Nail Clippers For A Shih Tzu – All You Need To Know
If you have a Shih Tzu and have decided to start clipping their nails yourself then this article is for you.
In this article, we’ll provide reviews and recommendation of the best nail clippers for your to use on your Shih Tzu and you’ll learn loads of other important stuff too – the anatomy of a dog’s nail, types of clippers, when to cut your dog’s nails and a step-by-step guide of how to do it safely.
After researching a lot of different nail clippers my top recommendation for pet owners who have a Shih Tzu are the Safari Professional Dog Nail Clippers. They are made from quality stainless steel providing a clean cut with a sharp, long-lasting edge. They have a non-slip, comfortable handle and are a great price for the quality you’ll get.
You can read an extended review of this product below as well as other nail clippers that I think are worth considering if you have a Shih Tzu.
Our best choice of nail clippers are shown in the table below:
- Anatomy Of A Dog’s Paw & Nails
- Types Of Nail Clippers For Small Dogs
- Nail Clippers For Shih Tzu – Reviews And Recommendations
- Nail Clippers Vs. Nail Grinders
- Nail Grinder Reviews Recommendations
- When To Cut Your Shih Tzu’s Nails
- Step-By-Step Guide On How To Cut Your Dog’s Nails
Anatomy Of A Dog’s Nail
Dog’s toes serve the same basic function as human toes. They are designed to give your dog balance and help them move around. Interestingly, dog’s don’t walk on their soft paw pads as you might expect but actually walk on their toes.
Each toe comes with a nail and their basic function is for gripping. As well as normal nails some dogs also have a “dewclaw”. A dewclaw is a toe that grows higher up on the leg and is considered to be an evolutionary remnant of a thumb. Although some dogs have dewclaws on both the front and back legs it’s more common for them only to be on the front paws.
A dog’s nail is made up of two different parts – The quick, and the nail. The quick is made up of blood vessels and nerves. The blood vessels supply nutrients to the nail for growth and the nerves allow for sensitivity that sends sensations back to the brain. If your dog has a lighter nail you should be able to see the quick through the translucent nail but will be hidden for dogs with dark nails. The nail itself is made of cartilage just like a human nail.
Most dogs have 4 toes and claws on each paw. For dogs with dewclaws, they could have 5 or even six nails on each paw. Below is a breakdown of how many nails your dog might have:
- Most common: 16 normal nails and 2 dewclaws = 18 nails.
- Certain breeds: 16 normal nails and 4 dewclaws = 20 nails.
- Rare Breeds: 20 normals nails and 2 dewclaws = 22 nails.
It’s possible that your dog had their dewclaws removed when they were a puppy. Although this is quite a controversial procedure it’s sometimes performed for safety reasons.
Types Of Nail Clippers For Small Dogs
At first, it can be a bit confusing when deciding what nail clippers to get your dog as there are a few different types and they come in different designs, shapes and sizes. There are 4 types of nail clippers you should be aware of:
- Scissor Clippers
- Plier Clippers
- Guillotine Clippers
- Nail Grinders
Scissor-style nail clippers for dogs are designed in the same way as an ordinary pair of scissors. The only difference is that they will have a groove in one of the blades to place your dog’s nail. They are good for smaller dogs as they are small, lightweight and easy to use. If you have a larger dog then this type of clipper is probably not for you.
These clippers are designed like miniature pruning shears. They have a notch in either blade where you will place your dog’s nail. You can use more power with this type of clippers so they are more popular for use on larger dogs. However, one of the negatives with these clippers is that when the blades become dull they can crush the nail rather than cutting it.
These type of clippers have a hole that put your dog’s nail into and then push down on the handle to slice the nail – much the same way as a guillotine works. The best feature of this kind of dog clipper is that you can replace the blade when it starts to get dull. Also, you get a nice clean cut with these clippers.
Nails grinders are electronic devices that will gradually grind down your dog’s nail. They don’t cut the nail but are gradually reduced by being filed – similar to the process of sanding wood with sandpaper. Many dog owners prefer grinders as they are safer to use as it’s much harder to make a mistake and cut into the quick causing your dog discomfort or pain. And some dogs also prefer the process of using a nail grinding rather the abrupt cutting motion of using traditional nail clippers.
So as you can see from the information above, if you have a small dog it’s probably best to avoid the plier style as these are designed for larger dogs with thicker nails. A pair of scissor clippers, guillotine clippers or a nail grinder will be fine for a small dog.
Below I will review a few pairs of each kind that I think are decent clippers and grinders and give some information on their benefits and links to where you can purchase them.
