dog nails looking good using guillotine dog nail clippers

How to Use Guillotine Dog Nail Clippers

Are guillotine dog nail clippers easier to use? Most dog parents can agree that dog nail clipping is not fun. Cutting your dog’s nails is a necessity but it often entails a squirming dog that all of a sudden becomes Houdini and can escape your clutches. Traditional scissor clippers can pose some problems, especially for those new to the nail clipping game. Thankfully, there are guillotine nail clippers that can address the issues.

Let’s take a look at what exactly guillotine nail clippers are and what they can do for your dog’s nails.

Types of Dog Nail Clippers

scissor dog nail clippers
Photo by Ermelinda Maglione from Pexels

There are two main types of dog nail clippers – the guillotine nail clipper, and the scissor clipper.

Scissor clippers

Scissor clippers are easy to use because they’re just like scissors (who would’ve guessed?). They are even shaped like scissors and they work with two blades compressing down on your dog’s nails with the force of your hand. In theory, it’s easy to get the hang of scissor clippers and they can lop off a good amount of your dog’s nail with each clip.

In practice, scissor clippers require a bit more skill than some other dog nail trimming tools. First of all, you have to be very precise or you will risk cutting the quick, congregation of nerves within dog nails. The pressure of the scissor nail clipper may also splinter or crack your dog’s nail if you exert too much pressure or lob off too big a chunk at once.

In consideration of all the points above, the scissor nail trimmers, also referred to as Miller’s Forge clippers (although it’s the name of a brand), are more suited for calm dogs.


  • Easy to use
  • Recommended for dogs without large hard nails
  • Easy to grip


  • May splinter or break dog nails
  • Not the best choice for anxious pups
  • Requires precision

Guillotine nail clippers

Guillotine dog nail clippers are designed to work differently than scissor clippers. The cutting blade comes down from the top, and the dog parent is required to press downward on the top handle for the blade to lower. You would place your dog’s nail inside the hole, press down, and clip off the end.

It’s similar to the scissor clipper where precision is necessary to avoid accidents. Although both types of nail clippers require care when used, there are many pet parents that feel the guillotine nail clipper is easier to use. The way the blades are designed also makes it less likely to splinter or break your dog’s nail, which is a major plus, but the size will mostly fit medium to small and toy breeds.

However, you may still find jumbo guillotine clipper options on the market that are specially made for large breeds.


  • Easy to use
  • Less likely to break or splinter the nail
  • There is a nail guard for more precision


  • Requires precision

How to Use Guillotine-Type Nail Clippers

guillotine-type dog clipper is used to trim dog nails
Image by alektas on Pixabay

The introduction

The first step is to get your dog used to the guillotine nail clipper. If your dog starts to associate the clipper with pain, and an overall bad time, you’ll have a lot of trouble trying to trim your dog’s nails. Let your dog examine the clippers for as long as he needs until he understands that it isn’t a threat – remember to reward him with treats along the way!

When you’re confident that he is fine with the clipper, then you can start to handle his paws with the guillotine clippers in hand. Try tapping it against his nails, holding one toe at a time while doing it, and anything else you can think of to get up close and personal with your dog with the nail trimming tool.

Treats are your friend when you’re training your dog for anything, and nail clipping is no exception. Remember to keep the treats coming whenever your dog lets you do something new. This process will take a while before you can actually start to cut, but that’s okay.

Start clipping!

When you’re ready to go, make sure your dog is in a secure position, preferably being held by a trusted friend or family member. Some dogs may squirm after you make the first cut, and this is usually because they dislike the pressure of the blades on their nails. With every successful trim, we would suggest rewarding your dog right after to teach him that nail clipping equals yummy treats.

When you’re trimming your dog’s nail, try doing it in increments. While you can just locate the quick and cut just shy of it in one go, it will increase the risk of cracking and chipping the nail if you take a big chunk.

