Dog nail grinding vs trimming

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For many pet parents, providing nail care for their dogs is an uphill task especially if the dog doesn’t like their paws touched. Shortening your dog’s long nails is a major part of providing paw care.

Dog nail grinding vs trimming, which one is better? If you’re not sure about which type of nail grooming to use on your pup, then this post is for you.

There are pros and cons to each approach. We’ll take a closer look at them based on the best practices of dog groomers and give you an easy-steps process that you can follow.

Why Is Dog Nail Care Important?

If your pup’s nails grow too long, they can scratch on the carpet, bedding, and furniture, or even have a scrabble on other dogs and cause injury. If your dog loves to jump over you, then they can easily scratch or injure you if they have long nails.

Long nails will make your dog walk uncomfortably by putting pressure on the wrong parts of the feet and this can affect their orthopedic health later in life.

Long toenails can also break on their own and this can be painful to your dog and might require veterinary treatment.

Providing nail care for your dog at home also improves the bonding with your furry friend and it helps you to know your dog’s sensitive toes.

Clipping Dog Nails; What is It?

Dog nail trimming (or clipping) is the process of cutting down long dog nails. There are two main types of nail clipping tools that you can use; the scissor style and the guillotine style.

The scissor-style clippers are more versatile and precise meaning you can trim your dog’s nails in any direction with high accuracy.

They are also good at trimming strong nails without applying too much pressure on the dog. This tool is preferable for small-breed dogs and puppies.

It is preferable to use short and sharp scissors as this will give you maximum control of the situation.

You however need to be careful when using scissor-style trimmers because you may end up cutting a huge chunk of your dog’s nail. We recommend that you keep a close eye on your dog’s nails when handling this tool.

The guillotine clippers have a stationary round hole where you insert your dog’s toenail, and a moving blade that is squeezed with the handle cuts the inserted nail part.

This tool is useful in making a straight cut but can be challenging to make an angular slash on the edge. The guillotine clippers can also put a lot of pressure on your dog especially if they have dense nails.

You should hold the guillotine tool on the non-moving edge with your palm. This will give you more control during the trimming process.

Each clipping tool has its pros and cons. It’s always best to try out the two styles for you to find out which one will work well with your pooch.

Always use nail clippers with sharp blades and soft rubber grips on each side of the handle. This will help to ensure that you don’t cut too far or break the toenail apart.

Remember not to cut too much of your dog’s nail because you may end up nicking the section that contains blood vessels ‘the quick’.

This will give your dog a painful experience and they will most likely be reluctant to get their nails trimmed again.

If you have an accident during the trimming, here is a first aid procedure for broken nails in dogs that will help out. If the damage is too much, you should call your vet right away.

How Dog Nail Clipping Is Done

The first thing you would want to ensure is that your dog is calm, relaxed, and in a happy mood. Make sure to do this in a calm room where there are no distractions that may grab your pup’s attention.

Step 1: You will then get them to sit/lie on a grooming table while you do the clipping while standing. This will give you total control of the process.

It might require a bit of practice to figure out the position that works best for you. Feel free to try different grooming spots during the early sessions.

Step 2: Hold the fur around your dog’s paw in place with one hand as you clip just the tip ends of your dog’s nails with the other hand. Pull downward on the fur to make sure they don’t get scared by what’s happening.

Step 3: Have some easy-to-chew treats on hand to reward your furry friend for being calm during the process. You would want them to create a positive association with the nail-trimming process.

Step 4: You can use a nail file to smoothen your dog’s nail edges once you are done with clipping. This step is optional because your dog’s nails will naturally get smooth over the coming days. But it is something you can consider if you have a playful pup.

Dog paw

You should always trim your dog’s toenails regularly (preferably once in 2 weeks). Or once the nails touch the ground, rather than snipping a huge portion after a long time.

This is not only safer for your dog, but it gives you the chance to get better at nail grooming.

Grinding Dog Nails; What is it?

This is the process of filing, smoothing, or shaping your dog’s nails. Most dogs have very short nails that grow in a curved shape and this allows them to grip their surroundings easily.

Nail grinding removes extra nail material and smooths the edges so your pup won’t snag on things.

Dog nail grinders are used during this grooming process, they allow you to smoothen your dog’s nails slowly while observing any sensitivities.

Dremel makes the most known tools and they come in different sizes. Make sure you find one that fits your dog’s nail size.

It’s also important that you get one that has a guard over it to protect your hands from getting cut or scraped up as you work on their nails.

Your dog might be scared by the vibrating sound of the grinder at first. You would want to make them familiar with the sound at first.

You can do this by turning on the grinder (without using it) and rewarding your dog when staying calm as it sounds.

If your dog is scared of loud noise, you can opt to use grinding tools with diamond bits. They are less noisy than those with sandpaper-like bits.

You should also make your dog comfortable with the feeling of the grinder on their toes by hovering it on the nails without turning it on. Reward them as they stay calm and progressively move to turn it on and monitor how they react.

How Dog Nail Grinding Is Done

Once you get the right tool, follow these steps to smoothen your dog’s nails:

Step 1: Hold your dog’s paws with one hand while holding one nail with the thumb and use the other hand to hold the grinding tool. If your dog has a lot of furs around their paws, you can trim the hair to prevent them from being caught up.

Step 2: Turn on the grinding tool and move it around your dog’s nail without pressing it too hard. Hold the tool steady so it doesn’t vibrate too much on the dog’s paws or kick out at an angle when you’re trying to grind down the nail.

Step 3: Keep applying a little pressure against the tool until the dog’s nail is smoothened out on the bottom part without touching the quick.

Do not be in a hurry, just handle one nail at a time and take the time to observe your dog’s toes. If you need a more detailed guide, check out our article on how to grind dog nails the proper way.

How Often Should Dog Nails Be Ground?

This will depend on how fast your dog’s nails grow. It is recommended to grind your dog’s nails every week or two to maintain a smooth edge.

Dog paws

Are Clippers or Grinders Better for Dogs?

The best pawdicare tool to use for your dog is one that is comfortable with them throughout the grooming process.

Using either tool in the wrong way can be more dangerous than not tidying your dog’s nails at all. You would always want to make sure that you know how to handle these tools.

Some dog nail grinding tools have an in-built LED light that illuminates your dog’s nails while working and this improves the safety of the process.

Nail clipping is faster than grinding and it allows owners to shape their dog’s nails.

Difference Between Nail Trim and Grind

A dog nail grinder uses a high-speed rotating wheel to grind down the nails, while a dog nail clipper is a tool that uses a sharp blade to cut off the tip of the nail.

Dog nail grinding leaves a smooth rounded edge on your dog’s nail while taking a small amount with each pass.

Nail clipping on the other hand will often leave sharp nail edges until they naturally wear out and it may take a huge part of the nail with each clip.


Dog nail grinding vs. trimming; Which one is better? The answer to this question will depend largely on your dog’s nail type, personality, and the method that is safe for them.

Remember if you choose to groom your dogs’ nails you will want to be sure that they are well-prepared before they undergo this process.

Long nails can damage your dog’s healthy paws. Trimming or grinding down those toenails is necessary if you want your dog to walk comfortably without pain.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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