How to Use Dog Nail Clippers

Dog nail clippers can help you keep your dog's claws neatly trimmed. Your dog may not like to have his claws trimmed and may need to be trained to allow you to do it; others submit to the process easily. Either way, clipping your dog's nails is an important part of the grooming process, since long claws can curve inward and eventually pierce the toe pad. Read on to learn more about how to use dog nail clippers.

Start Using Dog Nail Clippers When Your Dog is Young

Ideally, you should start clipping your dog's nails in puppyhood. This helps him get used to process when he is still young, malleable, and easy to restrain. Later in life, your dog will be more willing to submit to having his nails clipped.

Even if your dog is already grown, you can still clip his nails. You may need to restrain your dog somewhat in order to use the dog nail clippers. 

Restraining Your Dog During Nail Clipping

The easiest way to restrain your dog while you clip his nails is to place him on a table. Stand on the side of the table opposite from the claws you want to trim, so that you have to lean over your dog's body in order to reach for his paws. In this way, you can lean over your dog, using your upper torso and arms to pin him down to the table while you clip his nails. If your dog squirms too much, turn him onto his side.

Clipping Your Dog's Nails with Claw Trimmers

There are two main types of dog nail clippers, guillotine clippers and scissors-style clippers. Scissors-style clippers are typically used to remove long claws that have begun to curve inward. Guillotine clippers are easier for most dog owners to use.

If you are using a scissors-type cutter, use it to cut straight through the nail on a horizontal line. If you are using a guillotine style clipper, place the hole in the blade around your dog's claw and squeeze the handle to activate the cutting blade. Hold the trimmer with the cutting blade facing you, to avoid cutting off too much of the claw.

Don't Cut Your Dog's Nails Too Short

When cutting your dog's nails, be careful not to cut into the quick, or living flesh, at the base of the claw. If you cut into the quick, bleeding and pain could occur. In dogs with light-colored claws, the quick is easily recognizable as the pink half-moon at the base of the claw. 

If your dog has dark-colored claws, you may not be able to see the quick. If you can't see the quick, trim off thin shavings from the end of your dog's claw, looking each time at the cut surface. When you can begin to see a grayish-pink oval near the top of the cut surface, stop trimming. You are nearing the quick.

Ideally, you leave at least two millimeters of claw protecting the quick. You can file the cut ends of your dog's claws to make them smoother, if you prefer.