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Thread: How To Clip Dogs Nails

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Default How To Clip Dogs Nails

    Clipping a Dog's Claws (Toenails)

    This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.

    In the photographs below, unless otherwise noted, the top if the paw is facing up. The dog who was photographed has black pads on her toes. The black pads on the bottom of her toes will help you orient yourself as you view the photographs. Variations on these instructions exist.
    Most dogs do not like having their claws trimmed. Start trimming claws in young animals so that they get used to the process. Some dogs will happily sit in your lap or on a table while you trim their claws but many require some form of restraint.

    One method to restrain the dog is to place her/him on a table. Stand on the side of the table opposite to the claws you are trimming.Drape your arms and upper body over the dog. When trimming the front claws, keep your left forearm over the neck to keep the dog from lifting its head. Hold the paw in your left hand and hold the trimmer in your right hand.
    If the dog tries to stand, lean your upper body over his/her shoulders to prevent him/her from rising.

    If your dog is too wiggly, try laying him/her on his/her side. Use your right arm and upper body to keep the dog laying on his/her side. Hold the trimmer in your right hand.
    Use your left arm to keep the head on the table and use the left hand to hold the paw.
    It is easier to perform this procedure if you have a helper. See the section on restraining a dog for some additional suggestions.

    There are several styles of nail trimmers, including a guillotine type and a scissors type. The guillotine type is the easiest to use in dogs.

    The scissors-type is used to trim a toenail that is so long that it is curling in a circle. Long claws can grow into the toe-pad. This most often happens to dew claws, the claw on the inner side of the paw. Dew claws do not touch the ground so they are not worn down as the dog walks.
    The dew claw is attached to the leg by loose skin. The dew claw can usually be bent away from the leg so that you can fit a guillotine type trimmer over the tip of the dew claw.

    The scissors-type cutter is placed at a right angle to the toenail.

    Hold the trimmer in your right hand if you are right handed.

    Close your hand around the clipper to squeeze the handle which will move the cutting blade.

    The guillotine type trimmers have stationary ring through which the nail is placed, and a cutting blade that moves up to slice off the nail when the handles of the trimmer are squeezed.

    Unlike cats, dogs do not have retractile claws. The color of the nail is determined by the color of the surrounding skin and hair. This dog has black claws on the brown paw and a mixture of white and black claws on the white paw.Always remember to trim the dew claws that are located on the inner surface of the paw.

    The claws on the rear feet are often shorter and require less frequent trimming than those on the front feet. Always remember to trim the dew claws that are located on the inner surface of the paw unless they were removed as a puppy. Some breeds of dogs such as the St. Bernard have 2 sets of dew claws on the rear feet.

    Light colored claws are easier to cut than dark claws as the blood vessels and nerves that supply the toenail, called the quick, is easier to see.

    Cut the toenail to within approximately2 millimeters of the quick.
    If you cut into the quick, the toenail will bleed and the dog will experience pain.

    The tip of the nail is placed in the stationary ring in the trimmer with the clipper perpendicular to the nail (cutting top to bottom). If the trimmer is placed parallel to the nail (cutting from side to side), the nail is crushed and may splinter.
    The cutting blade should be facing you, NOT the dog. The screws on the handle of the trimmer should be facing the dog.
    If you turn the trimmer around with the screws toward you, the cutting blade is cutting closer to the quick than if the trimmer is held with the cutting blade toward you. You are less likely to cut into the quick if the cutting blade faces you.
    The handles of the trimmer can be held pointing toward the floor or ceiling, which ever is more comfortable in your hands.

    The handles of the trimmer are squeezed to advance the cutting blade through the nail.Light colored claws can be trimmed with one cut on each nail.

    You cannot see the quick on dark colored claws, making them more difficult to trim without cutting into the quick.

    Cut dark colored claws in several small cuts to reduce the chance of cutting into the quick.

    As you cut off small pieces of the nail, look at the cut edge of the nail. The light tissue (1) is the curved bottom part of the nail. The mottled light and dark tissue (2) is the top part of the nail.

    As you cut the nail deeper, you will see a ****geneous gray to pink oval (3) starting to appear at the top of the cut surface of the nail. Stop cutting the nail at this point as additional cutting will cut into the quick. The sharper the trimmer, the cleaner the cut. The cutting blade on guillotine-style cutters can be replaced when it is no longer sharp.
    You can file the end of the nail to smooth the cut surface.

    A correctly cut dark colored nail next to an uncut mixed colored nail. The mixed color nail is darker close to the base of the nail preventing one from seeing the quick. This nail should be trimmed in several small cuts.

    If the toenail is cut too short, you can use a styptic pencil containing silver nitrate to stop blood flow, although many animals object to the styptic pencil as much, or more, than toenail cutting. The black end of the stick is held to the bleeding nail and gently rotated until bleeding stops.
    Even without any treatment the nail should stop bleeding in about 5 minutes or less.

  2. #2


    I still pay a groomer or even the vet to clip my terrier's nails. I get scared just thinking about accidentally cutting to short.

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dogave View Post
    I still pay a groomer or even the vet to clip my terrier's nails. I get scared just thinking about accidentally cutting to short.
    Me too. I don't even like to think about it. I just make my wife do it. She does it all the time. It's either that or pay the groomer. Call me a chicken!

  4. #4


    you can also dip the nail in cornflour to stem the bleeding.

    I am struggling to get my dog to allow me to trim his nails. I took him to the vet cause he has very long black nails (hasn't been done for many years). I was more than a little annoyed when she cut one too short, and then said I'd have to do the rest little bit at a time.

    I haven't gotten very far, although I have made progress. Now he allows me to touch and hold his paws and nails.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008


    If you allow your dog to run on concrete on a daily bases it should file the nails down, i dont have to trim Tony's nails at all now as i walk him on the footpath regularly and it does the job for me

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Albury NSW Australia


    Thats what i do, i take my dog for a long walk to wear her nails out, i havent taken her out in a few days and her nails are long as! Otherwise if i didn't want to do the walk thing i would just take Pipi to the vets and get them trimmed.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Thumbs up Very informative

    Very informative, especailly the photos. I have a real problem getting Dobe to stay still long enough for me to clip her nails. She's developed a habit (given half the chance) of biting the nails on one of her front paws, making them very uneven. I take her for a long walk everyday but it does not appear to be filing them down enough. This article has given me confidence to try again myself, failing that it will be back to the vet.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008


    walking didnt work for us so had been triming but obviously cutting nowhere near enough off!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009


    Well done

    Quote Originally Posted by Dobermum View Post
    Very informative, especailly the photos.
    When I take Rosie out side for wee's after she has been we go a little walk up to the top of the driverway at 8 weeks would this be keeping her nails trim or should I trim them?
    Angela & Joe
    Isabelle ~ Tom ~ Ben
    Felicity & Nick


  10. #10


    nice post, I usually just follow the line of the pad, tried a dremmel tool that I use for carvings once far too much noise, dogs hated it so its snip snip miss the quick for life

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