We’ve all been tempted to save a trip to the groomer’s and cut our dog’s hair ourselves at some point. But unless you plan on trimming your dog’s coat regularly, it might not seem worth it to buy a pair of dog grooming clippers when you have perfectly good human hair clippers in the bathroom. What’s the difference between dog grooming clippers and human clippers, anyway?
Dog grooming clippers contain blades that work better on dogs’ double coats and are less likely to tangle, pull hair, or irritate the dog’s sensitive skin. They also contain quieter motors that are less likely than human clippers to scare dogs or overheat.
Although it’s completely understandable to assume that dog grooming clippers and human clippers are basically the same thing, they actually have a few important differences.
Why Do Dog Grooming Clippers Differ from Human Clippers?
Although many people assume that dog grooming clippers are the same as human clippers and are just marketed differently, they’re actually designed specifically with dog grooming needs in mind.
There are a few good reasons why dog grooming clippers are made differently:
Dog Hair is Different from Human Hair
- Dogs have more hair per square inch than humans do, and the thickness of their coat takes more work for clippers to fight through.
- The structure of dog hair is very different from human hair, with a combination of thick, coarse guard hairs and softer, fuzzy undercoat hairs that act almost like wool when being clipped.
- Although human hair can range from very tight curls to completely straight, all the hair on one human head is the same; this makes it much easier for clippers to pass through human hair since they’re not trying to fight through two opposite hair types at once.
All the above reasons are why many dog owners who’ve tried human clippers on their dog have run into problems with the clippers getting tangled and stuck in the dog’s coat.
It Takes Longer to Shave a Dog Than a Human Head
This might sound obvious, but it takes a lot longer to shave an entire dog—even a small one—than it does to shave a human head. Many people don’t take this into account when they try to use human clippers on their pet.
Human clippers are made to be used for a few minutes at a time and heat up pretty quickly. They can burn the person holding them, and if the blades themselves get hot, they’ll burn the dog.
Dog grooming clippers are made with this in mind and can often be used for half an hour at a time without heating up too much.
Dogs’ Skin is Often More Sensitive Than a Human’s
In general, dogs have more sensitive skin than humans do, and it’s very sensitive when their fur is clipped too short. Humans tend to prefer closer shaves than dogs are comfortable with, so using a pair of clippers designed for humans will result in a shave that’s too close.
Also, a close clip can be uncomfortable for the dog and will likely not look all that great, either.
Many Dogs Are Afraid of the Noise and Vibration of Clippers
Most people aren’t too bothered by hair clippers’ sound and vibration, even if they don’t love it. On the other hand, dogs find the noise and sensation startling, and it adds to their stress level when being groomed.
Using a loud clipper meant for humans rather than a quieter one designed with dogs in mind will lead to more stress and fear for your dog.
How Are Dog Grooming Clippers Different Than Human Clippers?
It’s easy to say that hair is hair, but in reality, dogs’ coats are quite different from humans’ hair. Dog grooming clippers take the differences between humans and dogs into account and are built accordingly. The two main components in dog clippers that accommodate dogs’ needs are:
- The blade
- The motor
Let’s look at both to see how exactly they differ from the same parts in human clippers.
Specific Blades for Thicker Coats
Dog hair is significantly thicker than human hair. Humans have one hair growing out of each follicle at most, whereas dogs can have up to 20 hairs per follicle. Most dogs also have coats with two layers:
- A top coat, which is made of thick, stiff, wiry hairs that can wear out blades quickly
- An undercoat of soft, fluffy hair that easily tangles and gets stuck in blades meant for human hair
Clipper blades designed with humans in mind are made to cut one hair type at a time, not two contrasting ones at once, as is the case with double-coated dogs.
The Blades Don’t Tangle or Pull
Additionally, dog grooming clippers’ blades are specially designed to handle dog hair without accidental tangling or pulling. They also tend to be spaced further apart, allowing them to cut through thick coats easily.
The Blades Don’t Cut Too Short
Dog grooming clippers come with blade lengths that are standard to common dog cuts, which is especially useful since blades designed for humans often cut too short, irritating the dog’s skin.
