Skip to content

How To Trim Dog Nails When They’re Are Too Long

  • 10 min read

When a dog’s nails are too long, it really affects the overall performance of the dog.

Considering that dogs can’t talk, you may not know when this discomfort and foot pain is happening,

but if you really pay attention you will see a change in the dog’s movement.

Also, if you touch the dog’s nail you will notice that he pulls back as if to show he felt pain.

Cutting a dog’s nails when they get too long is a very good practice and a way to ease the dog’s pain.

This article will show you what to do when your dog’s nails are too long and the right technique to help you trim your dog’s long nails at home.

For dogs that play a lot, the pain and discomfort that comes from having a long nail is not much of an issue but is still discomfort.

It is worst for quiet dogs breeds like the French Bulldog, Great Dane, Bouvier des Flandres, Greyhound, and so on.

I decided to reach out to dog owners and a couple of experts to talk about some ways to take care of a dog’s nail

and come up with the best way to cut a dog’s nail when they are too long or overgrown.

Let’s dive in.

How Do I Know When To Cut A Dogs Nail?

If you can tell when your dog’s nails are too long then you will know when it’s time for the nail to be trimmed.

Here are some signs to help you know that your dog’s nails are long enough to be trimmed.

1. Your Dog Changes His Walk To Tiptoe

Because of the length of the dog’s nails, he tends to start walking with the tip of his toe,

This is a case where the dog walks mostly with the toenails on the ground and the paw not properly balanced on the ground.

This change in steps completely disfigures the dog’s movement making it difficult for the dog to walk or stand for a long time comfortably.

2. You Experience The Dogs Nail Scratching Your Body When He Touches You

It is not always a call for alarm when my dog’s nail scratches me once in a while,

but if it happens more often then I have to look at the nail length and see if the length should be reduced.

To know when a dog’s nails are too long, you should place the dog’s paw on a flat surface, preferably, on the floor, to see if the nails are touching the floor.

If the nails touch the floor, then it is time to get them off the floor.

Cut the nail to a proper size to avoid scratches every single time you try to carry your cute little buddy.

I have experienced the pain that comes with a dog nail scratch while playing with him, and I can tell it is not a nice feeling.

If you notice that you get nail scratches while playing with your dog, this can be an indication that you should trim the nail for safety.

Doing this will keep you out of harm and make it safe to play with your dogs without worries of being cratched.

3. When Your Dog’s Nails Make A Sound While Walking On A Hard Floor

When a dog’s nails are too long, you hear the sound as the dog walks on a hard floor, for example when the dog walks on a marble floor.

Dogs’ paws are supposed to be the only thing touching the floor when they walk through the room,

if you hear a click-like sound then it is time to cut the nail short and allow the dog to walk soundlessly.

4. When Your Dog’s Nails Curls Around His Paw

Different breeds of dogs have different growth styles. Some dogs have the normal claw that grows straight on top of their foot.

In most cases, dogs with straight nails tend to have their overgrown nail wear out bit by bit as they walk on it.

Nonetheless, there is a breed of dogs that have what is known as a dewclaw.

This is a type of claw that does not get worn out easily,

instead, it continues growing until it curves in a c-shape as if to go round the dog’s paw.

This type of nail is usually the toughest to trim, and the dog owner that has this breed of dog should try to keep the dog’s nail from getting too long by cutting it short “early”.

5. When Your Dog Has A Limp Walk

This is one of the most reasons why you should keep that dog’s nail short often.

When a dogs nail is so long that he starts limping in his walk, this can be due to a number of reasons,

but if you check the dog and it is dues to the length of his nail, then you should do well to cut the nails as soon as you can.

If the length of a dog’s nail is the cause of his limping then the dog must be in quite a lot of pain and should be attended to immediately.

Also, the owners of such a dog should be aware of how often should dog nails be trimmed to avoid experiencing limping.

6. When Your Dog Changes From Walking To Sliding

To avoid the pain that comes overgrown nails, when a dog nails are too long he sometimes prefers to slide as he walks, then stops occasionally to lick his paw in an attempt to ease the pain.

