Caring for your german shepherds nails is an important part of his grooming program. If you take your GSD for long walks on concrete ground, his nails will wear down gradually to a normal level, but if he is usually exercised on soft ground, you may need to cut his nails about once a month.
Trimming german shepherds nails is not a difficult operation and you'll get more confident after the first couple of times. It is important to approach this with care as the nails of dogs have a quick, or small blood vessel that runs from the foot to about half way down the nail. If you should cut the nail too short and into the quick you will cause a sharp pain to your dog and draw blood.
At first, cut the german shepherds nails conservatively until both you and your dog get used to the process.
There are special tools for cutting your german shepherds nails.
Guillotine cutters slice the nail like a guillotine, but from the opposite direction. They clamp it on the top and slice it from the bottom. It's possible to reverse the direction, just one of the problems with using this type of tool. They also tend to put more pressure on the nail, potentially squeezing the quick uncomfortably.
Scissor-style cutters, if properly sharp, can do a great job of slicing cleanly and quickly with just a little practice.
A nail file is an alternative option, but a slow one.
Dremel tools, which operate like a small wood grinding drill, are an option. They have a rounded attachment that can grind the nail down to the desired length but they have to be used with great care. The problem with the Dremel is that at high speed they can become too hot too quickly so keep an eye on the temperature of the grinder or your dog will run a mile the next time you try to use it.
Before you begin, get your German Shepherd on the floor on it's back and get him at ease. It's important they stay calm and don't jerk a foot at the wrong moment.
Wash and clean the german shepherds nails before you begin. This will help you to distinguish where the quick starts so you don't cut the nails too short and it will also get the dog used to you handling his feet.
Try to leave about 1/8th of an inch of nail below the quick or your dog will feel pain from the pressure of walking.
Clip or grind each nail in turn, taking special care with any dew claw nail, if your dog still has them. To keep any of the dog's hair out of the way, you can take a baby sock and poke a hole for the nail, then slide it over the foot. That will push the hair back away from the nail.
Don't forget to make a fuss of him and give your dog some kind of reward afterwards. When you've cut your german shepherds nails a few times, both you and your dog will grow in confidence and it won't be such an ordeal for either of you.
You can always take the dog to a grooming parlour if you'd rather not attempt this task yourself.