Most of us have this idea that grooming only means bathing our pooches and combing their hair. However, it is equally important to trim their nails as an excessively long nail can hurt your dog, make it less comfortable to walk and run, and, in worst cases, increase the risk of developing a variety of nail disorders. It is therefore important to include trimming your pet’s nails in its grooming on a regular basis. This is where the best nail clippers for dogs can be of help. Choosing the best one can help you groom your pet a lot better while ensuring it won’t get any of these health conditions. Let’s start with a look at some of the best nail clippers for dogs in the market today.

Dog Nail Clipper Buyer’s Guide

First-time pet owners are often put off by the unusual appearance of dog nail trimmers because these don’t resemble anything like the nail clipper we are more familiar with. These tools look more like a cross between a pair of garden shears and pliers. On a lighter note, we do believe that the dog nail clipper actually has some features that are reminiscent of a garden shears and pliers, so it is quite understandable if other people will be looking at it this way But, the question most newbie dog owners have hovering above their heads is how to pick the right dog nail trimmer. Like all buying decisions, everything actually depends on your needs; or in this case, the needs of your pet. Nevertheless, we’re here to help. Here are some things you may need to look for when buying a trimmer for your pooch’s nails.

  • Safety 

The nail guard is one of the most important, most crucial parts of a dog nail trimmer. True, the blade is important, but a nail guard helps ensure safer clipping of your mutt’s nail. The function of the nail guard is to make sure the blades don’t cut into the quick, otherwise, you risk bleeding. This feature is more often seen in scissor and plier types of trimmers. It is also known as a safety bar. Whatever it is called, just make sure that if you’re buying either a plier- or scissor-type of these gadgets, get one with a nail guard.

  • Size

Different canine nail clippers come in different sizes to help facilitate more efficient cutting. You may think of getting an unusually large clipper for the simple fact that even the nails of a puppy can already be trimmed. This is an erroneous line of thinking since large clippers typically come with thicker and harder blades which may damage the nail of your smaller dogs. For the most part, the scissor type of nail cutters is especially small so these can be used for pups as well as small breeds of mutts. Guillotine and plier types come in various sizes so you can choose one that is perfect for your pet’s paw size as well as nail thickness.

  • Comfort 

Can you imagine holding the cutter on one hand while the other holds or secures your dog’s paws? It is not comfortable by any means. And if you have handles that are not ergonomically designed to fit the natural contours of your hand, then you run the risk of developing hand fatigue. This can affect the way you hold the device and have an impact on the overall nail-cutting experience for your mutt. So, choose one that feels really comfy on your hands.

  • Type 

There are different types or styles of nail clippers especially for mutts. Knowing what these are and their inherent pros and cons should help you identify and choose the right type for your mutt.

scissor-type nail clipper

  • Scissors type– As its name implies, this type of trimmer looks pretty much like a pair of scissor. It has notches integrated into its blades to securely hold your pet’s nail while it is being clipped. You then squeeze on the handles just like you would any other scissor. These are inexpensive and are very lightweight. However, these are primarily intended for trimming the nails of smaller breeds or dogs. Under no circumstances should you use it on your Lab’s or any other large pooch.
  • Pliers type – Remember what we said about some newbies looking at the pet nail clipper as a glamorized version of a pair of pliers? Well, this is most likely what they commonly see in their favorite pet shop. However, it mostly resembles that of a pruning shears. It’s like a pair of scissor except that the handle doesn’t have a loop in which to insert your fingers in. The beauty of the pliers type is that it comes with 2 notched blades. This essentially surrounds the nail allowing it to be cut or clipped a lot easier. Additionally, the design of the notched blades allows you to see the positioning of the blades. This allows for a much safer clipping. These are perfect for larger breeds of dogs. However, do take note that they tend to grow dull with time. If that happens, instead of cutting through the nail, the blades will simply crush it. As such, these will need to be replaced. 
  • Guillotine type – If you have seen a single-hole pocket ticket or card puncher, this is essentially what the guillotine trimmer looks like. Imagine a hole – a stationary ring – in which you will insert your mutt’s nail. A cutting mechanism can be activated by pressing on the handles, moving the blade up and cut or slice off the nail. This type is recommended for use on small to medium-sized breeds of pooches, although we believe even a large breed can benefit from it, just make sure you get the appropriate size for your mutt. The good thing about guillotine clippers is that you can actually replace the blade. At any rate, you won’t have to purchase an entirely new nail trimmer. 
  • Grinder type This type of nail clipper actually doesn’t cut through the nail. What it does is that, like the grinding wheel in your work station, it files the outer edges of the nail until such time that they reach a more desirable length. These are excellent for more frequent shortening of the nails and are preferred over other types of trimmers because they are a lot safer. Since you have absolute control over the grinder, you can avoid accidentally snipping the nail so your mutt won’t feel pain. Some ultra-modern nail grinders even come with sensors to help enhance its safety profile. The downside? Well, they’re really expensive. But, if you need hassle-free trimming or clipping of the nails of your mutt, then this one is for you.
  • Clipping performance 