Nail Clipper Reviews & Recommendations
Below I will review each type of nail clipper that I think are good quality products, value for money and suitable for a Shih Tzu. I’ve included all the types mentioned above and provide links so you can read reviews from other customers. All the products I recommend have at least a 4 out of 5 star rating on Amazon so you can be confident that you’ll be getting a decent product.
Safari Professional Nail Clippers (Plier Style)
The Safari Professional Nail Clippers get our best choice award for dog nail clippers. The best feature of these clippers is the safety stop to help prevent injury to your dog. It has a durable stainless steel blade, a sturdy design and a comfortable grip. They also come in a version for small dogs making it perfect for a Shih Tzu. These clippers have an excellent 4.7 out of 5-star rating on chewy.com that you can read for yourself here.
Benefits of Safari Nail Trimmers:
- Sturdy design.
- Comfortable grip.
- Safety stop.
- Available in a smaller size for small breeds.
- Excellent rating and reviews.
- Good value for money.
JW Small Dog Scissor Clippers
The JW Dog Scissors are small, simple and comfortable to use making them perfect for a Shih Tzu. They have been specially designed for use on small dogs with sharp stainless steel blades more precise cut. Another great feature of these clippers is that it comes with a carry case containing styptic powder just in case there is any bleeding from your dog’s nails. And it also includes a nail file.
They have a 4.6 out of 5 star rating on Amazon with over 500 reviews and has received the #1 Best Seller award. You can read the reviews for yourself here.
- Small & comfortable to use.
- High-quality stainless steel cutting edge.
- Carrying case contains a styptic powder dispenser.
- Non-slip grips and an ergonomically designed handle.
- Includes nail file for a finishing touch.
Big Handle Scissor Clippers
My second choice for scissor-style dog clippers is these Big Handled Scissor Clippers. I’ve included these for similar reasons as the clippers above – they are small and simple to use for fast and precise clipping. The difference and benefit of this pair are that they have large finger hole so if you have big hands or feel like they might be more comfortable or easy to use then these could be a good option. They have a 4 out of 5 star rating on Amazon and you can read the reviews here.
- Big handles.
- Small & simple design.
- Good value.
- Fast precise clipping.
Resco Deluxe Dog Nail Clippers (Guillotine Style)
The Resco Deluxe Nail Clippers are a good choice for a less expensive guillotine-style nail clipper. The Resco company invented the guillotine style clipper in 1937 and have been manufacturing them in the USA ever since. These clippers have replaceable blades. This clipper also comes with a deluxe grip for nice comfort and ease of use. These nail clippers have a 4.1 out of 5-star rating on chewy.com and you can read the reviews here.
Benefits of Resco Deluxe Nail Clippers:
- Manufacturing in the USA since 1937.
- Guillotine style blade.
- Replaceable blades.
- Durable steel construction.
- Comfortable grip.
- Perfect for small dogs.
Master Grooming Nail Clippers (Plier Style)
Similar to the pair above, the Master Grooming Nail Clippers are plier-style clippers. They are a strong but lightweight and comfortable to use. They have a specially designed ergonomic grip for a more comfortable experience while clipping your Shih Tzu’s nail. with a nice grip. Another great feature of this product is the safety guard to prevent cutting off too much of the nail and cutting into the quick. These clippers have a 4 out of 5 star rating on chewy and you can read the reviews here.
- Ultra-sharp surgical steel cutting blades
- Built-in safety guard.
- Heavy-duty spring action.
- Ergonomic handle
- Double-bonded, ribbed, non-slip rubber handle adds comfort and precision.
Dog Nail Clippers Vs. Nail Grinder
So what is the better option for trimming your dog’s nails – a pair of nail clippers or a nail grinder?
Advantages of Nail Clippers:
- Using nail clippers is quiet and quick.
- More affordable option.
- You don’t need electricity or a battery.
Disadvantages of Nail Clippers:
- It’s easier to cut the quick of the nail causing bleeding.
- Can squeeze the nail and quick causing discomfort and pain for your dog.
- Can sometimes cause the nail to break.
- Have to be replaced more often as blades become blunt.
Advantages of a Nail Grinder:
- Will produce smooth and rounded nails.
- More precise finish.
- Good for dog’s that are anxious about having their nails cut.
- More difficult to cut into the quick.
- Good for tough nails.
- Will last a long time.
Disadvantages of a Nail Grinder:
- The noise and vibration can be distressing for your dog.
- More expensive.
- Produces an odour as the nails are filed.
- Needs electricity for a charged battery.
As you can see there are both advantages and disadvantages of clippers and grinders. When deciding what option is best for you, you need to consider things like the personality of your dog, the type of nails your dog has, your own confidence with grooming and also your budget.
I have chosen to use a nail grinder with my dog as he just hated having his nails clipped. Although the grinder does vibrate and make a small amount of noise because it’s a gradual process it’s a less stressful time for both of us.
