Best Dog Nail Clippers Guide

Cleaner Paws is a mother-daughter run blog. Together we have over 40+ years of professional pet grooming experience and we hope to pass some of that on to our readers throughout our in-depth and non-bias reviews and buyers guides.

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This review guide was updated in November 2018.


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When it comes to dog grooming, one of the ways you can ensure the best treatment for your pet is the nail clippers you use when trimming their nails.

There is nothing worse than a dog greeting you at the door only for their sharp nails to put you off as they jump up to say hello.

Not only that but there are a number of reasons why it is dangerous for dogs to have long nails particularly as it can lead to claws becoming tangled with long hair or irritating sore skin whilst scratching.

Fortunately, trimming your dog’s nails is something that can be carried out in the comfort of your own home at a relatively low cost.

Dog Nail Clippers Comparison Chart

Value for Money
SAFARI Professional Stainless Steel Nail Trimmer, Standard Size, Dog Nail Clippers, Dog Nail Trimmer, Nail Clippers for Dogs, Dog Toenail Clippers, Comfort Grip Handle
Top Choice
Epica #1 Best Professional Pet Nail Clipper Small/Medium …
Dog Nail Clippers and Trimmer By Boshel - With Safety Guard to Avoid Over-cutting Nails & Free Nail File - Razor Sharp Blades - Sturdy Non Slip Handles - For Safe, Professional At Home Grooming
Product
Safari Professional Nail Trimmer
Epica Professional Pet Nail Clipper
Boshel Dog Nail Clipper
Prime Delivery
Rating
Safety Guard
Easy to Handle
Stainless Steel Blade
Suitable for Thick Nails?
Lifetime Warranty
Nail File Included
Price
$8.57
from $19.99
from $12.99
Value for Money
SAFARI Professional Stainless Steel Nail Trimmer, Standard Size, Dog Nail Clippers, Dog Nail Trimmer, Nail Clippers for Dogs, Dog Toenail Clippers, Comfort Grip Handle
Product
Safari Professional Nail Trimmer
Prime Delivery
Rating
Safety Guard
Easy to Handle
Stainless Steel Blade
Suitable for Thick Nails?
Lifetime Warranty
Nail File Included
Price
$8.57
Top Choice
Epica #1 Best Professional Pet Nail Clipper Small/Medium …
Product
Epica Professional Pet Nail Clipper
Prime Delivery
Rating
Safety Guard
Easy to Handle
Stainless Steel Blade
Suitable for Thick Nails?
Lifetime Warranty
Nail File Included
Price
from $19.99
Dog Nail Clippers and Trimmer By Boshel - With Safety Guard to Avoid Over-cutting Nails & Free Nail File - Razor Sharp Blades - Sturdy Non Slip Handles - For Safe, Professional At Home Grooming
Product
Boshel Dog Nail Clipper
Prime Delivery
Rating
Safety Guard
Easy to Handle
Stainless Steel Blade
Suitable for Thick Nails?
Lifetime Warranty
Nail File Included
Price
from $12.99

This guide will not only review the best nail clippers available for the job but also help you carry out the process with our 3 Step walkthrough.

As opposed to dog shampoo and conditioner which you buy regularly, with dog nail clippers it really is worth investing in a high-quality product you can count on for a long time.

If you choose the correct brand of clippers it is a purchase that will last a lifetime and the right product can make a huge difference to how quickly you can trim as well as how comfortable your dog will be while they’re being groomed.

Top 10 Best Dog Nail Clippers Reviews

When it comes to choosing the perfect nail clippers for your dog making the right decision can be a tough one.

Not only do you need to consider your the size and breed of your dog but you also need to take into account the thickness of their nails and how nervous your dog becomes when being groomed.

All these factors will have an impact on the nail clippers that are right for you and your pet.

It also doesn’t help that many of the best dog nail clippers available today all look remarkably similar. And with such little difference in appearance how exactly do you know which are high-quality and which clippers are going to go blunt after two uses.

Luckily we have rounded up the top 10  best nail clippers for small, large and medium-sized dogs and have taken into account the different types of nail clippers along the way as well.

1. Safari Professional Nail Trimmer

Safari pet nail clippersGrade: A+

As you read through our top 10 recommended dog nail clippers you will notice a number of factors have gone into our decision policy to rank the grooming products in the order we have.

These factors include the quality of experience we had when reviewing each product, the price and also the reviews of other dog owners online who have used each product on particular breeds of dog or who have had certain issues we may not have discovered ourselves.

In the case of the Safari professional dog nail trimmer, the product really did tick all of the above boxes. Priced extremely reasonably we found the product effortlessly allowed us to trim the nails of a number of dogs we tested the clippers on.

Safari’s trimmers are stainless steel meaning you can be sure the product is long lasting as well as durable.

This durable nature is extremely important as it means you can also be sure that the trimmers will give a clean cut to your dog’s nails each and every time you use them which is important to prevent any harm to your dog.

The sharpness of the trimmers also helps to deliver a quick and easy cut and the product also comes with a safety stop to prevent injury which is helpful if you’re training your dog from a young age or if you have an overly nervous pet.

