Best Dog Nail Clippers and Grinders

dog nail clippers

The best dog nail clippers are easy to use, last a long time and help to reduce the chances of cutting the quick. You can get models with sensors, barriers or alternatively use a file or grinding device that gives you extra control and fine movement. Today I’ll share the nail clipping devices I’ve had the most success with over the years. My personal favorite right now is the grinder, but some dogs do find the noise a bit worrying.


Dog nail trimming can be challenging as dogs seem to want to wriggle away, but there are some ways to make it easier. Help your furbaby adjust to clippers and grinders by using them in relaxing conditions. Then, do your best to be careful while you cut. Be sure to avoid cutting the quick! Finally, follow up each nail trimming session with a treat. This will ensure your pooch never protests too much the next time those nails need clipping!

The good news is, every nail clipping session is a chance to make your bond even closer. Cutting dogs’ nails also gives you a great opportunity to regularly examine your dog’s paws, toes, nails, pads and legs thoroughly.

A Different Way To Walk

Dogs don’t have paw prints in the way that people have fingerprints. However, they do have a nose print that is the equivalent of a human fingerprint – no two dog nose prints are exactly alike!

Dogs can walk bare-pawed on surfaces with temperatures that would make their owners run for socks and protective gloves! They can do this because they have a series of paw pads well stocked with fatty tissue. Not unlike the blubber deep sea whales rely on to keep from freezing.

The average dog paw has six pads per paw. They include four digital pads (one per toe), the metacarpal pad (in the area that would be similar to the ball of your foot) and the carpal pad (in the area that would be similar to your heel).

The Many Uses of Paw Pads

Besides providing natural insulation, this network of pads also offers acceleration, braking, and shock absorption. It makes for sure-footed navigation, terrain intel, and protection from rough surfaces. Each paw also comes with an inbuilt temperature control system, courtesy of sweat glands positioned just beneath the outermost layer of skin. These sweat glands work constantly to keep the paw pads moist and temperature-balanced.

Nearly all dogs have four toes, each with its corresponding nail, on each paw. Dog nails grow directly from the tips of the last toe bones. Which means they’re technically claws, not nails at all! The ends are dead, but a blood supply comes from a small blood vessel called the quick. This blood supply is what keeps your dog’s nails growing continually.

For dogs with dewclaws, the small claws located higher up on the paw, this can bring the total toenail count to five on each paw. And of course, for dogs with double dewclaws on their rear paws, this would mean those two paws have six nails each.

Dog nail clippers - keeping your dog's nails short

How Long Should Dog Nails Be?

If your dog lives his life outdoors, you may never need to learn how to trim dog nails. All that running and chasing over rough terrain probably keeps them naturally well trimmed. But most canines today don’t have to work nearly as hard for their supper. One glance from their soft liquid eyes and dinner appears as if by magic! Here, the ultimate goal (and challenge) for you as a dog owner is to keep your dog’s nails trimmed.

The target length is as close to the quick as possible without actually cutting it. The colorless, clear nail tip is dead and your dog won’t feel anything if you clip it off. It will just grow back again.

For inside dogs, this may mean you do dog nail trimming once per month. For more active inside-outside dogs, you may find yourself trimming dog nails less frequently.

First off, overgrown nails increase the risk of your dog suffering from a broken nail. Even more, overgrown claws will throw off your dog’s gait. This sets off a painful chain reaction as the long nail pushes into the nail bed. This in turn pushes the toe joint off-center, which turns the toes sideways while your dog walks.

After enough time spent in this awkward position, your dog’s hind quarters, leg and foot muscles, tendons and joints will become overworked, sore, and arthritic. They may not want to walk, even to do them business, which can set into motion other concerning health issues.

Cutting dogs nails - how to clip or trim your dog's nails safely, and the right nail clippers for the job

Dog Nail Clippers

There is a particular type of clipper called a guillotine clipper (yikes, right?!). It gets its name from how it works. You stick your dog’s nail inside a hole in the center of the clipper and squeeze the handles together. This activates the blade to emerge and chop off the nail tip. For many dogs, the squeezing motion of the guillotine clipper is painful and scary. Unless your dog is already used to this style of dog nail clippers, it may be better to select a more traditional scissor-tip clippers.

Best Dog Nail Clippers

Certain dog breeds have very large paws (the Newfoundland breed probably wins the prize here). For these breeds, a large pair of dog nail clippers will probably work best. In the case of all other breeds, a small pair of clippers to trim dog nails will probably do just fine.

GoPets Nail Clippers

GoPets Nail Clippers* are designed to cut small and large dog nails with equal precision. They come with a special angled head and inbuilt sensor to help you avoid cutting the quick.

Best Dog Nail Clippers With A Sensor

The great thing about dog nail clippers with sensors is that they prevent you from cutting the quick. Here are two options for the best dog nail clippers with sensors.

