Trimming a Yorkie’s nails can be traumatic.
Both for you and your pup.
The color of their nails is a big reason for that. We’ll explain this below.
Their high energy level doesn’t help either.
We usually recommend having a professional groomer clip your Yorkie’s nails, but that does cost money.
If you prefer to do it yourself, it is certainly possible.
Keep reading to learn how to trim Yorkie nails without hurting your dog, plus a list of the most common mistakes, so you can be sure to avoid them.
- 1 How To Clip Yorkie Nails
- 2 Common Mistakes When Trimming Yorkie Nails
- 3 Why You Need To Trim Your Yorkie’s Nails
- 4 Cutting Yorkie Nails: Final Thoughts
How To Clip Yorkie Nails
Dogs can naturally keep their nails short through walking on gravelly or rough surfaces. But house pets don’t usually spend enough time walking outside to keep their toenails as short as they need to be.
That is why they need to get their nails trimmed regularly. Many websites will tell you to trim your Yorkie’s nails at least once every 2 to 3 months and that you should never go more than 6 months without clipping the nails.
We recommend doing it more often. Try to cut your Yorkie’s nails every 2 weeks or so. It does depend on how much the nails get ground down naturally, but doing it more frequently makes the process much easier.
This has to do with how the nerves and blood vessels inside the nails grow longer along with the nail. This will all make sense once you have read the section on clipping the nails below.
The easiest way to trim a Yorkie’s nails is to have a professional groomer do it. If you take your pup to a groomer for regular haircuts anyway, this makes a lot of sense.
But it does cost money and clipping your Yorkie’s nails at home is possible. But there is a risk of injuring your dog, especially with an energetic breed like this one. Moreover, Yorkies have black nails, which makes trimming them much harder. We’ll cover why below.
If you do want to do it yourself, we’ll walk you through it. The first thing you’ll need are a pair of high quality nail clippers
Get Good Nail Trimmers
You can get good nail trimmers in any pet store. You can also find them online, for example on Amazon. Your vet will be able to recommend a good pair.
If you’re not sure which to get, this pair by Boshel is a great choice.
It is inexpensive, but well constructed. It has non-slip handles and a safety guard to avoid over-clipping. It even comes with a free nail file.
Ensure You And Your Yorkie Are Comfortable
Both you and your dog need to be relaxed in order to avoid any issues. For that reason, you want to sit somewhere comfortable where you can hold your pup in your lap.
Alternatively, you can have someone else hold your dog while you do the cutting. The most important thing is that you want your dog to be calm and relaxed. Of course that means you also need to be calm, since dogs pick up on our emotional state.
Trim Your Yorkie’s Nails Carefully
We always recommend clipping your pet’s nails after it has had a bath. The nails are softer after they have been soaking in water.
Dog nails have a cone inside them (called the kwik, also often written as “quick”) that contains nerves and blood vessels. In most dogs, it is easy to locate, because they have white or clear nails and the kwik shows up as a pinkish area.
But it’s not so easy with Yorkshire terriers. This breed has black nails, which makes it impossible to identify the kwik visually. It is a big reason why we generally recommend having a professional cut your Yorkie’s nails.
If you cut into the kwik, your dog will feel pain and the nail will bleed. It is not the end of the world, but it is definitely something you want to avoid, if you can.
The kwik grows and shrinks with the nail. That means that if your pup has long nails, you can’t cut them all the way back, even if you had them cut that short before. The kwik is now longer.
What you need to do is trim off a smaller portion, then wait a few days. The kwik will recede to match the now shorter nail. Once it has shrunk, you can cut off another portion of the nail.
In this way, you want to cut off smaller pieces of a long nail every few days. You could also just trim the nails more regularly, so they never get overly long. This is why we recommend trimming the nails every 2 weeks or so.
File The Cut Nails (Optional)
Filing is not necessary, but some owners prefer to do it. After trimming, the nails are quite sharp. This can hurt you, if your dog jumps on your lap or otherwise lets its nails make contact with you.
The clippers we recommended above come with a free nail file. If you do not have a file, they are easy to find on Amazon and generally not expensive at all. This is a good one:
What To Do If The Cut Nail Bleeds
If you do accidentally cut into the kwik, don’t panic. If you panic, your dog will too. Try to remain calm and stop the bleeding.
To do this, it is best to put styptic powder on the affected nail. It stops the bleeding almost instantly. It is a good idea to have a jar of styptic powder on hand when you cut your Yorkie’s nails, just in case.
If you do not have any, you can also use corn starch. It works just fine, but not nearly as well as styptic powder.