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2. Epica Pet Nail Clippers

Epica dog nail clippersGrade: A

Another highly durable set of dog nail clippers this product also comes with stainless steel blades.

Epica’s Pet Nail Clippers are specifically designed for medium to large sized dogs including bulldogs, spaniels, German shepherds and Great Danes.

We found this to be true ourselves when reviewing Epica clippers on a loving Golden Retriever and the rubber grip made trimming the nails particularly easy with no need for excessive pressure or a super-tight grip.

This anti-slip rubber is one of the main reasons why we rate the clippers so highly as they really do add another layer of protection. Being easy to handle means you don’t have to worry about the blades slipping quickly from your grip and accidentally hurting your pet.

Like the Safari clippers, these also come with a safety lock meaning you can store the trimmers away without fear of damaging any other belongings or hurting yourself in the process.

Being designed with medium and larger dogs in mind you can be sure of precision and the sharp blades delivered an accurate cut every time we trialed them so are definitely worth a try if you have a slightly larger dog.


3. Boshel Dog Nail Clippers

Boshel dog nail clippers

Grade: A

Boshel’s Dog Nail Clippers are another great product that completes the Top 3 of our list brilliantly.

If you have found any other round ups where these clippers aren’t involved then frankly you shouldn’t trust it as this product was unfortunate not to finish higher here.

Not only a great looking grooming tool but Boshel nail clippers also perform very well.

The sharp stainless steel blade means quick and precise cuts while the trimmers also come with a built-in safety stop to ensure you do not over cut your dog’s nails.

A brand of product that is often used by professional dog groomers you can be sure of quality and we found these clippers extremely easy to use.

As a little-added bonus, the clippers also come with a free nail file thrown in, perfect for when you want to really pamper your dog and another excellent addition to your pet grooming kit.


4. Omega Pet Dog Nail Clippers

OmegaPet nail clippers

Grade: A-

Very similar in style to the Boshel Nail Clipper, OmegaPet have their own take on what makes the best dog nail clipper.

These clippers come with all the features you would expect by now, strong rubber grip, safety stop for cutting your dog’s nails too short as well as a safety lock and sharp blade.

What will also strike you with this product when you use them for the first time is just how well made they are.

The handle feels extremely secure and these clippers ready are made to last meaning you can be confident in your purchase knowing you won’t have to replace the product six months down the line.

This durability, along with the fact like other products already listed, they are extremely easy to use were the main reasons we rated them so highly.

You really do feel you have a steady hand throughout the whole time using these clippers and a number of online reviews also mention great success using them with cats as well as dogs which is great if you have a feline friend in your household as well.


5. Millers Forge Dog Nail Clippers

Millers Forge Stainless Steel Dog Nail Clippers

Grade: A

Millers Forge is no doubt already a brand that most pet owners will be familiar with.

A brand known for their sturdy and reliable products, these nail clippers definitely deliver in that area.

The comfortable grip makes them perfect for trimming the nails of all size dogs although the product description does suggest that the product isn’t best used on extremely large dogs where a specialized product would be a better alternative.

The Miller Forge brand really is a mark of quality and the stainless steel blade, comfortable grip and spring-loaded cutting mechanism all combine to deliver a really remarkable product that is thought of so highly by other dog owners.

 If you are looking for a real smooth cut with your clippers then look no further!


6. Dremel Pet Grooming Kit

Dreme Pet Grooming Kit

Grade: A+

The first Dremel file trimmer to be included, this is a product that divides opinion in grooming circles somewhat.

The rotary tool is seen as an excellent alternative to clipping with this Dremel product operated wirelessly and comes with a choice of two speeds, ideal for finding the right setting that works for your pet.

However, this type of dog trimmer is often seen as just that, an alternative.

Many dog owners if given the choice would probably choose to stick to their trusted clippers and the main reason for this is because they feel slightly uncomfortable using a Dremel product that may take longer to master.

We can tell you that after trailing the Dremel pet grooming kit ourselves we were extremely impressed.

The tool sands down dog’s nails smoothly, and after a while is a motion your dog can become quite used to.

We also found this tool to be particularly effective when trimming thick nails.

We did find because of the nature of this product and because we are much more comfortable with convention clippers the job of grooming did take slightly longer but we are sure this would improve in time as we use the product more often.

Overall we were impressed enough to include the Dremel kit on our roundup list.

We can see why so many dog owners stick with what they know best but we can also see why so many are making the choice to sand and file their dog’s nails rather than trim them.

If you are to purchase this product then we highly suggest fixing in place a regular routine of clipping your dog’s nails, every 6 weeks or so seems to work best and this will mean keeping the grooming time down to a minimum.

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7. Resco Deluxe Dog Claw Clippers

Resco Original Deluxe Dog Claw Clippers

Grade: B+

Quickly following our first review of the Dremel dog grooming kit is our first guillotine style nail trimmers to make our Top 10 roundup.

Resco invented the guillotine style of nail clippers in 1937 and has manufactured them in the U.S. ever since.

You operate the clippers by firmly placing pressure down on the handle as opposed to gripping as you do with the scissor style trimmers.

Once pressured the blade then slices your dog’s nail in a smooth manner and is an excellent alternative if you had trialed other options for grooming your dog without much success.

