When groomers ask most customers how they would like to have their pet groomed, an astonishing number of times, the answer is, "Please trim his nails." Of course, this tells the stylist nothing about how the hair should be clipped, but it points out the importance the general public places on trimming their dog's claws. As professional groomers, most of us have cut thousands, if not millions, of dog nails throughout our careers. So what are the best tools to get this critical job done?
Guillotine Style Trimmers- This type of trimmer has both a stationary and a moving blade. They give a straight cut and, because of the leverage action of the design, can be helpful on tough nails. The way the handles work to leverage the blades requires less pressure to clip claws. The blades on many popular models can be sharpened or replaced. They work best on small to medium-sized claws. In rare instances, they can become jammed, making for a scary moment if the dog struggles. Available in small and large sizes.
Scissor Style Trimmers- Outfitted with a sturdy spring to open the clipper after it has been compressed, this type of trimmer has two blades that come together with manual pressure. They can be difficult to sharpen but are inexpensive enough to keep several on hand. In addition, they can be more easily used at various angles than a guillotine-style trimmer and are nimbler getting around oddly shaped or curved claws. Available in multiple sizes from small to big enough to tackle giant breed claws.
Tiny Trimmers- A wee version of the scissor-style trimmers, these are great for tiny toy breeds, cats, and other small mammals. They do not have a spring to return the trimmer to the open position, so they feel slightly different to use. They can be handy if you are dealing with a very curved claw to slice small increments off the tip so you can then use a larger trimmer. They can also be useful when dealing with some dew claws. They are a nice addition to any tack box.
No matter which types you use, it is imperative that the blades be sharp, or the pet will experience a crushing sensation before the nail is shortened. Very dull blades may even splinter the nail. On the other hand, new, sharp blade edges will make a clean, painless slice through the claw and not cause the dog to dread the procedure.
By Daryl Conner, MPS, MCG
Daryl Conner has been devoted to making dogs and cats more comfortable and beautiful for almost 40 years. You can find her happily working at FairWinds Grooming Studio with her daughter and infant granddaughter, or typing away at her latest grooming-related article. Daryl was awarded both a Cardinal Crystal Award and Barkleigh Honors Award for journalism. She shares her meadow-hugged antique Maine farmhouse with her practically perfect husband and too many animals.