Cutting a dog’s hair too short doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it can result in conditions like:
- Clipper burn
- Skin infections caused by bacteria or fungus entering the skin
- Ingrown hairs
- Increased susceptibility to skin pests like mites
The Blades Are Ceramic
Blade material can also differ. Dog grooming clippers are more likely to use ceramic blades, while human clippers usually favor stainless steel.
The main benefit of the ceramic blades is their heat resistance, making them less likely to heat up and burn the dog during long periods of use.
Quiet, Efficient Motors
Getting shaved with clippers can be really scary for some dogs who dislike both the noise and vibration. Clippers designed for dog grooming take this into account and are made to be quieter and produce less vibration.
Built for Extended Use
The motors in dog grooming clippers are also designed to withstand more extended periods of use without overheating since it takes much longer to groom a dog than shave a person’s head.
More Speed Options
Human clippers tend to come in one or two speeds. On the other hand, dog grooming clippers tend to offer more variability than human clippers, with some, like the Andis Excel, offering as many as five speeds.
Different speeds can be useful for shaving different areas and using the clippers on other dog breeds, which we’ll get more into below.
In addition to powering the device, motors are usually the heaviest part of a pair of clippers. Although weight is also a factor for barbers, because groomers tend to spend so much longer with each client, weight is especially important for hand and arm comfort.
How to Choose the Best Dog Grooming Clippers
Now that you know how important it is to clip your dog using clippers explicitly made for canine coats, it might help break down the clippers into their parts, so you know which clipper to get for your pet rather than reaching for your own hair clippers.
While quality is important, of course, many factors are more a matter of preference than anything else. Always consider how you’ll be using the clippers:
- Are you using them on one dog or many?
- What breed(s)?
- If using them on many dogs, are their coats similar or different?
- How frequently do you clip your dog(s)?
- How detailed of a cut do you want?
- Is your dog overly afraid of the noise and vibration of clippers?
- How much are you able to spend on a quality pair of clippers?
- What is your grooming setup, and will a cord be inconvenient?
When shopping for clippers and accessories, make sure to do thorough research, compare several choices, and read reviews to see what other dog owners are saying. In general, keep an eye on the following features:
The two most common clipper blade materials are:
- Stainless steel
Stainless steel blades are cheaper and more durable than ceramic ones, and they tend to stay sharper for longer. But, as mentioned previously, ceramic blades stay cooler, making them ideal for long grooming sessions or back-to-back sessions with multiple dogs.
When deciding on a blade material for your clipper, make sure to factor in things like how often you can afford to replace the blades and what kind of dog you’ll be grooming.
If you have a toy poodle getting a basic trim, for example, chances are, the grooming sessions aren’t going to last long enough for the blade to get too hot, so you might want to forgo the extra expense of ceramic blades.
The two types of clipper blade teeth are:
- Fine tooth: Fine tooth blades are usually used on dogs with thinner hair, show dogs, and for finishing touches on dogs clipped with skip tooth blades. They result in a smooth, even coat appearance.
- Skip tooth: You’ll be able to tell that a blade is a skip tooth because there will be an “F” after the blade length, so #30F instead of #30, for instance. Skip tooth blades are better on coats that are extra-thick, dirty, or matted since the larger gaps allow the hair to go through better than fine tooth blades would. Skip tooth blades tend to result in a more layered appearance.
As you probably guessed, fine tooth blades are spaced closely together, while skip tooth blades “skip” every other tooth, making them further apart.
Make sure to purchase the right blade for your dog or dogs, and buy both a fine and skip tooth if you plan on grooming multiple dogs or if the state of your dog’s coat varies throughout the year.
For example, if your dog is brushed and washed regularly in the winter but spends the summers running through the woods getting all dirty and matted, you’ll definitely want to get a skipped tooth blade for those summer months.
Just like with human clippers, clippers for dogs come with changeable blades that differ in size to achieve different hair lengths.
Most dog grooming clipper brands carry blades that range between #3 and #40, with #3 leaving the longest length hair (about half an inch) and #50, which is mostly reserved for surgery, leaving the dog completely bald.
You’ll most likely need multiple size blades, depending on how you’re planning to clip the dog and how picky you are about the appearance.