One of the downsides to this style of nail clipper is that they may not be ideal for larger dogs and we did encounter some problems when using them on a great Dane but found them to be simple to use and extremely effective on smaller sized breeds.


8. Mojo Dog Trimmers

MoJo PetsLife Dog clippers

Grade: B+

A product that is veterinary approved sure is a sign of quality and that is definitely the case with these Mojo dog trimmers.

One the main reasons this product works so well is the thick stainless steel blades are perfect for medium to large sized dogs and you really do feel the clippers give an effective cut with every trim you make.

These clippers do not slide at all meaning you know you are not harming your pet and you can be sure you’re trimming their nails to the exact length you want them.

As well as most clippers in this list the Mojo trimmers come with a safety guard to prevent you cutting too deep and the non-slip handles help to provide a steady cut.

These trimmers really are well made and you know you are holding a product made to last when you use them.


     9. Wagglies Dog Nail Clippers

Wagglies Dog grooming trimmers

Grade: B

The Wagglies dog nail clippers we reviewed differ slightly from the others we took a look at as this product comes with a slightly raised tip that helps to offer an easier clipping angle that is designed to keep your dog calm and relaxed throughout the grooming process.

The raised tip definitely help to offer a different angle to cut our dogs nails but overall the trim wasn’t as smooth as other products we reviewed.

However, if you do have real trouble trimming your dog’s nails, whether your pet becomes restless or just doesn’t enjoy being groomed these clippers may be worth trying for yourself as the unique design is a solid alternative to many of the clippers included in this guide.

One thing we really did like with this product is how the clippers come with a guide on how to cut dogs nails which included some inside tips and recommendations and is a great walkthrough for new dog owners or those who have only recently begun to groom their dog at home.


10. C-2 Pets Dog Nail Clippers

C-2Pets dog clippers

Grade: B-

Another product that comes with a step by step guide to cutting your dog’s nails this a great addition for beginners.

C-2 dog nails clippers are a solid product, priding themselves on effectively cutting your dog’s nail without harm, hassle or frills and are very well made for a comfortable cut.

These trimmers are designed with smaller dogs in mind and we found that to be the case when we reviewed them for ourselves.

A good product and one definitely worth trialing if you have only just begun to groom your pet at home before move on to another set of clippers mentioned in this list.

That wraps up our top 10 best nail clippers and we hope at least one of the products reviewed in the roundup will be perfect for your dog.

We really do recommend beginning to create your own home grooming kit.

Although initial purchases mean upfront costs you will definitely save money in the long run as you no longer have to worry about taking your dog to be groomed elsewhere.


Buyers Guide

In this section, we will begin to take a look at why you need to invest in high-quality dog nail clippers and key features to look out for.

We also examine the key differences between different styles of dog nail clippers as well as nail grinders and answer frequently asked questions that we receive.

Why You Should Trim Your Dog’s Nails

From an anatomical point of view, dogs nail are composed of two parts:

  • Outer casing or shell
  • Soft center

The outer casing may be clear – translucent or black – pigmented.

Although both clear and pigmented nails are anatomically the same, clear nails are easier to cut because their parts can be easily visualized from the outside.

Just like in humans, cutting the shell is painless because it lacks nerves.

The soft centre of a dog’s nails is commonly known as the ‘quick’.

The quick contains the nerve, as well as blood vessels.

In translucent nails, the quick can be easily identified due to its pinkish coloration. If the quick is accidentally clipped it can be painful and tends to bleed.

Most dog owners are concerned about cutting the quick when trimming the nails.

It should be well understood that cutting the quick is not dangerous and can happen to professional groomers too.

No dog ever died from quicked nail. Nevertheless, there are ways to prevent cutting the quick and ways to successfully manage it in case it occurs.

The dog’s nails grow permanently and require regular maintenance.

As a general rule, the dog’s nails should not protrude over its pads or touch the ground when the dog is standing.

Simply put, there should be a slight gap between your dog’s nails and the floor. Generally, if cutting for maintenance it is recommended to cut once every 2 weeks and if cutting for shortening it is advised to cut every week.

More precisely, the length of your dog’s nails and how frequently they need to be trimmed depends on:

  • Your dog’s lifestyle – if your dog spends its time outdoors, playing and running around, it will naturally trim and wear off its nails.On the flip side, if it spends its time at home and does not take regular walks, its nails will overgrow.
  • Your dog’s nutrition – the balance of certain vitamins and minerals can determine the nails’ strength, structure, and growth rate.
  • The type of surface your dog walks on – surfaces like pavements, dirt, grass, and gravels are excellent for naturally trimming your dog’s nails.Soft carpet are easy on the nails and do not wear them off.

If you can hear your dog making the annoying click-click sound when walking, then it is time to cut their nails.

Keep in mind that trimming the nails is not a cosmetic procedure, but an essential part of the grooming ritual.

Long, overgrown nails can be hazardous to your dog’s health because of several reasons.

