Vizsla Care

Essential Guide To Vizsla Nail Trimming

Written By: Rachel

Published:

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Are you a new vizsla puppy owner and not sure where to start with vizsla nail trimming? Perhaps clipping your vizsla’s nails has become something akin to a wrestling match?

There is no doubt cutting vizsla nails can be a difficult and stressful job. Not only does it create anxiety in some dogs (and owners), there is the risk of accidentally cutting the quick and dealing with the chaos as you try to hold your dog still!

Unfortunately vizsla nails are strong and fast growing and can’t be ignored. So in this grooming guide we show you exactly how to cut vizsla nails at home and share some handy tips for clipping the claws of reluctant vizslas.


This article is based on research and personal experience as a Vizsla owner. I’m not a qualified dog trainer, Vet or dog behaviourist.


Why Is Vizsla Nail Trimming So Important?

Regular vizsla dog nail trimming is one of the most important grooming jobs for vizsla owners.

Not only does nail clipping prevent them scratching you and your floors, it is also critical for their health.

Long nails can increase the risk of injury to their feet and nails, can cause pain when walking and even long term changes to foot alignment and how they distribute their weight.

While working dogs are likely an exception, for many vizslas living in family homes there simply isn’t enough opportunity to wear nails down:

  • Not enough time spent on hard surfaces like concrete or bitumen
  • Off leash runs are often on dirt trails or at the park.

When combined with the shape and height of vizsla paws with their thick fleshy pads, it is no surprise that their nails get longer than they should.

So now you know why cutting your vizsla’s nails is necessary, let’s take a quick look at the structure of vizsla claws to better understand how to cut them.

Closeup of vizsla paw and long dark brown claws being held in human hand.

Structure Of Vizsla Nails

Vizsla dogs have 5 claws on each foot – 4 on the foot and 1 a little way up the inside of the leg, called the dewclaw.

The dewclaw is sometimes removed by breeders soon after birth, but in many countries this is not standard practice.

Each canine nail is made up of a hard outer layer and a softer inner layer. Inside the inner layer is a vein called the “quick”.

This vein is easily seen on dogs with pale or white nails, but is very difficult to see on vizslas as their nails are a dark black/brown color.

The quick lengthens as the nail grows and accidentally cutting the quick can cause it to bleed (quite a lot) and is painful to the dog.

So the aim of cutting vizsla nails regularly is to keep them short, prevent the quick lengthening and reduce any pain associated with having longer nails.

How Long Should My Vizsla’s Nails Be?

Vizsla nails should not touch the ground when in a standing position and you should not hear them tapping as they walk.

Often the nails on the front feet are longer than the hind feet.

If the nails are touching the ground or tapping as they walk, the nails are too long.

Closeup of person holding pay and clipping vizsla dog nails with dog nail clippers.

How To Cut Vizsla Nails

Outlined below are the detailed steps for how to cut vizsla nails.

If you have a young vizsla puppy, hopefully your breeder has already started the process and you aren’t starting from scratch when you bring puppy home.

But if you are, or you haven’t tried to cut their nails in a while, my best tip is don’t launch straight in.

First impressions count with your dog (and vizslas seem to have long memories).

So before you approach your dog to clip their claws, read this guide, choose a method and have a plan before you get started.

1. Choose The Trimming Tool

There are three different types of nail trimming tools:

  • Nail scissors
  • Nail guillotine
  • Electric nail grinder

Scissors and guillotines are examples of dog nail clippers.

They all have their pros and cons and there is much debate amongst vizsla owners about which is the best tool to use.

Dog nail grinder vs clipper

Many agree that a dog nail grinder, like a Dremel, can grind the nails closer to the quick than clippers and they don’t compress the quick which causes pain.

However many vizslas won’t tolerate the noise or sensation of grinders, even with desensitization training.

Nail scissors are cheaper, quiet and have two blades – giving you full control, but require more accuracy to avoid the quick and angle correctly.

Nail guillotines are simple to hold and use but you need to feed the nail through the hole in order to clip them. This makes them tricky to use with a wriggly pup or an adult dog with very large nails.

You may find you need to try different tools before finding one your dog will tolerate. Their preference may also change as they age.

Top view of vizsla nail trimming tools including nail grinder, nail clippers, treats, styptic powder and wash cloth.