Some people will be fine with one blade somewhere between a #4 and #7 if they’re just shaving off extra fur and aren’t concerned with how it looks, but most dog owners will at least want a shorter clip around the sanitary area, usually using a #10.
For dogs with constantly growing hair like poodles, you’ll want to get a blade specifically designed for the toes and in between the paw pads as well. If you’re looking to do fancier cuts like the typical show poodle cut, you’ll need blades of varying sizes.
Variable or Single Speeds
Dog grooming clippers can come in single speed or variable speeds.
Contrary to popular misconception, faster speed doesn’t necessarily mean a quicker grooming session. Different speeds are used for different parts of the grooming process, so choose your speed based on what you’re doing, not how much of a hurry you’re in.
Professional groomers can sometimes save time using higher speeds since the quickly moving blades tend to offer a smoother look more easily than at lower speeds.
It’s important to note, though, that the higher the speed you’re using, the more quickly the blades are going to heat up. So unless you’re putting the finishing touches on a thick coat to give it an extra smooth appearance, you might want to stick to low speeds. Low speeds are a must when doing detailed areas like:
- Sanitary areas
Lower speeds can also be less stressful to the dog, since they’ll cause less noise and more subtle vibrations.
When looking at clipper speeds, consider whether you really need more than one or two speeds for the kind of grooming you’re looking to do.
This has already been touched on a time or two, but finding clippers with quieter vibrations is a must for dogs who get stressed out by the grooming process.
Most dog grooming clippers are made with this in mind, but it’s easy to claim on a product description, and harder to prove without actually trying them out.
This is one example of when reading lots of product reviews can be helpful, looking for ones that mention how loud or strong the vibration is on the device. Making sure to buy from a seller with a generous refund policy can also be helpful, so you can make sure you’re getting the quietest clippers you’re able to and returning them if they’re louder than expected.
A pair of clippers that’s too light may be a sign of cheap materials that won’t hold up well, but on the other hand, big, bulky clippers will be more cumbersome and will tire your hand and arm out more quickly.
A good pair of dog grooming clippers should feel solid in hand but not heavy enough to be uncomfortable to hold up for 20 minutes at a time. Ideally, the clippers will be ergonomically designed in such a way that the clippers are effortless to control, in addition to being lightweight.
Wired or Wireless
Another thing to consider when selecting clippers is whether you want one with a cord or a battery.
- Clippers with cords don’t need to be charged, obviously, but the cord can get in the way of grooming, as well as scare the dog as it moves around during the session. You’ll also have to plan your grooming area around where the nearest wall socket is, which can be inconvenient. You can always use an extension cord, but then you run the risk of a tripping hazard while holding a moving blade – not the best idea.
- Cordless clippers, on the other hand, get rid of the cord problem but need to be charged regularly. This usually isn’t a big deal as long as you plan ahead, but if you decide to squeeze in an unplanned grooming session when you find a hole in your schedule and your clippers aren’t charged, you’re out of luck.
It’s worth looking into the battery life if you’re going to go with a cordless option, although most dog grooming clippers will last long enough to get through even a long grooming session. If you’re grooming multiple dogs, though, make sure your clippers hold a charge long enough to last until you’re done.
Don’t forget to check out what accessories come with the clippers you’re looking at and how much separate accessories cost if they aren’t included with the purchase.
For example, most blades will only fit one clipper brand, so if you find a good deal on clippers, but their blades are super expensive, it might not be such a bargain after all.
Standard accessories to look for are:
- Different size blades (usually brand dependent)
- Attachable guide combs (often brand dependent): assist in getting a good, consistent length
- Blade brushes: to clean the hair out from between the blades
- Blade wash solution: to clean and sanitize blades (always important, but even more so if you’re clipping multiple dogs)
- Lubricating oil
Fortunately, most clipper accessories last a long time, so even if they’re from a pricier brand, they usually don’t end up being completely cost-prohibitive.
Our Favorite Dog Grooming Clippers
Narrowing down dog grooming clipper choices is no easy feat, especially with all the options out there these days. Luckily for you, we’ve done the hard work for you and compiled a list of some of our very favorites.
