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How to Sharpen Dog Nail Clippers? [Steps and Video]

Keeping your dogs’ nails short is an essential task. Usually, a groomer can accomplish this when you’re taking your dog for their normal grooming session. However, some dogs need their nails clipped more frequently and grooming sessions can be far and few between.

how to sharpen dog nail clippers
How to sharpen dog nail clippers? [Steps and video]

Here’s how to sharpen dog nail clippers so they remain safe, effective, and ready-to-use. 

Step 1: Take the Clippers Apart

Most dog clippers are a standard spring-loaded tool that clips the dog’s nails in between the two blades. If your clippers have a lever, then remove that lever first by pressing the two components of the clippers together with pliers.

Step 2: Separate the Clippers

Once that pin is removed, you can separate the clippers so they can be sharpened. They won’t detach completely, but they will open wide enough to use a sharpening tool.

Step 3: Sharpen the Clippers

There are various tools you can use to sharpen clippers.

Sharpening stone: Sharpening stones are small, rough rectangular-shaped stones that you rub the blade against to sharpen. They’re relatively cheap and easy to use.

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Grinding stone: Grinding stones are usually attached to a spinning piece. This moves the stone in a circle, and you place the clippers on the moving stone to sharpen them. These require less movement on your part to sharpen the blade but require electronic power to make it move.

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Diamond-tapered rod: A diamond-tapered rod is a handheld tool. You either stand it up vertically and run the blade down against it to sharpen it, or you hold it vertically and run the blade outwards to sharpen.

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Here’s also a video on how to sharpen your dog’s nail clipper:

How Often Should I Sharpen Dog Nail Clippers?

Because dogs’ nails are tough and wear down the clipper’s blades quickly, then you’ll need to sharpen those clippers on a semi-regular basis. There’s not a cut and dried time between sharpens, but if you can sense the nail clippers aren’t cutting your dog’s nails as quickly or cleanly as when you first bought the clippers, then it’s probably time to sharpen them.

Like any tool, dog nail clippers have a lifespan, and eventually, they’ll need to be replaced regardless of how sharp they are. Old and worn-out nail clippers can pose a danger to your dog.

Dog nails have a sensitive inner part, called the quick, that sits quite close to their outer covering. When clipping their nails, it is easy to accidentally nick this and cause your dog’s nails to bleed. Accidentally cutting this can also be painful for your dog, and they probably won’t be cooperative the next time you need to cut their nails.

If your nail clippers are old and show signs of wear along the blade, then it’s probably time to replace them rather than sharpen them again.

dog nail trimming
Groomer trims dog’s nail using nail clipper.

How to Pick Out New Clippers?

Although clippers come in a standard shape, there are still different factors that can influence choosing the correct ones.

Dog size: Larger clippers with a bigger gap between blades work best for medium to large breeds such as Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds. Smaller clippers that have a smaller gap work for daintier dogs.

Grip: Nail clippers have different grips, and choosing ones with a large, preferably plastic with a rubber coating provides stability and comfort when clipping your dog’s nails.

Shape: Most dog nail clippers come in a pliers-like appearance, however, some may have more of a scissor-like design.

Alternative Designs

Some newer clippers are actually electric and don’t have any blades. Instead of manually having to cut your dog’s nails, you can simply press a button and your dog’s nails are trimmed.

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These designs usually incorporate a small spinning grinder similar to a grinding stone. It wears away the nail and usually prevents the quick of the nail from accidentally being cut. Basically, electric clippers are similar to a file.

However, these electric clippers will have a small electric buzz, which could scare your dog.

trimming dog's nail
Trimming dog’s nail using small rotary sander.

Tips for Trimming Dog Nails

Many times, trimming your dog’s nails can be a tedious and unpleasant experience for both the dog and the human involved. Most dogs don’t like their paws being played with, and the sensation of having their nails cut off may not be painful, but it is startling and uncomfortable.

There are a few things you can do to keep the experience pain and hassle-free.

Play 

Play with your dog’s paws from a young age. Make a habit of grabbing them, slightly tugging them, or even just holding them for a few seconds to get your dog used to its paws being touched. Even if you don’t end up clipping your dog’s nails, then you can make the groomer’s job easier when they have to cut them.

why are my dogs paws pink
Why are my dog’s paws pink?

Stay Assertive

Dogs are pack animals, and to help ease your dog into the experience, you can keep yourself calm and assertive during it. Your dog will match your energy and hopefully be calmer as the clipping process is occurring.

dog nail clipping
The owner carefully trims the dog’s nails.

Distract 

To help the process of nail-cutting go smoother, you can distract your dog with a treat or toy while cutting their nails. You could fill a toy with peanut butter and let your dog lick that while you cut their nails. That way, your dog’s attention is diverted from the cutting process to the toy and food.

Yorkie chewing toy
Yorkie is busy chewing on his toy.

Reward

At the end of the session, reward your dog for the experience. That way, they’ll learn to associate the clipping process with a positive incentive at the end.

Yorkshire Terrier eating
Yorkshire Terrier was given a reward after training with his owner.

Final Word

Learning to clip your dog’s nails and properly take care of the clippers is an easy process, and will save your dog from discomfort if their nails get too long. Not only this but learning to clip your dog’s nails at home rather than taking them to the veterinarian or groomer saves money as well.

By properly exposing your dog to nail clipping early on and by taking care of the nail clippers, then the process for nail clipping can be simple and pain-free.