Trimming Black Nails on a Shih Tzu: Tips and Tricks

As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to take care of your furry friend’s health and well-being. One aspect of this is trimming their nails on a regular basis, especially for Shih Tzus. However, trimming black nails can be a daunting task for many pet owners. The fear of accidentally cutting the quick, which can cause pain and bleeding, can make the process stressful. But don’t fret – with the right tips and techniques, you can confidently trim your Shih Tzu’s black nails without any issues. In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s important to trim your dog’s nails, why black nails are more difficult to trim, and provide you with step-by-step tips and tricks for trimming your Shih Tzu’s black nails.

Why is it Important to Trim Your Dog’s Nails?

Why Is It Important To Trim Your Dog'S Nails?
Trimming your dog’s nails may not be the most fun activity for you or your furry friend, but it is a crucial part of their overall health and grooming. Neglecting to maintain your dog’s nails can lead to long-term health consequences and discomfort for your pup. In this section, we will explore the importance of trimming your dog’s nails and the potential dangers of not properly caring for them. We will also discuss the consequences of trimming nails too short, which can also be harmful. Finally, we will examine why black nails in particular can be more challenging to trim, and what owners can do to avoid accidents and keep their Shih Tzu’s nails healthy.

Consequences of Overgrown Nails

It’s essential to keep your Shih Tzu’s nails trimmed to an appropriate length. Overgrown nails can lead to various issues and discomfort in your pet. Here are some of the consequences of not trimming your Shih Tzu’s nails regularly:

DiscomfortLong nails can cause discomfort to your Shih Tzu, just like they would for humans wearing long nails. It can alter the way your dog walks and cause pressure on the joints, leading to pain and discomfort.
Painful InfectionsIf your dog’s nails touch the ground while walking, they can collect dirt and bacteria, leading to infection in the nail bed. These infections can be painful and require veterinary attention.
Nails CurlingIf nails are left untrimmed for too long, it will eventually curl and grow under the paw pads. This, in turn, can cause difficulty while walking, and if left untreated, it can cause pain and infection.
Increased Risk of InjuryOvergrown nails can cause your Shih Tzu’s paws to splay, resulting in instability and an increased risk of falling and other injuries.

It’s important to note that you should not over-trim your dog’s nails, as that can also cause problems. The next section highlights the consequences of cutting your dog’s nails too short.

To learn more about how to safely trim your Shih Tzu’s nails, check our article on tools and techniques for nail trimming at home.

Consequences of Trimming Nails Too Short

Trimming your Shih Tzu’s nails is important, but trimming them too short can be just as damaging as letting them overgrow. Cutting the nail too close to the quick, which is the blood vessel running through the nail, can cause pain, bleeding, and even infections. Here are some possible consequences of trimming a dog’s nails too short:

  • The quick may bleed, which can be a painful experience for your Shih Tzu.
  • Your dog may become fearful or aggressive towards nail trimming in the future due to discomfort or pain.
  • Cutting too short can cause the quick to recede further back into the nail, making trimming the nails more difficult in the future.
  • After trimming the nails too short, your dog may be more likely to lick or bite at their paws, causing further irritation or injury.
  • You may need to seek veterinary care if your dog’s nail is bleeding excessively or if the bleeding doesn’t stop

It’s essential to take your time and be cautious when trimming your Shih Tzu’s nails. It’s also important to use the proper tools, such as clippers or grinders, and to be familiar with nail trimming techniques before attempting to trim your dog’s nails at home. If you’re unsure about the process, consider consulting with a professional groomer or veterinarian. You can find more information on nail trimming errors to avoid in our previous article.

Why are Black Nails More Difficult to Trim?

Why Are Black Nails More Difficult To Trim?
When it comes to trimming your Shih Tzu’s nails, black nails can be particularly tricky to deal with. Their color makes it difficult to see where the quick, the blood-filled vein in the nail, begins, which means that cutting too much can be a painful and bloody mistake. It’s important to understand why black nails are harder to trim in order to properly care for your furry friend’s paws. If you’re looking for more tips and techniques for nail trimming, check out our tools and techniques for nail trimming at home, or if you’re curious about how often to trim Shih Tzu nails, our guide on Shih Tzu nail trimming frequency may be helpful. Additionally, if your dog is particularly resistant to nail trimming, there are alternatives to consider as well.

