How to Trim Dog Nails

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Trimming your dog’s nails is an important aspect of their overall health and well-being. However, it can be a daunting task for many pet owners, especially if you’ve never done it before. But with some patience, practice, and the right tools, trimming your dog’s nails can become a routine part of your grooming routine.

puppy being held

Why is it important to trim your dog’s nails?

Long nails can cause discomfort and pain for your dog. If left untrimmed, the nails can grow too long, leading to a variety of issues, including difficulty walking, joint pain, and even deformities. Long nails can also get caught in carpets, rugs, or other surfaces, leading to injury. Additionally, long nails can cause scratches or punctures to your skin or furniture.

Tools you’ll need to trim your dog’s nails

Before you start, gather the necessary tools. You’ll need a pair of nail clippers designed for dogs, some styptic powder or cornstarch, and some treats to reward your dog for good behavior.

Steps to trim your dog’s nails

  1. Familiarize your dog with the clippers: Before you start trimming, let your dog sniff and explore the nail clippers. This helps them get comfortable with the tool and reduces anxiety during the trimming process.
  2. Find the quick: The quick is the pink area of the nail that contains nerves and blood vessels. It’s important to avoid cutting the quick while trimming your dog’s nails. If you accidentally cut the quick, it can be painful and may lead to bleeding.
  3. Hold your dog’s paw firmly: Hold your dog’s paw firmly but gently. Make sure you have a good grip to avoid any sudden movements from your dog.
  4. Trim the nail: Trim a small amount of the nail at a time. If your dog has clear nails, you can see the quick through the nail. If your dog has dark nails, it’s best to trim a little at a time to avoid cutting the quick.
  5. Use styptic powder or cornstarch if bleeding occurs: If you accidentally cut the quick and your dog’s nail starts bleeding, apply some styptic powder or cornstarch to the nail to stop the bleeding.
  6. Reward your dog: Reward your dog with treats and praise for good behavior during the nail trimming process. This will help them associate the experience with positive feelings.
human hugging dog

How often should you trim your dog’s nails?

The frequency of nail trimming depends on your dog’s activity level, breed, and environment. Dogs that are more active and spend a lot of time outside may need their nails trimmed more frequently than dogs that are less active. A good rule of thumb is to trim your dog’s nails every four to six weeks. However, you should also monitor your dog’s nails regularly to make sure they don’t get too long.

What Dog Breeds Need Their Nails Trimmed More Often?

All dogs need their nails trimmed regularly to maintain good foot health and prevent issues such as overgrown nails, split nails, and discomfort. However, some breeds may require more frequent nail trimming due to their particular characteristics. Here are a few examples:

  • Small breed dogs such as Chihuahuas, Yorkies, and Pomeranians have smaller, delicate feet with nails that grow faster than larger breeds. They may also spend more time indoors and on soft surfaces, which can lead to slower nail wear and tear.
  • Breeds with floppy ears like Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, and Bloodhounds are more prone to ear infections and ear problems due to their floppy ears trapping moisture and debris. They may also scratch their ears with their paws, leading to longer nails.
  • As dogs age, their nails may grow thicker and longer, making them harder to maintain. Senior dogs may also be less active and spend more time indoors, leading to slower nail wear and tear.
  • Some breeds have dewclaws, which are extra claws located higher up on the leg. These claws do not come into contact with the ground as often as the other nails and may need more attention to prevent overgrowth.

It is important to check your dog’s nails regularly and trim them as needed, typically every 4-6 weeks, or seek professional help from a groomer or veterinarian if you are unsure.


Trimming your dog’s nails is an essential part of their grooming routine. It’s important to do it correctly to avoid injury or discomfort to your dog. Remember to be patient, take your time, and reward your dog for good behavior. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with trimming your dog’s nails, you can always ask your veterinarian or a professional groomer for assistance. With practice and patience, you’ll become a pro at trimming your dog’s nails in no time!

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Reviewed by: Tim Winter

Tim Winter has dedicated his writing and research efforts to animals and wildlife. He explores the globe and sees firsthand the negative impact humans have on the environment. Tim is dedicated to promoting responsible environmental stewardship. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications.