How to Clip Dog Nails When Your Dog is a Young Shih Tzu Puppy

Clip Dog Nails     by Janice Jones     Published 07-06-2021

With so much information on how to clip dog nails, why you might ask does one need to read still another article. That's a fair question, and I have a unique perspective on the subject because I raise puppies and have lots and lots of little nails to clip.

Do the math, a Shih Tzu Dam might have a litter of 6 puppies each of which has four paws with at least four and often five nails to clip if you count the dewclaw. Each puppy needs their nails clipped about every two weeks until they go home to their forever family at 10 to 12 weeks of age.

I'm no mathematician but six puppies X 16 nails X 6 nail trimmings equals a whopping 576 little nails, and that's only one litter. I guess I can quote the Farmer's Insurance TV commercial, "I know a thing or two because I've seen (done) a thing or two."

A cream-colored Shih Tzu puppy is getting his nails trimmed

When to Clip Dog Nails

Dog nails grow quickly.  Consider your finger or toenails.  In a healthy puppy or adult dogs, nails grow to the point of needing clipping or grinding about every 2 to 3 weeks.  If you have hard floors, you probably have experienced the nail clicking sound that accompanies a dog as he walks across the floor.  If you hear that, you know it is time to trim.  

You may not hear that tell-tale sound in puppies, because their nails are softer and smaller, so the best way is to know when to clip is to jot down the time on your calendar.

Why Clip Dog Nails

Why should you clip your puppy's nails?  The answer may seem obvious, but there are excellent reasons to keep your puppy's nails short and filed.

  • Long nails get entangled in carpet, bedding, even outdoors in grasses and vines.
  • Nails contain a blood supply called the quick which will continue to grow.  When you neglect the nails, the quick extends past the point where the nail should be trimmed, causing pain and excessive bleeding when you do eventually trim the nails.
  • If the puppy has her dewclaws (usually on the front paws but occasionally on the hind paws as well, they will continue to grow inward in a circular manner.  When they become too long, the nail has nowhere else to grow but inward into the skin, causing severe pain.

How to Clip Dog Nails:  Supplies You Will Want to Have

The video below will demonstrate how to clip your puppy's nails. Before you get started, though, you will want to gather your supplies. Here is a quick list of items to have on hand.

  • Small dog or cat nail clippers or a human toenail clipper
  • Styptic powder
  • Paper towel or small bowl and cotton ball
  • A couple of Q-tips
  • Hand or bath towel
  • Extra light especially with tiny nails (Optional)

The paper towel can be folded and used to hold a small amount of Styptic powder. The Q-tip is used to apply the small amount of styptic powder onto the end of the nail that might bleed. For very squirmy puppies, a hand or bath towel comes in handy especially if you don't have someone to hold your puppy while you trim. Wrap the towel around the puppy's body as if you were swaddling a baby, keeping one paw out at a time. The pressure of the towel will also act to calm the puppy.

Now the trick is to clip those nails, so you avoid nipping the blood vessel, but sometimes it's unavoidable especially if your puppy has black nails. Please do not beat yourself up if you accidentally cause a little bleeding. It happens.

How to Clip Dog Nails:  Procedure

This video shows I clip the puppy's nails at Miracle Shih Tzu. As you can see, the process starts shortly after birth and continues until the puppy goes to his forever home. If puppies have positive nail experiences, they are likely to be less stressed when the next nail trimming time comes around.

With that said, all puppies are different, meaning that some will naturally be easier than others. Just as humans, some are much more sensitive to being touched.

But, one thing is true of all puppies, they are busy little creatures. It is as hard for some of them to sit still as it is for a human toddler. Keep that activity level in the back of your mind when attempting to trim nails.  

How to Clip Dog Nails Video

Here are a Few Additional Pointers When Clipping Your Puppy's Nails

  • It's always easier to clip a rebellious puppy when one person holds the puppy and the other person does the trimming.
  • For puppies that refuse to allow you to clip, remember to wrap them in the towel first.  Other things you might want to try include aromatherapy using lavender essential oil, calming treats or cbd oil.
  • Quiet music also tends to calm puppies so if you are a music lover, consider streaming "puppy music" or purchasing a CD.

What to Do If You Accidentally Cut Into the Quick

It happens to the best of us so be prepared in advance.  As I mentioned earlier, it is best to have everything you need in one place before you begin.  Nails can bleed profusely once the blood vessel has been nipped.  

Hold the paw in one hand and apply a small amount of the blood stop powder, enough to cause clotting to occur.  Do not wipe or brush off the powder until all bleeding has ceased.

If blood soiled your puppy's coat or got on you, a dab of hydrogen peroxide will get the blood out immediate.  If you plan to hold your puppy in your lap while clipping her nails, you may want to use a towel to protect your clothing.

Do not put your puppy back on the floor until you are certain she is no longer bleeding unless you don't mind cleaning up a trail of blood drops.

How to clip puppy nails, pinnable imageHow to Clip Dog Nails: Pin for Future Reference

You might like these

About Janice

Janice is the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu. Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, she served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu.

When not writing, reading, or researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, her husband, and her family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Small Dog Place and Smart-Knit-Crocheting.