How to Use Guillotine Dog Nail Clippers

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Grooming By Meg Marrs 4 min read April 2, 2019 2 Comments

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how to use guillotine nail clippers

Are your pooch’s nails looking a little too long for your liking?

Just like humans, dogs are in need of a good nail trimming from time to time!

Today we’re showing you how to cut your dog’s nails with a guillotine nail clipper – let’s get started!

Guillotine vs. Others

There are a few varieties of dog nail clipping tools out there – the main contenders are guillotine nail clippers vs. scissor-style clippers.

Guillotine nail clippers are preferred for smaller dogs with thinner nails (most guillotine clippers aren’t quick powerful enough to cut a large dog’s thicker nails). With guillotine clippers, a single blade comes down and slices off the end of your dog’s nail (similar to a guillotine). Guillotine clippers are easier to handle for those with hand pain or arthritis.

Scissor clippers, also known as Miller’s Forge clippers, consist of two blades that come together and cut off your dog’s nail. The squeezable handle allows for more force, making these clippers better for thicker nails on large dogs.

Nail Trimming Tools Of The Trade

Supplies you’ll need include:

  • Guillotine Nail Clippers. Make sure your clippers are high-quality and sharp. We recommend the Safari Guillotine Nail Clippers for home grooming. Keep in mind that while guillotine nail clippers work fine for smaller dogs, larger dogs with thicker nails will be better off with scissor clippers (aka Miller’s Forge clippers).
  • white dog nails
    photo from jronaldlee.com

    Dog Treats. Having treats on hand will help keep your pooch distracted and show him that nail clippings can be a good, positive experience.

  • Styptic Powder. Styptic powder can be used to stop bleeding quickly, in the event that you accidentally cut into your dog’s nail quick.
  • Nail File / Grinder. A nail file or dog nail grinder should be used after clipping to add a smooth, rounded edge to your dog’s nails. Sharp nail ends could get caught in rugs, bedding, or toys!

How to Clip Your Dog’s Nails With Guillotine Clipper

Step 1. Get Your Dog Used To The Guillotine Clipper

Before you even think about trimming your dog’s nails, you’ll need to get him warmed up to that scary looking guillotine nail clipper.

To start, simply sit down next to your dog and begin to handle his paws, giving him treats and praise along the way.

After that, move up to showing your dog the clippers, letting him sniff the clippers, and eventually squeezing the clippers (without clipping any nail), all with plenty of treat and encouragement.

This is a slow process and can take a week (or two, if your dog is nervous). Wait until your dog is comfortable with the clippers before proceeding.

Step 2. Clip Away!

Once your dog is relaxed and calm around the guillotine clippers, you can get clipping.

guillotine nail clipper
Photo from Washington State University

Start off by just trimming the tiniest portion of your dog’s nail. Starting small ensures success, and makes it very unlikely that you’ll hit your dog’s nail quick. The quick is the vein that runs through your dog’s nail, and cutting it can be painful as well as cause bleeding.

It’s easy to avoid the quick in dogs with light colored nails, as you can see the quick right within the nail. Dogs with darker nails are trickier.

To be safe, simply cut a very small portion of nail to start. Once you get into the habit of cutting your pup’s nails, the quick will begin to shrink back, making it easier to cut more nail.

Place the nail cutter around your dog’s nail, with the solid plate facing your dog. Cut down in one swift, solid movement. Then, move on to the next nail!

Step 3. Load On the Praise!

After your first successful nail clipping session, heap on the treats and praise. Make this an awesome experience for your dog!

Step 4. File Down Nail Edges

Use your nail file or dog nail grinder to trim down your pooch’s nails, so that they don’t get caught in clothes, bedding or toys. Snagged nails can tear and be very painful, so don’t skip this step!

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Oh No, I Cut My Dog’s Quick!

So you cut into your dog’s nail quick? Don’t feel bad, it’s easy to do – even professional groomers cut into the quick from time to time by mistake.

While your dog may be giving you a look of hurt betrayal and bleeding all over the kitchen, don’t be too distressed. Getting the quick cut is similar to a bad paper cut – your dog won’t be happy, but he won’t die. His nails should stop bleeding after 4-6 minutes, or use styptic powder to stop the bleeding immediately.

While there is no lasting injury or severe pain from cutting the quick,  this whole process can really freak out Fido, and you may have more difficulty getting him interested in the next nail cutting session.

Have you used a guillotine nail clipper to cut your dog’s nails? How did it go? Share your experience in the comments!

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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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I really liked how helpful your stories are. I’m scared to cut my little yorkies nails i purchased the brand “VIBRANT ” and the reviews were not good at all. So what do you think??? What is the safest nail clippers at walmart can I get thanks again

Ben Team

Hey, Elizabeth. Glad you found the article helpful!
It’s tough to know what different Walmart locations have in stock, but we share some of our favorite dog nail clippers in this article!


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