How To Trim Your Chihuahua’s Nails

Like most small dogs, Chihuahuas aren't too keen on getting their nails trimmed. Many will run and hide in their crate or bed when they first spot the dreaded nail clippers.

Chihuahua getting his nails clipped

Chihuahua getting his nails clipped

Trying to play hide-and-seek with your Chihuahua is difficult enough, let alone actually clipping their nails. Some chihuahuas will pull away, while others yelp like it's some form of medieval torture. Nail trimming can be equally as frightening for owners, fearing they will accidentally clip too deep, because just as our nails bleed when you cut into the quick so will a Chihuahua's.

Why Clipping Your Chihuahua's Nails is Important

Nail trimming should be an integral part of every Chihuahua's grooming routine. When their nails become too long, it may cause pain, irregular gait (abnormal walking), and even growth deformities of the toes. Long nails can also break and splinter open, creating infection-prone wounds deep in the quick.

There's also some belief that long nails contributes to canine arthritis. When a Chihuahua with long, unkempt nails walks and runs on hard surfaces, it pushes the nail back into the joint. Over time, this constant stress and pressure on the joints can lead to arthritis. All of these problems are easily avoided, however, by trimming your Chihuahua's nails on a regular basis.

Choosing Nail Clippers

Guillotine style nail clippers for dogs

Guillotine-style nail clippers

Do NOT attempt to cut your Chihuahua's nails using regular "human" nail clippers. Our nails are thin and flat, whereas a Chihuahua's nails are thick and long. Therefore, regular nail clippers will compress a Chihuahua's nail, causing pain, discomfort and potentially even splintering. Leave your nail clippers in the bathroom drawer (or wherever else you keep them) and use a special canine-designed variety on your furry friend instead.

There are are two main types of nail clippers for dogs: scissor-style (also known as millers forge) and guillotine. The scissor style works like an ordinary pair of scissors, cutting the nail with two crescent-shaped blades when you squeeze the handle. The guillotine style (as shown to the right) features a single crescent-shaped blade that cuts the nail by pressing it against a stationary ring.

Some owners may argue that guillotine clippers are best suited for Chihuahuas, as it holds the nail securely in place to make clipping easier. But guillotine clippers may crush your Chihuahua's nail, especially if the blade becomes dull. Scissor clippers typically don't have this problem because they cut the nail using two blades instead of one.

Steps to Trimming Your Chihuahua's Nails

  1. Find an area where you can easily reach your Chihuahua's nails. Some owners and professional groomers use a table, but a couch or recliner should suffice as well.
  2. Gently hold and comfort your comfort with your non-dominant hand.
  3. While holding the clippers with your dominant hand, slide your Chihuahua's nail between the blade with the blade facing you.
  4. Take note of where the quick begins. You should cut no closer than 2mm of this area to reduce the risk of bleeding. If your Chihuahua's nails are mostly white, the area where it darkens is the quick. If their nails are black, look for a white ring surrounding the quick. Another tip is to trim dark nails gradually, cutting off small pieces to avoid hitting the quick.
  5. Position the clippers so it's above the quick and gently squeeze the blade to make a clean cut. Depending on your Chihuahua's disposition towards nail trimming, you may want to distract them with petting, praise and a treat. Physically restraining your Chihuahua isn't recommended, as this will only make future sessions more difficult by causing stress and anxiety.
  6. Repeat these steps until you've trimmed each of your Chihuahua's 20 nails -- that includes the dew claw found on the side of each paw.
  7. You're done! Now give your Chihuahua a treat for being such a good sport!

Help! I've Cut Into The Quick

If you accidentally clip your Chihuahua's nails too deep and cause them to bleed, try not to panic. While cutting into the quick may cause pain and discomfort, you can stop the bleeding and promote faster healing times by using a styptic powder product like Kwik Stop.

Classified as an antihemorrhagic agent, styptic powder stops bleeding by forcing the blood vessels to contract. Simply place a small amount of the powder on a cotton ball or gauze pad, and then apply it directly to your Chihuahua's affected nail while holding it in place for at least 10 seconds. As long as the cut isn't too deep, this should stop the bleeding. If your Chihuahua continues to bleed for longer than five minutes, however, seek immediate veterinary attention.

Chihuahua Nail Trimming Tips

  • Start trimming your Chihuahua's nails early, preferably while they are still a puppy. Even if their nails don't necessarily need it, trimming at an early age allows your Chihuahua to become accustomed to the process.
  • Invest in a good, high-quality pair of canine nail clippers (do NOT use human nail clippers).
  • Whether you use scissor-style or guillotine clippers, make sure the blade is sharp and clean before using it on your Chihuahua. If the blade is dull, either replace it or buy a new pair of clippers.
  • Observe your Chihuahua's body language. If your Chihuahua tries to pull away while you are trimming their nails, you may end up cutting into the quick. Wait until your Chihuahua is calm and relaxed before clipping their nails.
  • Use a pair of blunt-tip scissors to trim excess hair from your Chihuahua's paws.
  • If your Chihuahua's freshly trimmed nails are sharp, smooth them down with a nail file.
  • Trim your Chihuahua's nails once a week to prevent problems such as ingrown nails.
  • If you still aren't comfortable trimming your Chihuahua's nails, hire a professional groomer to do it.

Note: styptic powder can also be used to stop bleeding caused by minor cuts.


2 Responses to “How To Trim Your Chihuahua’s Nails”

  1. David says:

    Are the tips of their nails supposed to be white?

    • Annette says:

      Depends on your dogs coloring. Our puppy has black nails but one, it’s white. I would imagine it depends on the parents too.

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