The most common reasons why long nails need to be cut is because they:

  • Can be quite painful – when the dog’s nails touch the hard ground, the tough surface pushes the nail back into the nail bed. That pushing is painful and causes discomfort. The pressure can even cause the toe joint to twist and rotate. If the condition is chronic the toes can become arthritic and permanently damaged.
  • Are easily breakable– the longer the nail is, the more likely it is to break off, bleed and cause pain.
  • Can potentially affect the dog’s gait – unlike us, dogs walk on their toes and their entire weight is centered on those toes. Therefore if the nails are too long, the dog’s gait may become adversely affected.
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Another reason, why you should keep your dog’s nails short is to protect yourself.

When your dog jumps on you or paws you for attention, unless its nails are well-trimmed, it can easily, accidentally scratch you. And we all know how painful can dog scratches be.

dog lying down with long nails

Different Types of Dog Nail Clippers

When it comes to choosing the right nail trimmers for your dog it is worth taking a bit of time to research the three main styles of clipper available.

Luckily, as we know how time-consuming being a pet owner can be alongside managing your own everyday tasks we have done the hard work for you and broken down the three types below.

Scissor Style
By far the most popular style of nail clippers favored by dog owners this type of clipper almost exclusively makes up our Top 10 recommendations list above.

The simple reason these types of clippers are so popular is that they are both easy to use, operating in the same way as normal scissors while also causing your dog no harm or irritation during the grooming process.

They are of course not identical to your usual stationary scissors, they feature a small hole for inserting your dog’s nail in to and the blade sits in a semi-circle fashion as opposed to straight like normal scissor blades.

Guillotine
A style of dog clipper that used to be extremely popular but has now been replaced by the easier to use scissor trimmers.

Although not completely different, the guillotine clippers operate by inserting the dog’s nail into a small hole with the handle than being squeezed down as opposed to operated in a scissor motion.

There is a number of disadvantages to this type of clipper, including the blade becoming particularly worn with excess use and the fact that when used on larger dogs nails the clipper doesn’t always operate cleanly, potentially causing your dog distress.

Dremel/File Trimmers
A style of dog clippers that is an alternative to the two more popular styles.

Not officially a clipper or trimmer in nature, Dremel allow you to groom your dog’s nails with a rotary blade used to soften and file the nails away instead of clipping them.

Many dog owners swear by this method of grooming although you still need to clip your dog’s nails before using this style of trimmer and once this is done it is advised you stick to a regular schedule of grooming.

Although this is a great way to groom your dogs nails the price point of dremel trimmers being slightly more costly often deters dog owners.

This style of nail clipping also takes more of a steady hand and high skill level to avoid cutting your dog’s nails too short and avoiding the harm that can cause.

Dog Nail clipper features

Choosing the right nail clipper might not always be as easy as it sounds, especially if you are a new dog owner or have recently made the switch to home grooming.

Before making the final decision do a little research and get yourself familiar with the basic types of nail clippers as we’ve explored above.As well as the different styles of dog nail clippers available it is also vital to consider the most important features, these are:

  • Sharpness of the blade
  • Handle design and comfort
  • Safety settings

Other important features include:

  • Size of the clippers
  • How easy they are to clean and maintain
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Sharpness of the blade

The sharpness or quality of the blade is one of the key features worth considering when choosing a proper nail clipper for your pet.

The sharpness of the blade determines how fast and smooth the clipping process will be.

High-quality, sharp blades ensure clean, painless and trouble-free grooming sessions.

On the flip side, dull or blunt blades tend to either crack or break the nail causing your dog distress.

The material of choice for high-quality blades is stainless steel.

This is because stainless steel not only stays sharp for long time, but it is also resilient to rust.

Handle design and comfort

The design of the clipper’s handle influences the level of comfort you will experience while using the tool.

Choosing a clipper that fits comfortably in your hand is crucial for a successful clipping outcome.

Nail clippers that are hard to maneuver, uncomfortable or heavy to hold can make the manicure if not impossible, at least difficult and annoying for both you and your dog. Combine this with an anxious dog and you get the recipe for disaster.

Luckily, the market offers a plethora of nail clippers with ergonomically designed handles, especially manufactured to offer maximum comfort.

Always choose a clipper with rubberized or anti-slip grip features.

It is also recommended to choose a nail clipper with longer handles in order to ensure higher leverage.

Light-weighted clippers also ensure prolonged use without tiring your wrist.

The handle’s design also contributes to the safety of the clipping process. The more comfortable and easy to use the clipper is, the lesser the chance of slipping and cutting the quick.

Safety Guards

High-quality nail clippers should have the best safety features as part of their overall mechanism.

Choosing a nail clipper with advanced safety settings prevents you from cutting deeper than is recommended, thus reducing the risk of injuries and bleedings.

Nail clippers with safety setting are especially recommended for dogs with pigmented nails.

Even though cutting too deep is not dangerous and can happen to everyone it is your responsibility to try to avoid it.

Cutting too deep causes your dog pain and makes it link the clipping process with a negative experience, thus making it anxious every time you try to trim their nails.

Size of the clipper

The size of the clipper should depend on the size of your dog.

There is no universal, one-size-fits-all type of nail clipper.

Most nail clippers work up or down a size category, but they will always not deliver a perfect result.

In a nutshell, if you choose a clipper that is too small for your dog, it will be difficult to cut through the nail which will result in a struggle for you and pain for your dog.

