Filing Dog Nails Instead Of Clipping and The Pros and Cons Of Each Method

Last Updated on November 11, 2023 by Linda Richard

Dealing with a dog’s nails can be either frustrating or fun, depending on how you go about it. So, let’s look into filing dog nails instead of clipping and the pros and cons of each method. We’ll also go into how each method can be utilized and how the two can be used together. And, if you’re wondering why on Earth you’d need to go through all that trouble – we’ll touch on that too.

Is Filing Dog Nails Instead Of Clipping A Viable Option?

Most people tend to clip their own nails although some prefer filing too. What about dogs, however? With canines, clipping also tends to be the more popular option but many groomers tend to prefer filing. Is this because the professionals know something we don’t? Or, because they are better with a nail file than we are?

It’s actually both. Many groomers use nail grinders as an alternative to clippers because they are safer and produce better results. However, using a nail grinder also takes a bit more time. It also requires a good touch with the dog as nail grinders can be loud and unnerving.

In short, filing dog nails instead of clipping is definitely a good choice. However, it includes a bit of know-how.

 filing dog nails instead of clipping

Learn more about: 10 Easy Tips For How To Stop Dog Pee From Killing Grass

How To File A Dog’s Nails?

When we file our nails, we usually mean a standard nail file. This tool is easy to use, it’s safe, it produces good results, and some people even find it calming to use. However, it’s just one of two tools for filing dog nails you can use. Here’s a breakdown of both:

A dog nail file – similar to a human nail file, this tool isn’t too practical for dogs. The reason here is that dog nails can grow very long and are quite hard. That, plus the lack of patience in most canines, can make a standard nail file impractical.

A dog nail grinder – this is the tool many grinders use to file dogs’ nails. This tool is a spinning file cylinder on a motor that can file nails much faster than a standard manual nail file. Nail grinders are fast, effective, and safe. Unfortunately, they can also be quite loud which might scare your canine away.

The Pros and Cons Of Filing Dog Nails Instead Of Clipping


  • Almost impossible to clip your dog’s nails too short and “quick” a blood vessel
  • Smooths over the edges of your dog’s now shorter nails
  • Quality grinders even come with extra features such as built-in LED lights


  • Grinders are more expensive tools than clippers with prices often reaching $50 or $75
  • The noise and vibration of the grinder can be unnerving to some dogs – you’ll need to train your dog to be ok with it
  • Standard nail filers are too slow for a dog’s nails

Why You Shouldn’t Ditch The Dog Nail Clippers?

Clipping your dog’s nails is certainly a good option too. Using clippers is easy and quick. Plus, when you’re working with your own dog and you’ve trained it well, the risks are absolutely minimal.

How To Cut A Dog’s Nails Without Clippers?

Cutting a dog’s nails is very similar to cutting human nails. You just pick your pooch’s paw, isolate the nail, hold the paw firmly, and carefully cut the nail. The only thing to watch out for is not cutting the nail too deep. Dog nails do have blood vessels flowing near their base together with some nerve endings. Clipping those is called “quacking” a nail and can cause bleeding and pain.

So, to avoid quacking your dog’s nails you should make sure your canine is calm and doesn’t twitch during the procedure. Every small movement in the moment of clipping can cause you to accidentally quick a nail. That risk is why many groomers prefer grinders to clippers.

Fortunately, as a dog owner and not a groomer, you’ll only have to clip your own dog’s nails. So, once you get the dog used to the process, there should be no problems.

As for what clippers you should use, there are two main options:

Standard nail clippers – basically the same as human nail clippers. The only note is that they should be as sharp as possible as dog nails can be very tough to cut.

Doggy nails guillotine – these small tools put the dog’s nail in a hole before cutting through it. This can make the process easier and quicker.

The Pros and Cons Of Clipping Your Dog’s Nails


  • Clipping is much faster than filing/grinding
  • The lack of noise and vibration makes it easier for the dog to get used to the process
  • Clippers are more affordable than grinders


  • It’s possible to accidentally quick your dog’s nails
  • Clippers leave sharp edges on the clipped nails

When and Why Do You Need To Clip Or File Your Dog’s Nails Anyway?

It’s true that in nature dogs don’t need their nails clipped. However, their nails get naturally “filed” in nature as they run around on dirt all day. So, if you have an outdoorsy type of breeds such as a Labrador and you give it enough time outdoors, you too may not need to clip your dog’s nails too often. However, for more indoors-type pets, clipping/filing is necessary.

Leaving your dog with long and unclipped nails can lead to:

Which Should You Choose – Filing Dog Nails Instead Of Clipping Or Vice Versa?

At the end of the day, when considering filing dog nails instead of clipping, our view is that both filing and clipping are good options. It’s all a matter of preference and how well you’ll train your dog. In fact, we would recommend both clipping and filing for the best results. This means first clipping the main part of the nail and then smoothing over the edges with a file or a grinder.

Whichever route you choose, the key part of the process will be getting your dog used to it. We recommend a lot of pets, some treats, and a bit of paw play to get the dog comfortable with you handling his paws. As with most other grooming processes, you should teach your dog to like the experience.

Read more about: Can Dogs Eat Gouda Cheese and Is Cheese Toxic To Them?

Linda Richard

I know that all dog breeds are different, but Labradors exude a special energy, don’t they? I believe everyone deserves the unconditional love of a pet, so my main goal is to make sure you can experience it.

2 thoughts on “Filing Dog Nails Instead Of Clipping and The Pros and Cons Of Each Method”

Leave a Comment