Reasons Why Black Nails are Harder to Trim

Trimming a Shih Tzu’s black nails can be quite challenging for pet owners, and there are several reasons why. Some of these factors include:

  • The dark color can make it difficult to see the quick: The quick of a dog’s nail is the blood vessel and nerve that runs through the center. When trimming a dog’s nails, it is important to avoid cutting the quick as it can bleed profusely and cause pain to the dog. However, with black nails, it’s quite challenging to discern where the quick begins.
  • They require more precision: Since you have to avoid the quick while trimming, black nails require more precision than lighter-colored nails.
  • Shih Tzu nails are small and slender: Shih Tzu dogs have small and slender nails, which increases the difficulty of trimming them, especially for inexperienced pet owners.
  • They can be tough: Black nails tend to be harder than lighter-colored nails, which can make them harder to clip.

Given these factors, it’s important to take the necessary precautions and trim black nails with care. The next section of this article will offer some techniques and tips for safely trimming your Shih Tzu’s black nails.

Why Cutting Too Much of Black Nails Can be Dangerous?

Accidentally cutting too much of a black nail, also known as the quick, can be dangerous and painful for your Shih Tzu. Here are some reasons why it’s important to be cautious when trimming black nails:

  • Bleeding: Nails contain blood vessels, and cutting too much of the quick can cause bleeding. This can be painful for your furry friend and may require medical attention.
  • Discomfort: Cutting the quick can cause discomfort or pain for your Shih Tzu. This can make them anxious or fearful about nail trimming in the future.
  • Infection: If the nail is cut too short and bleeds, this can create an opening for bacteria to enter and cause an infection.
  • Difficulty Walking: Over trimming the nails can cause them to be too short and create difficulty for your Shih Tzu to walk. This can cause physical discomfort and impact their quality of life.

It’s important to be cautious and take your time when trimming black nails to avoid potential harm to your furry friend. In the next section we’ll go over some tips and tricks to make the process as safe and stress-free as possible.

How to Trim Black Nails on a Shih Tzu: Tips and Tricks

How To Trim Black Nails On A Shih Tzu: Tips And Tricks
Trimming the nails of a Shih Tzu is an essential part of their grooming routine. However, when it comes to trimming black nails, it can be daunting and even intimidating for a pet owner. While black nails are more challenging than white nails, with the right techniques and tools, you can make the process manageable and even comfortable for your furry friend. In this section, we’ll discuss some tips and tricks for trimming black nails on a Shih Tzu that will help you navigate this task with ease.

Preparing Your Shih Tzu for Nail Trimming

When it comes to trimming black nails on a Shih Tzu, preparing your dog for the grooming process is just as important as the trimming technique itself. By following these tips, you can make nail trimming a positive experience for both you and your furry companion.

Choose the Right Time and Place

One of the keys to preparing your Shih Tzu for nail trimming is choosing the right time and place. You should select a quiet and well-lit area where you can comfortably sit with your dog. Make sure you have all the necessary tools and supplies, including nail clippers or a grinder, styptic powder or cornstarch, and treats.

Get Your Shih Tzu Used to Nail Trimming

Before trimming your Shih Tzu’s black nails, it’s important to get them used to the grooming process. Start by simply handling their paws on a regular basis. You can also introduce them to the sound of the clippers or grinder by turning them on nearby while giving treats or playing with toys. This will help your dog associate positive experiences with the sound of the grooming tool.

Choose the Right Sensory Experience

For some Shih Tzus, the sensory experience of nail trimming can be overwhelming. You can prepare your dog by introducing a calming sensory experience before starting the grooming process, such as lavender or chamomile essential oils, or their favorite blanket or toy.

Provide Treats and Positive Reinforcement

One of the best ways to prepare your Shih Tzu for nail trimming is to provide treats and positive reinforcement throughout the grooming process. You can use treats to reward your dog for staying calm and relaxed while you handle their paws and trim their nails. Praising and petting them can also provide them with reassurance and positive reinforcement.

By following these tips and techniques, you can prepare your Shih Tzu for black nail trimming and ensure a successful and stress-free grooming session. Remember that patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are key to making this an enjoyable experience for both you and your furry friend.

