Like their human companions, dogs’ nails continuously grow and need to be trimmed periodically. There are two types of toe nail clippers commonly used on dogs: scissors and guillotine. Another tool commonly utilized by dog groomers is a Dremel nail grinder. Although they all work quite differently, each serves as a means to an end -- trimming your pup’s nails -- and the best clipper for you is a matter of preference.
The Importance of Clipping
Trimming your pup’s nails can be a stressful process -- for you and your furry friend! But dogs need their nails clipped on a consistent basis. In fact, the ASPCA suggests trimming your pup’s nails once a month. Dog nails that get too long can break, which will be quite painful for your pal. Excessively long nails can also affect your dog’s gait because his weight will be resting on his nails, rather than his toes and paw pads.
It may take some practice for you and your canine to become comfortable with nail clipping. The key to a successful trim is to move slowly and calmly -- and reward Fido with his favorite treats. Positive reinforcement will teach him to associate nail clipping with things he loves, making the process easier for both of you. If your four-legged friend is particularly scared or anxious, just do one nail per day and reward your pooch with plenty of praise, kisses and snacks.
As the name implies, guillotine-style clippers have a stationary hole with a blade that slides through it. When you’re clipping your pup’s nails, you place one toenail in the hole and squeeze the handle, causing the cutting blade to slide quickly through and trim the nail.
Guillotine-style clippers come in different sizes to accommodate different sized breeds. Generally speaking the clipper that is the right size for a small-breed dog won’t work for a larger-breed dog, because their nails will likely be thicker. Clippers that feature a rubber handle or handle grip, like the Resco Deluxe Original Dog Nail Trimmer or the JW Pet Gripsoft Deluxe Dog Nail Trimmer, are preferable to plastic clippers because they won’t slip out of your hands. Coated clippers offer more control as you’re trimming your dog’s nails, which is essential for a speedy and painless trim.
Unlike guillotine clippers, scissors-style clippers work just like a pair of scissors. You align your dog’s nail with the blades, then squeeze the handles together to cut the nail. While they can definitely be used to trim all of your dog’s nails, scissors-style clippers are especially useful for trimming dew claws because they can cut at an angle. Scissors-style clippers come in different sizes to accommodate the width of your dog’s nails.
Like guillotine-style clippers, a rubber or coated handle is preferable because it offers a better grip and more stability. Some scissors clippers have long handles, like the Four Paws Ultimate Touch Safety Pet Nail Clipper. Others have small thumb holes, like regular of scissors, such as the JW Pet GripSoft Small Nail Clipper. Despite the difference in handles, the clippers function the same way so it’s ultimately a matter of preference.
Dremel and Pet Nail Grinders
If your pooch has been groomed at a dog salon, his nails were likely trimmed with a Dremel Pet Nail Grooming Tool or similar grinder. Touted as a “painless alternative to nail clippers,” the tool’s rotary-action grinder scuffs down your dog’s nail rather than cutting it. While some dogs are afraid of the noise these tools produce, the grinders quickly wear your dog’s nail down without cutting or snipping. You also can use the Dremel grooming tool to shape or smooth your dog’s nails.
- ASPCA: Trimming Your Dog's Nails
- Dog Breed Info Center: Foot Grooming and Nail Trimming
- College of Veterinary Medicine Pet Health Topics: Clipping a Dog's Claws (Toenails)
- Chewy.com: JW Pet Gripsoft Deluxe Dog Nail Trimmer
- Petco.com: Four Paws Ultimate Touch Safety Pet Nail Clipper
- Petco.com: JW Pet GripSoft Small Nail Clipper
- Dremel.com: Pet Nail Grooming Tool
- Petsmart.com: FURminator® Nail Grinder
- Petsmart.com: Wahl Pet Nail Grinder Kit
Julianne Kroon spends her days caring for animals as the owner an in-home pet sitting business and a dedicated humane society volunteer. She also serves as a national news editor for Internet Broadcasting and previously served as a reporter at a news radio station in Minnesota. Her work has been broadcast on KTOE Information Radio, KMSU Public Radio and featured in the "Mankato Free Press."