Below I will review some good quality grinders and give details about their best features and links to places you can purchase them.
Dog Nail Grinder Reviews & Recommendations
If you would like a more in-depth review of nail grinders then please read my article – The Best Electric Nail Grinder For Dogs.
1 – Dremel 7300-PGK Nail Grinder
The Dremel 7300-PGK is a very popular nail grinder for dogs and gets my best choice award. This is a new model and comes with a few great improvements. It has a powerful 4.8V battery, has 2-speed settings and now includes an adjustable guard for extra protection. The guard will also capture nail dust and fur. This is a cordless grinder and comes with a NiCad rechargeable battery. If you want a well designed and well-constructed grinder that will effectively trim your dog’s nails and last a long time then this is the choice for you. The Dremel nail grinder has a 4 out of 5-star rating on chewy.com and you can read the reviews for yourself here.
- Powerful 4.8V battery.
- Adjustable guard.
- 45-degree guard for the optimal grinding angle.
- 2 speeds (6,500 & 13,000 RPM).
- Excellent battery.
- Compatible with previous models.
- Suitable for both small and large dogs.
2. Hertzko Electric Pet Nail Grinder
The Hertzko Pet Nail Grinder has received the “Amazon Choice” award in the nail grinder for dog’s category and is a great inexpensive nail grinder to consider. There are 3 size openings that you can use depending on the size of your dog’s nail which is perfect for the smaller nail of a Shih Tzu. The grinder has been specially designed to produce low noise as not to cause any further anxiety for your dog. Another great feature is its portability – it’s lightweight and can be easily charged using a USB cable.
A lot of pet owners prefer to use a nail grinder rather than a pair of clippers as there is less chance of cutting into the quick of your dog’s toenail and causing any bleeding. If you think you would be more comfortable using a grinder than a pair of clippers then this is a good choice. It has a 4 out of 5-star rating on chewy.com and you can read the reviews for yourself here.
Benefits of the Hertzko Electric Nail Grinder:
- Diamond bit grinder.
- 3 size openings.
- Low motor noise.
- Easy to clean.
- Portable & easy USB charging.
- Good rating & reviews.
- Suitable for dogs, cats, rabbits & birds.
3. ConairPro Professional Nail Grinder
The ConairPro Nail Grinder is a corded grinder meaning it has the advantage of not needing to be charged or running out of power during grooming. It has a quiet motor and is designed to be comfortable to use being lightweight with a comfortable grip. This grinder also comes with a protective guard and has interchangeable stone/sander attachment for more stubborn nails. This product has a 4.2 out of 5-star rating on chewy.com and you can read the reviews here.
- Corded (no need for charging or loss of power).
- Quiet motor.
- Comfortable grip.
- Protective guard.
- Interchangeable grinder attachment.
4. Greensen Electric Nail Grinder
The Greensen Nail Grinder is a cordless diamond tipped grinder designed for low vibration and noise emitting less than 40 decibels produced from a 3.7V battery. It has a protective guard with 3 ports for smaller and larger dogs and has 2-speed settings. It can be charged via USB and has a battery life of 6 hours after a 5-hour charge. This grinder has a 4.1 out of 5 star rating on Amazon and you can read the reviews here.
- Low vibration & Noise (less than 40 decibels).
- 3-port protective guard for different size nails.
- USB charging.
- 6-hour battery life.
- Bonus grinding wheel.
- Suitable for other pets.
- Built-in battery.
5. FurryFido Dog Nail Filer Kit
The FurryFido Nail Grinder has a powerful motor (maximum speed of 10,000 RPM) with 2 forward and 2 reverse speeds making it suitable for smaller or larger dogs. It has an ergonomic design being lightweight, quiet and intuitive to use. Some nice extra features include a spotlight and a stylish case with 6 extra sanding bands. One drawback of this grinder is that it does not have a built-in battery a requires 2 x AA batteries. However, I would say that considering the extra features this product is good value for money. It has a 4 out of 5 star rating on Amazon from over 600 reviews and you can read them for yourself here.
- Powerful motor (max speed of 10,000 RPM)
- Forward & reverse speeds.
- Variable speeds for both settings.
- Suitable for small & large dogs.
- Includes a spotlight.
- 6 extra sanding bands.
- Stylish case.
- Ergonomic design.
- Quiet, lightweight & comfortable to use.
- Money-back guarantee.
When To Cut Your Dog’s Nails
It’s very important to keep your dog’s nail at the appropriate length as if they get too long they can cause your dog discomfort and pain. If they are too long they’ll cause pressure on the toes and paws that can be quite painful for your dog. In more extreme cases the nail can split and become infected leading to a more serious health issue as well as getting caught and causing serious injury. Also, you’ll suffer fewer scratches if you have a lively dog that likes to jump up and play with you.
