Common Shih Tzu Nail Trimming Errors to Avoid

Shih Tzus are adorable and popular small dog breeds known for their long, flowing coats and friendly personalities. While they make wonderful companions, caring for a Shih Tzu requires regular grooming, including nail trimming. Proper nail care is essential to your Shih Tzu’s health and comfort, but many owners make common mistakes when it comes to trimming their dog’s nails. In this article, we will explore some of the most common nail trimming errors Shih Tzu owners make and how to avoid them.

Using the Wrong Tools

One of the most common mistakes Shih Tzu owners make when trimming their dog’s nails is using the wrong tools. It is essential to use high-quality, sharp nail clippers specifically designed for small breeds like the Shih Tzu. Using dull or incorrect tools can cause pain and discomfort to your dog and make the nail trimming process more challenging.

How to Avoid This Error

Invest in a pair of nail clippers that are the right size and sharpness for your Shih Tzu’s nails. Look for clippers with a safety guard to prevent cutting the nails too short and causing injury. Additionally, consider using a nail grinder for a smoother finish and to prevent splintering.

Cutting the Nails Too Short

Another common mistake many Shih Tzu owners make is cutting their dog’s nails too short. Cutting the nails too close to the quick, the sensitive blood vessel inside the nail, can cause pain, bleeding, and reluctance for your dog to have their nails trimmed in the future.

How to Avoid This Error

To avoid cutting your Shih Tzu’s nails too short, only trim small amounts of the nail at a time. Stop trimming when you see a pinkish area inside the nail – this indicates you are close to the quick. If you accidentally cut the nail too short and it starts bleeding, apply styptic powder or cornstarch to stop the bleeding and consult your veterinarian if necessary.

Trimming Frequency

Regularly trimming your Shih Tzu’s nails can help prevent them from becoming overgrown and making the quick longer. Aim to trim your dog’s nails every 2-4 weeks, depending on their activity level and how quickly their nails grow.

Ignoring the Dew Claw

The dew claw, a small fifth claw located on the inside of your Shih Tzu’s front legs, is often overlooked during nail trimming. Neglecting to trim the dew claw can lead to it growing too long, curling into the paw pad, and causing discomfort or potential injury to your dog.

How to Avoid This Error

When trimming your Shih Tzu’s nails, don’t forget to also trim the dew claw. Be extra cautious with the dew claw as it is often shorter and may be harder to see. Regularly check and trim the dew claw to ensure it remains at a comfortable length for your dog.

Seek Professional Help

If you are unsure about how to trim your Shih Tzu’s dew claw safely, consider seeking help from a professional groomer or veterinarian. They can demonstrate the proper technique and ensure your dog’s nails are trimmed correctly and without any issues.

Using Positive Reinforcement

To make the nail trimming experience more positive for your Shih Tzu, use treats, praise, and rewards to encourage good behavior. Take it slow, be gentle, and provide reassurance throughout the process to help your dog feel comfortable and relaxed.

Not Properly Handling Your Shih Tzu During Nail Trimming

Improperly handling your Shih Tzu during nail trimming can lead to accidents, injuries, and a negative experience for both you and your dog. It is essential to have a secure grip on your dog and keep them calm and still during the nail trimming process.

How to Avoid This Error

When trimming your Shih Tzu’s nails, have someone help you if needed to hold your dog securely and keep them calm. Use one hand to hold the paw and the other to trim the nails. If your Shih Tzu becomes anxious or agitated, take a break and try again later to prevent any accidents.

Training and Desensitization

To help your Shih Tzu become more comfortable with nail trimming, start training and desensitization from a young age. Handle your dog’s paws regularly, introduce them to the nail trimming tools, and reward them for positive behavior. Gradually increase the duration of nail trimming sessions to build tolerance and trust.

Professional Assistance

If you find it challenging to trim your Shih Tzu’s nails or if your dog becomes too anxious during the process, consider seeking assistance from a professional groomer or veterinarian. They can provide guidance, support, and ensure your dog’s nails are trimmed safely and effectively.

Using Incorrect Techniques

Using incorrect techniques when trimming your Shih Tzu’s nails can result in uneven cuts, splintering, and discomfort for your dog. It is crucial to learn the proper nail trimming techniques to maintain your dog’s nail health and prevent any issues.

How to Avoid This Error

Educate yourself on the correct nail trimming techniques for Shih Tzus, including how to hold the paw, where to make the cut, and how to handle any accidents. Practice on a regular basis to improve your skills and confidence in trimming your dog’s nails effectively.

Looking to avoid Shih Tzu nail trimming errors? Check out our articles on alternatives, ear cleaning tips, potty mistakes, and accident potty training for more helpful advice on caring for your Shih Tzu!


Proper nail trimming is an essential part of caring for your Shih Tzu’s overall health and well-being. By avoiding common nail trimming errors such as using the wrong tools, cutting the nails too short, ignoring the dew claw, not handling your Shih Tzu properly, and using incorrect techniques, you can help ensure a positive and stress-free nail trimming experience for both you and your beloved pet. Remember to be patient, gentle, and consistent when trimming your Shih Tzu’s nails, and seek professional help if needed to maintain your dog’s nail health and happiness.

Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DogCareHacks, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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