Dog Nail Grinder vs Clipper: Which to Choose?

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Grooming By Meg Marrs 5 min read June 24, 2020 4 Comments

dog nail grinder vs clipper

Hearing that clickity click sound on your kitchen floor? It may be a sign that your dog is in desperate need of a nail clipping!

Owners who want to trim their dog’s nail at home may struggle in deciding exactly how they want to trim their dog’s nails. Should they choose a dog nail grinder or opt for a classic clipping? What is best in the dog nail grinder vs clipper debate?

We’ll cover several different types of dog nail trimming tools owners can use, and go through the advantages and disadvantages of each tool to help you decide which is best for your pup!

Clippers & Grinders: Types of Tools

Dog nail trimming tools come in several varieties and provide a few different approaches.

guillotine dog nail clippersGuillotine Nail Clippers

Guillotine style clippers have owners place the dog’s nail through a hole and squeeze the handle, allowing for a single blade to slice down across the hole and cut off the excess nail.

This style of clipper is recommended for small to medium dogs, as the guillotine style isn’t usually strong enough to cut large, thick nails. The blades also need to be replace regularly to keep them sharp.

For guillotine nail clippers, we recommend the Resco Pet Nail Clippers.

scissor dog nail clippersScissor Clippers

Scissor dog nail clippers (also known as Miller’s Forge clippers) work in a similar style to – you guessed it – scissors. The blades have small, round indentations, where you’ll position your dog’s nail for cutting.

This style allows for a large amount of force, making them good for dogs with larger nails. However, the handles may not be ideal for those with arthritis.

best dog nail grinding tool

For scissor nail clippers, we suggest going with the Safari Dog Nail Trimmers.


Grinders use a small, rotating section of material (similar to sand paper) to grind down your dog’s nails.

Also referred to as “dremels”, these grooming tools are electricity-powered and wear down a dog’s nails through the use of friction.

For dog nail grinders, we recommend going with the Pet Grinding Dremel 7300.

Dog Nail Clippers: Pros & Cons

dog nail clippers vs grinders


  • Quick & Quiet. Nail clippers are quiet compared to the buzz of nail grinders, which can sometimes frighten dogs. Clipping your dog’s nails takes also takes just a second, so the process can be over in the blink of an eye.
  • Cheap. Dog nail clippers are usually very affordable and it doesn’t cost much to own a pair. However, don’t get too cheap – it’s worth it to spend a bit more to get a higher end clipper from a reputable brand. Cheaper clippers won’t get the job done, won’t be sharp, and are more likely to hurt your pet.
  • No Electricity. Nail clippers are manual tools and don’t require batteries or electricity to work.


  • Easy to Cut Quick. If you’re not careful, it’s very easy to cut into the quick of your dog’s nail, causing discomfort and bleeding. Once you cut into your dog’s nail quick, they won’t be too keen on letting you cut their nails again!
  • Can Cause Pinching. The other major disadvantage to dog nail clippers is that they can squeeze and pinch your dog’s quick, which may cause pain and discomfort for your dog, even if you don’t cut into the quick.
  • Nail Breakage. While uncommon, nail clippers can, in rare cases, cause your dog’s nails to split or crack. Always make sure your clippers are sharp to prevent this risk (more of an issue with guillotine-style clippers).

Dog Nail Grinders: Pros & Cons

dog nail grinder vs clipper


  • Good For Dogs With Clipper Anxiety. If you’ve tried dog nail clippers in the past and freaked out your pooch, grinders provide a 2nd chance – you may have better luck getting your dog to go along with a grinder.
  • Rounded, Smooth Nails. One of the biggest advantages of grinders is that you can smooth your dog’s nails and round them. This is much preferred over the sharp edges left by nail clippers. Rounded nails ensure your dog doesn’t get snagged on carpets and is especially handy for dogs that have a tendency to scratch or jump up on owners (smooth nails don’t do nearly as much damage to furniture or to your skin).
  • Great For Thick Nails. Dog nail grinders are especially handy for dogs with large, thick nails that can be difficult to clip.


  • You Can Still Hit the Quick. Even with grinders, owners may accidentally hit their dog’s nail quick. It’s easier to avoid with grinders, since you can keep an eye on the nail as you grind and watch for the small dot that signals you are nearing the quick and should stop.
  • Loud (And Sometimes Scary). Dog nail grinders can be fairly loud and can scare your pooch, especially if they’re not found of loud noises.
  • Odor & Dust. Grinding a dog’s nails results in dust and odor. For this reason, it’s best to grind your dog’s nails outside. You may also want to wear a mouth mask cover and eye protection.

Dog Nail Grinder vs Clipper: Which Is Best For You?

Ultimately, when it comes to the dog nail grinding vs trimming debate, the best choice will depend on your dog’s personality, as well as your dog grooming confidence.

If your dog is very skittish and fearful of loud noises, you may want to avoid a grinder and opt for clippers instead. If you do decide to use a clipper, we suggest going very slowly and only cutting a tiny bit of nail a week.

When you clip a small portion of nail, the quick will begin to retract away from the nail edge, which when then allow you to clip more the following week. However, if you clip a large amount all at once, you risk cutting into your dog’s quick. Trust me – they won’t like that one bit!

We also recommend reading our post on how often to cut a dog’s nails for more tips and nail clipping advice.

In some cases, you may want to consider both – even if you decide to use a dog nail clipper to trim your pooch’s nails, a grinder can be used to smooth out nails.

Do you prefer dog nail grinders or clippers? Why do you use one nail trimming tool over the other? Share your thoughts in the comments!

best dog grooming clippers
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Written by

Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Director of Marketing at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!


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Judy Morgan

Thanks for this article. I use the FURminator nail grinder that has the LED light. I hold it in such a way that I can see the quick on one of my dogs. It’s much easier on the dogs to use a grinder every 3 weeks or so rather than to clip them.


As a long retired poodle groomer, who was willing to go far to treat my clients with respect and love, I ALWAYS ground their nails with my old fashioned Dremel, and holding them close under my arm, and resting when the nail started to heat, their nails were always short, veins retracted, and I never resortd to a clipper. The heat from the grinder kept the quick from growing too long. I am so sad today when I see almost beautifully groomed dogs with deformed paws!
In my day, Dremels were huge, as they were not designed for grooming!

Meg Marrs

Yes Barbara, considering how easy it is for owners to cut a into a dog’s quick with clippers, I’m shocked more folks don’t use Dremels!


Hello i have some experience in dog grooming but my question is since your an experienced groomer which would be better to use on a small chiuahua but not super small his nails are black and its so hard to see his quick and i dont want to accidently mess up and hurt him i have never used a grinder before on him but hes not skittish or afraid of loud noises im just having a majorly hard time trying to figure out if the clippers or the dermal would be best to successfully cut his nails without hitting the quick thank you for any advice you can give me


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