If you choose a nail cutter that is too big for your dog, you risk cutting too much of your dog’s nails.

Easy to clean and maintain

High-quality nail clippers made of stainless steel and durable plastic can be easily cleaned by using soap, hot water, a soft cloth and paper towels.

First dip or soak the clippers in a mixture of soap and water. Dry the clippers using the paper towel and then rub the blades with the soft cloth. After cleaning, let the clippers air dry and store them in a plastic bag.

Investing in a high-quality nail clipper is a good idea, especially if you plan on grooming your dog at home.

It may seem like a big investment at first, but on the long run it definitely pays off.

Clippers vs. Grinders

When deciding whether to go for a conventional nail clipper or nail grinder there are a few factors you should consider.

It all depends on your personal preference and what you find easiest to use and most practical.

Generally, most dog owners agree that when it comes to nail maintenance, clippers are easier to use but grinders deliver the best results.

Because of this, both nail clippers and nail grinders have their advantages and disadvantages.

To make things easier and help you decide we have listed some pros and cons below:

Nail clippers

If properly used, nail clippers are great for trimming your dog’s nails.

As explored above there are 3 types of dog nail clippers:

  • Scissors style clippers
  • Guillotine style clippers
  • Guillotine style clippers.

Generally, the scissors style clippers, because of their size, are better suited for smaller dogs, however we have used them for all sizes of dog had always had successful grooming sessions.

Scissors style clippers are the cheapest and simplest option.

Pliers and guillotine style clippers come in various sizes and are more suitable for medium, large and giant dogs. both pliers and guillotine style clippers are around the same price point.

Pros of using dog nail clippers:

  • Simple to use
  • Time-friendly
  • Light-weighted
  • Inexpensive and easy to obtain
  • Do not produce disturbing sounds
  • If properly used and maintained, can last for years.

Cons of using nail clippers vs grinders:

  • May need replacing as your dog grows
  • When cut with clippers, the nail’s edges are not very smooth and usually require additional evening, meaning you may also have to purchase a nail file
  • Can easily pinch the dog’s nail and cause pain
  • If the blades are blunt, they can tear or crack the nail
  • If the dog’s nails are too thick they may not fit inside the clipper.

Nail grinders

Nail grinders have a high-speed rotating pad and instead of cutting the nail, the grinder files it down.

As with dog nail clippers, nail grinders also have their pros and cons.

Pros of using a dog nail grinder:

  • Many types of grinders available on the market – rechargeable, battery, and electricity powered
  • Lower risk of cutting and hurting the dog, thus being categorized as safer
  • The tips and edges of the nail are much smoother and do not require additional evening
  • Suitable for dogs with thick nails that cannot fit inside clippers
  • No risk of tearing and cracking nails.

Cons of using a nail grinder:

  • More expensive
  • Heavy
  • Require more frequent replacement
  • The humming they produce may annoy or scare some dogs
  • It takes longer to grind than to cut the nails
  • Using a nail grinder requires regular breaks, because the grinder tool gets hot over time and using it when hot can cause pain.

If you decide to get a nail grinder, choose one with safety sensors.

It is also worth bearing in mind that a nail grinder can be used as a supplement to conventional clipping.

This means you can use regular clippers to trim the nails and then use the grinder to shape and smooth the nails. When used together, nail clippers and grinders make effective and dynamic duos.

pitbull with long nails

When Should You Replace Your Dog Nail Clippers

As with any other tool, dog clippers have a limited lifespan.

Over time and with prolonged usage they tend to lose their sharpness, thus becoming blunt and inappropriate for use.

A blunt clipper causes more harm than good.

Simple signs that you need to replace your old nail clipper with a newer version include:

  • Splintering of the nail
  • Flattening of the nail without the blade going completely through
  • The clipping process takes more time and effort than usual

If these sign occur while grooming, it is advised to stop using the clippers immediately.

If your dog nail splinters, its jagged edges may be sharp and dangerous especially for young puppies. Splintered nails tend to get caught on carpets, rugs, pillows and can easily get pulled.

Instead of buying new clippers you can always sharpen your old clipper’s blades instead.

For this purpose, you can use several tools such as sharpening stones, grinding stones, diamond-tapered rods or ceramic rods.

However, sharpening is not a permanent solution. It only prolongs the clipper’s lifespan.

To keep your clipper sharp it is advisable to remove the excess toe hair before using the clipper, because nothing dulls the blades as much cutting hairs.

It should be noted that using sharp blades will make the whole process far more straightforward and hassle-free. This means it is both safer and more practical in the long run. Simply stated, the sharper the clipper’s blade is the cleaner the cut will be.

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How to Cut Your Dog’s Nails

Being a dog owner is a big responsibility.

Aside from showering your beloved pooch with lots of love and making sure they’re getting the right amount of exercise and a balanced diet, having them regularly groomed is of equal importance.

Not only does it promote good hygiene but it also keeps certain diseases and discomforts at bay.

Luckily, grooming can be done in the comfort of your own home and as this guide has shown there are now excellent dog nail clippers available for you to use to cut your dog’s nails with.

However even with the best clippers around new pet owners often agree that the most challenging aspect of grooming a dog is cutting their nails.

Learning how to cut dogs nails correctly can take a lot of time, practice, and treats.

