Clipping vs. Grinding: What’s the difference anyway?

To clip or to grind, what’s the difference anyway? Both options are safe and effective but present their own pros and cons. We’re here to clear up any confusion and help you choose the best choice for your pup! 

Nail clippers

Dog nail clippers are small sharp blades similar to human nail clippers. They come in various styles and sizes, such as scissors, pliers, and guillotine-type clippers, so that you can choose the type and size best for your situation. 

Pros of clippers:


Sometimes, all it takes is the sound of a dremel to make your pup hightail it into hiding. Dog nail clippers are silent, except for the quiet click as each nail is trimmed. 


Manual nail clippers don’t buzz like grinding tools, which can spook your pup if they aren’t used to that sound or feeling.

Cons of clippers: 


Clipping makes cutting the nail’s quick, or blood flow, much more likely. Instead of slowly grinding the nail away, you’re clipping it down in one move. One millimeter too short, and you’ve cut into the quick, causing bleeding and pain.


Clippers can split the nail, especially if the clippers are dull, which can lead to pain and infection. 

Sharp nail edges

Clippers can leave sharp corners and ragged edges, and if you’ve ever been greeted with an enthusiastic welcome home, you know that can lead to painful scratches. Keeping clipper blades clean and sharp is critical, regardless of the style and size you use.

Nail Grind or Dremel

Dremels or other nail grinding tools are power-driven devices that grind or file down a pup’s nail. A small motor spins a small head covered with grit to rapidly wear down the nail. 

Pros of grinders:


Dremels slowly eat away at the nail without taking out uneven slices that leave sharp edges or getting too close to the quick. Many also have a guard attachment that keeps you from getting too close to the tender parts of the paw.


Nail grinders get the job done in a fraction of the time it takes clippers. You can also round off the tip of the nail with much more precision.


Once the super efficient grinding heads wear down, they are easy to replace. Once clippers have dulled, most people toss them out and have to buy another pair. 

Cons of grinders:


Grinders’ constant noise is simply too much for some dogs, no matter how often you try to get them used to it. 


Nail grinders are considerably more expensive than even the most extravagant clippers. You also have to replace the grinding heads every once in a while. 


The vibrating feeling of the grinder is an insurmountable problem for some pups. Combined with the noise, it’s enough to make some dogs run and hide when it’s time for a nail trim.

Dremels are fast and precise, but the cost is prohibitive for many dog parents. The noise and vibration pose an even bigger problem for anxious or nervous pups.

The Scenthound solution for nail maintenance

Clipping and grinding are equally efficient and safe ways to trim your pup’s nails. Clippers are cheaper and less noisy, while dremels are louder and more expensive but more precise and efficient.

Whichever you choose, nail maintenance is still an inconvenient and challenging task for dog parents. In fact, many people (and their dogs) avoid it at all costs. That’s where we come in! Find your nearest Scenthound Scenter to schedule your fur family’s basic hygiene services, like a bath, teeth brushing or nail trim, and spend your time together on activities you both enjoy. Fetch anyone?