Dog owners whose pets are walked regularly on pavement and/or are super active with an adequate stretch of concrete to run or play on normally don't have to worry about clipping their dogs' nails. If you've got a couch potato for a pup — especially one that is brachycephalic and doesn't handle heat well or at all — then nail care is an entirely different story. You've either got to take it upon yourself to do your own doggy pedicures for your lovable pooches, or take them somewhere and have it done professionally. If you fall into the first couch potato category, it's probably crossed your mind from time to time as to which is the best type of dog nail clippers for the job. For the purpose of this article, we're going to be looking at types of dog nail clippers more than brand.
Less Active Dog Breeds
Having a Frenchie and living in a state with year-round soaring temps as compared to the rest of the country, I'm overly familiar with this topic. While there are a few months out of the year I can walk him between midnight and 6- or 7 a.m., anything beyond that, forget it. We've had one or two episodes over the years where I thought it was cool enough for him to handle it, and I was quickly proven wrong. Because of this, his nails must be dealt with by alternative means other than frequent walks for exercise. He also will not tolerate professional groomers for nail clippings, even at our veterinarian's office, so it's unfortunately up to me to take the task in hand and get the job done.
French bulldogs are stout little creatures that weigh far more than their stature implies. That's because they have a lot of muscle mass and fairly heavy bone structure for animals their size. Along with that come larger, thicker nails of the type you'd see on a medium or larger dog. It's important to purchase a pair of clippers with your dog's particular needs in mind.
Guillotine Dog Nail Clippers
Dog nail clippers with a guillotine or cigar snipper mechanism are often popular with pet owners that keep smaller breeds of dogs or cats with smaller, thinner nails. That's not to say there are not brands available specifically for larger breeds, but dog nail clippers of this sort can be more difficult to work with. If your pet is agreeable to the process of having their nails clipped, and they don't mind holding out their paw or laying down while the pedicure is in process, you might have a chance with this type of nail clipper for dogs.
The problem is you have to place your dog's nail in the hole and keep it there while holding them steady and trying to determine the distance to the quick and then hurry up and clip it before your pet starts to pull away. Because their nail is in a metal hole, this can be extremely awkward — especially if your pet starts getting restless. If you don't have a firm enough grasp on not only their paw but the individual toe of the nail you're working with, the nail can easily twist during the cut. This twisting can lead to splintering of the nail in addition to jagged, broken nail tips rather than a clean, smooth cut with a flat tip. If twisting occurs, chances are your dog could experience pain. Once they have a negative connotation with something, good luck at getting them to let you take another crack at it. Personally, the entire process reminds me of the childhood game Operation.
I purchased a model allegedly designed for medium to large dogs for the cutting strength factor and found the cuts are seldom consistent. The nail is sometimes crushed, leading to sharp, frayed ends that are not only unsightly, but dangerous for the dog. This led to my moving on to try another model.
Dog Nail Clippers Resembling Garden Clippers
Anyone that's familiar with gardening clippers knows what the distinctive tapered curve at the tip looks like. Well, there are dog nail clippers that resemble these gardening tools, too. These clippers come in stainless steel for varying degrees of nail thickness, like most models. That's half the battle right there is making sure you get the right strength clipper for the job. Like the guillotine clippers we already covered and the plier-type clippers we're going to discuss next, these can be purchased with what's called a nail bar or quick guard. Dog nail clippers with quick guards are definitely preferred over models without them. They are no guarantee you still won't clip too far, but they're a definite help.
The thing is you still feel like you're guessing a little bit with this style of nail clipper for dogs. Maybe it's because they cut more like garden clippers rather than wire cutters where both sides enclose around the nail firmly and evenly. I prefer that kind of vice-grip action over a stationary blade with a blade moving towards it, which is how this model works. It just seems there's less chance of movement, slippage and possible bending to the side or twisting when the blades close towards one another. If you're a nervous nail cutter, these garden clipper dog clippers might not be for you either.
Dog Nail Clippers Resembling Pliers
Out of all the different types of clippers I've tried over the years, this particular type of nail clipper for dogs is the one I like the best. I'm talking about the clippers that look very much like wire cutters, pliers or any number of tools you might find in a garage. They have two curved blades that swing towards each other as the handles are squeezed shut and they encircle the nail and clip quickly, cleanly and efficiently with a perfect cut every time. If you purchase a pair with a safety bar or quick guard, it's almost impossible to screw up with these dog nail clippers.
Like all models, you need to make sure and pick out the right pair for the job when it comes to strength. Most tools for dealing with animal nails will clearly tell you on the packaging who or what they're most suited for. If they're not marked, don't guess or assume. Buy a pair that is. Also, try to find a pair made from stainless steel, so they'll remain sharp through countless trimmings. Of course, a lot of this is preference. Whatever you're most comfortable with and that you've had success with ought to be your guiding force when it comes to ultimately picking out dog nail clippers.
Dog Nail Clippers with Sensors
Finally, if you're wondering about brands with built-in sensors for determining distance from tip to quick, so far they've been getting a lot of negative feedback from actual users. So, while it's a great idea in theory, the reality is you may want to skip them until a better design that's proven to work finds its way onto the market. They aren't cheap and chances are you'll just end up returning them. Again, whatever you choose, just make sure they're sturdy, retain a sharp blade for repeated trimmings and that they feel comfortable in your hand. Good luck and happy trimming!