So if you see this, then it is probably a good idea to check the dog’s paw to see the length of the nail and know if it is that time of the month to get his nail cut and filed.

How To Cut Your Dog Nails The Right Way

1. Start early

The earlier you start cutting your dog’s nails when they are just a puppy the better they get used to it.

Dogs are sensitive, so if suddenly using a clipper on them you can make them defensive and literally get the dog to start running away from you.

If you start to cut your dog’s nails for the first time while they are already adult dogs,

then you need to take your time to allow your dog to ease into the nail cutting process. Here is how to handle *cutting your dog’s nails if you started late*.

2. Get the right clipper for your specific dog

The best way to cut your dog’s nails begins with the type of clipper that you use, it is important that you get clippers specially made for dog nails.

This will help you avoid a lot of trouble that might occur in the process of cutting a dog’s nail,

troubles like making the dog bleed and sometimes even cutting what is known as the quick.

With the number of dog nail trimmers available for purchase in the market,

it is important that you let the seller know exactly what kind of breed your dog is, or if possible,

take your dog along with you to the market so that the nail clippers seller can see the type of nail your dog has to know what type of clipper best fits the dog’s nail.

Some good clippers include.

  • Guillotine Nail Clippers for puppies
  • Pliers Dog Nail Clippers for adult dogs
  • Claw cutter for dogs with thick nails

There are more clippers out there, but I still recommend you take your dog to the dog nail trimmer purchase store near you to get a specific clipper based on what the seller will recommend.

Every clipper has a method of use, it is also a good idea to let the seller show you a practical method of how to use the clipper assuming you are just buying it for the first time.

3. Learn from an experienced dog owner or even the nail trimmer seller

Cutting a dog’s nail requires a steady hand. As a beginner, you want to take your time and learn how to be smooth and quick in cutting your dog’s nails.

Sometimes, your dog might experience slight pain which can make him uncomfortable in allowing you cut the nail.

Letting the seller or an experienced dog owner show you how to cut your dog’s nails is a good way of learning.

Once you get a hang of it you can do it any day any time.

4. Be conscious about the different claws

When you trim your dog’s nails, be conscious about the dewclaw and also the rare claw.

While you are cutting the front nails short, the rare claw usually is not all that tall and noticeable in comparison to the other nails.

So when you cut it, be sure to give it just a small trim and not cut it too much to avoid cutting the veins that are attached to the nail.

As for the dewclaw, it is that claw located at the upper region of the dogleg, it also requires small trimming and smooth filing.

5. Smoothening through edges

Cutting the nail without smoothening the edges is an incomplete nail-cutting process.

The rough edges can cut you when you play with your dog. So, it is important to include smoothening to keep the nail smooth and smart.

What You Should Do If You Mistakenly Cut The Quick

Cutting the quick can be tricky, it can cause bleeding in some case because bother the quick and the veins are attached to the dog’s nail.

If in any way your dog experiences bleeding from the nail cutting process, you should not worry too much about it. Well, maybe you should worry a little.

Here is how to stop the bleeding.

Get a tissue and place it on the bleeding spot for about 2 minutes,

then remove the blood-soaked tissue and apply a few spills of Gentian violet on the wound,

then place a second tissue on the wound and hold for about 3 – 6 minutes.

Using Gentian violet (GV) will greatly help stop bleeding in cuts for humans and dogs alike.

How Often Should Dog Nails Be Trimmed?

You should always trim your dog’s nails “once every month” regardless of the breed especially if you have an adult dog. That is how often dog nails should be trimmed.

Puppy dogs can have their nail trimmed once in two months but adult dogs have stronger nails and if left unchecked can cause a lot of discomforts.


Dog’s nails can greatly influence how you play with your dog. The earlier you start cutting your dog’s nail the easier it is for the dog to get used to it.

Note: This article on taking care of your dog’s nail that is long is for information purposes only.

Please reach out to your vet if you notice any abnormalities on your dog’s foot or in cutting your dog’s nail.