Oneisall Dog Shaver
The Oneisall Dog Shaver is very affordable at just $37.89 and is the number one bestselling dog clipper on Amazon. The small, cordless design is easy to use, making it perfect for grooming newcomers.
And the ultra-quiet motor won’t scare even the most skittish of dogs, making the job that much easier.
The clipper comes with a good selection of accessories:
- Steel tooth comb
- 6 guard combs
- Blade cleaning brush
Andis Excel Pro-Animal 5 Speed
The Andis Excel Pro-Animal 5 Speed clipper is a good choice for those looking to achieve a professional level cut from home. The small, lightweight design reduces hand and arm fatigue, and the quiet motor won’t startle your dog.
The most common complaint from users is that the blades do get hot after a while, but this can be worked around by alternating between two blades.
With a $234.95 price tag, this is far from the cheapest model on our list, but the Andis brand is one of the most well-respected clipper brands around.
Oster A5 2 Speed
Oster is another well-known name in the world of groomers, and their A5 2 Speed is one of their highest-rated models on Amazon. At $169.95, it’s an excellent choice for someone who expects to be regularly DIY-ing their dog’s grooming.
The wide blade covers large areas quickly, making it ideal for large breeds. The dual speeds allow for both broad coverage and detailed work around sensitive areas.
Ceenwes Dog Clippers
Ceenwes Dog Clippers are another example of reasonably priced clippers (at $27.99) with an impressive track record. The clippers come with all the typical clipper accessories, plus nail clippers, making it perfect for those who are starting entirely from scratch on their dog grooming journey.
These cordless clippers are super quiet and don’t get too hot during long sessions.
Ruri Professional Pet Clipper
The Ruri Professional Pet Clipper is slightly different from the others mentioned due to its tiny size. This clipper is designed specifically for small, detailed jobs, like around the face and between the toes.
It costs only $18.88 and is a good option for people who aren’t sure about completely taking over their dog’s grooming but who want to keep it up in between professional grooming appointments.
You can also use it in addition to a regular clipper, especially if your regular clipper is larger and not as good at precision work.
Wahl Lithium Ion Pro Cordless
The Wahl Lithium Ion Pro Cordless is $59.72, making it a good option for those who don’t want to spend a ton but want to get something a step above budget clippers. Wahl is one of the most popular clipper brands in the United States, and they know their way around grooming tools.
The guards make grooming virtually foolproof, even for beginners, and the blades don’t have the overheating issue so common in dog grooming clippers.
Hansprou Dog Shaver
At $53.98, the Hansprou Dog Shaver is another good mid-range option in dog grooming clippers. These clippers are powerful enough to get through thick double coats but still manage to be quiet. Users report being able to use them for half an hour without them heating up, too.
HOLDOG Dog Clippers
HOLDOG Dog Clippers are highly rated and only $29.99. The company is so committed to customer satisfaction that they offer a year of technical support with the product, so you can reach out if you have any issues.
These clippers have everything you want in dog grooming clippers:
- 3 speeds
- Ability to get through tough coats
- Small, lightweight design
Users report that the blades go through long, thick coats easily without getting tangled.
Sminiker Professional Grooming Clippers
Sminiker Professional Grooming Clippers are multi-purpose clippers, made for:
These $20.99 clippers are quiet, rechargeable, and can stand up to various grooming jobs, even for beginners. Most users report that the quality exceeds the expectations set by the low price point.
Maxshop Low Noise Dog Clippers
The $29.99 Maxshop Low Noise Dog Clippers are yet another budget-friendly option that proves that quality doesn’t always have a high price tag. Their 4.5 stars on Amazon show a happy customer base, which is always a good sign.
The motor is designed to be quiet and vibrate minimally, making this clipper an excellent choice for easily-frightened dogs. The four guide combs allow for multiple lengths and are easy to change out, which means less fumbling while you’re trying to groom.
Although they look similar, dog grooming clippers and human clippers are entirely different tools for different needs, which makes sense if you think about how human hair and dog fur differ.
Using clippers meant for humans on a dog can result in pain to the dog if the blades get tangled in the hair, as well as skin irritation if they cut the hair too close to the skin. It will also result in a less efficient cut, taking more time and probably not looking as good as you’d like.
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