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Is it Better to Cut or File Dog Nails?

Pair of pink gloved hands filing a dogs nails

Why Do You Have to Trim Your Dog’s Nails?

This can be the most dreaded part of dog grooming. Most pet owners can handle a bath-resistant dog or one that doesn’t like its teeth brushed. Yet, trimming their pet’s nails is the worst activity they have to deal with.

The best way to handle this problem is to figure out the best way to trim their nails. Usually, your dog will let you know what the best way is. If they don’t, you can use a good restraining method to make sure the job gets done painlessly.

Then you use that method each and every time until your dog finally gets used to it. Once they are calm, the task goes a lot faster and easier.

Dog’s need their nails cut, but do you know how? Check out our post “How to Cut Dog Nails” to learn more.

Is it Better to Clip or File a Dog’s Nails?

This will depend on your dog. Some dogs do not mind the clipping and take it as something that needs to be done. Once the job is over, they go on their merry way. But not all dogs are that way.

For the clipping is the end of their world and they will fight to the death to get away from it. Those dogs would probably prefer filing over clipping. Filing is easier to do and many dogs do not mind this procedure as it is quiet and does not come with that horrifying to them ‘snap’ sound.

However, filling takes a long time unless you use an electric grinder. When you switch to the motorized version, you have to spend a long time getting your dog used to the grinder.

This may be the time you do not have. The grinder is the best way to trim your dog’s nails. It allows you to take off as little as possible and it does not have that ‘snap’ sound either.

Which tool you use will depend more on your dog than anything else. Some dogs do not mind the grinder and others do not mind the clippers. It will all depend on your dog’s preference, which is the best to use.

Have a dog who doesn’t want their nails clipped? Check out our post “How to Cut an Uncooperative Dog’s Nails” to learn more.

Can I File My Dog’s Nails Instead of Clipping?

Close up of a person filing a black and tan dog's nails

Yes, you can and the first step in using this tool would be to get your dog used to having his or her paws touched. Many dogs are very sensitive to this action, and it will take some time for them to accept the touching and moving of their paws.

The good thing about using a file is that it is quiet. There are no loud sudden noises like clippers have. Plus, there is no motor to bother their ears. The vibration feeling is slight, and your dog may enjoy that feeling.

The drawback to using a file is that it is slow work. While you stay in complete control over how much of the nail is removed, having to do 4 or 5 nails per paw takes a lot of time. Hopefully, your dog will sit still long enough for you to complete the task.

Also, files are cheaper than grinders and clippers. But if the amount of time it takes to file those nails is too long for you, a power grinder is the way to go.

Using a Power Grinder

Curly red poodle mix getting his nails filed with a grinder

This is like using a nail file but with more speed. You can stay in control and take off a little of the nail or a lot. The key difference will be the noise. If your dog does not like the noise a grinder makes, then you will have a tough time getting them to sit still while you work.

The grinder is much faster than a nail file but probably not as fast as a nail clipper. Yet, it is easier to work with because you do not have to worry as much about the quick. You just have to be careful when using the grinder.

The main drawback to using an electric file or grinder will be the battery. This can die on you at any time and if you forget to change the battery, you are back using other slower methods.

Can You File a Dog’s Nail with an Emery Board? Click here to learn more.

Some Final Words

Close up of tan dog paws with black nails on concrete

When it comes to clipping or filing your dog’s nails, your dog may have the final say. Not all dogs are the same and one dog will tolerate the clippers while another will tolerate the file.

You just have to experiment and see which tool option your dog likes the best and use that. If they do not choose any, restraints may be your only hope to trim and grind those nails.

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Please note: We are not veterinarians and you use our advice at your own discretion. We always recommend that you consult your veterinarian whenever you have health-related conditions your furbaby is facing. With that in mind, as pet parents ourselves, we wish nothing but the best for your pet and their healthy and happy lives.