Dog owners know pretty well that canines need more than just eating, drinking, and walking. If you are going to become a loving dog parent, you should be prepared to the need for regular deworming, training, and grooming. Dog grooming includes washing, combing, and nail trimming. To trim the nails quickly and painlessly one needs to have some skills, a lot of patience, and special tools: scissors, pliers or a grinder. Depending on the tool used, the procedure of nail trimming will be referred to as clipping or grinding. But which tool is better? Let’s try to find it out together.

Table of Contents:

What is Dog Nail Clipping?
What is Dog Nail Clipping?
Nail Clippers or a Nail Grinder: What to Choose?
The Bottom Line

What is Dog Nail Clipping?

To put it simply, clipping is when you physically cut off a piece of nail, using sharp blades. A tool that is used for clipping can be called differently – clippers, scissors or pliers, but its mechanism of action is always one and the same. A nail is placed between the blades; after that, you quickly press the handles to make the blades meet in order to cut the nail off.
A sub-type of nail clippers is a guillotine, where a nail is placed inside a small hole in the instrument’s head and cut off with sharp blades. It is safer than usual clippers. Due to the small hole diameter, it suits for small and medium-sized breeds best.

Pros and Cons of Nail Clipping

Clipping, as a traditional method of nail trimming, has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is widely used in combination with grinding or alone. At the same time, it is associated with some risks.


  • It is quick. Cutting off a nail takes just a couple of seconds.
  • It is noiseless. Clippers are a mechanical tool that produces as much noise as usual scissors. Dogs are not scared of it.
  • It is cheap. Pliers, scissors, and clippers come in a variety of forms and designs, and all of them are inexpensive.
  • It is economical. You don’t need batteries or electricity to use clippers, This also means you can use them anywhere.


  • It can be dangerous. Every time you deal with sharp blades, there is a risk of cutting a dog’s paw accidentally. It causes pain and bleeding.
  • You need to sharpen the blades regularly, as they tend to go blunt. If the clippers are not sharp enough you can deform a nail instead of chopping it.
  • Some pups have very fragile nails, which crack easily. Clipping is not recommended if there is a risk of cracking.

To sum it up, you need to have some skills to cut dog nails with clippers quickly and effectively. The clippers must be sharp and strong. As for your pup, it should be well-trained because it must sit still during the procedure.

What is Nail Grinding?

Grinding is a gentle and gradual removing of the nail’s surface with a rotating abrasive disk. It has the same mechanism of action as a usual nail file. The tool that is used for grinding is called a grinder. It is powered by batteries or electricity. The best dog nail grinder tools can work up to 3-4 hours on a single charge.

Pros and Cons of Nail Grinding

Nowadays, many dog owners opt for nail grinding instead of clipping. This method has a reduced impact on the nail structure and has some other important advantages. At the same time, it is not completely flawless.


  • It is less traumatic. There are no sharp blades, which could cut the paw. Even if you accidentally touch the quick with the rotating disk, you won’t make any serious harm to it.
  • It is better for cutting thick and very hard nails. Such claws are difficult to cut with clippers; moreover, they tend to crack if you apply too much strength.
  • It is also better for trimming black nails. Dark claws are non-transparent, and it’s difficult to understand where the nail ends and the quick begins. Using clippers, you can unwillingly hurt your doggie.
  • It allows to get neat nails with rounded edges. Dogs with sharp claws can scratch themselves, accidentally hurt people and spoil furniture. Smooth rounded nails look much neater and help to prevent scratching.


  • It is time-consuming. This is, probably, the largest drawback of a grinder: they work slowly. It means that a dog has to sit still for a long time, and its owner must have much patience.
  • It is noisy. Grinding machines feature a small motor, which is responsible for rotation. When the rotating disk touches a nail it produces a buzzing sound, which can be rather annoying for some dogs. There are pups that are scared of grinders and run away as soon as they hear it.
  • It produces a lot of dust. Grinding is always associated with the production of fine dust, which has an unpleasant smell. In some cases, it can cause an asthma attack or an allergic reaction. Modern grinders commonly have protective caps for dust collection, but the protection is not 100%.
  • It requires an energy source. A grinder is usually powered by electricity or alkaline batteries.

Nail Clippers or a Nail Grinder: What to Choose?

Opinions differ, as each tool has its strong and weak points. It’s for you to decide what instruments to use to groom your pup. Some dog owners, for example, practice a complex approach. They cut long nails with clippers or a guillotine, and then give them the needed shape by grinding. This approach saves time and allows to get the best results without much effort.

You may want to opt for clippers if your pup doesn’t like the buzzing sound of a grinder or it is scared with it. Also, this method suits for the pets with healthy nails, which don’t crack when you cut them.
Grinding is a great solution for the owners of dogs with thin or sensitive nails, which tend to break up easily. Also, a grinder can be used by everyone who wants to his pup have neat smooth nails of a beautiful shape.

The Bottom Line

Nail care is an important part of pet grooming. If the claws of your dog touch the floor when it walks it’s high time to think of nail trimming. There are several types of tools for nail cutting available; the most popular of them are clippers and grinders. We hope our recommendations will help you to make the right choice of a trimming tool.

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