How To Cut Your Shiba Inu’s Nails (Beginners Guide)

The number one thing I was never excited about after getting my Shiba Inu was trimming her nails. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt her, especially when she has a bunch of black nails.

To properly trim your Shiba’s nails you’ll want to hold their paw gently, yet with a firm enough grim that you can cut the tip of their nail in a single motion. Aim to trim their nail in parallel with the floor and file them smoothly to reduce the risk of their nail cracking or splitting apart.

Thankfully after talking to several professionals and following a couple of guides I got the hang of it, even safely trimming her black nails with little to no issue. It’s still not my favorite, but I’m confident enough to share everything I’ve been able to learn with you below.

shiba inu that needs a nail trim

How Do You Know When To Trim Your Shiba Inu’s Nails?

The easiest way to know when to trim your Shiba’s nails is to listen for clicking and tapping while they walk. Hearing your pet’s nails scrape against the ground is an indicator they’re too long and will start causing problems for your Shiba in the coming weeks.

A dog’s nails grow circularly instead of straight, curving down towards the ground. If left unchecked, they’re overgrown nails will cause them to walk differently, typically wide or with a hitch, hurting their paws and legs over time.

The extra stress on their joints is not only painful but can cause them to develop arthritis. Ideally, your Shiba’s nails shouldn’t touch the ground when they are standing still.

But on the flip side, you don’t want to over-trim your pet’s nails to the point that they don’t have any. Dogs rely on their nails to help them walk on softer surfaces, like dirt, and are critical in giving them enough grip to run around.

How To Cut Your Shiba Inu’s Nails

One thing I can’t stress enough before you start trimming your Shiba Inu’s nails is to get them use to you, or others, holding their paws. Shiba Inus aren’t fond of being held and handled like other breeds, so take a few minutes here and there throughout your day playing with their ears, tail, and paws. It’ll make your life significantly easier.

Once you’re confident you can hold your Shiba’s paw without them freaking out, we’ll move on to the first step of nail trimming.

Gather The Necessary Nail Trimming Supplies

Some dogs are perfectly fine with you holding and trimming their nails while others need an incentive or distraction. Use treats, toys, and other goodies your Shiba Inu likes to your advantage.

Another critical tool you’ll need is a nail clipper or nail grinder. Both have their own pros and cons.

Nail clippers are quick, cheap, and get the job done with little noise or effort. You don’t have to worry a spinning motor freaking your Shiba out or friction leaving them with a burning sensation. You do have to be careful when clipping your dog’s nails though, slightly catching your Shiba’s quicks will quickly lead to screaming, bleeding, and biting. It’s best to take your time and not rush things.

Dudi over on Amazon has a great set of dog-specific nail clippers. They’re lightweight, have a great grip, and have a built in guard to help protect against over-cutting your Shiba’s nails. This one even comes with an included file.

Nail grinders, or dremels, work by sanding your Shiba’s nails down. They’re fantastic if you want your pet’s nails rounded, since they do both in one step, but will take some getting use to for your pet. Most nail grinders are fairly loud, causing your pet a lot of stress and discomfort, and because they work by sanding the nail down they generate a lot of friction.

That excess friction leads to heat, which makes your Shiba think they’re nails or paws are on burning. They can also pull on hair and fur that they come into contact with. Slow and steady motions for no more than 2~3 seconds at a time, with breaks in between so their nails can cool of, do best.

As for a nail grinder, I recommend this one from Casfuy on Amazon. It’s rechargeable, has survived several drops, and even regularly goes on sale.

Tip – You can get your Shiba use to the sound of their nail trimmer by periodically turning it on and safely letting them investigate it, preferably with any safety cap still on.

Locate The Quick

Once you have all your supplies squared away it’s time to get down to business by isolating the first nail you want to trim. Most Shiba Inus will have bit of fur between their toes so be sure to push as much of it away so you can get a clearer view.

You want to be extra careful here if you are using a nail grinder, they do have a chance of grabbing and pulling on individual hairs. We’re doing this so we can find your Shiba’s quick, the reddish/pink nerve at the center of their nails.

Semiclear or white nails are easier than darker black nails for this so I recommend starting there if your Shiba Inu has any.

How Do You Know Where The Quick Is On Black Nails?

While you can’t directly see a dog’s quick if they have black nails there is a trick. Slowly work your way up your dog’s nails with your nail clippers or grinder until you find a chalky white section, it indicates their quick is close by. You can safely continue forward until that chalky part has a black dot in the middle. That dot represents the physical end of their quick, letting you know where to stop.

Cut There Nail At A 45° Angle

Before making your cut, or pass with a dremel, you should make sure the nail will be trimmed in parallel with the floor. This ensures you get as much material trimmed as safely as possible but also reduces the chances of your pet scratching up you, your floor, or your furniture accidentally.

