How to Cut your Dog's Nails

Cutting your dog’s nails can be challenging. Epecially black nails, which are a lot harder to cut because it’s harder to find the stopping point. I am going to explain how to cut your dog’s nails simply and to give you the confidence to do so.

Check out our video below as well after reading this article and prepare you even more for cutting your dogs nails.


You should cut your dog’s nails every 1- 6 weeks depending on how fast your dog’s nails grow. An easy way to test if your dog’s nails are too long is by doing the sound test. If you can hear your dog’s nails when they walk on hard surfaces, then it’s probably time to cut them.


The quick is a portion in the dog’s nail that has blood vessels and nerves. You don’t want to cut that! It’s like cutting your own finger nails too short. It can blead and cause discomfort.


However, if you do cut the quick of the nail you can use styptic powder. There are different brands available and to choose from. If you want to, you could also just use some corn starch or some flour from home. Take a little bit of it and apply it right to the nail if you accidentally cut too far.


Finding the quick can be challenging with dark black nails. It’s almost impossible to see, but if you take a flashlight you might be able to see a shadow. That shadow would be where the quick is. Sometimes you can’t see the quick at all if the nails are super dark. That’s the case with my dog Ace. His nails are way too dark to see his quick.

If your dog has more clear nails or lighter nails you can typically see the quick. It will be the darker portion of the nail leading towards the tip.

With black nails you are going to be looking for a black dot. As you cut the nails you will usually start to see a white portion and in the center start to notice a dot. That dot is the beginning of the quick. It’s that shadow or darker area that we are trying to find. When you get to this point stop! You are getting really close to the quick.


Again, don’t worry. If you accidentally cut too close just make sure you have some styptic powder or cornstarch nearby to apply to the nail. We have all cut our own nails too closely. Yes it causes discomfort and sometimes some bleeding. But the pain goes away pretty quickly and especially with dogs.


Preparing your dog is super important. If your dog hasn’t had his or her nails cut before you’re going to need to give them some reassurance. Let them know that it’s okay, comfort them and love on them. I recommend having a couple of treats nearby to give a treat before, during and after. I prefer to give a treat after as a reward. I will let you be the decider of how to do that though.


Another, step in preparing your dog is to safely secure them. You can do this with a harness and leash. You can tie the leash off to a good structure so they can’t move much. You don’t want your dog pulling away or moving when you’re cutting their nails. I prefer a strong two handle dog leash. It’s easier to secure and great for walking your dog.

When I first got Ace I used a harness and leash and secured him to a concrete post in my garage that’s in front of my furnace. Now that he’s used to getting his nails cut I just have him lay down in the garage or the kitchen floor.


When cutting the nails I prefer to use nail clippers followed by a dremel tool that’s designed for dog nails. The dremel tool polishes up the nails and makes them smooth. Make sure the clippers are sharp and of good quality.

I have the same type of nail cutters below. They work great and they get the job done. You can click the image and check them out on Amazon.

Below is the type of dog nail dremel I prefer as well. It has a guard to help guide when polishing up sharp edges. It’s also available on Amazon. Just click the image as well to learn more.


Once your dog is secure and ready to get his or her nails cut give them some extra reassurance by petting them and talking to them.

When cutting the nails make sure to hold your dog’s firmly and securely. Do not hold your dog’s paw loosely. By holding the paw firmly this gives them reassurance. It also makes it easier to spread their paw to cut each nail separately.

A key point to cutting your dog’s nails is to cut small and quick cuts. Cut vertically but at a slight angle of the nail. Follow the same natural curvature of the nail. After each cut take a look at the nail and make sure you haven’t reached the quick.

Next, take another cut at the nail until you see that black dot. Void on the side of caution. If you think you are getting too close then just stop. It’s fine to stop to where you feel comfortable. Move on to the next nail. Don’t forget the dewclaw. That’s that nail that’s grows higher on the dog’s legs.

Remember just take a little bit off of the nail at a time. Go a little bit further. The key is quick and short cuts. You can also trim the nails at a 45 degree angle to take off the sharp edges.


After you have cut all the nails take the dremel tool and take the rough edges off the nails. Because even with short nails they can be a little sharp. It’s just like when you have a sharp edge after cutting your own nails. It may need to be filed down some.


Don’t forget to give your dog a treat after you have completed the nail trimming and dremel off the rough edges! Dog’s love treats. This helps encourage your dog for a job well done.

You can also give treats before, during and after. Be the judge of how you would

like to reward your dog during the process.


  1. Cut your dog’s nails every 1 to 6 weeks. (Depending on how fast your dog’s nails grow.)

  2. Sound test if your dog’s nails make noise on hard surfaces, it’s probably time to cut them.

  3. Secure your dog so they don’t move. You know your dog so use good judgment.

  4. Have styptic powder or cornstarch handy in case you cut into the quick.

  5. Find the quick and use a flashlight if your dog’s nails are really dark.

  6. Have treats ready and give your dog reassurance.

  7. If you can’t find the quick look for the black dot as you’re’ cutting.

  8. Cut vertically and at slight angle. Use the nails angle as a guide.

  9. The key is quick and short cuts.

  10. Check after each cut to see how close you are to the quick.

  11. Polish your dog’s nails to take off any rough edges.

  12. Give your dog a treat after the trimming!

Remember you and your dog will get better with practice. With each time it will become easier.

Bookmark this page as a reference to come back to.

Check us out on Youtube as well. Here’s a video that shows you how to do this. If you want to be updated on more health and fitness for you dog then subscribe on Youtube and our Dog Blog.