once he is comfortable with this make the first clip, ensure it is small as not to clip the quick, Click and reward heavily

Note: Go back to this process in future if you feel your dog is ever uncomfortable.

The aim of this is to make your furry friend associate clipping time with fun and positivity! If you do happen to catch the quick don’t panic, it looks worse than it is. Your dog will cry because it’ll hurt but it’s not a massive issue so stay calm and try to stop the bleeding with some styptic powder. Be sure to give your pooch lots of love and reassurance. It would probably be best to leave the rest of the nails for another day as he’ll be extra jumpy for a little while and you don’t want to risk hurting him twice.

How to cut your dog’s nails -Summary-

How to cut your dog's nails

A good example of a Golden Retriever with well groomed nails

To summarise how to cut your dog’s nails;

  • Ensure you have the correct tools

  • Plenty of treats and patients, keep it as positive as you can

  • Beware the quick! Especially with black nails

  • Break it down into stages using positive reinforcement

  • Clip a little at a time

  • You don’t have to cut all the nails in one session

  • Enjoy your time together

We hope this post has helped you understand how to cut your dog’s nails safely and correctly. If you have questions, leave a comment below and we will do our best to advise.

Be sure to check out our other blog posts or subscribe below to stay up to date on our latest blog content.

Have fun bonding with your pooch!


Akoca Pets

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