When & How to Cut a Dog’s Nails Properly

One aspect of dog ownership we often overlook is nail care. I know, it’s a huge hassle trying to clip your dog’s nails, but it’s a necessary thing you need to do as a dog owner.

If you don’t, the long unclipped nails can cause severe damage to your dog’s overall health. For instance, when “nails are so long that they constantly touch the ground, they exert force back into the nail bed, creating pain for the dog (imagine wearing a too-tight shoe) and pressure on the toe joint. Long term, this can actually realign the joints of the foreleg and make the foot looked flattened and splayed.”

Sounds painful right? Well, it gets even worse in extreme cases because the nails can curl into the pad of their paws and cause unmanageable pain for your staffy. Once this happens, exercise for your staffy can become difficult and further health issues could present themselves.

With this knowledge, you can see why keeping your dog’s nails short and well take care of is a must. Of course, you can get your staffy’s nails clipped by a professional groomer but this can be inconvenient and is more costly.

Clipping your staffy’s nails isn’t a difficult thing to do and, if you keep reading, we’ll provide you with an easy step-by-step guide that’ll teach how to properly clip your dog’s nails from the confines of your home.

How to Cut a Dogs Nails

Tools for the Job

How to Tell a Dog Needs Their Nails Clipped

In general, a good rule of thumb about nail care is if your dog’s nails touch the floor when they’re standing up, it’s time for a clipping session. You can also tell by the amount of noise they make when they walk around the house.

For example, if your dog’s walking around and their nails are clicking against the ground, it’s an indication that they’re too long. And you’ll be able to tell fairly easily because of how annoying the clicking can get.

Ironically, sometimes the clipping gets taken care of by the nails being worn down from walking on harder surfaces but if you rely on this, the nails can become split or torn. In this case, trim or file the damaged nails to ensure the splits don’t get worse.

Overall, a reasonable schedule for each clipping session is every two weeks for adult staffies and every week for puppies. As you would expect, puppies’ nails grow at a much faster rate than adult dogs.

How to Cut a Dog's Nails

Here's a quick visual of how simple the process can be. Continue reading below for some more detailed steps.

Step 1: Know how much to cut

As mentioned above, your dog’s claws should not be touching the ground when they stand up. They should also not protrude over the pads of their paws.

You can also consider your dog’s lifestyle. For instance, if your dog is always walking on hard surfaces such as concrete, you can afford to leave their nails a little bit longer than usual.

But in general, a good guideline to follow is one stated in the previous section: if their nails touch the floor, they’re too long. Therefore, cutting them in the range below the quick but above the floor should give you an idea of the length.

The main safety point to keep in mind when trimming a dog’s claws is to avoid cutting the quick, which is a blood vessel that runs through the middle of their claws.

For dogs with light coloured nails, you will be able to see the quick easily. However, it is harder to see on darker claws. You can use a light to try and see the quick of darker nails but, if you still can’t see it, the best option is to go very slowly and cut only a small amount at a time. Stop once you see a dark spot in the middle of the claw.

It is recommended to stop cutting a couple of millimeters shy of the quick. If you do accidentally cut their quick, hold some tissue on the area until the bleeding stops. You can help to stop the bleeding by using styptic powder and it is wise to have some on hand, you can get it from Amazon here.

Step 2: Use the right nail clippers

For a staffy, I’d recommend getting a good pair of guillotine clippers. You might think the name sounds scary but these function perfectly for a medium size dog such as a staffy.

The best nail clippers for dogs?

Thunderpaws dog nail clippers

I would suggest the Thunderpaws Professional-Grade Dog Nail Clippers; they're used by vets all around the world. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there rreallymisn’t a single flaw to be found about them. Products don’t get much better than these nail clippers.

ThunderPaws Nail Clippers:

Non-slip rubber handles

High-quality stainless-steel blades

Lifetime warranty

Come in two colors


These nail clippers are pretty much perfect. There isn’t much else to say except that they have everything a staffy owner could want in this type of product. Honestly, I couldn’t find a single relevant complaint about them. You can view these clippers here.

Now, that we got you prepared for the clipping session, it’s time we move onto the actual nail clipping. Trust me; it won’t be the nightmare you think it’s going to be. Just remember to relax and keep yourself and your dog calm.

Step 3: Lift your dog's paw

A simple step but you must be cautious about how you pick up your staffy’s paw. Most dogs hate getting their feet handled and will try to pull their paw away from you.

Therefore, you must gentle pick up their paw and you can let them sniff the clipper before you start the actual clipping. By doing so, you’re letting them get more familiar with the clipper and makes it seem less foreign.

In the end, it’s all about creating a relaxing atmosphere and keeping your staffy as relaxed as possible. If you don’t build this sense of calm, these clipping sessions will always be a nightmare and something you’ll probably have to pay someone to do for you.

Step 4: Start trimming little by little

Go nail by nail and slowly start snipping a small amount off each one. This process isn’t something you want to do quickly. It will only make your staffy less inclined to co-operate.

All you need to do is put a small piece of the toenail into the clipper and start snipping each toenail one by one.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s a remarkably smooth and quick process,

But there are some scenarios that you must be mindful about during this process. For example, if the nail starts feeling spongey when you’re trying to cut it, you must stop immediately.

As discussed earlier, if you do cut the quick, it’s going bleed quite a bit. So, it’s imperative you stop the bleeding as quickly as you can, to do so, you’ll need some styptic powder.

Step 5: Reward your dog

Once your done clipping all their nails, reward them for their obedience. In doing so, you’ll make them start associating these clipping sessions with whatever form of reward you give them.

And then, they’ll start being less resistance to the overall process. It’s a little trick to making this whole thing a little less unpleasant for everyone involved. So, give them a treat or two and go about your day.

Read More Staffy Grooming Tips

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