Cutting a dog’s toenails can be a bit of a daunting task. Most dogs are not thrilled with the process either, and it can be a struggle to hold them still.
Yorkies have black toenails, which makes things even more difficult because you cannot see the quick. Not to mention they have tiny (adorable) paws, with teeny toes and nails, so your target is a lot smaller than that of a larger dog.
In this post we’re going to walk you through the process, and teach you how to cut a Yorkie’s nails. I have even attached a short video clip of my pup, Willow, getting her back nails trimmed so that you can see the clippers we use, how we use them, and allow you to visualize exactly how this is done.
It really isn’t that bad once you’ve practiced a few times and get the hang of it. 🙂
The Importance of Trimming your Yorkie’s Nails.
There are several reasons why it is important to keep your Yorkie’s nails trimmed. (and this applies to ANY dog, in case you are reading this, but you do not own a Yorkie.)
- It can become uncomfortable for a dog to walk on long toenails. Imagine if your toenails were long enough to strike the floor every time that you took a step. It would become sore after a while, yes? This can happen to your pup as well, so a good rule of thumb is to trim your dog’s nails as soon as you start to hear them click on a hard floor. (or sooner if possible)
- Long nails means more damage to your floors, furniture, screen doors, your yard… the list goes on… Sadness.
- Long nails can get caught in blankets, thick carpets, dog beds, etc. If your pup gets his nail stuck, he may have a minor freak-out episode, and end up tearing his nail right off, or hurting his foot/leg in the process. (Major Ouch)
- If the nail is left to grow for a very long time, it will end up curling around the foot, and can grow right into your dogs skin or paw pad, resulting in intense pain, and probable infection. Picture the worst ingrown toenail you could ever imagine x10…. Ya, another Major Ouch. If this gets bad enough, it could require minor surgery to fix.
- A dog’s paw pads give them “grip” on slippery surfaces, if their nails are too long, it will prevent their pads from being able to gain enough traction. This can result in slips, and injuries to your pet. If this happens, they could associate the experience with pain and discomfort, and it could cause them to develop a fear of walking on slippery surfaces.
How often should you trim your pup’s nails?
This can vary a bit from dog to dog. There are a few factors which could lead to your dog needing nail trims more or less often.
For example, if your dog goes on several adventures with you, like hiking through the woods, or running on asphalt, they will likely grind their nails down a bit naturally, just by their activity level, and the surfaces their nails come in contact with. However, if your dog is a bit more prim and proper, preferring activities that involve a lot of napping, riding in carriers, and human lap-time, then they will need attention to their nails more often. 😉
Certain diets and health conditions can also affect the growth rate of your dog’s nails. Pay attention to how fast they seem to grow, and trim accordingly. A lot of Yorkies will need their nails clipped once every 1-2 weeks, while others may be able to last an entire month. Just be sure to keep those nails off the ground, and comfortable for your little pal!
Useful tools for your Yorkie’s Manicure
You are going to need some tools for giving your pup a paw-perfect manicure! Here are some of our favorites.
1. Nail Clippers – definitely needed – You will want a good pair of clippers of course. There are a few different kinds, but some are better for smaller dogs, and some have a protective pannel to help prevent over-cutting, which is incredibly helpful for beginners.
– I love these nail clippers by Boshel. They are easy to use on small dogs, have a nice grip, and they also have the safety stop pannel. (I’ll show how that works in our video below)
2. Nail File – not necessary, but very helpful – These are great for filing down rough edges after you have trimmed your Yorkie’s nails. A lot of times the nail is sharp after cutting which can really hurt when they jump onto your lap!
– This is a nice file by Zizzon. It is made out of high quality stainless steal for durability, and it even comes with a nice little storage pouch!
3. Nail Dremel – also not necessary, but helpful, especially if you are afraid to use the clippers. A nail grinder can be used to file down sharp edges or to cut down the dogs nail entirely! This is a less intimidating way to shorten your pup’s nails, so if you are really worried about it, a grinder may be a good option for you.
– The Dremel 7300-PT nail grinder is a “pawesome” choice for your dog!! (Corny I know….) But seriously, this dremel tool uses batteries, so it is a cordless operation for maximum ease of use! It also has two different speeds so you can safely grind the nail down in stages.
