Allowing your dog’s toenails to get too long can not only do long term damage to their toes and feet, but it can also ruin their posture and deteriorate their leg and hip joints. Keeping up with regular toenail clipping is an important part of meeting your canine’s overall health needs.
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Millers Forge Pet Nail Trimmer
Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine
Sara is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Sara click here
Many people opt to take their pet to the groomer for a trim. However, we would caution against this since the 6-week grooming routine that many people maintain is too long of a cycle to keep up with the kind of regular trimming needed to keep toenails in optimal condition.
Instead, consider learning to trim your pal’s nails from home. This article will give you some tips for safety and some training pointers to make the experience a positive one for you and your furry friend as well as explore the three different types of trimming tools, along with some top recommendations in each class.
How To Use Dog Nail Clippers
There are two main factors to keep in mind when trimming your dog’s nails from home. First is safety and the second is keeping the experience a positive one. We will look at both in turn.
Before trimming your canine’s toenails, take a moment to look at them closely. You will likely notice that the nail is thicker as it is closer to the foot, and gets thinner towards the tip. Often there is a break between the thicker part and the thinner part.
The “quick” is a soft inner core that supplies blood to the nailbed. It is highly sensitive. Accidentally cutting the quick is extremely painful and your buddy is likely to remember and fear that pain in the future. The quick usually lives behind the break in the nail, but in cases where a dog’s nails have been neglected for a long time, it can grow out quite far.
To safely trim very long nails, expect to take off a little at a time, frequently. A short trim once a week will slowly cause the quick to recede until you have the toenails at the correct length. You will know you have it right when the nails barely do not touch the ground on a hard surface when standing.
Once you have the nail length close to optimal, you can decrease the frequency of trims to about once every few weeks to keep up with growth.
It is also important that you have some styptic powder on hand to stop bleeding should you accidentally nick the quick. This inexpensive product is good to have on hand in an emergency anyway so consider grabbing some and keeping it in your family first aid kit.
A final safety tip is to always make sure your dog’s feet are clean before trimming their nails to help prevent infection or inflammation. For more safety tips and some explicit instructions, check out this video.
A Positive Experience…
After safety, making trimming your dog’s nails a positive experience is critical to you and your buddy’s peace of mind. Whether you are starting with a puppy, or working with an adult that already has some phobia of nail trimming, you can turn it into an experience your K9 either tolerates well, or actively enjoys.
Here are some general tips to keep in mind:
- Keep nail trimming sessions short, even if it means not finishing the job. More than 15 minutes is too long. Keep sessions under 5 minutes for puppies.
- It is more important to avoid the quick than to get the nails to the perfect length in a single session. Once you clip the quick, both you and your dog are likely to bring additional stress to the next trimming session.
- Use high value rewards, dispense often, and stay under the reaction threshold. If your dog is not able to hold their paw still for the click of the trimmer, then back up and reward them for just holding their paw in your hand. Slowly increase the challenge, rewarding often.
- If your pet is super stressed out about having their nails done, it may be best to muzzle them. Sometimes dogs can bite, even loved ones, if they are sufficiently frightened or panicked.
- Never force or hold down your dog for a trimming. This is only going to increase a negative association with the process and cause even more panic for the next session.
- Your grip should be firm but gentle. If they pull away too fast, then they miss a chance for a treat. Don’t get frustrated, just be patient and keep trying.
Best Dog Nail Clippers
Millers Forge Pet Nail Trimmer
Master Grooming Tools Guillotine Nail Clippers
Resco Original Deluxe Dog and Cat Nail/Claw Clippers
Resco Original Professional Dog and Cat Nail/Claw Clippers
Pettom Stainless Steel Pet Dog Cat Nail Toe Claw Clippers
Dog Nail Clippers and Trimmer by Boshel
Safari Professional Nail Trimmer
Millers Forge Quality Nail Clipper
Stainless Steel Dog Nail Clipper, Plier Style
FURminator Nail Clippers
Guillotine Nail Clippers
The guillotine style features a fixed hole and a sharp blade that slides over the opening to make a clean and even cut. These are the easiest dog clippers to use, particularly for smaller pets.
This is probably the best style to try if you are new to clipping nails at home. They take less strength to operate and offer the most precision of the three styles of nail shears. The guide hole takes some of the guess work out of finding the best spot to cut, and it also secures your canines’ nail in the right position which can prevent an injury.
However, if you have a large or super-sized K9, these may not be the clippers for you. In most cases the holes are smaller than the toenails of these larger breeds. If you have a large dog, consider the scissor or grinder style trimmers found further down in this review.
#1 Millers Forge Pet Nail Trimmer
This is our top pick in the guillotine class. Millers Forge is a trusted name brand known for quality and durability.
This trimmer has carbon steel blades that have been heat treated for long lasting performance.
This product also comes with an extra replacement blade, extending their life. They also have a soft rubber grip and a simple and easy to use design.
#2 Master Grooming Tools Guillotine Nail Clippers
Another great option in the guillotine style are these quality trimmers by Master Grooming Tools. They are heavy duty and you will find them to have a very smooth action, even with larger dogs. This is one of the few guillotine shears that has the strength for larger nails, while preserving the precision needed for smaller nails.
An ergonomic handle has a soft rubber coating so that you can maintain control even when working with tough nails. In addition, you can buy RESCO replacement blades, making it easy to keep the sharp edge you need for larger toenails.
