There are dozens of grinding tools on the market – products specifically for trimming dogs’ nails, as well as rotary tools designed for woodworking or other projects. We polled a dog trainers’ group – people who habitually trim their own dogs’ nails – about the type and models of grinders they like best: Which products consistently get four tidy-nailed paws up for usability and effectiveness?
The consensus was that while the dog-specific rotary grinders are quieter, they take much longer to reduce the dogs’ nail length, especially on breeds with thicker nails. However, a few people said they find the grinders branded for use on dogs to be useful when initially training young or fearful dogs to tolerate nail trimming or for small breeds with thinner nails.
ENTRY-LEVEL DOG-SPECIFIC GRINDER
A quick search on Amazon reveals dozens of dog-specific nail grinders to choose from. Most all of them have a low-profile plastic guard covering the grinding bit. The plastic guard has a cut-out area that exposes just a small portion of grinding surface, and this is where you position the nail.
While I like that the presence of a guard appears to prevent the hair of a dog with a long coat (or the human operator’s hair) from accidentally getting wrapped around the quickly spinning tool head, it does seem to require better aim to get and keep the nail aligned with the cut-out. We noticed the guard on some products is removable in order to accommodate larger nails or for faster filing.
A good entry-level pet-specific grinder is the best-selling Casfuy Upgraded Professional Two-Speed Pet Nail Grinder, which sells on Amazon for $30. Note that the two speeds are both relatively low: 7,000 and 8,000 revolutions per minute (RPM).
A pet-specific grinder might be a nice addition to your toolbox, if you’re working with a breed with thin nails, or young, small, or fearful dogs, or you’re brand new to grinding and don’t want to start with a higher-power tool. If your dog has thick nails and/or you feel confident you can safely handle more power, it’s worth stepping up to a multi-purpose rotary tool.
HOBBYIST’S ROTARY TOOLS
When it comes to rotary tools that are not made specifically for pet nails, our panelists agreed on a top pick: The Dremel 8050 Micro. This grinder runs on an 8-volt rechargeable lithium battery. The tool features five variable speeds ranging from 5,000 to 25,000 RPM. Note that 5,000 RPM is too slow to accomplish much grinding and that 25,000 RPM will get the nail too hot too quickly. Overall, this product is quieter than older models – a plus for working with dogs.
Three features help give the 8050 its top ranking:
✓ The LED light that’s built into the tool’s nose cap (this illuminates the nails as you work – brilliant!).
✓ The docking station that keeps the tool fully charged and ready for use.
✓ If caught on something, the tool automatically stops.
This last point is especially important when working with long-coated dogs or if you have long hair. (Pro tip: If your dog has hairy feet, try snipping a tiny hole in the end of a baby sock or nylon stocking. Cover the paw with the sock or stocking and use it to keep the dog’s long hair at bay. Don’t forget to pull your own long hair back, too!)
Dremel also offers a clear plastic “nail guard” attachment that clips onto a variety of its rotary trimmers. The guard is said to help achieve a 45-degree angle for trimming, manage nail dust, and hold a long-haired dog’s fur out of the way. If you already have a Dremel but aren’t comfortable using it, the Pet Grooming Nail Guard might make for nice “training wheels.” The guard is sold individually as the “AT01-PGK Pet Grooming Nail Guard,” but costs almost as much ($33!) as a kit that includes the guard and a Dremel 7760 rotary tool ($47 on Amazon.com). Get the kit if you don’t already have a rotary tool and like the idea of using a guard.