The good news is that the dachshund's toenails are not particularly thick and can be cut relatively easily using a scissors-type nail clipper made for small to medium dogs. Also, if you walk your dachshund on hard surfaces, such as sidewalks, the need to trim your dog's nails is usually less because they are effectively filed down a little bit every day.
Avoid the Quick
The bad news is that the most common color of a dachshund's toenails is black. If you're not accustomed to trimming dark toenails, it can be a bit intimidating at first. The dog's nail has a quick, or a blood vein, that extends into the nail. Your goal is to cut as much of the dog's nail off without “quicking,” or hitting that quick and causing the dog's nail to bleed — and it bleeds profusely.
In light-colored nails, you can actually see the quick, which appears as a pinkish color in the nail. With a black or dark nail, you have to guess where to make your cut. You can usually tell by how the nail is shaped — it tends to narrow quickly just past the end of the quick.
Dachshund nails should be trimmed every three to four weeks. Sedentary or senior dogs that aren't walked as much will need more frequent trimmings. Nails that aren't clipped will grow long and tend to curl at odd angles to the side, creating a painful situation for your dachshund and effectively crippling him.
The quick also continues to grow to the end of nails, so it can take a long period of frequent, careful clipping and regular filing (to encourage the quick to recede) to return a dog back to healthy, short nails.
What will happen if I hit the quick?
It's going to bleed a lot and will take a long time to stop on its own. Make sure you have some agents on hand to stop the bleeding quickly. There are powders on the market that stop bleeding immediately. However, most of these powders contain sulfur. If you are allergic to sulfa drugs, do not use them. A styptic pencil can help limit bleeding, or in a pinch, try flour, cornstarch, or ice pressed against the bleeding nail.
Proper Trimming Technique
Rather than cutting a chunk of nail off and hoping not to hit the quick, make little clips on the first nail until you can see that the quick is close. If you look directly at the cut nail, the presence of the quick will appear as a darker spot in the center of the nail. If you see this, stop cutting. Gauge how much you trimmed off this first nail and use it as a guide for the rest of the front nails.
Don't forget to clip the dewclaw, if your dachshund has them. (This is the fifth toe that is slightly higher than the paw, located on the inside of the dog's pastern — the area of the foreleg between the dog's knee and wrist.)
The back-paw nails don't tend to grow as quickly or as long as the front nails, so be careful when you start trimming them. Just as with the front nails, take little clips off one nail until you are close to reaching the quick. Once you have this nail finished, use it as a baseline for trimming the rest of the nails on the back paws. Again, don't forget to trim the dewclaws, if your dachshund has them.