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How to Cut German Shepherd Nails (In 5 Easy Steps)

Trimming your German Shepherd’s nails regularly will prevent them from chipping or splintering. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to go to the groomer’s for this task and can handle it yourself. Here is how:

What Tools Do You Need To Cut A German Shepherd Nails

To cut your German Shepherds nails you will need:

  • Cutting tools (scissor-type, plier-type, guillotine, or grinder)
  • Styptic powder
  • A muzzle or harness

The Right Cutting Tools

The first thing is to figure out which cutting tool is right for you. The tool must be easy to use but also effective enough to trim your German Shepherd’s nails quickly, without leaving jagged edges.

There are four main types for you to choose from – scissor-type, plier-type, guillotine, and grinder

The scissor-type is typically meant for puppies and works well on more delicate nails. As your dog gets older, however, you will need to switch to another tool as these aren’t strong enough to cut through adult dog nails.

The plier-type is quite popular as it is easy to grip. You simply need to place the dog’s nails in between the jaws and clip. Guillotine is also quite common as you can get an exact cut every time. The only issue is that you have to fit your dog’s nails into the hole perfectly and get them to hold still while it is clipped.

Most owners prefer grinders because there is less chance of making a mistake. This is because you can slowly shave away your dog’s nails. It is easier to get a smooth surface as well. The main drawback is that the noise and the vibration of the grinders can scare some dogs.

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It can take some trial and error to find the best cutting tools for your dog. Don’t worry if you have to try a few options before you narrow down what is right for the both of you.

Styptic Powder

Always have some styptic powder on hand when you are cutting your German Shepherd’s nails. This powder works to stop the bleeding if you clip the nail too short. Even experienced groomers can make this mistake so having this powder on hand is a good way to minimize any issues.

A Muzzle or Harness

You know your dog best so you will have to decide whether you need to use a muzzle or leash while you clip your German Shepherd’s nails.

If your dog gets a bit nippy or has previously been aggressive about having its nails cut, then a muzzle may help to keep you safe. In some instances, a muzzle can aggravate dogs further. You will need to decide on the right move.

A harness and leash can be a good way to stop your dog from running away while you cut their nails. Clipping them in place could mean that you have one less task to focus on.

How Far Should You Cut a German Shepherd’s Nails?

One of the main reasons cutting your German Shepherd’s nails can be so daunting is because few people know how much of the nail to trim. Everyone’s biggest fear is cutting the quick and causing their dog pain – nipping this nerve ending can also cause bleeding.

Finding and avoiding the quick on German Shepherd’s nails can be tricky because their nails are black. As such, you need to be careful.

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First things first, always trim your dog’s nails little by little. It doesn’t matter how long they are, avoid cutting off more than 1/16th of an inch at a time.

Every time you clip a bit off, look closely at the edge of the remaining nail. Is the area whitish in color? Then you are safe. When the edge takes on a dark hue, it is time to stop. If the edge is pink, you have gone too far and hit the quick.

How To Cut Your German Shepherd’s Nails

Here are some step-by-step instructions for cutting your German Shepherd’s nails:

Step 1: Find a Brightly Lit Spot

Try to cut your dog’s nails during the daytime when there is a lot of natural light. Always make sure that you’re in a brightly-lit spot. This will make it easier for you to see the nail more clearly and determine if you are getting close to the quick or not.

Step 2: Set Up Your Tools

Many German Shepherds can be quite dramatic about having their nails clipped. Due to this, you will have to begin the process quickly before they have time to struggle or run away.

This is why you should always have your tools set up in the desired spot before beginning. This includes the trimmers, powder, muzzle, leash, etc. This allows you to get to work right away.

Step 3: Get Into a Comfortable Position

Every dog is different, so you need to decide which position works best for your German Shepherd.

One option is to sit on the ground or couch and have your dog’s body in your lap. This position offers you more control as you’re behind your dog’s head and can get a better grip on their foot.

If your dog is less fussy, you can set them up on a table and pick up their paws from the front or behind and clip them. This is what most groomers do but they have the benefit of overhead rails to clip the dog’s leash to.

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For lazier pooches, you can wait until your dog is comfortably lying on the floor. Sit next to them and gently bring their paw into your lap and slowly clip their nails. If you are gentle with this process then you may be able to clip your dog’s nails without worrying them.

Step 4: Get a Good Grip on the Leg

The main reason dogs are so averse to nail trimming is that many of them don’t like their feet touched. Due to this, you need to be careful about how you pick up your dog’s paw.

Never pick up your dog’s paw as they will jerk it back and be on guard. Instead, place your hand on their shoulder or hip and slowly run your hand down the length of their leg. As you get to the bottom, you can hold their leg aloft. This way, they will be less likely to reject this movement.

If possible, avoid touching your dog’s paw altogether as they can feel rather ticklish. Instead, hold their foot just before the paw pads.

Step 5: Focus on One Nail at a Time

This may be a task you want to finish quickly, but you should carefully clip each nail slowly. The more deliberate you are about this process, the fewer mistakes you will make.

If your dog begins to struggle before you can finish, don’t worry. Release them and try clipping their nails at a later time or even the following day. Your dog will be less likely to get worked up.

This is how you can clip your German Shepherd’s nails. Follow the advice given here and you will get the hang of it soon enough. Before you know it, you will be a pro.