Can you use human clippers on dogs? What type of trimmer to use on hair and nails

can you use human clippers on dogs
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If your pooch is in need of a trim and tidy you might be wondering if it’s possible to use human clippers on dogs, saving yourself some cash not only on a professional grooming session, but also on a new set of tools.

While it might seem like a sensible idea - especially as clippers for both humans and dogs can look similar - there are several fundamental differences which can mean that using human clippers for most kinds of dog can actually do them more harm than good. 

There are some exceptions where using human clippers are just about acceptable, and if there’s some kind of grooming emergency, it can be better than having to wait until you can get your hands on a more appropriate tool. However, if you have a dog which needs regular grooming, especially one which has long or thick fur, it pays to be prepared by investing in dedicated grooming tools to keep your dog’s fur in tip- top condition. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out our guides to the best dog nail clippers and grooming kits you can buy today. 

Let’s take a look at why using human clippers for your dog’s fur and nails might not always be the best idea.

What is the difference between human hair and dog hair? 

Hair and fur are all the same thing, right? If you’ve already got a set of hair clippers at home, it might seem like a perfectly sensible thing to do to use them for your furry friend’s coat, too. 

Some dogs do have coats which are similar to human hair. Known as a single coat, dogs with this type of fur don’t have an undercoat and only have an outer coat, which tends to be fine and not too far removed from human-like hair. Lots of dogs have this type of fur, including Greyhounds, Dalmatians, Poodles, Afghan Hounds and much more - if you’re not sure, try a search online with your specific breed, or ask a vet or a groomer.

Plenty of dogs however have what’s known as a double coat. No human has hair like this, so you’ll definitely need a dedicated set of pet clippers to tackle breeds who have this. A double coat means that the dog has an outer coarse outer coat, and a softer, thicker undercoat as well. Some example of breeds with double coats include the Chow Chow, Pomeranian, Shiba Inu and the Siberian Husky. 

Close up of Pomeranian outside with blurred background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What are the main differences between dog hair clippers and human clippers? 

There are quite a few fundamental differences between dog clippers and human clippers, even if the differences aren’t quite so obvious from the outside. 

Clippers which have been designed with dogs in mind use less powerful motors which are gentler and quieter, since dogs can understandably quite nervous around strong vibrations and loud noises. 

Since the motor is less powerful, it also means that dog clippers can last longer from a single charge, without the risk of overheating. Most human clippers are designed to be used for much shorter lengths of time, since it doesn’t take as long to sort out a human’s head of hair than an entire dog’s body.

Most dog clippers are also cordless, which can come in handy when trying to deal with an awkward or wriggly dog, whereas it’s a lot more common for human clippers to be corded (especially those with a more powerful motor). 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there’s a big difference in blades. Human clippers use smaller, finer blades that cut closer to the skin, while dog clippers use thicker, longer blades which are designed to move through coarser hair and don’t get so close to the skin. Combs or attachments that fit over the clipper blades tend to allow for a much closer / shorter cut with human hair compared to what is likely to be more appropriate or desirable for a dog’s fur. 

can you use human clippers on dogs

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Is it safe to cut dog hair with human clippers?

Generally speaking, it’s best if you use dog clippers to groom your pooch.

That said, if you’re desperate, there are times when human clippers can be used - so long as you take plenty of caution. Dogs with fine, single coats may cope with human clippers, since fur is reasonably similar to human hair. You should always avoid using human clippers on dogs with double coats. 

You should be as gentle as possible, and stop should the dog be showing any signs of distress. If possible, use the clippers on the lowest possible setting and take plenty of breaks.

Human clippers may make the job more difficult than is necessary, so it’s not only good for your pet that you invest in a dedicated pair, but it’s likely to cause less stress for you too.

Can you use human nail clippers on dogs?

In comparison to human nails, you'll find that a dog's talons are typically extra thick and difficult to clip through. With this in mind, it's not advisable to use human nail clippers on your dog as dog nail clippers are specifically designed to cut through safely and efficiently. Many dog nail clippers feature safety mechanisms such as a guard or stop mechanism which looks to prevent your dog's nail from bleeding.

One exception is puppies: you can use human nail clippers on young puppies' nails if you feel confident, but it won't be long until they're too thick to cut without the right tool for the job. 

It's always best to seek out a good quality pair of dog nail clippers that will last the extra mile and perform a quick and painless task every time, saving both money and risk down the line. 

Best dog nail clippers: FAQ

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What kind of clippers can I use on my dog? 

Buying your own set of dog clippers is the practical solution, and it needn’t be a huge expense - especially in comparison to multiple trips to the groomers.

There are several types of dog hair clippers on the market, but as a good rule of thumb, you should be looking for cordless clippers that offer quiet / low vibrations and if possible offer other useful extras such as variable speeds and the ability to cut to different coat lengths. 

For dog nail clippers, you'll want to think of size, style, longevity, comfort and you may also consider whether dog nail clippers or grinders are better for you and your pet. 

Sometimes it's worth spending a little extra for a high-quality clipper as inexpensive dog nail clippers are prone to becoming dull quicker, saving you money in the long run. 

Amy Davies is a freelance writer and photographer with over 15 years experience. She has a degree in journalism from Cardiff University and has written about a huge variety of topics over the years. These days she mostly specialises in technology and pets, writing across a number of different titles including TechRadar, Stuff, Expert Reviews, T3, Digital Camera World, and of course PetsRadar. She lives in Cardiff with her dog, Lola, a rescue miniature dachshund.