This piece of advice is especially important for dark nails. You may be able to locate the quick at a glance on dogs with clear nails, but you won’t be able to do that on darker nails. Cut little by a little while examining the center of the nail after each cut. When you see a black dog appear, stop trimming because that is the quick.

Praise your dog!

Give your dog treats with each nail clip, but don’t forget to be extra excited and load on the belly rubs, kisses, and pets along with more of his favorite snack. Positive reinforcement is key for any type of training, and it is the same when you use guillotine dog nail clippers to cut your dog’s nails.

Smooth down the edges

This step won’t be necessary if you use dog nail grinders, which are recommended for pups who just can’t stomach the pressure of the blades. However, it’s worth it to note that the sound of the motor starting up and the vibrations from the rotating bit may also send your dog running in the other direction.

If your pooch is very accepting of the guillotine clippers, you can try your hand at the nail grinder because it can come in handy after the cut. When you cut your dog’s nails, what’s left can be very sharp and it can even cause injury and break the skin. Sanding down the rough edges will make sure your dog doesn’t tear through the fabric, get his nails caught on anything, or even hurt you.

If your dog just isn’t liking the grinder, you can also go for an old-fashioned nail file. If not, there is still one more way to round off the tips, and that is to take him on a long walk on asphalt or concrete. The contact with the rough terrain will also smooth down your dog’s nails.

Guillotine vs. Others

We mentioned many tools you can use to cut your dog’s nails. You can use guillotine dog nail clippers, scissor clippers, and the grinder, but when it comes to the battle for the ultimate nail trimming tool, which one comes out on top?

Are Guillotine Dog Nail Clippers Better Than Other Types?

trimming a dog's nail
Image by alektas on Pixabay

Are guillotine clippers better than other types? The answer is no. What’s “best” or “better” depends entirely on your dog’s personality. Whichever one he chooses will be the one you have to go with. You may have to try all three, or you may find that your dog just hates them all. If so, there is one option left.

Guillotine dog nail clippers are a popular choice for medium to small and toy breeds. They do a better job on smaller and thinner nails. They may not have the strength to trim nails on a large dog unless it’s specifically made such as the jumbo options.

You can purchase a dog scratching board. It is a large board with a sandpaper-like surface. The purpose is similar to dog nail grinders where they sand down the nail to an appropriate length. The difference is your dog will have to put in all of the effort and not you or the device. The training could also take longer as you will not only have to teach your dog to accept the board, but to use it as well.

Choose the Right Guillotine Dog Nail Clippers

A lying dog with long nails on the sand
Image by Elina Sazonova from Pexels

If you know guillotine clippers are the right choice for your dog, then you have to pick the right one. Since this type of dog nail clipper has a hole where you would place the nail, you have to make sure it’s big enough for your dog. As said before, guillotine clippers are best for medium breeds, and below, there are ones made for large dogs too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are guillotine nail clippers bad?

No, guillotine nail clippers are not bad, but they are more suited for some dogs than others. For starters, these clippers are more effective on medium breeds and smaller ones. Most guillotine nail clippers lack the strength to cut through large dog nails.

What kind of nail clippers do dog groomers use?

Most dog groomers use Miller Forge clippers or scissor clippers. These clippers have a wider application and can do well on dogs of all sizes. They are also the most intuitive type to use as they resemble scissors. If the dogs are resistant to the clippers, then some professional dog groomers will turn to nail grinders.

Is it better to clip or grind a dog’s nails?

Whether it’s better to clip or grind your dog’s nails depends on your pooch. If your canine is very resistant or anxious when you break out the clippers, then the grinder is the better choice. On the other hand, the sound of the motor and the slow vibrations of the rotating bit on a grinder can also be unpleasant to some.


Guillotine nail clippers are easy to figure out and easy to use. They are also an excellent alternative to traditional scissor clippers that can give your pet an unpleasant pinching feeling, which most of them dislike. Even if the guillotine clipper is something your dog detests, there are still other options such as dog nail grinders and filers available on the market.

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