Given the number of people who’ve recently purchased a dog during lockdown, it’s hardly surprising to learn that sales of pet grooming products are through the roof.
Dogs can be high maintenance, and one of the most important elements of dog grooming is the trimming of nails, using either clippers or nail grinders. The best dog clippers are ones which are comfortable in the hand, easy to operate and have a blade which stays sharp with minimal maintenance – blunt blades can often do more harm than sharp ones.
If you’d rather plump for an electronic nail grinder, we recommend one which has interchangeable heads and a safety cap with multiple holes through which the nail can be placed, to make it easier to tackle nails of different sizes.
The most important thing is taking the time to familiarise your dog with your tool of choice. “Get your dog used to having their feet picked up and their nails inspected,” says Sean McCormack, head vet at tails.com. “Reward-based training is key – plenty of praise and tasty treats are needed. Next, introduce your dog to the nail clipper or grinder – allow your dog to sniff it and see it before you bring it near their feet.
“Finally, go through the motions of preparing to trim your dog’s nails but take it step by step and reward your dog after each stage until you build up to the actually clipping or grinding, taking just the tiniest tip off one nail. If your dog gets worried, go back a step.”
Should you accidentally cut the quick (the delicate area near the base of the nail which contains lots of blood vessels) on your dog’s feet, don’t panic. Hold a piece of paper towel over the area, compressing it firmly and this should stem the bleeding.
But if not, use your fingertip to apply styptic powder, which is available from all pet stores. This anti-haemorrhagic powder stops bleeding by sealing blood vessels. Once the bleeding stops, apply a bandage. If the bleeding continues after 30 minutes (which is unlikely), call your vet and ask for advice.
We tested our clippers and grinders on a wide range of dogs boasting everything from regularly-manicured claws to seriously neglected nails in urgent need of trimming. Even after decades of dog-owning, we still get nervous about this particular task, so we know what to look for.
Priorities were ease of use and a sharp blade with a decent safety lock. Bonus points were awarded for tools which could be used on nails of different shapes and sizes, through the use of features such as safety caps with multiple cutting holes.
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Rosewood guillotine clippers
Guillotine-style clippers are often the tools of choice for pet owners who find regular nail clippers fiddly for reasons such as arthritis. But there are few pet owners who won’t appreciate these clippers, which are incredibly easy to use – once the nail is in position, an ultra-sharp blade simply slices it off.
Although the handles didn’t have any additional patches of grip, the soft plastic and long, thin arms were easy to hold onto, and we loved the ease with which we could simply slice through the nail in a nano-second. Our test dog hates having her nails trimmed but these lightweight but powerful clippers made the whole process significantly less painful (for both of us).
Mikki grooming scissor claw clipper for dogs, cats and rabbits
Even the best nail clippers can look truly terrifying. But not these ones. With their soft, tactile handles, finger rest and ergonomic design, these reduce the risk of accidental nicks. The blades (which have been heat treated for extra durability) were stiff to operate at first, but soon loosened up to provide the perfect level of mobility.
That’s easier said than done mind – blades which move too freely are a recipe for disaster, but ones which are too stiff can be just as hard to use. The ultra-sharp cutting area was the perfect size, allowing us to trim the tiniest of our test dog’s claws while keeping well clear of the quick.
Lucky Tail claw grinder
This hi-tech gadget – which came with two spare heads and charges using the USB cable provided – is packed with paw-friendly features and is regarded as one of the best nail grinders for dogs. Standout features include lights next to the grinding stone (not that we’re advising doing your pup’s pedicure in the dark, to be clear) and a safety guard which pops off for easy cleaning.
Gaps in the guard meant we could tailor our approach depending on the size of the claw being tended to, and the ergonomic design allowed for an ultra-secure grip. The noise level is similar to the buzz produced by an electric toothbrush, and it didn’t faze our test dog, allowing us to focus on the task in hand. The result? Perfectly-trimmed talons and lower stress levels all round.
Rosewood manicure nail clippers
As much as we love our four-legged friends, we struggle to justify spending huge sums of cash on items such as nail clippers – especially when you can get a pair of Rosewood’s fantastic nail-trimming tools for under £5.
The handles of these clippers (available in small or large) were the star of the show – they weren’t only covered with ultra-soft plastic but had raised areas for extra grip, too. We appreciated the addition of a grip latch (positioned so that we could quickly flip it across while still gripping the handles) to lock the stainless steel blades firmly in place, as well as the extra-deep cutting area, which meant a more precise cut without the risk of damage to the quick.
Wahl battery nail grinder
This battery-powered nail grinder is brilliant value, and the slim design made it easy to grip. We loved the fact that the “on” switch needed a certain amount of pressure – all too often controls on grinders are too easy to knock, and accidentally turning a grinder on (or off) when you don’t intend to is one of the easiest ways to injure your four-legged friend. The grinder comes with two sanding drums and five spare sanding bands, as well as an instructions leaflet packed with genuinely useful tips.
Mikki nail clipper large
We’re huge fans of Mikki here. Everything they make has been incredibly well designed – whether it’s the innovative drawstring-style dog beds or the brilliant dog harnesses. One of the things we love most about their clippers is that the ones designed for bigger dogs aren’t simply bigger – they’re designed to meet all the challenges which come with mani-pedis for larger pets.
In this case, standout features include extra-long grip strips on the handles, with raised bumps with allowed for unbeatable grip and extra purchase on our pet’s particularly tough nails. The clippers have both a spring-loaded safety lock and a safety stop to prevent over-cutting – a godsend given that this is all too easy with larger dogs.
Groom Room dog claw clippers large
One great way to know whether a dog nail clipper is up to the job before splashing the cash? Knowing that the clipper in question has been tried and tested by professionals. This no-nonsense nail-trimming tool might look slightly basic, but it’s been put to the test by professionals at the Groom Room, which runs Pets at Home’s in-store grooming centres.
The slender handles have two areas of grip – a narrower one near the base of the arms and a wider one with more pronounced ridges near to the business end of the clippers. We found the latter area of grip extremely useful when it came to applying the extra force needed to tackle tougher nails, and the innovative safety guard did a great job of preventing over-cutting.
Wahl electric nail grinder
The main difference between this grinder and Wahl’s battery grinder (£12.99, Wahl.co.uk) is that this one is mains-powered. The smoother profile of this one made it more comfortable in the hand, and it’s definitely got a bit more oomph, too. The arm connecting the head to the unit is also a little longer, so despite the need for mains power connection, there’s still plenty of manoeuvrability, making it ideal for larger dogs. It’s brilliant value for money, too – you’ll get two types of grinding stone along with a felt polisher and a brilliant care guide.
The verdict: Dog clippers and grinders
Rosewood’s guillotine clippers make trimming the toughest of talons a breeze, whether you’re a dog grooming guru or a first-time trimmer. They’re incredibly comfortable in the hand, and the position of the ultra-sharp blade minimises the chance of accidental nicks.
Mikki’s scratch me not scissor claw clippers were much more versatile than the name suggests – they were brilliant for smaller dogs but we’d also recommend them as a great tool for keeping larger dogs’ claws in check, too.
Finally, a big shout out has to go to the Lucky Tail claw grinder, which proves that electronic grinders don’t have to resemble torture tools. The combination of a low noise level and an ergonomic design makes trimming nails and claws – on dogs of all shapes and sizes – a breeze.
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