How to Use Dog Nail Clippers the Right Way

Last Updated on October 3, 2022 by ellen

Do you know how to use dog nail clippers the right way? Or are you afraid that you’re using them incorrectly? Trimming your dog’s nails is also called giving him a pedicure and is an important part of dog grooming. It can be a simple process if you know the right technique to use. However, if you don’t do it correctly, it can be difficult to get your dog to cooperate. 

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How to Use Dog Nail Clippers the Right Way

How to Use Dog Nail Clippers

If your dog spends a lot of time outside, running on pavement or a hard surface in your yard, their nails may be worn down naturally by the friction of their nails on the ground.

If your dog spends more time inside, this won’t happen. And, you’ll need to trim their nails to keep them groomed properly.

Invest in the best dog nail clippers you can find. These are the best we’ve found.

If you’re wondering how to trim dog nails that are overgrown, it may be best to consult your veterinarian.

Start slowly

If your dog has never had their nails trimmed before, it’s important to start slowly. Ideally, you should begin cutting your dog’s nails when they are young.

But, either way, introduce the clippers to them gradually. Start by just touching their nail with the clippers or running them against the nail and holding their paw.

Praise him and offer him a treat during the process. Repeat this until he is not skittish around the clippers.

clipping a dog's nails

Know your clippers

There are two basic types of dog nail clippers. The scissor type looks like your traditional scissors and is often called Miller’s Forge Trimmers.

They work best for medium to large sized dogs. The guillotine-type has a small opening that the nail sits in. It may be harder to trim thicker dog nails with this type of trimmer.

But, it works quite well on smaller breeds.

Needed supplies

Before you begin, gather the supplies you’ll need together. Of course, you’ll need your clippers.

Then, it’s best to have styptic powder to stop the bleeding in case you cut the nail too close. You can get it here.

You will also want to have treats, and a comforting blanket if your dog has one.

French bulldog laying on a white rug


When to start

Choose a time when your dog is relaxed to begin trimming his nails. This may be after he’s finished eating his main meal of the day or after he’s tired from a long walk or playtime outside.

You don’t want to start trimming his nails when he’s keyed up or anxious. Speak calmly to him during the process in a steady, soothing voice.

Find the quick

The quick of the nail contains a blood vessel, and you will want to avoid this area when trimming. If your dog’s nails are white, you can identify the quick because it is a pink tube.

If your dog’s nails are dark, it will be harder to identify. You may want to ask your vet to help you identify it for you at your next vet’s appointment before you attempt clipping nails on your own.

It is best to cut less than you want than to cut more and injure your dog.

a woman clipping a dog's nails

Grasp the paw gently

To begin, grasp the paw gently but firmly. Your hand should face the front of the paw, and your thumb should stabilize the top digit you’re working on.

This is the best position to cut the front nails. For the back nails, lay your dog on his side and place your arm across his body while you grasp the back claw.

Learning how to use dog nail clippers correctly will make this easier.

To cut the nail

Avoiding the quick, cut the tip of the nail in a straight line. You may want to avoid dog nail clippers that click since this noise may startle your dog during the process.

Always cut from top to bottom instead of side to side. When you’re done clipping, file the nails smoothly to remove jagged edges.

man petting a golden dog on a leash

Comfort and love

It’s important that you offer your dog comfort and love during the entire clipping process. Do not rush or become impatient.

It’s OK that it take as long as it needs to for your dog to remain calm. Reassure your dog and praise them for their good behavior.

Now that you know how to use dog nail clippers invest in the best dog nail clippers to begin.

17 thoughts on “How to Use Dog Nail Clippers the Right Way

  1. We never clipped our dogs nails when I was growing up. Is this because there were outside dogs? I know a lot of people struggle with this so your tips are going to be very useful.

  2. Thanks for the advice. I’m still traumatized from watching my mom cut my dog’s toe when she clipped him one time. We always take our dog to the groomer to do his.

  3. Great tips for their tips 😀 I am able to cut one of my rescues but, unfortunately the one in which was very obviously mistreated (kicked so hard she has a curve to her body 🙁 ….. ) will not let me do her nails no matter how much she trusts me. She gets lots of walks and I keep them naturally trimmed at least.

  4. This couldn’t have come at a better time. Just noticed that our dog’s nails need done. We usually take them to the vet, but maybe we can do it?! We will try your tips for sure.

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