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How to Use Dog Nail Clippers?

Corgi getting nails trimmed with scissor style nail clippers

Just like you cut your nails, dogs also need regular trimming of their nails. Dog nails grow continuously and can get stuck in several places, like carpets, to cause injuries. Long nails tend to break easily, creating a split in the toenail. In extreme cases, the canine has to be rushed to the vet to have the nail removed.

The removal procedure can be quite expensive, so it’s better to trim the dog nails regularly. Keep reading to learn how to use dog nail clippers correctly.

Types of Dog Nail Clippers 

All dog nail clippers are not created equal and you need to choose the most suitable product. Normally, three types of nail clippers are used for dogs, scissor, guillotine, and grinder. The benefits of each type are discussed below.

Scissor Nail Clippers – They look like wire cutters and are very easy to use. Simply squeeze the handles to bring the blade down and cut the nails of your pooch. Thes squeezing handles allow for more force to be exerted. These clippers are ideal for dogs with thick nails.

Scissor Nail Clippers  isolated on white background

Guillotine Clippers –  They work just like scissor nail clippers but have an enclosed loop of blades. You need to insert the nail inside the loop to cut it off cleanly. Generally, guillotine clippers are used for smaller dogs with thinner nails. This is because these clippers are not strong enough to cut through thicker nails.

Guillotine Style Dog Nail Clippers isolated on white background

Grinding Tools – They are used to slowly file down a dog’s nail and are not exactly clippers. Most of the grinders are very gentle, safe, and easy to use.

Rotary grinding tool isolated on white background

How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails?

Before you start to use dog nail clippers, make sure you have a few treats on hand. Unless your dog is familiar with the process, you will need dog treats to keep him/her calm and distracted. Also, make sure that you use a high-quality clipper with sharp blades.

Ideally, you should be using guillotine clippers if your pooch has thin nails. In contrast to that, scissor nail clippers work best for dogs with bigger and thicker nails. It is also a good idea to trim the clipped nails with a grinder to ensure round edges. For people who are new to dog nail cutting, the styptic powder ( Like this one found on Amazon) is a must. It will help to staunch bleeding if you make a wrong cut.

Miracle Care Kwik Stop Styptic Powder, 0.5 Oz

Most dogs do not like having their nails cut and it takes them some time to get used to it. You should always make your dog sit in your lap or on the table before trimming their nails. This will allow you to drape your arm over the upper body of your dog to restrain him/her. Increase the pressure if your dog tries to struggle.

Now that you’re prepared to use dog nail clippers, let’s see how each type of trimmer works.

How to Use Scissors Style Dog Nail Clippers?

close up of dog nails being trimmed with scissor style cluppers

Scissor clippers (like these from Amazon) are particularly helpful if the nail is so long that it curls towards the skin. This usually happens to the claw on the inner side of your dog’s paw. It’s also called the dewclaw. In most cases, you will bend this claw away from the skin to make its clipping easier.

If your dog has white nails, it is very easy to see the quick (pink part inside a nail). Cut near the quick but do not cut through it or you will cause the blood vessel to bleed. Contrastingly, if your dog has a black nail, start cutting (in gradual steps) from the edge towards the base. It may take a few attempts to find the perfect location to cut the nail without hitting the quick.

Always hold the dog nail clipper in your dominant hand at a right angle to the toenail. Squeeze the handles with adequate force and the blade should cut the nail. You can make the quick recede by ensuring regular trimming of your canine’s nails. This will make it easier to cut nails, especially black ones, in the future.

How to Use Guillotine Style Dog Nail Clippers?

Close up of dog nails being trimmed with Guillotine Style Dog Nail Clippers

Guillotine clippers are more suitable for thinner nails and require relatively less force than scissor clippers. While using this type of clipper, you have to insert the dog’s nail inside the closed loop to cut it. This can become a little tricky for long inner nails. However, you can mostly bend them a little to insert them into the loop.

How to Use Grinder Style Dog Nail Clippers?

Close up of dog nails being trimmed with Grinder Style Dog Nail Clippers

Grinder style clippers are usually used after the initial clipping is completed. They smoothen up the jagged edges of leftover nails to avoid injuries. Rough nail edges can get stuck on the carpet and may even hurt your dog. Therefore, you should always file the nails properly after using the clippers.

Safety Tips to Use Dog Nail Clippers

  • Most dogs don’t like the feel of trimmers on their nails. As a result, cutting the nails of your pup can be the most difficult aspect of grooming. For this reason, you should try to trim your dog’s nails early on in his/her life to train him/her.
  • Frequent trimming of nails should be done to keep them well-maintained and manageable. The longer you wait between cuts, the more likely you are to cut the quick.
  • Always keep the styptic powder around (to stop bleeding) while trimming dog nails because mistakes can happen.


Dog nail clipping should be done regularly for the safety of your dog, yourself, and your furniture. The actual clipping process is not as difficult as it sounds. The sooner your dog gets used to having its nails clipped, the easier it is for you to trim them.

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