2. Desensitize

Before attempting to clip your dogs nails, you need to ensure they are relaxed when being handled and when the trimming tool is near their feet.

This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks – but is THE MOST important step to do right.

If you have a new puppy and your breeder has been trimming their nails, continue with the same method they have been using and do it weekly.

The video below is an excellent watch for demonstrating the training steps required to desensitize your dog and ensure they are ready for a positive nail trimming experience.

2. Choose The Right Time

Your dog should be relaxed and exercised when you clip their nails. The evening is often a good time as they tend to be tired – but light can be tricky.

So choose a time when your pup is calm and relaxed to start clipping their nails.

Initially you will want to keep sessions short (just a couple of minutes) with the aim to lengthen over time.

3. Prepare High Value Treats

Have some high value treats ready for your session. Cheese, raw meat, hot dog pieces or cooked chicken are some good options.

The key is to use a treat your dog loves more than anything to make it worth it!

4. Take It Slow

Once you have the clippers, treats, a clean wash cloth and styptic powder (see below) ready, find a comfortable place with good light to cut your dog’s nails.

Gently take your pup’s paw in your hand, hold it firmly and cut a small amount from the end of the nail. Treat them after each clip.

While you should work as quickly as you can, you will need to take it slow overall.

You may only cut one nail or the nails on one paw in the first session but that’s okay.

If they pull back release their paw, touch their paw with the trimming tool and offer a treat then try again.

Have regular sessions over a few weeks to get them used to the process and you will eventually get them all done in one session.

5. Cut Small Amounts

Please don’t try and cut long nails short in one go. You will most likely cut the quick and hurt your dog.

Cut or grind small amounts off each nail – just a few millimetres at a time.

Graphic showing three different ways to cut dog nails.
Feel free to use this image as long as you link to itsavizsla.com for attribution.

6. Trim Regularly

Repeat this process weekly or even multiple times a week to build up their tolerance and gradually shorten their nails.

Once their nails are short, most vizsla owners find they need to be trimmed every 1 – 2 weeks to maintain the nail length.

What To Do If You Cut The Quick

If you accidentally cut the quick – don’t panic – it happens to many of us at some point.

You will know you have cut the quick because it bleeds – a lot.

Remain calm, apply gentle pressure to the nail with a wash cloth then apply the powder or cornflour to the nail. Continue to apply gentle pressure for as long as you can.

It can take 20-30 minutes for the bleeding to stop, so try and keep them still and calm.

Tips For Cutting Vizsla Nails When They Hate It

If you have a reluctant dog it can be tricky to get their nails cut, especially once they are a little older, and bigger.

You want to try and keep the experience as positive as possible, so wrestling them or pinning them down is generally not going to help build a positive experience. If anything it can set you back.

Instead you should first try different types of trimmers. Many vizslas find the sound of electric nail grinders stressful but may tolerate manual clippers.

Others don’t like the sensation of clippers but will accept a grinder or even a manual file. Test and try and re-try as they mature.

Also try a different location, time of day, higher value treats.

If none of these strategies work you most likely need to do more work desensitizing them to nail trimming. Go back to the beginning and take baby steps to re-gain their trust.

Most of all – don’t give up! Over time with consistent training and exposure you can will get there.

This video has more great tips for training your dog to like nail trimming when you have tried everything else.

Tip: While you are working on desensitization, you may need to engage the services of a professional groomer to keep the nails short.

How Often Should You Cut Vizsla Nails?

Once they are a suitably short length, you should cut their nails every 2 weeks.

The frequency will depend on how much time they spend running or walking on pavements.

However more regular nail maintenance is required if they are overgrown – weekly trimming will be necessary to gradually shorten the nails without impacting the quick.

Should I Leave Nail Clipping To The Professionals?

If you are not confident with trimming vizsla nails or you have a very reluctant and strong vizsla dog, a professional groomer can help.

They have the best equipment and experience to do the job quickly. You often don’t even need to book in for nail clipping.

Try and get recommendations from other vizsla owners for groomers with experience with vizslas and tell the groomer they are resistant so they can be prepared!

More Vizsla Care Guides

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About Rachel

Founder of It's a Vizsla, Rachel is a vizsla owner who loves to research and share practical tips to help other vizsla owners care for their fur babies. She loves getting outdoors and hanging out with her vizsla, Lottie.