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How to Trim Dog Toe Nails Properly

Updated on February 1, 2013

Trimming a dog's toenails can be a daunting task. There are several reasons for this such as:

  • Trying to get the dog or puppy to stay still. No doubt about it, dogs & puppies wiggle, especially when your trying to trim their nails.
  • If your clippers take too much of the nail off it will bleed. Sometimes its not so easy to make it stop because of the hard nail tissue surrounding the wound doesn't easily collapse over the hole to seal it.
  • Finding an assistant to hold the dog still while you try to get that little claw through the clipper slot.

To make the task easier get a pair of clippers made for the job. It will make the job easier because they are made specifically to hold the dogs claw in its natural position; a semi-circle, instead of flat like a human toe clipper. Most dog toenail clippers have a protective shield that slides over the slot so the toenail won't go through the clippers too far. This is a big plus for people with wiggly dogs but don't like the sight of blood when too much nail is cut-off.


Below you will find a variety of dog toenails. From a clear/blond color to the pitch black color. As you can see, the clear/blond nail gives the person trimming the nail a clear view to the blood vessel running through it, whereas the black gives away none of its secrets within.


Referring to the image at the right, the nail should be trimmed up to, but not into, the blood vessel that runs through the toenail. Dogs that have clear or blond toenails this blood vessel running through it is very easy to see. Dogs with dark brown or even black toenails this is vessel is not visible at all.

"Trial and Error" is not the best method to use when your dogs toenails are too dark to see. This will only cause the dog to become fearful and panicky on subsequent toenail trimmings. The best thing to do is the nail "long". Meaning, instead of taking the chance of nicking the vessel and dealing with the mess and pain it ensues, just cut the tip of the nail, leaving it longer than you would think it should be. In other words, be on the safe side. The toenail has been left too long if it clicks on the floor when the dog walks.

Trimming a little dogs nail is a lot easier than trimming one on a large dog bar far. For the large breeds you'll need an assistant with a strong grip, yet a calm voice, to help make the dog relax. Yelling, "No" or "Sit" is not going to get you anywhere when you have a dog that's upset about the process.

When my dogs were growing up, and now, I always make sure I touch them and handle their various appendages, so that when a time comes that I need to trim their toenails or let the veternarian look into their ear or hold a tail, they are used to it and it won't frighten them. If your dog is only accustomed to having his tummy rubbed or chest and head scratched, then when its time for any other body part to be touched, and its usually at an inconvenient time, its going to be upsetting. So when you're relaxing with your doggy in front of the t.v. run your hands down his leg to his feet and handle each toe gently and the toenail too. Then run your hands down his tail, don't pull on it, but just feel it, get him used to being touched. It can make things much easier in the long run when you need to be able to touch his toes, tail and ears.

If you do clip off a little too much of the nail and it starts to bleed, press your finger on it until it stops. There are also blood clotting powders available just for times like that. A stiptic pencil, used by men when they nick their face, can burn. This might not be first choice but if its all you have available you may have to use it if finger pressure isn't stopping it. It may look bad but it will stop bleeding if you keep the finger pressure on it.

Good Luck


Submit a Comment

  • TravelAbout profile image

    Katheryn 5 years ago from United States

    Thanks so much for the advice, I will try that. It only happens on HP, if I go to You Tube the videos play fine but once I upload them to HP or trying to view any video on HP, I only get sound! I will try your suggestion, thanks again.

  • Msmillar profile image

    Joanna 5 years ago from Valley Springs

    Is it video's on hubpages or are ALL videos slow to load or partially loading? Have you updated your video driver? Video driver's need updating almost monthly to work right. With the constant technology improvements updating is a must. I really wanted to watch a video published by Kelleyward but it kept coming through in starts and fits, very frustrating, so I walked away for a while, came back and re-played it and it was fine.

    Its sorta funny the way a dog takes so long to "sit" but they recognize a pair of clippers when you pull them out of a drawer no matter how quietly you pull them out! Good Luck TravelAbout!

  • TravelAbout profile image

    Katheryn 5 years ago from United States

    I'm having problems with videos, I can hear them but the videos are not showing. It only seems to happen on hubpages because I can view you tube or other videos? It's very odd. I did not get to see your girl run, however, my lab/border collie only has to hear me say the words "nail clip time", and she makes a mad dash to under the bed also. My husband refuses to try to do the clipping so he holds them and trys to distract them while I clip. They do act so similar to kids in some ways. LOL

  • Msmillar profile image

    Joanna 5 years ago from Valley Springs

    Hi TravelAbout! I know exacty what you mean! You can see in the video, my little girl resists as soon as she see's the clippers come out! She runs and hides under the bed, and I've never caused her harm. I just do it as fast as I can. All the soothing in the world, all the kind words we can provide, give no solace to a dog getting its nails trimmed. Just grab 'em and clip, clip, clip as fast as you can!

  • TravelAbout profile image

    Katheryn 5 years ago from United States

    I learned how to groom my two girls that I swear by the time I get to the tail end of clipping, the front where I started has already grown an 1/8 of an inch. With money tight, I had no choice but to learn to do it myself. However, with that said, I absolutely hate cutting any of the three girl's nails. My dogs are very used to being handled and get their teeth brushed but they do not like the nail cutting. As you said, I always play it safe and have never caused bleeding but they still hate it. That makes me very nervous so the whole ordeal each and every couple of weeks is a very unpleasant experience for all of us. Great hub and if you have any other suggestions on how to make it better...please share. Your hub was very informative.


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