File Your Pets Nails Smooth

Those using a nail grinder won’t have to worry about this extra step but for those using nail clippers, I recommend you file the edges of your Shiba’s nails smooth. This helps protect their nail from cracking and splitting apart while also helping protect you and your belongings from scratches.

Reward Your Shiba

Don’t forget to praise and reward your Shiba Inu once you’re done with their nail trim. This not only helps relieve any stress or anxiety they have from the process but it also incentivizes them to be on their best behavior next time, so they can get more goodies.

Stick To A Schedule

Dogs do better when they have regular schedules and routines and Shiba Inus are no exception. Training, walking, and behavioral corrections can be significantly simplified and streamlined if you stick to a proper schedule.

For nail trimming, depending on how active your pet is or how oven you take them on long walks on pavement, it’s safe to assume you’ll need to trim your Shiba’s nails at least once a month. If your Shiba’s nails are really long and you are hoping to work them down it’s safe to trim them every 2 weeks.

That waiting period between sessions is critical for your pet, as it’s giving their quicks time to shift and adjust. So do not trim your pet’s nail more than once every two weeks.

Ask A Professional If You Aren’t Comfortable

Another valid option for owners who are too worried about hurting their Shiba is to let an expert handle their nail trims. Nearly every pet groomer offers nail trims as a service and a fair amount of vets do as well. Just remember you aren’t just paying for your pet’s nails to be trimmed, you are also paying to make sure your Shiba Inu’s nails are trimmed safely and comfortably as possible.

I personally turn to this when I find my Shiba’s nails are a bit long for my taste, and since she has several black nails I don’t have to stress over making a mistake.

Summary Of Shiba Inu Nail Trimming

Routine nail trims are one of those things you can’t avoid as a pet owner. Just like brushing your Shiba weekly, their nails need to be cut or ground down at least once a month. Up to every two weeks if they’re too long.

You’ll know if your Shiba’s nails are too long if you can hear them against the floor, or you can clearly see them touching the ground when they are standing still. If they’re nails get too long they could develop a paw or let injury and increases the likelihood of them developing arthritis from the extra stress on their joints.

Be sure to take your time when you are ready to trim their nails, the last thing you want to do is cut your Shiba’s quick and send them spiraling out of control. That’s why I believe it’s best to turn to a professional, like your vet or a dog groomer, if you aren’t comfortable cutting your Shiba Inu’s nails on your own. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens If You Don’t Trim Your Dog’s Nails?

A dog’s nails grow circularly instead of straight, curving down towards the ground. Long nails put additional stress on a dog’s paw and leg, leading to ongoing pain and increasing the likelihood of them developing arthritis.

Does Walking Your Dog Trim Nails?

Walking your dog regularly on harder surfaces, like pavement, is a great way to help shorten and round off sharp edges. But long walks on the sidewalk often aren’t enough to keep a dog’s nails as short as they’re supposed to be, so regular nail trims are still recommended.

Why Do Dogs Scream When You Cut Their Nails?

Dog’s nails have a nerve and blood vessel at the center called a “quick”. This nerve is extremely sensitive, similar to human nails or teeth, and is why dogs freak out when their nails get trimmed. Clipping too close to the quick causes a lot of pain, and often bleeding.

Is It Normal For Dogs Nails To Bleed After Cutting?

Poorly or carelessly cutting your dog’s nails will cause them to bleed. This is because a dog’s nails are hollow, filled with a nerve and blood vessel called a “quick”. This quick is extremely sensitive, causing intense pain and bleeding if you cut into it.

Should I Use Nail Clippers Or A Dremel?

Nail clippers are a great option if your dog has thinner clearer nails, allowing you to easily see their quick. Dremels are better than clippers for thicker nails and round off rough edges in the process, they’re also a good alternative to nail clippers if you had a bad experience.

How Often Should You Trim A Shiba’s Nails?

Ideally, you don’t want to hear your dog’s nails as they walk around, it’s a sign they’re too long. A dog’s nails need to be long enough for them to use while running on dirt but short enough not to touch the floor while standing still.

What Happens If My Shiba’s Nails Get Too Long?

The longer your Shiba’s nails get, the more likely they will break or crack. Long nails are painful for dogs due to the excess stress and pressure they put on their paws and legs. Increasing the odds of them developing arthritis.

Should You Hear Your Dog’s Nails On The Floor?

Ideally, you don’t want to hear your dog’s nails as they walk around, it’s a sign they’re too long. A dog’s nails need to be long enough for them to use while running on dirt but short enough not to touch the floor while standing still.

Colby Adkins

I am a proud Shiba Inu owner who is just looking to share any tips, tricks, or advice I have to help others.

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