Steps for Preparing Shih Tzu for Nail Trimming
Choose quiet and well-lit area
Get Shih Tzu used to nail trimming process
Introduce calming sensory experience
Provide treats and positive reinforcement

Trimming Technique for Black Nails: Step by Step Guide

Trimming Technique for Black Nails: Step by Step Guide

Trimming black nails can be a daunting task for many dog owners. However, with the right technique and tools, you can make the process easier and safer for your beloved Shih Tzu. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to trim black nails on a Shih Tzu:

Step 1:Find a quiet and well-lit area to trim your dog’s nails.
Step 2:Gently hold your Shih Tzu’s paw to expose the nail.
Step 3:Identify the quick, which is the pink part inside the nail. Avoid cutting this part, as it contains blood vessels and nerves.
Step 4:Use a sharp and high-quality nail clipper to cut a small amount of the nail tip. Take breaks between each clip to prevent cutting the quick.
Step 5:Repeat the process until you reach a point where the nail tip starts to look whitish and opaque. This indicates that you are getting close to the quick and should stop trimming.
Step 6:Use a nail file or grinder to smooth out any rough edges and prevent the nail from snagging on surfaces.
Step 7:Repeat the process on all the nails, ensuring that you only cut a small amount at a time and take breaks to avoid cutting the quick.

It is important to note that accidents can happen, and you may accidentally cut the quick. In this case, immediately apply a styptic powder to the nail tip to stop the bleeding. You can also use cornstarch or baking soda as an alternative in case you don’t have any styptic powder.

Remember to reward your Shih Tzu with treats and praise after each successful nail trimming session. This will help make the experience positive and less stressful for both of you.

How to Use a Nail Grinder on Black Nails?

Using a nail grinder on black nails can be a bit nerve-wracking, but with the right technique, it can safely and effectively shape your Shih Tzu’s nails. Here are a few tips to make the process easier:

  • Introduce the grinder slowly: Before using the grinder on your Shih Tzu’s nails, let them sniff and investigate the tool. Turn the grinder on and off several times to get them used to the sound and sensation.
  • Choose the right grit: Nail grinders come with different types of grit, or roughness. For black nails, it’s best to start with a medium grit and switch to a fine grit for finishing.
  • Hold the grinder correctly: Hold the grinder firmly but gently against the nail, being careful not to grind too close to the quick. Use your other hand to hold your dog’s paw steady.
  • Grind in a back-and-forth motion: Move the grinder in a back-and-forth motion across the nail, taking breaks as needed to check your progress. Stop grinding once you reach the desired length and shape.
  • Use treats to reward positive behavior: Reward your Shih Tzu with treats after each nail is trimmed to reinforce good behavior and make the experience more positive.

Remember, using a nail grinder takes practice and patience. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with the process, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian for assistance.

What to Do If You Accidentally Cut the Quick?

Accidentally cutting into the quick of the nail can be painful for your Shih Tzu, and it can also be an alarming situation for pet owners. The good news is that there are a few steps you can take to help your pup during this situation.

1. Remain Calm: Accidents happen, so it’s important to stay calm and collected. Your Shih Tzu can sense your emotions, and if they pick up on your nervousness, it can make this situation worse.

2. Assess the Damage: Take a close look at your dog’s nail to determine how much of the quick was cut. If you see a small amount of blood, you can use styptic powder or a styptic pencil to stop the bleeding.

3. Apply Styptic Powder: Styptic powder is a great tool to have on hand when trimming nails. This powder helps to stop bleeding by contracting blood vessels. Simply dip the nail into the powder or apply it with a cotton ball to stop the bleeding.

4. Apply Pressure: If you don’t have styptic powder, you can apply pressure to the nail to help stop the bleeding. Use a clean cloth or paper towel and gently apply pressure for a few moments. This will help the blood vessels to constrict and will stop the bleeding.

5. Offer Love and Treats: After the bleeding has stopped, give your Shih Tzu some love and affection. Offer them treats or distract them with their favorite toy to take their mind off the situation.

6. Keep an Eye on the Nail: Monitor the nail over the next few days to ensure that it is healing properly. Avoid walking your Shih Tzu on hard surfaces for a few days to prevent further damage.

Remember, accidents happen, and cutting the quick is a common occurrence when trimming nails. By following these steps and remaining calm, you can help your Shih Tzu make a speedy recovery.

Tips for Keeping Your Shih Tzu’s Nails Healthy

Keeping your Shih Tzu’s nails healthy is an important aspect of their overall wellbeing. Here are some tips to help keep their nails in good condition:

Regular Nail Trimming: One of the most important steps to maintaining your Shih Tzu’s nail health is regular nail trimming. This is because overgrown nails can lead to various problems, such as discomfort, difficulties in walking and snagging. Ideally, you should trim your Shih Tzu’s nails every 4-6 weeks to ensure they stay at a healthy length.