PetSpy Best Dog Nail Clippers* are a good choice. These clippers are recommended by vets and come with 3.5 mm stainless steel blades. They also have easy grip handles and an inbuilt sensor to help you avoid cutting the quick.

Best dog nail clippers

Fur Goodness Sake Dog Nail Clippers (Large Breed)

Fur Goodness Sake Dog Nail Clippers* are specially designed to cut small and large breed dog nails with equal precision. They come with extra long, non-slip handles — you can hold them easily with large or small hands.

 Best Dog Nail Trimmer

Grinders vs Clippers

A nail grinder is an electronic option to clip dog nails. You can think of it like the dog nail clipper version of your electric toothbrush. The nail grinder has a small rotating emery wheel that spins rapidly to grind or file down your dog’s nail tips.

For this tool, the only issue is that your dog may not like the sound of the nail grinder. If you want to try this kind of dog nail clipper, you can work around this. One great way to get your dog familiar with the sound is to turn the grinder on while giving your dog a paw massage. This way, when they hears the sound during an actual claw clipping session, it will sound familiar and they won’t react in fear.

The Innopaw Dog Nail Grinder* comes with three different port sizes to accommodate different dog paw sizes. The grinder is protected so it will never come in contact with your dog’s paw skin or fur. Plus, it only takes two AA batteries to power the grinder.

Dog Nail Trimmers

A dog nail trimmer is like a pair of heavy-duty dog nail scissors or pliers. The “scissors” part is shorter, thicker and shaped more like pliers to both hold and then trim dog nail claws. Here are two options for excellent dog nail trimmers.

The Safari Professional Stainless Steel Nail Trimmer* comes in two sizes: small/medium and large. Large will be best for most adult Labs. It also has an inbuilt safety stop, so your risk of cutting into the quick is greatly reduced.

Dog Nail Clippers

Boshel Dog Nail Clippers and Trimmers

The Boshel Dog Nail Clippers and Trimmers* features sharp, sturdy, powerful trimmer blades to handle even the thickest nails in a single clip.

Dog Nail Clippers

Dog Nail Files

No dog nail clipping session is complete with a dog nail file for a smooth, snag-free finish. As you have probably noticed here, some dog nail trimmer or clipper kits come with their own emery board. But you might also want to choose your own dog nail file, better suited for your dog’s needs.

Many dog owners prefer to Dremel dog nails with a special Dremel nail file as well. While slightly pricier than your average nail file, a Dremel file delivers an amazingly smooth and reliable finish. Here are two options for highly rated dog nail files.

The Dremel 7300-PT 4.8V Pet Nail Grooming Tool* comes with two filing speeds, cordless operation, a 3-hour battery charger, and a variety of file heads.

Dog Nail File

Dog Nail Clipping Instructions

After reading the information in the previous section, we hope you’re itching to trim those toenails! Now, let’s do some preparation so both you and your dog will have the best possible experience of cutting dogs’ nails.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

Unless the situation is urgent, the first step should actually be a paw massage. Most dogs, like most people, thoroughly enjoy a nice foot massage. As a side benefit, this will help your dog feel comfortable with you handling his feet. It’ll also help him associate nail clipping with a positive experience. You may want to do this a few times over the course of a week or so, to get your dog familiar you having extended contact with his feet.

Step by Step

Once your dog seems more at ease, here are the steps for cutting dogs’ nails:

  • Locate yourself and your pup in a quiet, well-lit room. If possible, choose one with monochrome or white walls (this will help your vision).
  • If your dog has very long hair, consider trimming the hair on their feet before you begin trimming their nails. That way, you’ll have unobstructed vision and there is no risk of entangling your dog’s fur in the trimmer.
  • You may want to wear a surgical nose/mouth mask to avoid inhaling nail dust. Some dog owners find this very irritating to the respiratory passages.
  • Leash your dog before you start if you think they might try to escape mid-trim.
  • Make sure both you and your dog are in a comfortable position.
  • If your dog’s nails are white or clear colored, you will actually be able to see the quick. It will look like a fine pink line running up the dog’s nails. Just above where the quick stops is where you should make your cut on each nail.
  • If your dog’s nails are dark or black, you won’t be able to see the quick. Here, start with VERY small trims and look after each trim for a dark dot to start to appear at the tip of your dog’s nail. When you see that dark dot, STOP trimming – this is the quick coming into view.
  • You can use a Dremel nail grinder or filer for the whole process or just for the final smoothing. Always keep the Dremel head moving to avoid heat build-up on the nail that will cause your dog discomfort.

Affiliate link disclosure: Links in this article marked with an * are affiliate links, and we may receive a small commission if you purchase these products. However, we selected them for inclusion independently, and all of the views expressed in this article are our own.

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website