Concerns about long dog nails:
- Are more likely to break and cause your dog pain.
- Can alter the way your dog walks and stands.
- Can increase the likelihood of your dog slipping or falling and injuring themselves.
- Can split and lead to a serious infection.
- Can damage hardwood floors.
- Can scratch you when jumping up and playing.
- Can cause permanent joint damage and pain.
As you can see it’s very important to keep them clipped at the proper length. How often you need to clip their nails will depend on a few things including what breed they are, their age and their lifestyle.
For example, if you have a very active dog that spends a lot of time running and playing on hard surfaces like concrete, you’ll have to clip them less and maybe not at all. On the other hand, if you have an elderly dog that’s not as active then you will need to cut them more often. When you start to cut your dog’s nail yourself you’ll soon learn how often it needs to be done.
So when do you need to cut your dog’s nails? It’s very easy to check – when your dog is standing the nail should not touch the ground, it’s as simple as that. If your dog has to walk on wooden or tiled floors you’ll also know they need to be trimmed when you start to hear the “tap-tap” sound.
Step-By-Step Guide On How To Cut Your Dog’s Nails
Cutting your dog’s nail for the first time can be a bit scary and intimidating for some dog owners. Especially if you have a particularly anxious of excitable dog. But with patience and practice, it should be fine for both you and your dog. And also try to remember that even if it’s a difficult experience for your dog it’s most definitely for their own benefit.
You should also have some styptic powder before you begin cutting as this will help to stop the bleeding if you accidentally cut into the quick. You can read more about this below.
Some dogs just don’t like having their feet touched so before you begin, try to create the most relaxing environment for your dog that you can. Give them some treats, a nice stroke and praise them in a relaxing tone and then follow the steps below.
Step 1 – Get into a comfortable position with your dog. Make sure you can handle your dog’s paws without any obstacles or without it being awkward to move your hands around. If you have a small dog you can have them on your lap. Just make sure both you and your dog are comfortable. If you have other people in the home that your dog is comfortable with it might be an option to have them hold them as it’ll be easier for you to move around.
Step 2 – Hold the paw. Try to hold your dog’s paw firmly in your hand but without squeezing too hard. You don’t want your dog to be able to pull their paw away but at the same time, you don’t want to hurt them or cause any more stress.
Step 3 – Start to cut the nail. Begin by cutting a small bit at a time. Don’t try to cut a lot off in one go if it’s your first time as it’ll be more likely for you to make a mistake and cut the quick. Just cut a millimetre at a time. This is especially important if your dog has a dark nail as you won’t be able to see the quick as well. If the nail begins to feel soft then stop and have a close look as you might be cutting into the quick. Stop cutting when they are short enough and not too close to the quick.
Step 4 – Check the dewclaws. As the dewclaws don’t touch the ground they tend to be longer and might take a bit more time to cut.
Step 5 (Optional) – File the nail. If your dog does not mind having their nails cut you can also file the nails after cutting to get a smoother finish. In terms of your dog’s health this is not too important but if you suffer from a lot of scratches then this is a good option.
And remember you don’t have to cut all your dog’s nails at the same time. If they become too anxious or distressed just have a break for a while or even try again the next day. Try your best to associate having their nails cut with something positive like getting treats after each nail is cut or a special treat after the process is finished. Over time they might even look forward to it!
What To Do If You Cut The Quick
If you cut into your dog’s quick you’ll know about it from the reaction of your dog and the blood. This is when you’ll need the styptic powder. The styptic powder is an anti-clotting agent that helps to stop the bleeding and will also prevent bacterial infection in the nail.
Some Extra Tips
- Cut the nail in a well-lit room.
- If you usually wear glasses for reading them then make sure you have them on.
- The part of the nail you can cut will have a chalky white colour around the pinkish quick.
- Keep the nail clipper blade parallel to the nail.
- If the nail starts to feel soft as you cut then stop immediately as you might be cutting into the quick.
- Never squeeze your dog’s toes. It will cause them more stress.
- Cut the hair around the paw with a usual pair as scissors. This prolongs the blades of your clippers as cutting hair will blunt the blades sooner.
Hopefully, this article has given you all the information you need about cutting the nails of a small dog and the best kind of clipper to use. The process is essentially the same for all dog’s but certain clippers are specifically designed for small dogs and I hope the ones I have recommended are useful to you.
Another thing you might not have realised is that you have the choice of using a nail grinder rather than clippers. If you have a particularly anxious or excitable dog this might be a good option for you to consider. For more information on nail grinders for dogs, you can read my article – The Best Electric Nail Filer For Dogs.
As always, I wish you and dog health and happiness 🙂 Elliott