How to cut cockapoo nails (simple guide from real owners)

How to cut your cockapoo's nails

Written by Jo Littlewood

Just like us humans, dog nails (aka claws) will continue to grow and grow. While activities like walking and playing helps to wear them down over time, many dogs, including cockapoos, will need to have their nails clipped from time to time. If you’re looking for a simple guide to cutting your cockapoo’s nails then you’re in the right place. We’ll look how to trim and care for your cockapoo’s nails, and answer some FAQs when it comes to cockapoo nails. 

Like all articles on this site, they are written by us – Jo and Paul – and are based on our experience of owning our amazing cockapoo, Ziggy. Like all things on the internet – please understand that we’ve written this for information purposes only. We’re not professional vets, or even professional groomers. That said, cutting your cockapoo’s nails is pretty straightforward when you get the hang of it!

Why you need to clip your Cockapoos nails

If you’re new to owning a dog, then you might be wondering why on earth you need to cut their nails. The answer really is quite simple: because they keep growing! 

If left unchecked (and uncut) then your cockapoo’s nails will grow and grow. Because they walk on them so often, if their claws are too long then there is a real risk of them splitting. This, in turn, can cause infection issues.

Split nails can also be one of the main reasons for your cockapoo over-licking and getting fixated on their paws. Over time, this can lead to them developing painful bald-spots on their paws and legs. 

So, as is hopefully obvious, cutting your cockapoo’s nails is an essential part of their grooming routine, along with bathing your cockapoo and keeping their face well trimmed.

How to get your cockapoo used to having their paws touched

For many dogs, paws are an area that they can get most paranoid about their human touching. 

If your cockapoo doesn’t like having their paws touched, then this can make nail clipping a bit of a headache.

So, as with lots of things to do with dog ownership, the earlier you introduce nail clipping and general paw fiddling to your cockapoo’s life, the better. 

It really is as simple as introducing paw-touching in little-and-often chunks for your cockapoo. Have a tasty treat to hand (for us it was a spoon with peanut butter) and gently rest a hand on one of their paws while they’re chilling on the sofa with you. 

Cutting your cockapoo's nails - white cockapoo relaxing on a sofa
Basically, when they’re as relaxed as this, it’s a good chance to get them used to having their paws touched!

The peanut butter (or whatever) should keep them occupied while your hand is on their paw.

Then, over time, simply build up the amount of time you have your hand on their paws. Once they’re comfortable with you simply touching them, which took us about a week, the next step is to then gently squeeze a paw (while they’re licking away), or switch the paw you’re holding. 

Again, little-and-often is the key, as is a calm approach. 

Apply this principle, and over time your cockapoo will learn that paw touching equals lots of nice treats. 

Then, before you actually want to cut your cockapoo’s nails, get out your clippers and have them used to the sound it makes and it touching their paws. Repeat this is little bursts, while treating them, and it will make your first nail cutting experience a lot easier. 

How to cut cockapoo’s nails, step-by-step

Without further ado, here is our quick guide to cutting your cockapoo’s nails.

Step one: locate the quick

The actual process of trimming your cockapoo’s nails is relatively simple, but if done wrong it can result in causing a lot of pain for your dog. 

This is because dogs have nerves and blood vessels that run into their nails, and each one is called the quick. Cutting into the quick will not only cause the nail to bleed, but will also result in your cockapoo likely developing a (justifiable) fear of having their paws touched. 

How to locate the quick on a cockapoo's nails
This pinker patch on the nail is the quick – the whiter areas at the end are ok to cut.

To avoid this, you’ll need to spot where the quick ends and the excess nail begins. This is relatively straightforward as you’ll be able to see a dark patch within the nail – this is the quick! 

Later, I’ll touch on what to do if you do end up with bleeding as a result of nail trimming – don’t worry! 

Dogs with lighter markings generally have lighter nails, which makes finding the quick an easy task. 

Where it gets a little tricker is when dogs have darker nails; however, you can still find the quick by either shining a light on the nail (you’ll then see the much darker quick) or by looking at the bottom of the nail (where the quick is much more visible). 

Step two: plan your cut

how much nail should you cut off each time

When cutting, you should aim to leave at least a 2mm (1/16 inch) distance between where you plan to cut and the quick.

What really helps to avoid over cutting are dog-nail clippers like these ones with a protective guard. 


