How Often Should You Replace Dog Nail Clippers?

The frequency that dog nail clippers need replacement varies based on a few factors, such as the type you use and the toughness of your dog’s nails.

Some nail trimmers can last for many years with proper maintenance, but others require a complete replacement after a shorter period.

In general, high quality dog nail clippers should be able to last at least a year or two without needing to be replaced if they are properly maintained. This includes wiping them after each use with oil and storing them in a dry location.

A better way to access whether your dog nail clippers need replacing is by looking at your dog’s nails after you cut them. If they are ragged cuts that have crushed the nail, you may need to sharpen the blades or buy new ones.

Types of Clippers

How often should you replace dog nail clippers? The answer depends on what kind you use. The American Kennel Club divides nail grooming tools into three categories:

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Scissors are the most common type. Even though they work in the same basic manner, they’re far different than a standard pair of scissors found in your kitchen drawer.

Scissors for trimming dog nails have thick, short, sharp blades with a rubberized, ergonomic grip. They also often have a quick-stop guard to help ensure you don’t cut the nail down too short.

These types of clippers also come in a pliers style. It has two circular, notched blades which fit around a dog’s nail and cuts through with the help of a spring. They are particularly suitable for large dogs with thick, hard nails.


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Don’t worry – it’s not as ghoulish as the name suggests! A guillotine dog clipper has a squeeze handle and a looped end. You insert the dog’s nail into the loop, squeeze the handles to drop a steel blade down, and cut the nail (similar to the function of the guillotine you had in your mind).


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Dog nail grinders are small electronic devices that grind down the nails instead of cutting them. They have a spinning wheel that wears down the nails. It’s similar to an emery board or nail file.

How to Maintain Dog Trimming Scissors

How often should you replace dog nail clippers when using the scissor style?

Ideally, not often. Regular maintenance is key to keeping your scissors in great shape for at least several years.

First, always ensure you’re using the correct size. Scissors typically have two sizes: standard and large.

If the scissors are too small, you risk applying too much pressure to the handles, which can damage the scissors and your dog’s nails. Generally, scissors work best for large dogs with thick nails.

Also, make sure the scissors have stainless steel blades. Stainless steel is naturally resistant to bacteria, rust, and corrosion. They tend to stay sharp over a long period.

Small dirt and debris can wear down and dull the blades. You’ll want to clean the scissors after each use. Wipe the blades down with stainless steel cleaner or even baby oil.

How to Sharpen Scissors

Pay attention to how well the scissors cut when you are clipping your dog’s nails. If you find that you need to use excessive force to trim the nails, the blades probably need sharpening.

First, you need to dismantle the tool. Each brand is different, but you’ll typically remove a pin or component near an actuating lever in the middle of the scissors.

After dismantling the scissors, you’ll want to clean each blade with stainless-steel cleaner or baby oil. Unlike the routine cleaning you’ll do after each use, you can clean the entire blade’s length because the scissors are dismantled.

Finally, you’re ready to sharpen the blade. You have a few different options for how to sharpen dog nail clippers:

● Grinding stone

● Sharpening stone

● Ceramic rod

● Diamond-tapered rod

While specifics vary, generally, you’ll run the blade against the sharpening tool at a 45-degree angle. Do this about ten times. You should see the blade visibly sharpen.

For pliers-style clippers, you can sharpen them without taking the blades apart as shown in the video below:

When Do Scissors Need Replacement?

Even heavy-duty scissors will likely wear down, especially if your dog has thick nails. However, you want to focus on the performance instead of the timeline.

Watch for chips and dents in the blade. While you can sharpen a dull blade, you can’t repair missing pieces. Excessive chipping is the first sign that your clippers need a replacement soon.

Also, check the straightness of the blades. If the blades are warped or uneven, they’ll have difficulty cutting correctly. Unfortunately, you can’t straighten out blades on your own, making replacement the only option.

When Do Guillotine Clippers Need Replacement?

How often should you replace dog nail clippers when using the guillotine type? With proper maintenance, the best dog nail clippers should last at least a few years.

Guillotine clippers use a single blade to chop the nail. As with scissors, you need to regularly maintain this blade with cleaning and sharpening. Because the blade in a guillotine is relatively small, it’s often more difficult to clean without first taking it apart first.

Watch how the guillotine cuts the nails. You want a smooth, even cut. If the guillotine’s blade is too dull, it’ll crack or crush the nail instead of cutting it.

Note that some dog nails are simply too large and tough for any guillotine clipper. Instead, you’ll need to use a grinder or scissors. Generally, guillotines work best on small dog breeds with softer nails.

How Long Does a Grinder Last?

Grinders have unique pros and cons. They’re gentle and easy to use. Because they work in a deliberate, gradual manner, you’re far less likely to cut the nail too short, which is always a risk when using scissors or a guillotine.

Ideally, you want to introduce the grinder to your pet when he’s a puppy. If he grows up with a familiarity with the feel and sound of the grinder, he’ll often tolerate it without a problem for his entire life.

Grinders can last for years without an issue. However, you’ll want to buy one made from high-quality components. If you’re willing to spend a bit more upfront for a well-made grinder, you’re likely to have fewer problems down the road.

Discontinue use of the grinder if it shows any sign of an internal problem, such as if the motor slows down or the grinder makes an unusual noise. Also, always keep the grinder properly charged, so it can spin at the appropriate speed.

The Importance of Replacing Your Dog’s Nail Clippers

Close up of a dogs long, black nails

The most important aspect of replacing clippers is simply understanding that they’re a product that needs replacement on a semi-regular basis. Far too many people struggle to use dull, damaged clippers.

Damaged clippers can harm your dog’s nails, which can lead to a host of other problems, including infection and pain. Plus, it draws out the grooming process, which is unpleasant for your pet.

Replace your dog’s clippers when they start to lose their effectiveness or show signs of excessive wear.

Keep your clippers well-maintained and carefully pay attention to how efficiently they function. A sharp, well-working pair of clippers make trimming your dog’s nails easy, quick, and safe.

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