Provide Plenty of Exercise: Exercise is essential for your Shih Tzu’s physical and mental wellbeing. Taking your dog for daily walks or giving them enough playtime will help maintain healthy nails. When your dog moves around, they exert pressure on their nails, wearing them down naturally.

Use Proper Trimming Tools: Using the right tools for trimming nails is crucial. A quality pair of nail clippers or a nail grinder should be used to trim your dog’s black nails. Using blunt or ill-fitting tools can cause uneven and painful cuts.

Be Prepared: It is important to be well prepared before you start trimming your dog’s nails. Make sure to have styptic powder or cornstarch on hand in case you accidentally cut the quick. Have treats and plenty of patience available to keep your dog calm and relaxed during the process.

Watch for Signs of Pain: Keeping an eye out for signs of discomfort during and after nail trimming sessions is essential. If your dog shows any signs of pain, such as whimpering or crying, stop immediately and seek veterinary care if needed.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your Shih Tzu’s nails remain healthy, comfortable, and pain-free. This will allow them to stay healthy, active, and happy for years to come.


In conclusion, trimming black nails on a Shih Tzu can be a daunting task, but it is necessary for their overall health and comfort. Remember to always be patient and gentle with your furry friend.

Regular nail trimming is important in order to avoid the consequences of overgrown nails that can lead to discomfort, pain and potential health issues. However, it’s equally important not to trim the nails too short, as this can cause bleeding and infection.

Black nails are particularly challenging to trim as it’s difficult to see where the quick is located. Cutting the quick can be painful for your pet and could result in a trip to the veterinarian. To avoid this, ensure you have the right tools and take your time during the process.

Preparing your Shih Tzu for nail trimming is critical to ensure that the process goes smoothly. Use positive reinforcement and treats to help your dog remain calm and still. Consider enlisting the help of a friend or family member to assist you.

When using the trimming technique for black nails, be sure to follow a step-by-step guide to ensure that you don’t cut the quick. Using a nail grinder can also be a more efficient and safe option.

If you accidentally cut the quick, don’t panic. Apply styptic powder or cornstarch to the area and put pressure on it until the bleeding stops. Seek advice from your veterinarian if the bleeding does not stop or if the area becomes infected.

Keeping your Shih Tzu’s nails healthy requires consistent and regular trimming. Ensure that you are trimming the nails at the correct length and frequency, and keep an eye out for any signs of discomfort or infection.

Remember, nail trimming can be stressful for both you and your pet, so take things slow and steady to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved. With patience, practice, and the right tools, trimming your Shih Tzu’s black nails can become a task that both you and your pet can master.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I trim my Shih Tzu’s nails with regular scissors?

No, it is not recommended to use regular scissors as they may not have the necessary sharpness to cut through the tough nails of a dog. Use specific dog nail clippers instead.

How often should I trim my Shih Tzu’s nails?

The recommended frequency for trimming a Shih Tzu’s nails is once a month. However, it may vary depending on the dog’s activity level and lifestyle.

What if my Shih Tzu’s nails are already overgrown?

If your dog’s nails are severely overgrown, it is advised to take them to a professional groomer or vet as it may require specialized tools and expertise to avoid injury.

What is the quick in my dog’s nails?

The quick is a bundle of nerves and blood vessels that are located inside the nail. It is important to avoid cutting it as it may lead to bleeding and discomfort.

Can I use a human nail grinder to trim my dog’s nails?

No, it is not recommended to use human nail grinders as they are designed for a different type of nail and may cause injury and discomfort to your furry friend. Invest in a specific dog nail grinder instead.

Can I use treats to calm my Shih Tzu during nail trimming?

Yes, you can use treats or other positive reinforcement techniques to help your dog associate nail trimming with positive experiences and reduce anxiety.

What if my Shih Tzu experiences bleeding during nail trimming?

Apply gentle pressure to the bleeding nail with a clean towel for a few minutes. If the bleeding persists, use a styptic powder or take your dog to the vet.

What are signs my Shih Tzu is uncomfortable during nail trimming?

Your dog may show signs of discomfort or stress, such as panting, whining, pulling away or showing aggression. If this happens, stop immediately and try again later or seek professional help.

Can I train my Shih Tzu to get used to nail trimming?

Yes, it is possible to train your Shih Tzu to get used to nail trimming through consistent positive reinforcement and gradual exposure to the procedure.

What can I do to keep my Shih Tzu’s nails healthy besides trimming?

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and providing your Shih Tzu with chew toys or bones can help wear down their nails naturally and promote healthy nail growth.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make DogCareHacks a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

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