How to Trim a Small Dog's Nails

15 - 20 Minutes
1 Month


Trimming a small dog's nails is the kind of chore that has many owners shaking in their boots. While it would be nice if you could just let your pup's nails grow and wear down on their own, this is not good for your pup's feet or his overall health. Not only can overly long nails be painful, but they can lead to your pup walking awkwardly. This can lead to changes in his posture, muscle, tendon or ligament strains, and even arthritis. Trimming nails is really quite easy once you have mastered the skill and should only take a few minutes. 

Dog's Perspective

Picture this: your toenails have grown out to the point where the push into your toes and twist them with every step. Can you imagine the pain and discomfort? Well, this is exactly what your pup goes through every time you let his nails get too long. Is this really fair when it only takes a few minutes to keep them properly trimmed?

Caution & Considerations

  • Always use a guillotine type nail trimmer for small dogs.
  • Never force your dog to let you trim his nails. Work with him until he will relax enough to let you trim them without fussing.
  • You can use plenty of treats as rewards at first to help him get used to having his nails trimmed.
  • If you are going to use a Dremel-type grinder, be sure to keep the RPMs turned down to reduce the amount of heat generated.
  • Never let the heat build up when using a grinder, as it will travel along your dog's nail and into his toe. The temperature can become intense enough to severely burn or damage his toe.
  • Don't forget to trim the dew claws while you are at it.
  • Be sure the cutters you use have a sharp blade. This will help reduce the risk of shattering or splitting an nail instead of cutting through it.
  • Always file or grind his nails when done to remove any sharp edges. 


There really isn't a good reason why you can't learn to trim your pup's nails. It just takes time and patience on both of your parts. At first, let your pup set the pace and use plenty of treats to get him used to having his nails trimmed. Eventually, it should take less than 20 minutes from start to finish. 

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd