Clipping Dog Nails

Most dogs do not like having their nails trimmed – so start trimming your puppy’s nails early. This gets them use to having their paws touched and your job of nail clipping much easier.

Some dogs will happily sit in your lap or on a table while you trim their claws, some may need two people – one to hold the dog and one to do the trimming!

If your dog is difficult or aggressive when having their nails clipped ask your groomer or vet to do it for you, or speak to your vet about a sedative that you can give your dog before nail clipping begins.

Clipping Dog Nails


There are several types of nail clippers, including a guillotine type, a plier type and a scissors type. Some people find the guillotine type easiest to use in dogs.

There is also a ‘grinding’ tool now on the market which is easy to use – but it is very simple to over grind so caution should be used with grinders (or any nail clippers!!!).

I find the plier type with a safety guard the best – not only does it give you peace of mind due to the safety guard, but it allows you to view more accurately what you are doing.

Clipping Dog Nails


  1. The claws on the rear paws of a dog are often shorter and may require less trimming than those on the front paws.
  2. Unlike cats, dogs do not have retractable claws.
  3. Also trim the dew claws that are located on the inner surface of the paw (unless they were removed as a puppy).

  4. Some breeds of dogs have 2 sets of dew claws on the rear paws e.g. St Bernards.

  5. Black nails are hard to clip as you cannot see the quick. Clip black nails slowly and little by little.

  6. You can assess if a dogs nails are too long if they make a ‘clicking’ sound when walking on a floor.

  7. Walking or exercising your dog on a paved path/road will help keep your dogs nails short!
Clipping Dog Nails


A dogs nail is similar to ours. As with humans the pink part of the nail that can be seen is known as the ‘quick’. The quick is made up of nerves and blood vessels and is highly sensitive. With white nailed dogs the quick is easily seen.

Be aware that the quick grows with the nail.


When looking at your dogs nail, a nail can be considered long when it curves downwards and a lot of white nail is seen.

To trim a nail cut the nail cross-wise about 2mm below the quick (see diagrams).

If you have a dog with very long nails start trimming off very small amounts to begin with. This allows the quick to recede back over time.

Clipping Dog Nails


Why not learn more about how to care for your dog?  Click here to find out more.

Clipping Dog Nails