When To Cut Puppies Nails For The First Time

Puppies are born with sharp little nails, and you may be wondering when to cut puppies’ nails for the first time. It can be a little scary for you both the first time, but with a few tips, you will both be fine!

When Can I Cut My Puppy’s Nails?

You should not cut a puppy’s nails for the first time until they are at least six weeks old. At this age, their nails will still be tiny and quite soft; it is more to get them used to the process.

But you do not have to use dog nail clippers at this age; you can use nail clippers for human children. These types of clippers are nice and small, and less likely to cause harm.

But once your puppy gets older then you should invest in proper dog nail clippers to suit the shape.

Trimming A Puppy’s Nails For The First Time

If a puppy has white nails then luckily you can see through them. The pink parts are where the blood supply is, so you should never cut there, only the whites. If a puppy has black claws then you need to take extra care. It is probably better to use a cardboard nail file, called an emery board, just to soften the sharp ends.

Trimming A Puppy's Nails For The First Time

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Get Puppies Used To Having Their Nails Trimmed

It is good to get puppies used to having their nails trimmed from a relatively young age because that way they get used to it. It is harder to do on a grown dog that is struggling to get away from you and this means you may accidentally cut too much nail off if the dog jerks. Long nails on dogs are bad news – they grow into a curl and make it hard for the dog to walk.

If you are trimming a puppy’s nails and you see blood, get them to the vet ASAP. They will let you know that they are in pain too, and most likely yelp or whine.

Here is a list of what you need to get ready and prepared to trim your puppy’s nails for the first time. It may help to soak the paws in water first, to soften the nails, or do it after a bath (6 to 8 weeks is about the right age for their first bath, so you could do both together.)

  • Clippers
  • Emery board nail file
  • Old towel
  • Patience and gentleness

Tips For Clipping A Puppy’s Nails

  1. Put the pup on your lap on a towel.
  2. Gently draw one leg forward, and take a hold of the paw firmly. Use your thumb to press down on top of the paw. This will make the claws extend.
  3. Gently and carefully trim each nail with the clippers. Remember that it is better to trim too little than too much. Make sure the dog is calm and not wiggling, and that you have a clear view of the nail.
  4. Only take off the sharp tip, and do not cut too far back. Otherwise, you may cut the quick, which is where the blood supply is.
  5. When you get to the pup’s back legs, tuck the pup under your elbow before you take hold of their foot, with the pup’s head on your knee.
  6. Keep talking in a soothing and encouraging voice to your pup during the nail trimming process.
  7. Finish off any rough edges with a quick, gentle going over with the emery board, to avoid snags.

Puppy Dew Claws

Pay careful attention to the dewclaw. The dewclaw is like the ‘thumb’, it is the one claw that is on the inside of the dog’s leg, not on the foot. 

In the majority of dog breeds, the dewclaw is only on the two front legs.

However, in a few breeds, they are on the back legs too, and sometimes they are ‘double’ dewclaws. In fact, with some of them, such as the Beucaron, having rear dewclaws is part of the breed standard (meaning that it is expected of a show-quality dog.)

So if you get one of these breeds then expect extra nail trimming.

These breeds are, in alphabetical order:

  1. Anatolian Shepherd
  2. Beauceron
  3. Briard
  4. Cão Fila de São Miguel
  5. Catalan
  6. East Siberian Laika
  7. Estrela Mountain dog
  8. Icelandic Sheepdog
  9. Pyrenean Mountain Dog (Great Pyrenees)
  10. St. Bernard

The Norwegian Lundehund even had six toes on each foot, with DOUBLE dewclaws on their hind legs! So owners of Norwegian Lundehund puppies are in for even more puppy nail trimming.

It is important to keep this dew claw trimmed with a smooth end because if it gets snagged on something and it gets ripped out the dog can lead to serious blood loss.

How Often Should I Trim My Puppy’s Nails?

Trimming your puppy’s nails once a week if often enough.

When your pup is older and is hopefully having daily walkies, you may find that walking on concrete has enough of a filing effect to keep the nails on the paw trim (though not the dewclaw.)

Two Good Types Of Dog Nail Trimmers

Yoobure Pet Nail Clippers with LED Light

These dog nail clippers are great because the LED light can show you where the blood supply of the nail bed is, thus making trimming safer. The ultra-bright light shows the bloodline in the mail. 

The blade is stainless steel so it will strongly and cleanly cut through the nail. The blade is crescent moon-shaped, so it is made to fit the shape of a dog’s nail. 

These clippers have ergonomic handles that are comfortable for people with both large and small hands. 

Gonicc Dog Nail Clippers

These stainless steel clippers have an ergonomic handle for your comfort, and a safety stop blade to help over-cutting your dog’s nails.

Summary

Trimming your puppy’s nails for the very first time can be a nerve-racking experience for you, as their owner. Obviously, you want to do it right, and avoid hurting your dog.

Puppies should not have their nails trimmed until at least six weeks. A file with an emery board may be enough at this age, just to get them used to the process, and to blunt any sharpness.

As your puppy gets older, there are some great dog nail trimmers on the market that help guide you away from cutting the quick (the bloodline), with an LED light feature, or a safety guard.

Always take extra care when cutting the dewclaws.

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