Can You Use Human Nail Clippers on Dogs?

By John Martin - November 20, 2023

Dog getting nails clipped at groomer

Having a dog is not too different from looking after a baby, and babies need their nails trimmed now and then to avoid injury to themselves and others around them! But cutting your dog’s nails is not always the easiest thing to do. For starters, you are expected to invest in different types of tools to clip your dog’s nails.

But people often wonder if it would be okay to use human nail clippers on dogs. That would certainly make life easier than buying different types of specialized clippers for your dog. The following is a brief lowdown on whether you can use human nail clippers on dogs and what to keep in mind if you do.

Can You Cut Dog Nails With Human Nail Clippers?

Human nail clippers are not ideally suited for clipping dog’s nails. These clippers are designed for flat, thin human nails, whereas dog nails are thick, hard, and curved.

Using human clippers on dogs can lead to uneven cuts, nail cracking, and discomfort, especially around the nail’s quick (the sensitive part containing nerves and blood vessels). It’s important to use tools specifically designed for dog nails to ensure a clean, safe cut.

Can You Clip Puppy Nails With Human Clippers?

If you have a pup less than six weeks old, it is possible for you to simply use your nail clippers to get the job done. Puppies have thinner nails that can be cut using human nail clippers. In fact, since human nail clippers are shorter than dog nail clippers, you may get a better grip since the pup’s paws are not fully grown yet.

If you have a smaller breed, you may still get away with using regular nail clippers even after six weeks. However, for most larger breeds the nails become too thick to fit into a human nail clipper. In other words, yes you can use human nail clippers on dogs but not all the time. There are certain cases where you will not be able to do so at all and may end up doing more damage.

Related: What’s the Difference Between Fur and Hair on Dogs?

When Should You Avoid Using Human Nail Clippers?

If the nail is not fitting cleanly into the nail clippers, it is absolutely not advisable to use force beyond that. It is important to see what the size of the nails are and then accordingly decide if human nail clippers are a good idea or not. The whole nail should fit easily in the clipper slot. If you have to trim the nail to be able to fit the center of the nail into the slot, it is too big for a human nail clipper.

If your dog is older, the nails are likely to be longer and thicker. Even if you can trim the tips of your dog’s nails with a human nail clipper, the closer the nail gets to the paw, the thicker it is likely to be. So even if you cut the tips you will not have cut enough of the sharp nails off for the trim to even be effective.

Are There Special Dog Nail Clippers?

Yes, there are nail clippers that are made especially for dogs. These clippers look a bit like pliers and are longer so they can accommodate the whole nail. The clippers are also more resilient so the thicker dog nails can also come off with these clippers. You can get special dog nail clippers at any pet store or even at online retail websites. You can even get different sizes for small and large dogs. However, not everyone can use dog nail clippers.

It does require some degree of skill as you will have to control your pooch and ensure they are not jittery to prevent injury. You have to be confident when you are using the dog nail clippers as you cannot afford to have your hands shake. It is important to be swift and clean. Therefore, if you think you cannot manage to cut your dog’s nails at home you should make an appointment for the vet’s clinic.

Types of Dog Nail Clippers to Consider

There are a few different types of dog nail clippers in the market you can purchase. Certainly buying a dog nail clipper also means you have to know how to use it so you should keep that in mind. However, this is like the age-old chicken and egg question—how will you learn how to use dog nail clippers properly if you do not give them a go? The following are a few different types of dog nail clippers you can try:

  • Guillotine Trimmer: A guillotine trimmer derives its name from the circular guillotine shape which will hold the dog’s nail. There are blades on the inside of this circle and when you close the handle, the dog’s nails are clipped. This is a better clipper to use if you are cutting the nails of a puppy as the guillotine also has a guide that allows you to clip the nails gradually, so you do not cut too much off at once.
  • Scissor-style Trimmers: Scissor-style trimmers, as the name suggests, are shaped like scissors and have short blades. The trimmers work the same way that scissors do—by compressing the material while cutting them.
  • Nail Grinders: If you have an older and bigger dog, nail grinders can be extremely helpful. They are electric and will grind the nail down until it is trimmed and will also be polished. However, this may be too much for smaller puppies. For starters, you do not need such a tool for a small puppy, and second, the sound of the grinder will spook the pooch and you need them to be relaxed when you are trimming their nails.


Whether you are using human nail clippers or professional dog nail clippers, it is important to take certain precautions for your dog’s safety. A human nail clipper, when used on a puppy, is likely to cut off only the tip of the nail. However, a puppy’s nails will not be as long so you should be careful not to cut too close to the paw or the skin around the area may start feeling raw and cause your puppy discomfort.

It would also be useful to keep some styptic powder at home in case your pooch bleeds. The powder may be required to stop the bleeding and is a useful thing to have at hand if you have pets. The powder is easy to use. You only need to take some powder on a swab of cotton and apply it to the affected area.

Most importantly, you need to keep your dog calm and happy while you are clipping their nails. They cannot be jumping about or be alarmed when you squeeze the blade onto the nail. They need to stay still to avoid injury and accidents. If you require more help, get another family member to hold your dog and keep them calm. If you are on your own, hold your dog on your lap and put one arm around them to give them a semblance of safety. More helpfully, offer them treats, reward their good behavior and choose an opportunity to cut nails when they are in a good mood. It is important to choose the right moment because you do not want to spook your dog by bringing out the nail clippers the second you walk in through the door.

In Conclusion

From the information provided above, it is clear that there are people who use human nail clippers on their dogs quite successfully. However, there are certain conditions in which you can use these clippers. In most cases, it is advisable to invest in a good pair of dog nail clippers or make an appointment with the vet.