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Groom a Shiba Inu's Nails

Updated on December 20, 2014

Shiba Inus are generally sensitive to handling so grooming can sometimes be a challenge. The key to grooming a Shiba Inu is to desensitize them to handling as early as possible by pairing touching and grooming with really good dog treats.

A Shiba Inu's Nail

Grooming a Shiba Inu's nails is best done with a nail grinder rather than a nail clipper.

A dog's nails contain blood vessels and nerves called the quick. The quick can be more easily seen on lighter colored pink nails but are difficult to detect on darker nails.

The key advantage of using a nail grinder is that it grinds the nail down slowly and there is little chance of us hitting the quick. If we should accidentally cut the quick with a nail clipper, it will bleed and be very painful for our Shiba Inu.

When I first groomed my Shiba Inu, I hit his quick on the first nail and it was a big Shiba scream, running everywhere, blood everywhere, extravaganza.

If you accidentally hit the quick, make sure to have a styptic pen available to stop the bleeding. If we do not have styptic pen or gel, applying flour or corn starch to the toenail may also help to stop the bleeding. However, it is more effective and less of a mess to use styptic gel.

Groom a Shiba Inu's Nails
Groom a Shiba Inu's Nails

Grinding a Shiba Inu's Nails

Rather than going through all that, I find that it is less risky to use a nail grinder to groom my Shiba Inu's nails. I currently use the Dremel Minimite on my Shiba Inu. It is cordless so I don't have to worry about my Shiba biting on the power cord. It is also small and easy to control.

The PediPaws nail grinder has gotten a fair amount of commercial time on television, but I did not get it because it got many bad reviews on Amazon. Common complaints are that it did not have enough power, has only one speed, and is bulky and difficult to maneuver because of the nail guard.

Advantages of a nail grinder -

  • We can take the nail down slowly and there is a lot less danger of hitting the quick.
  • We can shape the nail properly so that there are no cracks or sharp edges.

Disadvantages of a nail grinder -

  • It will take longer to do our Shiba Inu's nails compared to a nail clipper.
  • Nail grinders generate heat from the grinding motion, which can become uncomfortable for our Shiba Inu. To avoid this, do not work too long on any one nail.

Groom a Shiba Inu's Nails
Groom a Shiba Inu's Nails

Step by Step Shiba Inu Nail Grooming

The Shiba Inu breed is naturally sensitive to handling so we want to approach nail grinding slowly and make it into a fun, rewarding, and low stress activity. Do not physically force our Shiba Inu to do nail grinding. Instead, I slowly desensitize my dog to the nail grinder before even using it on his nails.

  1. I train my Shiba Inu to lie on his side.
  2. I let my Shiba smell the nail grinder and treat. I repeat this a few times until he is comfortable with the nail grinder. Then, I end the grooming session and repeat the exercise over the next few grooming sessions until he is comfortable with the nail grinder.
  3. Next, I turn the nail grinder on and let my dog become accustomed to the sound. I treat him for staying calm and remaining in a down position. Again, I repeat this over several grooming sessions until my dog is comfortable with the sound.
  4. I briefly grind one nail and treat my Shiba Inu with something really good that he only gets during nail grinding sessions. Currently, I am giving him mackerel during nail grooming, which he doesn't get anywhere else. I end the session after one nail, and repeat grinding another nail in the next session and so on, until he gets comfortable with the grinding process.
  5. Once my Shiba is comfortable with grinding, I can slowly increase the number of nails I work on per session.

Note, nail grinding is easier as a two-person operation. I have my grooming partner feed my dog while I am doing his nails.

Interested in Shiba Inus? Share your Shiba Inu story or question with us.

Shiba Inu Stories

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    • Jasmeetk profile image

      Jasmeet Kaur 

      5 years ago from India

      nice 1... voted up!!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This is very helpful! My husband and I have been strugling to find a was to make nail clipping better for our 20m/o Shiba. We've received lots of advice... from people who know nothing about the breed. We're going to give your process a try. And I've got my fingers crossed that it will work! Thank you for sharing!


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