Choosing the best dog nail clippers comes down to finding ones you are comfortable using and your dog tolerates. Higher prices can suggest higher quality, but you can get a good pair of dog nail clippers that will last the lifetime of your pup for around $10 or even less.
I have a 15-year-old pair of small Millers Forge scissor clippers and a wireless Dremel with a basic sandpaper bit. I use these weekly on my three medium-size dogs, but your choice still needs to be governed by what you find easiest to use and best fits your dogs.
Your dog’s nails need to be trimmed regularly to ensure that his nails don’t hit the ground. If you can hear the click-click of nails across a bare floor, it’s time to cut his nails. Note: A dog’s nails are technically “claws,” because they have nerves and blood vessels in them. Nails do not.
There are three primary types of dog nail clippers:
- Scissor type
Scissor dog nail clippers look kind of like pliers but have two short, sharp, curved blades. You work them just like scissors by squeezing the two handles together to bring the blades together and cut your dog’s nails. Most pairs have a spring that automatically opens them, and a locking mechanism to keep them closed during storage.
These are the workhorses of dog nail clipping. Their simple design makes them sturdy and easy to use.
As well as cutting straight across your dog’s nail, you can also use scissor type clippers to round off sharp edges. This is especially useful for big dogs with thick nails.
There are many, many brands out there, but Millers Forge are the brand of choice in many veterinary clinics. The orange ones are perfect for medium and large dogs, while the red ones are perfect for small dogs but can also be used on medium-sized dogs. Even with regular use these babies can keep a household of dogs in quality pedicures for many years.
Guillotine-style clippers have two handles and a metal loop where you place your dog’s nail. When you depress the top handle, a guillotine blade closes across the loop to cut the nail. A spring then reopens the handles and retracts the blade.
Depending on your preferences, you may find guillotine clippers more comfortable for your hands as they have a different angle than scissor-type clippers.
A good pair of guillotine clippers that is taken care of can last a long time. That said, there are a lot of small, moving parts in these clippers that can become damaged and cause them to stop working properly. The single blade can become dull or separate from the loop over time, resulting in a jagged, irregular cut.
You can use guillotine clippers on any size dog but choose a pair with a loop the appropriate size for your dog’s nails.
Best Dog Clippers: Nail Grinders
Nail grinders are nice because they eliminate those pesky sharp edges that can scratch your skin. They also cauterize as they grind, so if you do accidentally hit your dog’s quick it is less likely to bleed.
Grinders can be used by themselves or in addition to other styles of dog nail clippers – clip with the blade ones first, then smooth out the edges with the grinder. To use a grinder, you will need to get your dog used to the sound first, and then the feeling of the vibration on his nail.
There are a wide range of nail grinders out there. You can find basic models at any pet store. If you want the Rolls Royce of nail grinders, go for a Dremel with a diamond wheel bit, but a standard sandpaper bit has plenty of octane for most of us.
Always be very careful with a grinder, however, to ensure that the dog’s hair doesn’t get caught in the wheel. This includes hair on the paws, but also ears or tails, basically anything that could accidentally hit that wheel.
For dogs who don’t like having their nails trimmed, we have force-free training methods that will work with time, patience, and lots of treats.