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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

For many dogs, the annoying trimming of their claws is a nightmare. However, it is also important for our beloved furry friends to undergo regular claw care. Otherwise, health problems can arise. You can read about what you should look out for and how to do it properly yourself here. Cutting dog claws is important, but why?

Do you have to trim every dog’s claws?

No. In principle, a piece of paper should fit between the claw and the ground. Especially the thumb claw is not in contact with the ground and therefore does not abrade itself. So you have to keep a close eye on the thumb claw and, if necessary, the wolf claw (hind legs) so that it does not twist in and grow into the skin. 

Young dogs, but also dogs that walk on harder ground or dig a lot, usually do not need regular manicures. Nevertheless, they should be accustomed to it. However, especially with older dogs that don’t walk as much, but also with dogs that grow their claws quickly, the claws should be checked regularly and shortened if necessary.

Dogs’ claws grow throughout their lives, and how often they need to be trimmed depends on their activity and the growth of their claws, among other things.

Why should claws be trimmed?

Most dog owners know the following situation: When the dog walks on the parquet at home, it sounds as if you have a little “Raptor from Jurassic Park” at home. Not only does the parquet run the risk of getting scratched, your dog could develop health problems from claws that are too long.

In most cases, however, the claws wear themselves out. Very active dogs in particular usually have no problems with too long claws, as they wear down naturally when they run and dig. The situation is different with older and less active dogs, there is the absence of the natural wear. In this case, too long claws can lead to restrictions in movement but also to much more serious health problems:

  • Effects on the entire musculoskeletal system
  • Postural defects
  • Pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Claws can grow in
  • Inflammations can occur
  • Loss of the claw

Cutting dog claws

When are the claws too long? Quite simply, if the claws touch the ground when standing, they are too long and need to be trimmed. If you feel too insecure to cut the claws yourself, you can also consult a vet. Claw trimming costs about 10 to 20 Euros, depending on the rates of course.

How do you cut a dog’s claws properly? It is not as easy as it is for us humans. Unlike human nails, claws have blood vessels running through them with nerve endings. This is the so-called “life” of the claw. With light-coloured claws you can easily see the reddish area, with black claws unfortunately you cannot see the life. Here you can put on a torch and shine it through the claw. Sometimes the blood vessels become visible this way. If not, it is more advisable to seek professional help. 

If this is caught while cutting, it can lead to severe bleeding. In addition, your pet may develop real anxiety in the future if he has ever had pain when having his claws cut. 

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What do you need to prepare?

First of all, you need the right equipment, lots of light and a special claw nipper or a professional file. Nail scissors and the like that we humans use are definitely not suitable, as claws are much harder and thicker. A pair of scissors to shorten the hair between the pads can be helpful.

A claw board is also an option. Here, sandpaper is pinned to a wooden board on which the dog can wear its claws itself. An electronic claw grinder (similar to a Dremel) would also be an option to shorten the claws. However, if your dog is sensitive to noise, it is better to use conventional files. 

This is the right way to do it.

What is the correct technique? When filing, it is important to hold the toe in place. Hold the toe carefully and do not file wildly back and forth so as not to injure your pet. With dog claws where the life protrudes far forward, filing can help so that it gradually retracts a little.

Place the claw scissors at about a 45° angle to the tip. Now work your way forward piece by piece, always cutting away about a millimetre. Only cut to just before the life. The cut surface also tells you how much you can still shorten. When the cut surface no longer looks keratinous, then you should also stop. Don’t forget to reward your beloved dog!

What to do if it bleeds?

If you cut to deep and injure your darling, you should stay calm and stop the bleeding. To do this, press the claw into a bar of soap or, even better, dust it with a haemostatic powder. This usually stops the bleeding quite quickly. If the claw is still bleeding after about 20 minutes, please consult a vet.

Training for “fear patients” and newcomers

Some dogs go into a state of fear at the sight of the claw scissors. Most of the time these are dogs who have had bad experiences with them. Once cut too deeply, confidence can be lost. Totally understandable when you consider that it must hurt terribly when you catch the sensitive nerves.

If you now have a dog at home that has unfortunately already had this painful experience and for this reason is extremely afraid of having its claws cut, targeted training can certainly help. This training is also recommended for dogs that have never had their claws cut before.

Step 1: The first step is to hold your pet’s paw in your hand. Gently stroke the entire paw and start massaging it. Also include the bale and the claws. Before you take the next step, you should repeat this exercise again and again for a while. Your pet will be rewarded extensively.

Step 2: Now it is time to include the tool in the training, for the first time “only” showing it and touching it. Show your dog the claw scissors, only let him sniff them if he shows interest. Touch the paw with the scissors, but without cutting yet. Run the claw scissors over the paw and over the claws. Repeat this exercise several times until your faithful friend no longer shows fear at the sight of the scissors. 

Intermediate step: For some dogs, the noise is the problem. You can cut uncooked spaghetti with the claw scissors next to your dog and reward him. The sound is very similar to that of cutting claws.

Step 3: Once your pet is used to the sheer presence of the clippers, it is time to use them. It is important not to overdo it, as there is a risk of regression in training. So only cut as many claws as your dog “enjoys”. If he becomes sceptical, take a break. Medical training can help teach your dog a cooperation signal that lets him know when he needs a break. When you have successfully clipped the claw, praise your dog! 

Important: You should praise your dog profusely after every little progress! It is also important that you show patience. The more sensitively you approach the matter, the quicker success will become apparent. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact a qualified trainer

Krallen feilen Hund


For some dogs it is an unpleasant and often hated task: The annoying cutting of claws. Especially if they have already been cut too deeply. Unfortunately, it is necessary to trim the claws regularly, otherwise health problems can arise. Fortunately, there are tips and tricks on how to do it right. So the manicure is no longer a big deal.