This parameter is more of a function of the clipper’s blades as well as opening and closing mechanisms. For the most part, you would want to get a device that can cut your pet’s nails for a good number of times without the need for sharpening. Understand that a dull blade can hurt your dog unnecessarily. Just like hair clippers, dull blades will require greater force to cut through the rather thick structure of a nail. In many cases, since the edges are not pointed or sharp, they look more like wedges.

When you bear down on the clipper, this wedge can actually crack the nail surface instead of cutting right through it. What is left is a severely malformed or disfigured nail. It’s like hitting concrete with a sledge hammer compared to a bit. Hitting your pet’s nail with a dull blade can reduce the integrity of the surrounding nail tissue, leading to a host of problems later on.

It is thus, crucial that you look at the material used in the construction of the pet nail trimmer. This should be tough, strong, heavy duty, and highly durable. Best of all, it should be able to maintain the sharpness of its cutting edge for a significantly longer period of time without the need for resharpening.

Equally important is the thickness of the blade, which typically ranges from 3 to 5 millimeters, except if you’re considering on taking the grinder type. A thicker blade can help you complete the task of clipping much faster. Also, thicker blades work best with larger breeds.

Benefits of Grooming Your Dog’s Nails

Some folks don’t necessarily think that extra-long claws in canines are inherently bad. After all, their cousins in the wild seem to thrive even without ever trimming their claws, right? Well, not exactly. You see, while it is true that wild canids don’t cut their nails, with all that running while hunting for prey, their nails are relatively short. Unfortunately, this consistent stress on the claws, keeping it short, is what is really missing in domesticated canids. That is why they will need our assistance in keeping their claws relatively short. To help you better understand why nail-cutting is necessary for dogs, you might want to look at the following benefits of grooming your dog’s nails.

  • Improved comfort while walking

Claws have a natural tendency to curve inward as they grow longer. This can get in the way to a more comfortable walking. On certain surfaces, it will be quite slippery and your dog will have a very unstable gait, trying to balance itself while walking.

  • Prevents injuries to your pooch’s skin as well as yours 

In like manner, claws that have curved inwards can break the skin. If your pooch climbs on you, you can get scratched by its unusually long claws; clearly not your mutt’s fault. If there are also cracks on the claws, this can lead to onychorrhexis which is extreme brittleness of the nails.

  • Prevents infection 

With a break in the skin, microorganisms can enter the bloodstream and cause an infection. For example, onychomycosis can develop which often requires a very lengthy and expensive treatment. If only mild to moderate inflammation occurs around the claw, then your pooch has paronychia. If the infection gets so severe, the entire claw can be shed in a disease process known as oychomadesis.

  • Prevents damage to your furnishings, upholstery, carpet, and bedding 

Can you imagine Logan or Freddy Krueger dropping into your home with their claws fully extended? Well, if you don’t trim your pet’s nails, you’ll have your furnishings, carpets, upholstery, and beddings full of scratch marks if not totally torn to bits.

How to Properly Cut Your Dog’s Nails

Most dog owners are morbidly afraid of cutting or trimming their pet’s claws. Part of the fear is associated with hurting the dog especially if the quick was accidentally cut, resulting in bleeding. While this is a valid concern, with the right attitude and the right tools, you, too, can clip your mutt’s nails effortlessly and without bringing harm to your canine friend. Here’s how.

  • Bring your mutt in a well-lit place so that you can easily visualize the anatomy of your pet’s claws. Most vets and animal lovers actually recommend trimming the claws outdoors where your pooch can be more relaxed.
  • Make sure to wait for your pooch to calm down first before starting to clip or trim. Understand that most dogs don’t really take it kindly if their claws are handled. So, it is best to schedule the nail trimming at a time when your canine pal is in a relaxed state. You might want to play with it first so that it will not have too much energy to resist the clipping.