But once you’ve mastered the craft, you’ll be trimming your pup’s nails like a pro in no time.

Trimming Your Dog’s Nails – 4 Step Process

Learning how to cut dogs nails properly is essential as it can make or break your dog’s grooming routine.

If your dog associates it with something pleasant, it will be something they will look forward to, consequently making it less of a burden for you and your pet. To make sure that it will be an enjoyable experience for your dog, preparation is the key to success and here we lay out our 4 Step by Step, easy to follow process that will have you trimming your dog’s nails like a professional.

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Step 1 – Keep Your Pet Calm

First of all, make sure your dog is relaxed.

Dogs, especially those who are about to have their nails clipped for the first time, may feel anxious.

In order to help calm your pet down, you should try using treats and soothing words to relax them.

Of equal importance is how you act around your dog.

Remember, dogs are great at picking up their owner’s feelings. If they feel that you are tensed or anxious about the process, they may also begin to feel worried.

Experts advise that dog owners should exude a relaxed aura so that your furry friend will feel safe and secure throughout the grooming session.

Step 2 – Choosing the Best Nail Clippers for Your Dog

Second, in every battle, it’s always best to know your weapons.

For nail trimming, clippers come in different shapes and sizes to cater to the needs of different types of dogs.

The most common of which are the scissor style and the guillotine-type.

We have already been over the different styles of dog nail clippers in detail above but just in case you missed that we will examine them again here. Scissor-type trimmers, as the name implies, appear like scissors but with concave indentations through which the dog’s nails can be placed inside.

These are often used on long nails and are suitable for all size of dogs.

On the other hand, the guillotine-type trimmer slices off the dog’s nail with a blade that moves up and down when the handles are gripped.

Third, aside from knowing which type of trimmer is best for a particular sized dog, being familiar with the anatomy of a dog’s nail also helps.

A dog’s nail is made up of two parts – the insensitive nail and the quick.

The insensitive nail does not contain blood vessels, and is the part of the nail which must be removed.

On the other hand, the quick is the part that contains the blood vessels and nerves.

It usually appears as the pinkish part of the nails for dogs with lighter claws. Being the sensitive part of the dog’s nail, cutting the quick must be avoided, as it would be a very unpleasant experience for your pet.

how to trim a dogs nails

Step 3 – Positioning Your Dog Properly

Generally, dogs that are new to having their nails trimmed may require a certain amount of restraint.

There are two common types of restraint usually used by groomers: the table restraint method and the side-laying restraint method.

The table restraint method allows easier access to the paws. In this method, the groomer stands on the opposite side of the table from the claws.

One hand will hold the paw in place, while the trimmer is being held by the other.

This allows for you to easily drape your arms over the dog, leaving the groomer’s forearm over the dog’s neck to prevent any head lifting movement, while allowing for a comfortable position to access the paws.

And just in case the dog tries to stand, you can easily lean over his body to stop him.

The other method is the side-laying restraint method which is the preferred method for the more active pet.

In this method, the dog is made to lie down on one side.

The groomer’s right hand will hold the trimmer while restraining the dog to stay laying on the same side.

The left arm will keep the head in place, while the hand holds the paw.

Both these methods may be used on dogs of different sizes although smaller breeds may require a lot more restraint than bigger breeds.

Step 4 – Cutting Your Dogs Nails Correctly

Now that the basics and positioning of your dog have been covered it’s time to proceed to trim your pet’s nails.

The first thing to do is to determine where and what to cut.

Since it is already established that the quick is the sensitive part of the nail, the goal is to avoid cutting it.

Light-colored nails have pinkish quicks that make them easier to identify.

However, on dogs with darker claws, the quick is harder to find, so the standard being followed is to cut about 2 millimeters away from the quick.

It’s always best to make small cuts only, as this avoids cutting the nails too short and to prevent any bleeding.

With the cutting blade facing away from your dog, the nails are cut either from bottom to top or from top to bottom, whichever is more comfortable for you.

Do take note that in trimming, the clipper should always be perpendicularly placed from the nail. Otherwise, placing it parallel to the nail may result in the nail being split or crushed by the clipper – an experience you don’t want your dog to have.

Additionally you must hold your dog’s paw with a firm but gentle grip with your fingers under the pads. This gives you the right amount of control for when your dog makes an involuntary jerk or movement.

If you have a dog with very sensitive paws try not touch the foot between the pads as this may be very stressful for your dog.

However there may still be instances when the nails are accidentally cut too short.

In case this happens the first thing to do is to restrain your dog from standing up and running away since it will only cause further damage.

Once your dog is calm you must immediately stop the bleeding with styptic powder.

In case you don’t have any styptic powder available popular alternatives to stop the bleeding include flour, cornstarch or soap and water.

Once the bleeding has stopped don’t let your dog run around the house. It is advised for your dog to remain lying down for another 10 to 15 minutes to aid healing. This will also prevent the possibility of the nail starting to bleed again. Instead, you can keep your dog calm with treats and lots of loving assurance.

Pet owners often overlook the dew claws when it comes to nail trimming. These are the shorter claws located on the inner surface of the paw and ensuring you don’t miss them as well is important, since these claws do not touch the ground as often they need more frequent trimming because they do not experience any natural wearing off.