#3 Resco Original Deluxe Dog and Cat Nail/Claw Clippers
Resco is one of the most popular brands in guillotine style nail trimmers. We have featured two of their products in our top 5 list. This set features rubber grip handles built into the design, which makes them more comfortable to use.
One of the big advantages to going with a Resco set is that you will be able to easily buy replacement blades. This is particularly important for medium to large dogs as their thicker nails will wear down the blades more quickly.
#4 Resco Original Professional Dog and Cat Nail/Claw Clippers
Our number 4 pick is another Resco set. We like them because of the no frills, simple design. With full metal handles, this is a piece of equipment with the kind of durability that professionals look for.
Ease of purchasing and installing new blades is a major plus. You can also find this style in three sizes, including a tiny size for toy dogs as well as cats. They come in several colors as well, making it easy to color code if you have a multi pet family.
Another added benefit of the Resco brand is that they stand behind their products. Made in the USA, Resco offers a lifetime warranty on their merchandise. They have been manufacturing pet grooming products since 1937 so this is definitely a brand you can trust.
#5 Pettom Stainless Steel Pet Dog Cat Nail Toe Claw Clippers
The final trimmer that made our top 5 list is this set by Pettom. It is a great value, and another choice that will work for medium to large canines.
A stand out feature of this set is that it has a safety guard to help prevent you from cutting off too much and hitting the quick. If you are beginner to trimming your pet’s nails at home, this may be your best bet.
A strong spring action and ergonomic handles made from metal dipped in rubber make these clippers a breeze to use. A great price makes them even more attractive, especially if you are a first-time buyer.
Scissor Type Dog Nail Clippers
For medium to large pets, a better choice for your trimming needs is likely the scissor style clipper. These trimmers have two curved blades that help center the nail as you trim off excess growth. They usually have a safety catch to limit the amount you can clip off at one time, reducing the likelihood that you will cut the quick.
These tools have the added advantage of being easy to manipulate in different directions so that you can angle a cut that works best for the way your specific dog’s nails grow. They are powerful enough to get through even the thickest nails.
Eventually you will need to replace them as they usually do not come with replacement blades and they will eventually become dull after repeated uses. Luckily, even high-quality scissor style clippers are relatively inexpensive.
If you are considering this style, here is our list of the top 5 dog nail clippers in the scissor style:
#1 Dog Nail Clippers and Trimmer by Boshel
Our top pick in this category are these pet nail shears by Boshel. The blade is 3.5 millimeters of stainless steel with extremely sharp edges that will glide through even thick and tough nails with little pressure. They will also last a bit longer than some of the less expensive models out there.
These trimmers include a safety stop to prevent you from cutting off too much at once. If you are experienced with nail clipping, you can push the stop to the side for a deeper angle or for taking off more with one clip.
The handle includes a nail file that you can use to smooth the edges of each toenail after you cut it, preventing sharp edges that can causes scratches.
#2 Safari Professional Nail Trimmer
If you have a small to medium sized dog (or a cat) then this Safari Nail Trimmer might be the best choice for you in the scissor class. It features a smaller cutting surface which has the effect of making tiny nails a bit easier and safer to cut.
The blades can lock shut and there are grooved rubber coated handles for a very comfortable grip. These compact nail shears are a great choice for precision trimming on toy breeds or even cats.
#3 Millers Forge Quality Nail Clipper
This set of trimmers has a simple design but very high-quality construction. Made in Italy, these are built to last with quality German stainless-steel blades and sturdy plastic handles. You can expect a clean and fast cut with these clippers for years to come.
One of the advantages of the Millers Forge style is that they open all of the way, unlike most other scissor style shears. This is a particularly handy feature if you have one of the giant breeds, or a pet with nails that require a more angled cut.
You have a bit more control with this style of shears, which is why many professionals opt for this type of nail trimmer.
#4 Stainless Steel Dog Nail Clipper, Plier Style
Another selection that we love in the scissor style are these clippers. The design is simple but built for durability and longevity. These inexpensive nail shears are still solid and well made.
The size of these plier style trimmers makes them unsuitable for very large breeds, so do keep that in mind. However, if you have a medium to large dog they will be perfect. They have a strong spring-loaded action, a removable safety stop, and a blade lock.
#5 FURminator Nail Clippers
From a trusted name in pet grooming comes the FURminator line of nail clippers. These trimmers have all of the bells and whistles you could want while still being friendly on the budget.
One of the stand out features of the FURminator brand is the adjustable safety stop which allows you to completely customize them for your dog so that you can get a perfect trim every time.
The high-end design features of these trimmers make them very popular as well. A non-slip handle made of anti-microbial plastic adds both comfort and safety. Sharp stainless blades cut cleanly and easily through even large toenails.
A third type of trimming tool are nail grinders, a favorite among pet professionals. This style takes a little bit of training and practice to use properly, however, many owners appreciate the rounded finished edges and safety of this style of nail grooming.
They work with a small sand paper wheel that spins and works down the nail like a Dremel tool. Some dogs that have been traumatized by having their quick cut with the more traditional scissor and guillotine styles can be reconditioned using this style of file since it lacks the loud click (and accompanied flinch) of blade clippers.
Be sure to see our article on Dog Nail Grinders for the top nail trimmers of this type, along with some detailed instructions and tips for how to use them.
We hope this guide to the best dog nail clippers has been helpful. If you have additional tips on how to help folks be successful with trimming from home, please add your ideas to the comments!
Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) - Professional Dog Trainer
Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.
For more info on Sharon click here