In my view, they’re pretty much essential for all dog owners – after all, you’ll be cutting your cockapoo’s nails for their whole life! 

Step three: start cutting 

This is perhaps the most simple step. 

Once you have located the quick, and worked out how far back you can cut, it really is as simple as cutting away. 

The first few times you do it, don’t be surprised if your cockapoo reacts poorly. After all, it is going to be a very weird sensation for them. 

For this reason, it’s best in the early days to set a target of perhaps cutting a paw at a time rather than all four paws in one session. And, if you sense they need a little break between cuts, then let them. The worst thing you want to have happen is for your cockapoo to feel like they are under threat and can’t escape the situation.  

This will make your – and your cockapoo’s – experience a lot more enjoyable. 

Again, using lots of treats and positive praise, works wonders here. As does an extra pair of hands to actually give them treats. 

If you’re working solo then putting a little peanut butter on the back of one of your hands is one of my top tips – I still do it to this day! 

Step four: give your dog’s paws a once over 

Once you’ve completed your nail trimming, I always like to double-check the nails I’ve clipped and check for any sharp edges. 

While it might just be my paranoia, I always worry that if left too sharp, then my cockapoo may cause himself a minor injury the next time he has a scratch. 

Having a nail file to hand makes rounding off any sharp edges an absolute doddle!

What happens if your cockapoo’s nails start bleeding?

First of all, hopefully this doesn’t happen if you’ve taken the time to locate the quick. 

But, that said, there is always a slight risk of this happening no matter how careful you are. So first of all, make sure to remain calm – this will help you to keep your cockapoo calm and make it easier to treat them. 

There are two main methods to stopping the bleeding. 

  • Using a styptic pencil or powder 
  • Using bandages 

Both are effective, and are contained in this really useful doggy first aid kit (if you haven’t already got one). 

If using styptic powder or pencil, then it will cause an initial stinging feeling for your pooch. This is caused by the antiseptic element, so make sure to keep a firm hold of them if using this method. To apply the styptic, it’s really as simple as just getting it on the wound area. It’s a clogging agent so should stop the bleeding very quickly. 

If using bandages, it’s a case of wrapping it around your dog’s paw so that it covers the bleeding. You may need to wrap around a few times before the blood starts to clog, so be careful that you’re not winding it around their paw too tightly as this may be painful for them. 

Now, while it’s unlikely that a slight nick to your cockapoo’s quick will cause them issues if they’re otherwise healthy and full of beans, it’s always best to get it checked out by a vet once you’ve got the bleeding under control. 

They’ll be able to advise properly on the aftercare needed, and help you to make sure that the risk of infection is minimised. 

If you’re in the UK, it’s worth downloading this vet-app on your phone. It’s free to download, has lot’s of care tips, and gives you 24/7 access to a vet at a very reasonable price (about half the price of what our in-person vet charges).   

How often should you cut your Cockapoo’s nails?

While there’s no hard and fast rule to how often you should clip your cockapoo’s nails, we generally find that a quick monthly trim works well. A traditional rule of thumb to use to detect when your cockapoo’s nails definitely need clipping is when you start to hear a louder “click clack” sound as they walk on hard surfaces. This is a sign that the nails are hitting the ground before the paw pad and need to be trimmed back. 

An alternative, but still easy way to know if your cockapoo’s claws need trimming is to have them sit and look at their front paws. If the nails are touching the ground then it’s time to trim! 


Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand a little more about trimming your cockapoo’s nails. 

If there’s two pieces of advice I could have everyone reading this understand, it is: 

  1. Make sure to keep on top of your cockapoo’s nail clipping, and treat it as part of your general grooming regime. 
  2. Take the time to get your cockapoo used to having their paws handled from an early age. This not only makes nail cutting more enjoyable, but also a lot safer.

If you are at all unsure about trimming your cockapoo’s nails, then there’s really no harm in asking a groomer or even your vet to show you how before attempting it yourself. 

Thanks for reading, and please do check out some of the other articles on this site if you found this one useful. 

Who runs this website?

Hello, Jo and Paul here! We have owned a number of different breeds of dogs over the years, but none as amazing as our cockapoo Ziggy!

We created this site to share everything we have learned about this brilliant breed of dog!

You can learn more about us, and how we approach the topics we write about on our about us page.