How Do Dog Nail Clippers Work? (QUICK Rundown for 2022)

Dog nail clippers are a necessary tool for every dog owner. They are essential for your dog’s health and hygiene and they help you avoid the groomer.

So, how do dog nail clippers work? We’ll cover how they work, how to safely use them, and the different kinds of nail clippers out there.

How do Dog Nail Clippers work?

How Does Dog Nail Clippers Work
Cut your dog’s nails at a 45-degree angle. This way you can avoid cutting the quick

Dog nail clippers are easy to use, once you are aware of the basics of how they function. You also need to be sure that you avoid the quick of your dog’s nails.

The quick is the blood vessel and nerve bundle that runs down the center of each nail. If you cut into the quick, your dog will experience pain and bleeding.

Here are some important things to keep in mind about how dog nail clippers work.

Read our related article, How Often Should Dog Nail Clippers Be Replaced? This informative guide will help you keep your grooming kit up-to-date and safe for your dog!

the shape of dog nail clippers

Most dog nail clippers have a small guillotine-like blade that pinches against another sharp surface.

The clippers are set at an angle so that you bring the dog clippers underneath your dog’s paw to clip the nail.

To clip the nail you slide your dog’s nail into the opening in the clippers, hold the clippers at a 45-degree angle, and simply squeeze the slippers shut, severing the nail.

avoid the quick

To avoid cutting into the quick, it is important to know where it is located on each nail.

The quick typically extends about 1/4 inch past the beginning of the nail (the beginning being where the nail comes out of your dog’s paw).

You should avoid cutting into this area when trimming your dog’s nails. If your dog has light-colored or white nails you can actually see the quick.

It is a dark line that runs through the nail.

If you can’t see the quick and you are concerned about cutting into it, then take off small pieces of the nail until you come to a gray/pink oval that appears at the top of the surface of the cut.

Stop there. The closest you want to cut is within 2 millimeters of the quick.

get the right size clippers

It’s also critical to pick the correct size clipper for your dog’s nails.

If you use small clippers for a large dog, the clippers may not fit over the nail, and you’ll have to cut each nail many times, which can be painful for your dog.

On the other hand, using large clippers on a small breed makes it difficult to judge where you are cutting. This creates more potential for cutting into the quick.

However, if you get the right-sized clippers for the right-sized dog, you may easily trim your dog’s nails at home Just make sure not to slice into the quick!

How Do You Safely Trim Dog Nails?

How does dog nail clippers work?
Avoid 1/4 inch past the beginning of the nail.

While many dogs will happily rest in your lap or on a table while you trim their claws, some dogs need to be kept confined.

Although this may be done at home, you may want to get some tips on grooming your dog’s nails from a veterinarian or an experienced pet groomer.

In general, you want to be sure that your dog feels calm and secure while you clip his nails.

Here is how you can do it:

  • Clip nails on the opposite paw from where you are, so if you are on your dog’s right, clip the nails on his left paw
  • As you are working, keep your free arm across your dog’s neck so you can restrain him something pinches him and he nips at you
  • Hold your dog’s leg or paw with your free hand so you can make a safe cut

You may even want to grasp each toe as you clip your dog’s nails.

Be sure to speak soothing words to your dog if clipping his nails makes him nervous, or if he is new to nail clipping.

How Can You clip Your Dog’s Nails to the right size?

You don’t want to clip your dog’s nails too short. On the other hand, you don’t want to leave them too long.

If you cut your dog’s nails too short, you could cut into the quick which is painful for your dog. It could also possibly lead to infection.

If you leave your dog’s nails too long, they could chip and break.

To prevent this from happening, it is important to keep your dog’s nails trimmed at a consistent length.

Trimming your dog’s nails every six to eight weeks is an easy way to ensure they are the right length.

The best length for your dog’s nails is to cut within about 2 millimeters of the quick.

what to do if you cut the quick

If you do cut the quick of your dog’s nail, don’t worry. It is painful, but your dog will forgive you.

There may be bleeding that you will need to stop. If that is the case, apply styptic powder to the nail.

It may take a few minutes, but the styptic powder will stop the bleeding.

It is important to keep trimming your dog’s nails.

As you continue to trim each nail without any pain, your dog will become more comfortable with the clippers.

Clipping the nails of an anxious dog can be dangerous for both you and your pet, so if he become jittery, it’s best to stop cutting.

Different types of dog nail clipppers

How does dog nail clippers work?
If you’re calm when trimming your dog’s nails, that will help your dog to be calm.

There are numerous types of dog nail clippers available on the market, each with its own set of advantages.

If your dog has had a bad experience with one kind of clipper in the past, don’t worry.

Try introducing a new set of clippers that function a little differently and establish a better experience with those clippers.

  • Pliers-style clippers: This type of clipper is recommended for smaller breeds of dogs
  • Guillotine-style clippers: This type of clipper is recommended for larger breeds of dogs
  • Rotary saw-style clippers: This type of clipper should only be used by experienced groomers because it can easily cause excessive bleeding if not used correctly
  • Nail grinders: These are an alternative to traditional nail clippers
  • Claw hammer: Some pet owners choose to use a claw hammer to trim their dog’s nails. While this method can be effective, it can also be dangerous if done incorrectly

Read our related article on How to Sharpen Dog Nail Clipper Blades to increase the use you get out of your clippers and ensure a safe cut!


When using dog nail clippers, it’s important to be aware of how they work in order to avoid injuring your pet.

Nails that are too long can cause discomfort and pain for your dog, as well as lead to infection.

It’s also important to avoid cutting into the quick when clipping your dog’s toenails.

By using a pair of clippers that are sized for its nails and following the proper clipping procedure, you can safely trim your dog’s nails.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

You can read more about me in our about us page

Connect with me:

Leave a Comment