how much to cut dogs nails

how much to cut dogs nails


How Much to Cut Dog’s Nails

Understanding Your Dog’s Nail Anatomy

You may not realize it, but your dog’s nails are more complex than they appear. Similar to human nails, dog nails have a protective outer shell and a sensitive quick inside. The quick supplies blood to the nail and runs through the core, making it a crucial part of the nail’s growth.

  • The Quick: This is the sensitive part of your dog’s nail. It’s easy to spot in light-colored nails, where it appears as a pinkish area. On darker nails, however, it’s harder to see.
  • The Shell: This is the hard, protective outer layer that you’ll be trimming.

When to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Ideally, your dog’s nails should just about touch the ground when they walk. If you hear their nails clicking on the floor, it’s a clear sign they need a trim. Some dogs naturally wear down their nails through regular exercise on hard surfaces such as concrete or pavement, but many dogs will need regular nail trims to keep them at a comfortable length.

How Much to Trim

Here’s the tricky part. You want to trim enough of your dog’s nail to shorten it, but not so much that you cut into the quick.

  1. Light-Colored Nails: Look for the pinkish quick and cut the nail about 2mm away from it.
  2. Dark-Colored Nails: Cut off a little bit at a time, looking at the cross section of the nail after each cut. When you start to see a gray or pink oval, stop cutting.
Nail Color Where to Cut
Light-Colored 2mm away from the quick
Dark-Colored Stop when you see a gray or pink oval

Tools for the Job

There are several tools available to trim your dog’s nails, each with its own advantages and drawbacks.

  • Guillotine Nail Clippers: These are easy to use, but may not be strong enough for larger dogs.
  • Scissor Clippers: These are stronger and can cut through thicker nails, but may be harder to control.
  • Grinders: These slowly shave down the nail instead of cutting it, reducing the chance of cutting the quick. However, they can be noisy and may scare some dogs.


Q: How often should I trim my dog’s nails?
A: Most dogs need their nails trimmed every 1-2 months. However, some dogs may need more frequent trims.

Q: What if I cut the quick?
A: If you accidentally cut the quick, don’t panic. Apply a styptic powder or cornstarch to stop the bleeding.

Q: Can I trim my dog’s nails myself?
A: Yes, but it’s essential to know what you’re doing. If you’re unsure, it’s best to ask a vet or professional groomer for help.