Actually, you too, should also be calm. If you are nervous about clipping your pooch’s claws, then this nervous energy can rub onto your pet. It won’t trust you one bit to safely clip its claws. So, while you’re getting your mutt relaxed in preparation for the activity, make sure that you’re relaxed, too.

  • Learn how to grip the clipping tool the right way. It should not be too tight or too loose. Too tight and it will send uncomfortable signals to your mutt. Too lose and you’d also lose control of the tool.
  • Part the hair on your pooch’s paws. If you have to trim it to gain a better view, then trim it. Sometimes, when the blades of these gadgets cut through hair, it is also possible that the sharpness can be reduced, albeit not significantly. Nevertheless, if you continue trimming the claws together with the hair, then you are essentially reducing the life span of your blades.
  • Examine the quick and the white of the canine nail. The quick is the reddish-pink area of the nail. It is colored as such because there are plenty of blood vessels within this region. Under no circumstances are you going to clip beyond this region. The white is the whitish area typically surrounding the quick. It’s like the whitish part of our nail tip. Understand that as the nail grows, the quick also elongates. The more frequent you trim the claws, the shorter the quick. If your pooch happens to have black claws, it may be more difficult to visualize where the quick is. That’s why you need good lighting for this one. Your goal is to cut through the nail until you see some of the white. This is your target. Once you see the white, stop. So, keep this in mind.
  • Start trimming the claws of your pet. Do it gently. Orient the blade so that it lies parallel to the quick. Your goal is to expose some of the white but not the quick. This is often characterized by a white dot in the middle of a blackish area. Once some of the white has been exposed, stop. Get a nail file and smoothen the rough edges. This is something that you should never forget as the rough edges of a newly-trimmed claw can be as damaging to your skin and your furnishings if your pet scratches on these.

Make sure to trim the dew claw, too. This is located slightly above and behind the front paws.

  • If you’re using a grinder type of canine clipping tool, make sure to proceed from one corner of the nail to the next. It is often a lot better to slowly yet surely file the claw edges with several passes rather than concentrating on a particular area. Also, get a grinder that doesn’t create too much noise as this can startle or even make your canine really anxious.
  • Be ready with your positive reinforcement. Give treats or ample praises to your mutt during and after clipping. This is to associate the activity to something that is inherently pleasurable.

Tools Required for the Job

Trimming your pooch’s claws should not really be that difficult. One only has to understand several things such as the proper identification of the quick and the white. Cutting just barely through the white should guarantee not hitting the quick and thus, avert bleeding. However, equally important is using the right tools for the job. Here are the three must-haves whenever you intend to groom your mutt’s claws.

  • Nail Clippers 

As we have already discussed, there are 4 different types of dog nail clippers. Many experts recommend using the scissor type as it is more effective in cutting through nail. There are also those that say the guillotine type is better. Of course, if you can afford grinders, these can be exceptionally useful. The only downside to the grinder is the noise. So, choosing one that comes with quiet operation should come in handy. Generally, smaller clippers work best because they afford you greater control. However, if you have a Saint Bernard or any other large breed, only a large clipper will do. It is equally important to keep the blades sharp. If these cannot be resharpened, they should at least be replaceable.

  • Nail File 

Once you cut the claw, its edges will still be rough. You need to smoothen these with a nail file. If you don’t smoothen the edges, your pet can still use its claws to rip apart your upholstery. If it jumps on you, it can still scratch you. Make sure to file around the edges to achieve a really smooth surface.

  • dog treats
  • Plenty of Treats 

You might not think it’s a tool, but doggie treats are invaluable tools whenever there is an activity involving your canine friend. The point is to make the experience more pleasant. You can make the nail-cutting experience more positive for your mutt if you provide it with treats during and after the activity.

Grooming doesn’t only include bathing and combing our dog’s hair. It also includes caring for their nails. By trimming their nails, we can help prevent canine injuries and infections while also giving them the opportunity to walk and run more comfortably. In choosing the best nail clippers for dogs, it is crucial that you know the type of trimmer you want to use depending on the size of your pet. Also important is the safety of your pet.

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Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for MyPetNeedsThat.com, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!

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