If you are unable to stop the bleeding, you should contact your vet.
The nail will heal, but the psychological damage may not, if you cut into the kwik too often. Your pup will come to dread nail clipping time. That is why it is important to be careful and do it correctly, or have a professional do it for you.
Common Mistakes When Trimming Yorkie Nails
The following mistakes are quite common when owners trim their Yorkie’s nails themselves. Avoiding these mistakes goes a long way toward ensuring a successful nail clipping session.
Not Calming Your Dog
Yorkies are energetic and it can be tough to get them to sit still. It is even worse if they have had painful nail trimming experiences in the past. The more often they have experienced the kwik being cut, the more anxious they will be.
Do not cut your Yorkie’s nails unless it is calm. The first step to calming your dog is to be calm yourself. After that, do what you need to to calm down your dog. Every dog is different and you know best what works for yours.
Some people like to put some peanut butter on a spoon for their pup to lick. This will distract your dog and it should calm down enough to give you its paw. If you are unable to calm your Yorkie, reschedule the nail trimming session.
Being In A Rush
Similar to your dog being calm, you also need to be calm. If you are in a hurry to get the job done, don’t do it. The risk of making a mistake is too high. Plan to trim your Yorkie’s nails another time, when you have more time available and are not in a hurry.
Cutting Into The Kwik
We already discussed this quite a bit, but it is a very common occurrence when clipping a Yorkie’s nails at home. It even occasionally happens to professional groomers.
As mentioned above, if the nails are long, cut off a small portion and wait a few days for the kwik to recede before cutting off another portion.
Also, don’t rush it and don’t proceed unless your dog is calm. There is a reason we covered both of these above. It is too easy to accidentally cut off too much of the nail, if you or your dog are not calm and relaxed.
Using Cheap Clippers
You need a good pair of clippers, like the ones recommended above. A cheap pair is often not sharp enough, which results in an incorrect cut.
Why You Need To Trim Your Yorkie’s Nails
If you are thinking you’ll just let your Yorkie’s nails grow long, please don’t. There are a number of reasons you need to keep your Yorkie’s nails cut down to a reasonable length.
Try to imagine having toenails so long that they impact the ground when you walk. Not a pleasant thought, right?
So why would it be pleasant for your dog? That is why you should always keep your Yorkie’s nails short enough that they don’t hit the ground. If you hear the clicking on nails on the floor when your pup walks, it’s high time to cut those suckers.
Damage To Floors
Conversely, nails that impact the floor can also damage the floor, along with other things around your home. Your dog might damage furniture, etc. with them.
Long Nails Get Stuck
Long nails also have a tendency to get stuck in soft things. They can get caught in blankets, thick carpets, your Yorkie’s dog bed, and many more.
Not only can this damage the thing the nail sticks in, but it can result in the nail getting torn off! You Yorkie may freak out when the nail gets caught and could potentially tear it off trying to pull free.
This is the biggest potential issue that can result from letting your Yorkie’s nails grow too long. You’ve probably noticed that dog nails curl inward as they get longer.
Eventually, they curl back into the paw pad. If the nails gets long enough, it can penetrate the pad. As you can imagine, this is extremely painful for your dog. Worse, yet, it can get infected. It may require surgery to remedy this issue.
Loss Of Grip
The pads on the bottom of a dog’s paws provide grip on slippery surfaces. If the nails are too long, it can prevent the paw pads from getting enough traction.
The result can be that your dog slips on some surfaces. If it is running, this can result in injuries. This, in turn, can result in your dog becoming afraid of slippery surfaces.
We actually had a dog once that had this problem. She refused to walk on our hardwood floors and only walked on the carpets. She was adopted from a shelter, so she must have suffered some trauma on a hardwood floor with her previous owners, most likely due to nails that were too long.
Joint Or Bone Damage
If your dog’s nails get long enough that they make it difficult or painful to walk, this can result in your pup changing the way it walks. It will angle its feet differently to avoid pain.
Over time, this can lead to the bones or joints becoming misaligned. The result is pain for the rest of your pup’s life. Read “What Can I Give My Yorkie For Pain?” for help with such a situation.
Cutting Yorkie Nails: Final Thoughts
You need to keep your Yorkie’s nails trimmed to a reasonable length, in order to avoid a number of issues, all of which we discussed. Nail clipping is an important aspect of Yorkie grooming.
It is generally best to have a professional groomer cut your Yorkie’s nails. But if you prefer to do it yourself, follow our instructions above to make it a painless experience for you and your little Yorkie.