In cutting dew claws, the guillotine type nail trimmer is the best choice as the nail can be easily placed inside the hole.

However, some owners opt to having these claws removed from their pets while they are still puppies.

How Often Should You Cut Dog’s Nails?

You should look to trim your dogs nails at least once a month.

By cutting your dog’s nails regularly you will ensure they remain well groomed and will not have to worry about any sharp claws harming either you, guests or your dog.

For long nails that grow quickly you can cut your dog’s nails every 2-3 weeks to ensure you keep the quicks well kept.

Challenges You may Face

Remember that long nails result in painful paws for your dog.

This is because the nail is being pushed by the hard surface of your home and neighborhood sidewalks deeper into the nail bed.

Some dogs even develop a condition called the “goat on the rock” wherein they lean over their forelimbs resulting in paws that are drawn closer to his body.

In effect, the dog develops overused muscles and joints in the forelimbs, making his hind limbs weaker than normal dogs. If not corrected this may even lead to diseases such as rheumatism.

Another point to consider is that dogs must have their nails regularly trimmed.

The standard being followed is every two to three weeks for dogs with suburban lifestyles however for dogs with more active lifestyles nails are often shortened by natural wear and tear. Also, some dogs may have naturally shorter nails than others. In this case it’s best to simply file the sharp edges away.

In the case of dogs who accidentally had their quicks cut, they may feel hesitant to do it a second time.

In times like these it is always best to keep them calm and give them treats to associate it with being rewarded. Eventually your pooch will warm to the idea – just remember to be patient and give your dog lots of assurance that everything’s going to be okay.

Finally, if you’re not confident about doing it on your own just yet, it is always best to watch a professional do it first before trying it yourself.

To summarize, learning how to cut dogs nails can be a very challenging task for new dog parents.

Although however challenging as it may seem, it is certainly not impossible, particularly with the right equipment.

Dog Nail Clippers FAQs

What are the best nail clippers for dogs with thic nails?

When it comes to choosing nail clippers for dogs with thick nails then a Dremel with a sanding cylinder is by far your best option.

The problem for dogs with thick nails is that they can often grow at the same thickness from paw to tip making it almost impossible for scissor or guillotine style clippers to effectively get a clean cut.

With Dremel clippers, you’re able to start from the tip and file the nails down to your desired length regardless of their thickness

What are the right nail clippers for small dogs?

We find the Millers Forge nail clippers reviewed in the comparison section above to be particularly effective when it comes to trimming small dog’s nails.

The easy to hold handle is much slimmer than many types of nail clippers available and this makes them easier to keep hold of while maneuvering a small dog into position. The scissor style is also extremely easy to use with smaller dogs.

If you’re looking for something slightly different we also recommend a wireless dremel product. This will allow you to smoothly file your small dog’s nails quickly without any hassle.

What brand produce the sharpest nail clippers?

Millers Forge are probably the sharpest dog nail clippers that we tried and cut through any thickness and size of nail effortlessly.

However maintaining dog nail clippers correctly is important if you want to keep them sharp. If you’re looking for a new set of clippers that are sharper than your current set of tools then it is likely you have just blunted the existing clippers. Depending on the thickness of your dog’s nails this can happen quite quickly.

It is also important to remember that sharp isn’t always better, especially in less experienced hands. So depending on how long you have been trimming your dog’s nails yourself it may not always be best to start off with the sharpest dog nail clippers available.

What are the easiest dog nail clippers to use?

Finding the easiest dog nail clippers to use depends on a number of factors. These include:

  • How you grip the clippers
  • The size of your dog
  • How thick their nails are
  • How calm they remain when being groomed

Answering these questions first will allow you to choose dog nail clippers that will allow you to trim your dog’s nails with ease.

What should I look for when choosing nail clippers for large dogs?

When it comes to choosing nail clippers for large dogs we recommend going for the scissor style. Although guillotine and Dremel’s are both effective when it comes to cutting the nail’s of large dogs, the scissor style is one you will be most used to and should mean you’re able to keep grooming sessions as short as possible.

Many brand’s now produce large and even extra large dog nail clippers so choosing one of these makes sense for bigger dogs while Millers Forge will never let you down with their products.

Should I purchase a dog nail file as well?

When we get asked about dog nail files pet owners are usually referring to grinders.

In the case of dog nail clippers this is usually referring to dremel equipment. These electronic trimmers file your dog’s nails by effectively grinding down the tip, leaving your dog’s nails at a reasonable length.

We review the best dremel dog nail clippers in our products section above.

Can you use regular nail clippers on dogs?

Although just by looking at appearance human nail clippers and those reviewed in this article for dog’s may look similar there are in fact a number of differences.

The first big difference between human and dog nails is that ours are flat while dog’s are usually rounded. This means the best dog nail clippers are designed to be able to cut through rounded nails at any point. Because of this they’re usually sharper than regular nail clippers.

Your dog’s nails will more than likely be thicker than your own nails which means these sharper clippers help to slice through all sorts of nail shapes and sizes.

