top of page
  • Writer's pictureMary Puppins

How To Safely Trim Your Small Breed Dog's Nails

Updated: Feb 21

small dog having nails trimmed, safely trim your small breed dog's nails

Safely Trim Your Small Breed Dog's Nails

To safely trim your small breed dog's nails, you need to know that beneath each nail of a dog lies a sensitive region adorned in pink hues, encompassing nerves and a blood vessel; this tender area is referred to as the quick.

Marked by its vitality, a cut to the quick evokes pain and bleeding.

While dogs with clear or white claws present a visible quick, the same isn't true for those with dark or black claws.


"Whether you need to trim your dog’s nails regularly will depend on their weight, their breed or type, the amount/duration of exercise they do, the type of ground they regularly exercise on – hard (pavement) or soft (grass), and whether they have dew claws.

Dew claws are the claws just by their wrist/ankle. Not all dogs have dew claws. If they do, they often don’t come into contact with the ground so will not wear down naturally and are likely to require clipping." The Dog's Trust


Considering this, entrusting a skilled dog grooming professional to perform nail trimming is often safer.

Nevertheless, the task can be undertaken by you with care...

At Mary Puppins Luxury Dog Home Boarding, we understand the significance of meticulous pet care.

While specialising in the well-being of small breed dogs, our commitment extends beyond doggy holidays. Here's how you can approach nail clipping:

Safely Trim Your Small Breed Dog's Nails with Special Nail Clipping Tools and Techniques

Safely trim your small breed dog's nails and opt for nail clippers equipped with an embedded light, which illuminates the claw and reveals the quick as you trim.

Alternatively, some clippers feature a guard that prevents over-trimming, a helpful measure to avoid the quick.

Safely Trim Your Small Breed Dog's Nails - The Canoe Shaped Claw Hollow

Safely trim your small breed dog's nails and inspect the underside of the claw for a hollow, resembling the shape of a canoe; this section rests around the nail's midpoint.

Notably, this hollow region is devoid of sensitivity and can be safely trimmed.

Safely Trim Your Small Breed Dog's Nails - Nail Trimming Strategy

Safely trim your small breed dog's nails and embrace the principle of "little and often" when addressing dog health and nail care.

By gradually trimming in small increments, you ensure safety and minimise the risk of nicking or cutting the quick.


"Nail maintenance is an important part of your pup’s health and hygiene, so it’s worthwhile getting them accustomed to the procedure as soon as they land in your care. The benefits of proper nail maintenance extend far further than cosmetic; if your dog’s nails are splayed and overgrown it can cause discomfort for them at best and deformed joints and feet at worst. Unclipped nails can cause a dog to put more weight on their rear paws, resulting in anatomical and musculoskeletal problems for them, which have the potential to cause long-lasting damage." The Dog's Trust


How to train your dog to have their nails clipped at home? 

The first step is to teach your dog not to be worried about having their paws handled.

You can do this gradually, over a couple of weeks or longer if necessary, doing one step a few times a day for a few days in a row before moving on.

Go at your dog’s pace to help them feel confident and so they’re not overwhelmed.

If at any point your dog appears worried, stop what you’re doing and have a break. 

Go back to the step that your dog was comfortable with and repeat that for a bit longer.

What equipment is needed for clipping your dog’s nails? 

There are lots of different nail clippers available.

Your vet is likely to have a selection and might be able to advise on different types.

Some clippers have a safety guard which protects the amount of nail clipped.

There are also grinders that can be used to file down nails, but these might take longer to use and have a louder noise.

If your dog’s nails need a slight trim you simply need a pumice stone or file as opposed to clippers. 

For more overgrown nails, we recommend using guillotine clippers, scissors or an electric nail grinder.

What is the anatomy of a dog’s paw? 

Dogs usually have four toes on each paw and some have a dew claw on their wrist/ankle too.

Each toe has a nail which consists of the outer hard shell, the inner shell, and the central pink quick which contains the blood and nerve supply.

Dog paws are complicated structures made up of many bones, ligaments, tendons and fibres working in conjunction with one another to enable our furry friends to be agile on their feet.

How to prepare your dog for having their nails checked and clipped? 

Being able to clip your dog’s nails at home saves a trip to the vet or groomer.

It can be a simple procedure, as long as you feel confident about what to do and how to do it, and your dog is happy having their feet touched.

Despite avoiding the quick, a dog might not like being held still and their feet touched. Taking the time to teach them to be handled all over their body will really pay off.

How long should a dog’s nails be? 

Dog nails should be visible but should not extend past the paw.

You could find it difficult to notice your dog's nails if they have long fur.

However, you will know your dog has excessively long nails if they reach the underside of the paw pad.

What are the signs that your dog’s nails may need cutting? 

A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t be able to hear your dogs paws making loud sounds as they walk on hard flooring.

The claws should not protrude far over the pad and there should be a small gap between the nail and the floor when they are stood upright. Healthy nails shouldn’t split, look rough or break easily.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. For specific veterinary dog health advice, contact a veterinary pet healthcare provider.

Mary Puppins Luxury Dog Home Boarding offers meticulous care, with a focus on ensuring your beloved canine's health.

While our realm caters primarily to small and toy breed dogs, we extend our commitment beyond doggy holidays. Rest assured, your small breed dog's well-being is our priority.

At Mary Puppins,  we prioritise your cherished pets' well-being, offering a haven of comfort and care during their stay.

Our commitment is to ensure your small breed dogs are treated like family, receiving top-notch attention and care.

BOOK NOW  via our website. We have limited places and get booked up super fast. Give your little dog the five-star VIP holiday they deserve, while you enjoy yours.

Mary Puppins, safely trim your small breed dog's nails

Mary Puppins, safely trim your small breed dog's nails, clipping nails

Mary Puppins Dog Nanny expert on small dog breeds UK

Kate Phillips, Chief Editor

BSc (Hons), MSc

Kate is the UK's very own Mary Puppins, a professional Dog Nanny and expert in small breed dogs. With over 30 years' experience and successfully helping high profile celebrity pet parents raise their furry families, Kate shares her top tips with you. Kate guides readers on small breed dogs, dog health, dog training, dog nutrition, dog food, dog walks, dog accessories, dog enrichment, rescue dogs, dog behaviour, dog grooming and the best products for dog mums and dog dads to create the ultimate luxury lifestyle for their small dogs.



Mary Puppins Small Dog Expert Blog

Mary Puppins Pet Parents' Blog



We provide free, useful information for pet parents of small dog breeds UK. 

Please be aware that our opinions may differ to yours and that's ok. We encourage healthy, positive discussion. 


We all love our small dogs! And want them to live a long and happy life. 

mary puppins dog blog (2).jpg

Join the Mary Puppins Pack

Thanks for subscribing!

It's FREE!

Your information is 100% secure

Subscribe to Mary Puppins for FREE and get access to all our latest content. Zero spam.


Join the Mary Puppins Pack

Subscribe to Mary Puppins for FREE and get access to all our latest content. Zero spam.

Thanks for submitting!

It's FREE! Your information is 100% secure

bottom of page