There’s nothing more exciting than raising a cute little puppy! They’re full of life and eager to explore the world. Plus, you get to develop this brand-new bond with a companion that will be by your side for years.
But after you bring your puppy home, you may notice its claws getting too long for comfort. While puppy nails are usually soft, they can grow rapidly. Before you know it, your pup inadvertently scratches you when it comes up for kisses. Even worse, it might ruin your floors.
So, when can you cut your puppy’s nails for the first time? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wait long.
Can I Cut my 8 Week Old Puppy Nails?
Most new dog owners bring puppies home at around the eight-week mark. Before that, puppies must stay with their mothers for nursing and weaning. Breeders take care of everything before that point but may not cut your puppy’s nails.
There’s a lot to do when your pup arrives. You’ll likely want to bathe and groom them while allowing them to get comfortable in their new home. But what about nail clipping?
You can cut your puppy’s nails when they are eight weeks old. In fact, you can cut them a bit sooner if you have the chance. Generally, it’s safe to cut puppy nails as early as six weeks old. Six weeks is a good starting point.
Most vets and trainers recommend that you start cutting nails as soon as possible. Not only does that prevent your dog’s nails from overgrowing, but you can set the stage for a lifetime of comfortable trimming.
Why You Need to Cut Your Puppy’s Nails
It can be daunting for you and your puppy to cut their nails for the first time. But it’s a necessary grooming task you must complete.
Nails can grow surprisingly fast, and it won’t be long until your pup experiences issues. Overgrown nails can become a major problem for a few reasons.
First, it presents an increased risk of injury.
Playful pups get into all kinds of trouble. They could accidentally snag long nails on something, resulting in a painful injury. Broken nails are at risk of infection.
They’re also traumatizing for your young pup. If you can do anything to avoid them, you should. That includes trimming their nails early on.
Secondly, long nails can get in the way of walking.
Your puppy is still growing. They have a lot of development left to go, and the last thing you want is for your dog to experience difficulty walking at such a young age.
Nails can curl in on themself, forcing your pup to step on their claw instead of the paws of their foot. That can result in a snowball of issues moving forward.
Finally, failing to trim your puppy’s nails will cause the blood supply to lengthen.
The blood supply in the claw, also known as the quick, will grow if you don’t trim frequently. Why is that a problem? It makes trimming later much more difficult.
You can usually see the quick through the nail, especially on young puppies. But the claws can get opaque as they age, making it more difficult to see clearly. For pups with black nails, you might not be able to see it at all, making it even more important to keep the quick short.
Cutting the blood vessels is painful and causes uncontrollable bleeding. It’s a dog owner’s worse nightmare because many pups will scream out in pain and resist future nail-trimming sessions.
Trimming your puppy’s nails at six weeks old and on will ensure that the blood supply stays nice and short.
Should I Cut My Puppy’s Nails Myself?
You might feel tempted to bring your young puppy to a professional groomer. While it’s always a good idea to get help, most vets recommend doing it yourself first.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, visit your vet for guidance. They can walk you through the process and ensure you do things right.
You don’t want to go to a professional groomer right away because you need to get your puppy used to nail trimming. It’s a scary experience for a young pup who doesn’t know what’s happening.
You can use your bond to your advantage and turn an otherwise scary experience into something that’s not a big deal.
Take your time and do things right. When you start early, you set your dog up for success later, teaching them that nail trimming is nothing to fear.
How to Trim Your Puppy’s Nails for the First Time
Ready to tackle your first nail trimming? Whether your pup is six weeks old or you just brought them home, it’s easier to cut their nails than you think.
Most puppy nails at those ages are soft and easy to manage. Plus, there are no traumatic experiences to think of as you get to work.
Before you start, you’ll need to gather a few things:
- Nail clippers
- Nail file
Set the towel on the floor and plop your pup on top. Alternatively, you can hold them in your arms with a towel to keep them warm.
Use your hand to draw one paw forward. Use your thumb to press down on the paw and extend the nails. Then, use your clippers to trim the nail carefully.
It’s best to work slowly and take off little by little. Pay attention to that blood supply! Fortunately, most puppies have nearly clear nails that let you spot the vessels. If your pup has black nails, use the emery board to file down the nails instead of clipping.
Slowly work through the front paws and trim each nail to about two millimeters from the quick. It’s OK if you’re hesitant to get that close. Do what you’re comfortable doing. Safety should always be the top priority.
When moving to the back legs, tuck your puppy’s head under your elbow. That confined space is comforting and helps you contain your dog if they get rambunctious.
Repeat the steps on the back legs. Don’t forget to do the dew claws. They’re the nails located higher on the inside of the leg that never touch the ground.
After you trim each nail, follow up with the emergy board to make everything smooth. You want to remove rough edges that could snag on things as they explore.
Tips to Get Your Puppy Comfortable with Nail Cutting
The most important thing is to be patient. Puppies will naturally hate this experience. They may try to wiggle out of your arms or jerk their paws back. Go slow and be patient.
Don’t get frustrated and apply too much pressure to their arm or foot. Negative reactions like that will only make your puppy fear the experience.
Make it a positive process! Comfort your dog with a positive tone and praise them at every turn. After you finish, provide treats and plenty of kisses. Positive reinforcement can make all the difference.
You can cut your pup’s nails every week or two after they are six weeks old. While you may feel tempted to forgo trimming until you notice that the nails are too long, try to maintain a good schedule.
The more exposure your dog has to this process, the better off it’ll be. Furthermore, frequent and regular nail trimmings are the best way to keep the quick low and avoid problems later.
Choosing the Right Clippers
If this is your first time cutting your dog’s nails, you can use clippers made for human babies. They get the job done and have small enough blades to trim puppy claws effectively.
That said, it’s important to upgrade to canine-specific nail clippers whenever you can. They’re purpose-built to work with the unique shape of a dog’s nails, allowing you to cut quickly and efficiently.
Here’s one of our favorite options on the market today.
Frisco Dog Nail Trimmer
The Frisco nail trimmer is an ergonomic accessory that’s easy to use and comfortable to hold. It’s a scissor-style trimmer with rounded blades made of Japanese high-carbon steel.
Because the blades move together, you can get a clean and even cut without the uncomfortable pressure of guillotine-style trimers.
One thing we like about these clippers is the built-in guard. A swiveling safety guard prevents you from cutting too much length off. You still need to look for the quick, but the guard makes it easier to avoid over-cutting.
Overall, these clippers are a fantastic choice for puppies and adult dogs. The soft grip provides greater control, and a sliding lock keeps the blade out of harm’s way when not used.
Nail Trimming is Easier Than You Think
It can be a scary experience to trim your puppy’s nails for the first time. Take it easy and pay attention to what you’re doing. After you get through this first trim, you’ll get more comfortable. Use our tips to keep your puppy comfortable, and so will they!
You can start trimming your puppy’s nails after six weeks of age. It’s the best time to start. Getting your canine companion used to trimmings early will lead to fewer headaches later.