How To Cut Your Dog’s Nails (Without Being Afraid)

It’s that time again … time to cut my dogs’ nails. At my house, I’ve got one dog who hands over his paws without a care in the world and another who would prefer the clippers stay far away from her tootsies. How does your dog act? 

Why Nail Trims Are Important 

If you hear your dog’s nails tapping on the floor when he/she walks then it’s definitely time to grab the clippers and trim those nails.

When a dog’s nails tap on hard surfaces, it pushes their nails back up into their nail beds, which can be extremely painful. Not only can it put pressure on the toe joints, but it could also force the toe to twist to the side, resulting in soreness or even arthritis. 

What’s Inside Your Dog’s Nails?

Before we talk about how to clip your dog’s nails, you must know what’s inside of them. Underneath is something called a quick, which provides blood supply to the nail. Do not cut the quick. If you do, blood will gush out of the nail and your dog will experience pain. I cannot stress enough how sensitive this part is. 

The following photo is a close-up of my Chihuahua’s nails (as I mentioned above, they need to be cut)! The pink part in the middle of each nail is the quick. If your dog has white nails, like mine, then it’s pretty easy to spot the quick from the nail’s side (as you can see in the photo). If your dog has black nails, though, you will not be able to see the quick. This makes the nail a bit harder to trim. Below, I have included two different sections for clipping white nails and clipping black nails. 


If your dog is constantly walking and playing on rough surfaces—like concrete—then you may not have to cut his/her nails often since the hard surface will wear them down naturally. Most dogs, though, need a trim every two-four weeks. 

To trim your dog’s nails you will need:

Good High-Quality Set of Dog Nail Clippers or a Dremel – A high-quality set of nail clippers can make a world of difference. A cheap pair that isn’t made well can cut your dog’s nails crookedly, potentially leave hangnails, and runs the risk of breaking. 

If you and/or your dog is extremely afraid of the clippers, you may prefer using a Dremel (AKA a tool that grinds your dog’s nail). For my Chihuahua, I use regular clippers, but my Poodle does way better with the Dremel. *Find out how to use the grinder tool in the video under the “Cutting Black Nails” section. The video highlights Dremels at the 5 minute mark.

Styptic Powder/ Cornstarch – This will help clot the quick and stop the bleeding if you accidentally cut too far. This is the one I keep on hand:

Nail File – If using a traditional clipper vs a dremel, your dog’s nails may be left with a few sharp edges. To eliminate those sharp edges, it’s a good idea to get in the swing of filing. The nail clippers I linked to above come with a file!

Cutting White Nails

  1. Hold your dog’s paw firmly, but gently.
  2. Place clippers around the tip of your dog’s nail – below the quick at a 45º angle.
  3. Double-check that the clippers aren’t on top of the quick.
  4. If you’re in the clear, snip off the tip of the nail.
  5. If your dog’s nail starts bleeding that means you hit the quick. If this happens, immediately press some styptic powder on the tip. The styptic powder will help the quick clot.
  6. Don’t forget to cut the dewclaws (if your dog has them).
  7. Lightly file your pup’s nails to eliminate any sharp edges.
  8. Reward your pooch with treats and affection!
How To Cut Your Dog's Nails

Photo Via: OmegaPet

Cutting Black Nails

While cutting a dog’s white nails is typically done with one cut per nail, that’s not necessarily the case for black nails. Since it’s easier to see a visual aid, I have included a great video that highlights cutting black nails. *Note: I am not in this video, nor did I create this video. I just think it has some great tips:

DuAnn Chambers/ Via YouTube

Remember: Always finish up your nail cutting session with plenty of treats and praise! 

Does Your Dog Hate Getting His Nails Clipped? 

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, a lot of dogs kick and scream when they get their nails trimmed. Unless they’re used to it, they usually flat-out hate the process! Since it has to be done, it’s important to learn how to calm your pooch down and get through the clipping session with ease. If you have an aggressive dog who fights you to clip his nails, check out this video. *Note: Again, I am not in this video, nor did I create this video. I just think it has some great tips:

Sophia Yin/ Via YouTube

Happy nail clipping!