Dog Nail Clippers – All You Need To Know

Proper grooming isn't just that beautifully shaved coat you routinely send your dog to the groomer for. A vital part of grooming maintenance is regular nail care. Most grooming professionals will handle nail clipping, but many owners choose to take on this responsibility themselves. It's especially important because of how quickly dog nails grow and all of the complications that can come with unmanaged nails. It's important to have a good quality pair of nail clippers for your dog.

In this post, we will be discussing the different styles of dog nail clippers available, how they work, the pros/cons of each, and what to look for in a good quality pair of clippers.

My personal choice for dog nail clippers is Safari Professional Stainless Steel Nail Trimmer for Small/Medium Dogs. I've been using this brand on Rocky for years now and they have over-exceeded my expectations. Be sure to check out the Safari Professional Nail Trimmer Review.

The Different Styles:

Guillotine Clippers

Guillotine Clippers got their name from, you guessed it, that old-time apparatus designed for beheading people. Creepy right? Well, the clipper method works the same way. At the end of the clippers, there is a fixed blade, and as you press the handle inward, a recessed blade will come forward, snipping the nail.


Scissor / Plier Clippers

As the name suggests, this style of clipper functions just as scissors do. There is a blade on either end that comes together at the same time.

Plier style nail clippers are very similar to scissor clippers. However, there is an attached spring in-between the handles that offers a jump back motion after snipping.

These styles of clippers are excellent for all dogs and seem to be the more popular choice. They are especially great for larger breed dogs with thicker nails.


Another option for nail care is the grinder tool — A motorized alternative to clippers that allows owners to trim their dog's nails using a rotational sanding apparatus. Grinders usually come in varying speeds and sanding blade grits to accommodate dogs of all breeds and sizes.

The Pros & Cons of Each

Guillotine Clippers


  • Easy handling for arthritic hands
  • Good for smaller breeds
  • Sharper cut


  • Aren't as powerful as scissor clippers
  • Not the best option for thick nails
  • Harder to use

Scissor / Plier Clippers


  • Sturdy handle
  • Strong blade
  • Easiest to use


  • Requires more nail cutting skill
  • Requires more hand strength
  • A dull/cheap pair can harm your pet



  • Not as likely to hit the quick
  • Smooths out sharp nail edges
  • You can go at your own pace


  • May catch the dogs hair
  • Motor noise may scare dog
  • Takes longer to trim their nails

Features To Look For When Selecting A Clipper:


Always be sure to select a reputable pair of clippers. Take notice of the overall quality; this means positive reviews, how sharp the blades are, how sturdy the grip, etc. You don't want a cheap pair that will fall apart after one use or injure your dog.


Keep an eye out for those essential safety features. A lot of clippers are starting to implement stop guards, a nice feature that will prevent your clippers from going too far up the nail. Some grinders are also introducing this feature by adding in a similar style safety cap.

Size / Comfort

Make sure your clippers are the appropriate size to meet your dog's needs. They make different styles of clippers to account for the size / assumed nail strength of a particular breed. Based on these estimations, the handle size will vary, as will the blade. Make sure the grip is comfortable in your hand; this is an essential factor. You want security when clipping your dog's nails.


The most important factor when selecting a clipper is sharpness. A dull pair will only harm your pet. Before testing your new clippers out on your dog, try clipping an object of equal strength. Based on how clean and easy the cut is, you will be able to gauge the quality of the clippers you purchased.

You're the one doing the trimming, so find yourself a good quality pair of clippers that fits the size of your hands perfectly and offers good strength and accuracy. 

For More Information on proper nail care for dogs, check out our related articles: How To Cut Dog Nails or How To Trim Overgrown Dog Nails.

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Sidney Stangel - October 26, 2020

As you can see, there are many ways to choose the right dog nail grinder for your needs. When it comes to selecting a dog nail trimmer for your pet’s nails, keep in mind how often you plan to use it and what type of dog you have to work with.

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