For some of us dog owners, the thought of trimming our dog’s nails may seem scary, especially when our dog has had a bad experience with nail trimming before. However, according to NCBI study, dog nail trimming is an integral part of grooming our canine companions, as it contributes to their good health and proper hygiene.

The truth is, many dogs get anxious when it comes to nail trimming. Because of this, it is best to start trimming their nails while they’re still young so they can become used to the process. While seeking the help of a professional groomer or veterinarian may be an option, trimming our dog’s nails is not that complicated (and can be fun too!) if done the right way.

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  1. Trimming Your Dog Nails
  2. How Long Should a Dog Nails Be
  3. When Should You Trim Puppy Nails
  4. What to Do If You Cut Your Dog Nail Too Short
  5. How to Clip Dog Nails When Your Dog is Scared of It
  6. FAQ
  7. Conclusion

Trimming Your Dog Nails

Depending on what you and your dog are most comfortable with, guillotine-type trimmers, scissors-type trimmers, and grinder tools are among the tools that you can use for dog nail trimming.

In addition, it would also help to have styptic powder (or other similar clotting powders) at arm’s length just in case you accidentally cut your dog’s nails too short.

Below are some guidelines for trimming your dog’s nails properly:

  1. Place your arms and upper body over your dog. Pick up one paw. In a firm but gentle manner, place your thumb below your dog’s toepad, and on the skin above your dog’s nail, place your forefinger. Brush aside any dog fur that may be getting in the way.
  2. Slightly push your thumb, moving the skin of the paw backward, while you press your forefinger forward, extending your dog’s nail.
  3. With your trimmer, clip just the tip of the nail across at a straight angle. Also include the dewclaws, which can be found on the inner sides of your dog’s paw.
  4. Don’t clip past the nail’s curve, or you may hit the quick (the part of the nail with a pinkish to grayish hue containing the blood vessels). Clipping that part will cause pain and bleeding in your dog, so you must stop trimming before you reach that part of the nail.

How Long Should a Dog Nails Be

Generally, it is easier to cut light-colored claws than dark ones since the quick (which contains blood vessels and nerves) can more easily be seen. But when it comes to cutting black dog nails, it’s better to cut them bit by bit to avoid the risk of hitting the quickly.

How long should dog nails be? As a precaution, it’s best to leave 2 millimeters above the quick to make sure not to hit it. A rule of thumb that you can also follow is to let your dog’s nails grow beyond the quick so that they can be seen, but not too far in a way that they go beyond the paw and touch the floor.

This is because when a dog’s nails are too long, they may position their feet at an unnatural angle. This can hurt their feet and legs and may make them more prone to falling or slipping. Nails that are too long may also split and cause infection.

When Should You Trim Puppy Nails

You may start clipping your puppy’s nails around the time they reach 6 weeks old. After which, cut their nails weekly, even if there’s not much you can cut. That way, your puppy would get used to the process of having their nails clipped. Trimming puppies' nails early helps prevent them from becoming fearful of dog trimming as they grow older.

Read more: Dog Nails: Anatomy, Trimming, Bleeding, Tools, Infections

What to Do If You Cut Your Dog Nail Too Short

Trimming our dog’s nails should involve gentleness and care on our part. In this process, it is important to avoid hitting the quickly, as this can cause our dog pain and bleeding.

"I cut my dog’s nail too short. What do I do now?" you might ask when you get into a dog-trimming accident. When you cut your dog’s nail too short, this may cause your dog pain and bleed due to the quickly becoming exposed. Below are some steps to guide you on what to do next:

  1. Use a clean piece of cloth and put pressure on the nail.
  2. When it comes to how to stop a dog nail from bleeding, using styptic powder is recommended, as it stops bleeding upon application. Note that bleeding may last around 5 minutes if there is no styptic powder. Don’t forget to comfort and reassure your dog throughout the process to lessen the stress that they may be feeling.
  3. If the bleeding doesn’t slow down or stop within 1 hour, it is important to take your dog to the vet to get treated. Such emergency cases may be daunting, so it’s best to be prepared. Having a reliable pet Emergency Fund, for instance, would help give you peace of mind as you take care of your dog.

How to Clip Dog Nails When Your Dog is Scared of It

"What if my dog won’t let me cut his nails?" Yes, trimming your dog’s nails is an essential part of dog grooming. However, if it causes your dog much stress and worries, their fear of it may multiply.

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As a dog owner, establishing trust with your dog is important. It may take some time for your dog to get accustomed to dog nail trimming, especially if they've had a traumatic experience with it before, but with proper training, gentle care, and patience, you may eventually be able to trim your dog’s nails without them being terrified.


How to keep dog nails short without clipping?

Regular walks with your dog on surfaces such as concrete will naturally trim your dog’s nails, keeping them from growing too long.

How to cut dog nails without clippers?

Without clippers, you can use a scratching board or emery board to file your dog’s nails. Grinders are also an option, but your dog should get used to them first. Remember, never use human trimmers or scissors on puppies who still have very tiny nails.

Why does my dog have some black nails and some white nails?

Among the possible reasons are allergies, aging, infection, autoimmune disorders, nail trauma, detachment of nails, and growths or tumors. Note that some dogs also have naturally discolored nails when young.

Why is my dog biting her nails?

Dogs may bite their nails to groom themselves, especially if their nails are too long and are causing discomfort. However, they have a higher tendency to bite their nails due to medical issues such as skin conditions, allergies, infections, and anxiety. To detect symptoms such as biting nails and any other symptoms that may signal a medical issue, a pet camera such as the Petcube Camera may help.


Trimming nails may be stressful for many dogs, and for us pet owners too, when we see our dogs having a hard time. However, with training, nail-trimming techniques, patience, and loving care, we can help our dogs become more accustomed to nail trimming while avoiding painful accidents. Ultimately, we want to make it a positive experience for our dogs while practicing healthy grooming.

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