Can I Start Cutting My Puppy’s Nails At 8 Weeks?

puppy trimming nails

Key takeaways

  • Start cutting your puppy’s nails at 8 weeks. Eight weeks is a good time to start trimming your pup’s nails as it will help them get used to the experience early on.
  • Praise and encouragement are key. Reward your puppy with praise and treats when you cut their nails, especially for the first few sessions.
  • Listen for a clicking sound as your puppy walks. If your puppy’s nails make a clicking sound as they walk, that’s a good sign that their nails could do with a trim!
  • Get your puppy used to having their nails cut. Most puppies will need a bit of training to grow accustomed to having their nails handled and trimmed.

 

  • Cut off small bits of nail at a time. Go slow and only trim off small segments of nail so you don’t accidentally cut the quick or injure your puppy.

In this article

Can I trim my puppy’s nails at 8 weeks?

You can start trimming your puppy’s nails at 8 weeks old or within the first week at their new home. The earlier you start, the better, as it will help desensitize your pup to the process much sooner.

 

Make sure you offer your puppy lots of praise and reward them with some tasty treats during the nail trimming session. This will build up their confidence around having their nails cut and help them associate the experience with a positive outcome.

Is it safe to cut your puppy’s nails at 8+ weeks?

It is completely safe to cut your puppy’s nails at 8+ weeks. If your puppy is still with their mother, you can even begin trimming your puppy’s nails as early as 6 weeks old

 

You should only use nail clippers or nail grinders targeted for dogs as they will fit the shape of your puppy’s nails. It’s best to avoid human and cat nail clippers as they don’t have the right shape for dog nails. Using them could break or fracture your puppy’s nails.

 

Try to trim your pup’s nails every week or so, even if you only manage to cut a very small section off each time. You’ll know if your puppy’s nails could do with a trim if you hear a clicking sound as they walk.

What is the right age to start trimming nails?

The right age to start trimming your puppy’s nails is 8 weeks, ideally within the first week of you bringing them home.

 

While you can start as young as 6 weeks, the minimum age a puppy should leave their mother and siblings is 8 weeks. If a breeder tries to sell you a puppy younger than this, it’s a big red flag and a sign that you should walk away.

 

Puppies who are taken away from their mother before 8 weeks of age are more at risk of developing behavioral issues as they will miss out on a crucial stage in their socialization period.

nail trim on a puppy

Getting your puppy used to nail trimmers at 8 weeks

It’s unlikely that your 8-week-old puppy will be comfortable having their nails trimmed from the get-go as they will never have experienced it before.

 

You’ll need to put in a bit of work to help your puppy become accustomed to having their paws handled and the sensation of their nails being cut with a nail trimmer or grinder. This will also get them ready if you want to get your pup professionally groomed.

 

Step 1

First, you should get your pooch used to seeing the nail clippers. Call your puppy over and act excited when you pick up the nail trimmers. Offer your puppy a treat so that they begin to associate the nail clippers with a reward. 

 

Repeat this step a few times a day for a couple of weeks.

 

Step 2

Next, help your puppy become accustomed to having their paws touched. When they are calm, gently touch their shoulder and slowly move your hands down to their paw. 

 

Offer praise as you rub your puppy’s paws, then give each one of their toes a light squeeze before moving onto their nails. If your pooch is frightened or pulls away, take a little break and only start again once your pup is relaxed.

 

Don’t punish your puppy if they pull their paw away, but don’t offer them a treat either! Only reward your puppy for calm behavior. Repeat this step several times a day until your puppy is comfortable with their paws being handled.

 

Step 3

Build up your puppy’s confidence around the sound of the nail clippers. Open and close the clippers or turn on the nail grinder at its lowest setting near your puppy. Do this process as you praise your pup and offer them a treat.

 

Slowly move closer to your puppy with the nail clippers without touching them. Once your pooch begins to look forward to the sound of the trimmers and the reward, you can move on to the step.

 

Step 4

Just like in the previous step, touch your puppy’s paw and open/close the nail clippers or turn on the nail grinder. Place the tool on the ground and gradually move it closer to your puppy. 

 

If your pup is calm, offer praise and a treat, then touch their paw with the clippers/grinder. Again, if your puppy becomes stressed, take a short break and try again when your pooch has settled down.

 

Step 5

Now it’s time to try to trim your puppy’s nails! Hold your pooch’s paw and take one toe in your hand. Cut a small section off the tip of your puppy’s nails so you don’t accidentally hit the quick. 

 

Praise your puppy and offer a treat after you’ve successfully trimmed each nail. You don’t need to cut all your dog’s nails in one session. Take a little break after one or two nails if necessary.

 

Final thoughts

As long as you use dog nail clippers and use the right method for trimming your puppy’s nails, you can start keeping on top of your pooch’s nail maintenance at 8 weeks old.

 

Remember to go slowly and offer plenty of encouragement to help your puppy get used to the feeling of having their nails trimmed. They might be a little nervous and frightened at first, but as long as you’re consistent and patient, they should eventually calm down. 

Written by: Joshua Gordon

Written by: Joshua Gordon

Head of Research and Editorial, Joshua has over 7 years of experience as a finance and automotive research consultant. He is a childhood pet owner and dog enthusiast.