Who doesn’t love a manicure? Well we want to help your puppy love them too. Puppy nail clippers are a vital part of your puppy’s grooming kit. Dogs all have claws that need clipping at some point. They don’t wear them down like they would in the wild, so you’ll need to teach them to have their nails clipped.

So, which puppy nail clippers should you choose? Well, there’s a vast selection to choose from, isn’t there? We’ve done the hard work for you and will help you figure out the best nail clippers for your puppy.

In fact, in this guide of the best puppy nail clippers, we will be talking about whether puppies need special nail clippers, how to choose the best nail clippers for a puppy, and the best nail trimming equipment for puppies. 

black and tan dog paws on table edge
Photo by Kristine Tanne on Unsplash

When thinking about clipping your puppy’s nails, you’ll need to get them used to grooming and handling first. We have it covered for you in the Zigzag puppy training app and a team of expert puppy coaches, aka, fully qualified dog trainers and behaviourists, to talk you through it. We’ve even got endorsements from some of the leading dog training and behaviour organisations. 

Do puppies need special nail clippers? 

Many people like to use human nail clippers for their puppy at first as they’re smaller and easier to handle than regular-sized dog nail clippers. Puppy nails are thinner than dog nails so it is safe to use human nail clippers at first.

Once your puppy’s nails get a little thicker, you’ll find you need to use proper nail clippers designed for claws, as human nail clippers won’t be able to cut through them properly. 

Do check out our article on how to clip a puppy’s nails so you can learn how to cut your puppy’s claws properly from the beginning.

How to choose the best nail clippers for a puppy? 

There are loads of dog nail clippers on the market, and of course, they’re also suitable for use as puppy nail clippers too. They all have different features and extras which you might want to consider such as:

A light on the nail clippers

Dogs have a vein and nerves that run down inside their claws called a quick. It looks like a pink stripe. The quick delivers blood to the nail and keeps it healthy, but it also bleeds like crazy and hurts if you cut the nail too short. To spot where it is you might want a nail clipper with a light, the light shines through the nail and shows how close the quick is to the end.

Large or small puppy nail clippers

Not all pups are the same size, so puppy nail clippers should be available in a variety of sizes as well. Smaller or medium-sized dog nails will require less pressure to trim the nail, than bigger breeds. Some breeds, such as terriers, are ‘diggers’ and may have thicker claws than others to help them with digging.

Puppy nail clippers with safety guards

You may have seen this slidey silver thing on your new dog nail clippers and wondered what it was for. It’s so you don’t cut too much of your puppy’s nail when you clip it.

However, because every pup’s nails are different, you may find it better to gradually trim the nail little by little, and keep checking the length, rather than depending on a guard that may be too large for your puppy.

Puppy nail clippers with a sensor

If you’re totally new to puppy nail clipping then you might find it useful to have a sensor which tells you where the quick is. Some feature a green, amber and red LED, whereas some have just red and green. Some reviews say they are not always reliable, so use common sense when using them. 

Puppy nail clippers that are nice to hold

If you’re going to be using puppy nail clippers regularly, you want them to be comfortable in your hand, don’t you? Maybe you prefer a rubber grip, a scissor style or a guillotine. Sometimes it can be worth trying out a few to decide which fits your hands well.  

woman holding paw in hand
Photo by Igor Bumba on Unsplash

Best nail trimming equipment for puppies? 

As always, there’s a long list of nail trimming equipment you can buy for puppies, it feels never-ending at times! 

You’re probably most interested in what puppy nail clippers you should get, but we’ll help you with other suggested items we think are useful too.

There are three main styles of nail clippers for puppies

  • Guillotine style nail clippers
  • Scissor or plier puppy nail grinders
  • Electric nail grinders

Guillotine style puppy nail clippers

If you have a puppy, small or medium breed of dog, guillotine nail clippers can work well on their nails, as they are not good for thick nails. They tend to be small and easy to hold, but it’s also easy to take too much off since they do not have a guard or a sensor. 

You can be at risk of crushing the nail rather than cutting it, and not all guillotine nail clippers cut as well as others. Meaning you might have to file your puppy’s nails after.

Scissor and plier puppy nail clippers

These clippers are more suitable if you are new to clipping your puppy’s nails, since many feature a guard. It is also easy to just do very small clips of the end of the nail so you don’t take too much off in one go, or risk cutting the quick. 

They look like a pair of scissors or pliers. The plier style of nail clippers tend to be a bit stronger. In contrast, the scissor nail clippers can still be good for puppies or small dogs and might feel easier in your hands.

Electric nail grinders

Electric nail grinders can be a good option if you are worried about cutting the quick, and are the choice of many professionals as they leave the nail with a nice smooth edge that doesn’t require extra filing. Using an electric nail grinder can also help you to get the quick to recede over time, so you’ll be able to cut your puppy’s nails shorter and shorter. Shorter nails equal less noise on the floor for you, and more comfort for your puppy.  

Electric nail clippers look a bit like Dremel rotary tools, in fact Dremel have actually made their own style of grinder, specifically for dogs and cats! Electric nail grinders have sanding discs on the end which act like a nail file. For some dogs they are much more accepting of the electric nail grinder, especially if they have had a bad experience with traditional nail clippers in the past.

They are a bit noisy, so it’s worth training your puppy from the very beginning that the noise means nice things and not to be worried about the grinder. 

Dog nail file

If you need to smooth off the edges of your puppy’s claw after cutting their nails, then a dog nail file can be used to file them down. Perfect for nervous dogs, a nail file can also be useful if you have a puppy or dog who has found nail clipping very aversive in the past, as you can teach them to have their nails filed without it being a big deal.  

Styptic powder

In the unfortunate event that you do cut the quick, you need to be prepared for it to bleed a lot. Be prepared by having some styptic powder to hand. It contains a chemical to stem bleeding, you can also get blood stop swabs that contain lidocaine as well, which will also stop it from hurting! We think they’re perfect for a dog first aid kit. 

A piece of vet bed or a non slip mat

Using a piece of vet bed, or a non-slip mat can be really useful for nail clipping. We like to teach consent based nail clipping and find it’s the best way for our puppies to learn that they can say no if they don’t like what we’re doing. By stepping off of their mat, they say ‘no thank you’, which teaches us to slow down a bit and reward them heavily for being comfortable with the nail clipping.

dachshund in sling
Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

If you’re having problems clipping your puppy’s nails, you can ‘retrain’ nail clipping by teaching your puppy to have their nails clipped in a new location, using a new tool, and ensuring that the nail clipping is consent based with positive reinforcement training.

For more help with these, reach out to the expert puppy coaches in the Zigzag puppy training app, and work your way through the grooming and handling exercises in the app. 

You might also want to carry on reading and check out our article on how to clip a puppy’s nails. Happy clipping!