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Dog Nail Grinders vs Clippers: Pros, Cons & Verdict (Vet Approved)

Jessica Kim

By Jessica Kim

Dog Nail Grinders vs Dog Nail Clippers Featured Image

Vet approved

Dr. Ashley Darby Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Ashley Darby

Veterinarian, BVSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed at an appropriate length is a necessary part of caring for your dog. The most common way to trim a dog’s nails is to use either a dog nail grinder or a dog nail clipper. Both come with their own pros and cons. In general, dog nail grinders are better suited for beginner dog owners and canines with darker nails. Dog nail clippers are typically the better choice if you want a budget-friendly option.

There are several factors to consider before deciding on a dog nail grinder or clipper. Our thorough breakdown of each will help you decide which is right for you.

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At a Glance

Dog Nail Grinders vs Dog Nail Clippers
Photo Credit: Left:(Dog Nail Grinder) – Makistock Shutterstock, Right (Dog Nail Clippers) – Mega Pixel, Shutterstock
Dog Nail Grinder
  • Less likely to cause pain or bleeding, but some dogs are wary of the sounds and vibration
  • No chipping
  • Easier to use on large and giant dog breeds
  • Grinding stone has to be replaced frequently
Dog Nail Clipper
  • Fast and less noisy but easier to cut the quick by accident
  • May chip nails
  • More affordable
  • No electricity required

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Overview of Dog Nail Grinder

Dog Nail Grinder
Photo Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

Here’s a basic overview of what you can expect from a dog nail grinder.

How It Works

Dog nail grinders work by using a quickly rotating grinding wheel to file down nails. The grinding wheel is covered with abrasive material that works to gradually wear down your dog’s nails. The grinding wheel must be replaced every few months.

Most dog nail grinders are rechargeable and cordless, and they can usually run for a couple of hours when fully charged. They also come with several speed settings. In general, the faster the speed the faster the nail will be filed away; use the lower speed setting for shorter nails or dogs just getting used to the nail grinder.

Reasons to Choose a Dog Nail Grinder

Dog nail grinders are often preferred for large dogs with thick nails. Traditional dog nail clippers can end up chipping or cracking thick nails, especially if they’re old and have dull blades. They may also be better for dogs that don’t like the sharp clipping noise that dog nail clippers make. However, keep in mind that dog nail grinders do tend to make a humming and grinding noise that some dogs don’t like.

close up view of electric nail grinder
Photo Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

Dog owners of dogs with darker nails also often prefer to use dog nail grinders. Dog nail grinders gradually wear down the nail so that you’re less likely to cut the nail quick, the part of the nail that contains the blood vessel. Because it takes longer to reach the nail quick, dog nail grinders are often preferred by beginners who have little to no experience with clipping a dog’s nails.

  • Easier to use on larger dogs
  • Less likely to cut nail quick
  • Reduces risk of nail chipping
  • Some dogs may not like grinding noise
  • Relatively expensive

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Overview of Dog Nail Clipper

two nail clippers on wooden background
Image Credit: pedphoto36pm, Shutterstock

Here’s a basic overview of what you can expect from a dog nail clipper.

How It Works

There are three main types of dog nail clippers:

  • Plier-style
  • Scissor-style
  • Guillotine

Plier-style dog nail clippers are the most common type of clippers you’ll find. They have a spring between two blades. When you press down on the handles, the blades clamp down on the nail and clip it. Most plier-style dog nail clippers have a safety guard that prevents you from cutting your dog’s nails too short.

The scissor-style nail clipper looks and operates like a regular pair of scissors. They’re not as commonly used as plier-style clippers and are often reserved for small dogs and toy breeds. They usually don’t come with a safety guard. So, they’re often faster to use, but there’s a higher risk of cutting the nail quick.

Lastly, guillotine nail clippers have a top blade that snips off nails from top to bottom, providing a clean cut. It often requires less force than plier-style nail clippers and is a little easier to control. It also works most effectively with small to medium-sized dogs.

Reasons to Choose a Dog Nail Clipper

Guillotine Dog Nail Clipper
Image Credit: Vaillery, Shutterstock

The first thing you’ll notice about dog nail clippers is that they’re much more affordable than dog nail grinders. They also don’t require any replacement parts and don’t need any electricity for recharging. A good set of nail clippers can last you a year or two if they’re maintained properly.

Dog nail clippers also tend to work more quickly than dog nail grinders. Once your dog gets used to them, you can quickly snip your dog’s nails rather than waiting for the nails to be filed to an appropriate length.

Potential Setbacks of Dog Nail Clippers

pet nail clipper on a light wooden background
Image Credit: Galina-Photo, Shutterstock

The most significant issue with dog nail clippers is the risk of cutting the nail quick, especially if they don’t come with a safety guard. They can also be challenging to use on dogs with darker nails since it’s difficult to see the nail bed.

Dog nail clippers may also cause chipping or cracking due to dull blades or thick nails. Small and medium-sized dogs usually don’t experience issues with dog nail clippers. However, large and giant dog breeds may experience cracked nails because their nails tend to be much thicker.

  • Fast way to clip a dog’s nails
  • Affordable
  • No replacement pieces needed
  • No electricity required
  • Higher risk of cutting the nail quick
  • Blunt clippers may not work well with larger dogs

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Which Is Safer to Use?

The safety of each tool will depend on your experience and your dog’s nails. Dog nail clippers are safe to use if you take the time to learn to use them properly. They’re also safer to use on dogs with lighter nails and more visible nail beds.

It’s important to note that you can still cut your dog’s nail quick while using a dog nail grinder. So, you must learn how to use it properly to avoid any injuries. Dog nail grinders are often the preferred choice for dogs with darker nails. They’re also usually safer to use on dogs with thick nails because they’re less likely to cause cracking or chipping.

Guillotine Dog Nail Clippers
Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

Price Comparison

Dog nail clippers have the advantage when it comes to price. They’re much more affordable than dog nail grinders, and high-quality nail clippers can last a couple of years. Dog nail grinders have a more expensive starting price point, and you must keep purchasing grinding wheel replacements.

A dog nail grinder’s main motor can last longer than dog nail clippers, but not by much. If a dog nail grinder comes with a warranty, it’s usually for 1 to 2 years. So, the cost of dog nail grinders usually exceeds the cost of dog nail clippers.

How Often Dog Nail Grinder and Dog Nail Clippers Are Used

Both dog nail grinders and dog nail clippers are used about the same number of times per month. More than the tool, your dog’s individual nail growth speed will determine how often you have to trim your dog’s nails. The general recommendation is to trim your dog’s nails every 3–4 weeks. If they are wearing their nails on pavement, the frequency of trimming could be substantially less.

Guillotine Dog Nail Clippers
Image Credit: Jiggo_Putter Studio, Shutterstock

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Both dog nail grinders and dog nail clippers have their advantages and disadvantages. Dog nail grinders are much easier to use and more beginner friendly. However, they’re much more expensive than dog nail clippers. Dog nail clippers also make trimming your dog’s nails fast and easy once you learn how to use them properly. You also don’t have to worry about replacement parts and electricity.

The decision to choose between a nail grinder and a nail clipper will depend on your dog’s specific needs. By carefully weighing the pros and cons of each tool, you can purchase the right option for your dog.

Featured Image Credit: Left:(Dog Nail Grinder) – Li_Di, Shutterstock, Right (Dog Nail Clippers) – olga, Shutterstock

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