Dog nail clippers also come in a variety of sizes which isn’t usually the case with regular nail clippers. Dremel nail trimmers are also popular for filing dogs nails and these specialist tools are only suitable for use on pets.

How should I soften dog’s nails before trimming them?

The easiest way to soften your dog’s nails before clipping them is obviously to bathe your dog. However, if you don’t want to go through the process of bathing your dog every time, particularly if your pet isn’t always comfortable being washed there are alternatives.

If this is the case then we recommend soaking only your dog’s paws before clipping. You can do this with lukewarm water and it will mean your dog’s nails soften before you clip them.

Ideally, you can get your dog to stand in warm water for around 5 minutes and clip your dog’s nail immediately afterward. This should mean you avoid splitting your dog’s nails when you trim them.

What are the best nail trimmers for dogs with black nails?

When it comes to cutting your dog’s nails the number one rule is to avoid trimming them too short and cutting into the quick.

The quick has already been examined in more detail elsewhere in this guide and it is very important that you avoid this area as it can be very painful for your dog and likely to lead to bleeding.

However when grooming dogs with black nails it is not always as easy to spot the quick. In this case it is important to keep an eye out for the pulp instead. If you look at your dog’s nail head on you will see small dark circle, when you spot this you should stop clipping.

In terms of what clippers to use for dogs with black nails, any of those reviewed above will do an excellent job it is just important to be slightly more vigilant when carrying out the clipping process.

What dog nail clippers are made for home use?

This whole guide has been written for dog owners looking to carry out their grooming sessions at home. That means any of the ten products reviewed above will be an excellent choice for home use.

In fact, when it comes to the best dog nail clippers, unlike hair dryers and bath tubs there really isn’t a difference between those designed for home use and those made for professionals.This is great news for dog owners looking to purchase high-quality products and any of the clippers reviewed above will make an excellent choice for grooming your pet.

What are the best  dog nail trimmers for beginners?

We tried to write this whole guide with new dog owners in mind.

This means many of the nail clippers reviewed are ideal for beginners and pet owners looking to groom their pooch at home for the first time.

If we were to be pushed into recommending the best dog nail clippers for beginners then we would have to suggest the Millers Forge trimmers reviewed above.

If you haven’t owned a pair of Millers Forge clippers before you’re in for a treat and it is a right of passage for every dog owner to groom their pet with these clippers.

How to use dog nail clippers with a guard?

One of the most common inquiries we get associated to dog nail clippers is to do with the guard. We often get dog owners asking ‘what the little metal bar’ is for on their set of clippers.

This is actually a guard and is designed to stop you cutting your dog’s nails too short and ultimately slicing the quick.

Often known as a quick sensor you can use dog nail clippers with the guard by aligning it in the center of your nail clippers, between the two blades and in line with your dog’s nails. This means you will avoid cutting the nails too short and causing your dog any harm.

What nail clippers should I use with my puppy?

When it comes to clipping your puppy nails there isn’t too many differences compared to grooming a fully grown dog. This means many of the nail clippers reviewed above will work just as well when trimming your puppy’s nails.

The Boshel Dog Nail Clippers, in particular, worked very well when we tried them with puppies and we found the safety stop guard to be a perfect fit for smaller puppy nails.

There one major difference to make when clipping your puppy’s nails is to be extra cautious. Your puppy is likely to be more nervous when it comes to having their nails trimmed so may be more likely to make sudden movements which could be harmful especially if you are mid way through cutting a nail.

How much do dog nail clippers cost?

This all depends on the style of nail clippers you decide to go for. Scissor styles remain the least expensive type of nail clippers with some brands designing clippers that are available for under $10.

The guillotine style is the second least expensive style of dog nail clippers and often range from anywhere between just under $10 to around $20.

Dremel and dog nail grinders are the most expensive type of nail clippers available but this cost is due to the fact they’re electrical and also now come in wireless variations. The price of dremels varies widely.

How to sharpen dog nail clippers?

The first step in sharpening your dog nail clippers correctly is to clean them thoroughly. Doing so will remove excess nails or dead skin left behind.

Once cleaner you can begin to sharpen dog nail clippers using a grinding stone or ceramic rod. These are usually the two most popular tools to use when it comes to sharpening dog nail clippers but other methods can be used as well.

To begin sharpening the nail clippers hold the blades a 45-degree angle and slide the blades slowly up and down against the stone or rod, whatever your preferred sharpening tool is.

How many times you need to press the clippers against the grinding equipment will depend on how blunt they are but usually, 15 times on each side of the blade should do the trick.

Once complete clean the blades again to remove any residue.

Are heavy duty dog nail clippers worth it?

For large dogs with particularly thick nails, heavy duty dog nail clippers may be the way to go.

Simply, you want a product you’re confident using and you know won’t harm your pet. If you feel more confident using heavy duty dog nail clippers then this is the style you should go for.

One thing worth bearing in mind is how nail clippers have improved in recent years meaning even though some of the styles reviewed above may not look ‘heavy duty’ their blades are now sharp enough to trim any size nail.

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About the author

    Jenny Nolan

    Hey, I'm Jenny and along with Mom Sue the main contributor here at Cleaner Paws. As a mother-daughter partnership, we absolutely adore animals and together have over 40 plus years of pet grooming experience!

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