4. Styptic Powder – hopefully not necessary, but should be kept on hand just in case.
– (See Below – “What if I accidentally cut too short?” – for the purpose of this powder and different kinds you can purchase.)
The Trimming Process.
A dog’s nail has a hard outer portion, which is what we can see and feel, and an inner, fleshy portion, which is made up of blood vessels and nerves. This inner portion is called the quick. The goal is to trim the dog’s nail WITHOUT cutting into the quick. This will hurt the dog, and it will bleed… A Lot.
Unfortunately, Yorkies have very dark toenails, which can make it nearly, or completely impossible, to see the quick through the nail. It is wise to cut only a small amount off of the nails at first, so you can be sure to avoid cutting the quick. You may want to ask your vet if you can watch them do it the first few times, so you can see up close exactly where you should be cutting.
Below is a video of me cutting Willow’s back toenails so you can get an idea of how I do it, and the clippers I use.
How and When to Cut.
– The best time to trim your dog’s nails is right after a bath. The nails will be soft, and easier to cut. You may want to cut their nails more often than you bathe them however, but while you are getting the hang of cutting, I’d encourage you to do it after a bath to make the process easier for you. Once you are a nail trimming Pro, feel free to do it whenever you’d like!
– Get a good grip on your dog, and push away the hair around their paws so you can see the nail. Some people prefer to cut their nails right in the tub or sink, and others like to hold the dog. My dog isn’t a fan of getting this done, so I have to hold her to be sure she doesn’t jerk or yank away from me. It can be helpful to allow your pup to lick some peanut butter off of a spoon or plate while you are cutting, to distract them, and praise them for a job well done!
– Trim a small amount off of the tip of the nail with your clippers. Repeat on each nail. (Don’t forget the dew claws if your dog still has them)
I have created a diagram, and inserted it below, so you can get an idea of where you should cut, at what angle, and where the quick is within the nail.
What if my dog’s nails are already too long?
Be very careful when trimming your dog’s nails if they are already too long. When a dog’s nails have been allowed to over-grow, the quick will also lengthen with the nail, making it much easier to cut by mistake.
If your Yorkie’s nails are a bit over-grown, trim off just the very edge at first and do this once a week. If you cut the nails just a bit, but more often, the quick will recede along with the nail, and you will, in time, be able to get the nail short again.
What if I accidentally cut too short?
This does happen. Even to professionals. The important part is to be prepared if you end up in this situation yourself. There are a few different products that you can use to stop the bleeding if you cut your pup’s nail too short by mistake.
- Remedy and Recovery Styptic Powder – This stuff works Uh-Mazing. It is simply a powder that you dab onto your dogs nail and it stops the bleeding instantly!
- ClotIt – This is a blood clotting accelerant, which will also work if you cut the quick. It is a great addition to your dog’s first aid kit.
- Corn Starch – You can also use corn starch to stop the bleeding by holding it against the dogs nail for a few minutes. It just doesn’t work quite as quickly.
With patience and practice you should be able to avoid this situation entirely, but accidents can happen, so it’s good to be prepared.
Helping your Dog Accept the Process.
I have linked a video below that includes a great training technique which, when applied, can help your dog to become comfortable with the nail cutting process. It is important to have a calm and happy dog before you try to do this on your own. A squirmy, and fearful dog will definitely cause frustration for you both, and you might end up reaching for that Styptic Powder!! This will only make nail clipping even more traumatic for the dog.
Take your time and be patient with them. You won’t be sorry!
A Happily Manicured Yorkie!
We hope this article has helped you learn how to give your Yorkie a beautiful, well trimmed set of nails!
It is so important to their health, and their well-being, and it doesn’t have to be the task that you both dread as long as you are patient and gentle with the process. Show your dog that it can be a fun and rewarding experience, and they may even be excited for their next manicure! 😉
*Note – Don’t forget that it is totally OK to leave this job to a professional if it makes you too nervous. A Veterinarian or a Dog Groomer would be happy do this for you for a small fee.
If you have any questions or tips to share about cutting your pup’s nails, Please let us know in the comment section below! Willow and I are always thrilled to hear from our readers! 🙂
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