Which nail file for dogs is best?

When you hear the clickety-clack of your dog’s nails on the floor, you know the time has come for a nail trim. If using nail clippers is always a fight or you can’t stand the jagged edge the clippers make, there’s an easier way: nail files. 

One of the best nail files for dogs is the Coastal Pet Safari Dog Diamond Nail File. Slightly contoured to follow the curve of the nail and constructed with a durable diamond nail file, it can tackle the upkeep of your dog’s nails. 

What to know before you buy a nail file for dogs

Before you start trimming your dog’s nails, it’s important to understand the anatomy of the nail. In the center of the nail is a vein called the quick. This is the main blood supply to the nail. The nail grows around it and out. When you trim your dog’s nails, the goal is to trim down the hard nail without cutting the quick. Cutting the quick is extremely painful for the dog. 

With nail clippers, it’s especially easy to accidentally cut the quick, particularly if your dog has dark nails. A more gentle and careful approach is to use a nail file or nail grinder. These file and grind the nail down slowly so you can stop before hitting the painful quick. 

Aside from the safety aspect, filing is a great option for many reasons. For one, you wind up with a smoother, rounder nail, rather than the jagged cut left by dog nail clippers. Another reason to file: some dogs don’t like the nail clippers and put up a raging fight. This is especially true if they’ve had their quick cut before. Many are more likely to cooperate with a nail file because it’s a different sensation, doesn’t have the alarming snap like that of the nail clippers and provides a new association for them. 

When choosing the right nail file for your dog, keep the following considerations in mind: 


Most dog nail files are about the same length: approximately 6 1/2 inches. When compared with a large dog’s nails, this will look tiny. For them, you will want a much larger file or an electric nail grinder. 

Type of nail file

Even within the dog grooming world, there are a variety of nail files on the market. They primarily fall within three main categories: board dog nail files, glass dog nail files and electric nail files. 

A board dog nail file, often referred to as an emery board, is great for small dogs or little touch-ups. If there are any leftover rough edges, your emery board is a great option. If you want to do a full trim on your dog’s nails, however, this isn’t the right choice unless you plan on filing for hours. 

Glass dog nail files, also known as crystal glass nail files, are exceptionally durable and efficient. Because they aren’t porous, they are also long-lasting. These are the nail files to use if you have larger jobs to do but aren’t able to use an electric nail grinder. 

Finally, the electric nail file or nail grinder is the heavy-duty machinery that professional groomers would use. It’s quick, effective and often a low-stress experience. These do require some practice because they file the nail faster than a glass nail file so you still have a chance of hitting the quick if you aren’t careful. 


Above all, you want your dog to be comfortable and have a positive experience. The goal of filing the nails is to take the extra time to provide your dog with a more gentle experience than the violence of the nail clippers. 

That said, you should still check the noise level of a nail grinder before using it. You should even experience the sensation yourself. Whether you’re using a nail file or a grinder, try it out on your own fingernail to get a sense of what your dog is feeling and make sure that it’s comfortable. 

What to look for in a quality nail file for dogs

Diamond drill bit or nail file

If you’re using an electric nail file, the highest quality grinding bit you could use is a diamond bit. The same is true of nail files. The incredible durability and efficiency of the diamond drill bit or nail file will surprise you and make the process go much faster and smoother. 

Variable speeds

Another recommendation if you choose an electric nail file is to get one with variable speeds. The faster it goes, the more intense the sensation on your dog’s nail and some dogs will find it uncomfortable. Start slower and work your way up. 


Whichever type of nail file you choose, make sure it’s lightweight. Your dog has at least 16 nails, not including dewclaws, and filing each of them will take some time. Using a lightweight tool will keep you from feeling fatigue or cramping in your hand or arm. 


For electric nail files, opt for a rechargeable model. They typically have much higher power, better features and you won’t throw away money on disposable batteries. This is also an indication the electric nail file is cordless, meaning it’s much easier to maneuver around your dog to get to all the nails. 

Ergonomic handle

Especially important with glass nail files and emery boards is an ergonomic design. Filing takes a long time, especially if you don’t use a nail clipper or electric nail file to do the majority of the trim. An ergonomic design will keep your hand from becoming fatigued.  

How much you can expect to spend on a nail file for dogs

For a manual glass nail file or emery board, plan on spending $5-$15. The price will depend on the quality of the file and whether or not it comes in a set with nail clippers. If you want to invest in an electric nail file, expect to spend $20-$75 for a quality, professional-grade model. 

Nail file for dogs FAQ

Is filing your dog’s nails better for them than clipping?

A. Clipping the nails in itself isn’t bad, but it can easily lead to you cutting your dog’s quick, causing them a tremendous amount of pain and possibly building their resistance to nail trims in the future. Filing the nails, you’re less likely to hit the quick, it’s less uncomfortable and it’s quieter, so your dog is less likely to be startled. All around, it’s a less stressful experience. 

If you have an electric grinder, do you need a nail file?

A. Even after using an electric nail file, using a manual glass nail file to soften up any rough edges can be a nice bonding experience for you and your dog, while also leaving your dog with buttery-soft, rounded nails that won’t scratch when they jump up on you. 

What’s the best nail file for dogs to buy?

Top nail file for dogs

Coastal Pet Safari Dog Diamond Nail File

Coastal Pet Safari Dog Diamond Nail File

What you need to know: From the contoured file to the ergonomic handle, this nail file is designed for a comfortable nail trim. 

What you’ll love: With a stainless-steel construction and a diamond nail file, this is a highly durable, rugged nail file that will work even on large dog nails. The file is contoured to match your dog’s nail so you only need a few passes to trim it down. 

What you should consider: There are some reports it goes dull faster than you’d expect. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Chewy and iHerb

Top nail file for dogs for the money

Bonafide Beauty File

Bonafide Beauty File

What you need to know: For quick touch-ups between nail trims or to clean up your dog’s nails after they’ve been clipped, this is the bargain nail file for you. 

What you’ll love: You can use this nail file in any direction, thanks to the fact it’s glass. Because it’s smoother than a typical file, your dog won’t have to feel the harsh grind they would with other nail files. 

What you should consider: Some users say the sound of their dog’s nails on this file is like nails on a chalkboard, but it’s not a consistent complaint. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out

Dremel Cordless Pet Dog Nail Grinder

Dremel Cordless Pet Dog Nail Grinder

What you need to know: If you want to take a step up and use what the pros use, you need this electric nail file. 

What you’ll love: This Dremel features variable speeds to customize the nail trim to the dog and comes with extra sanding bits. It’s rechargeable and cordless giving you maximum maneuverability. 

What you should consider: The product is much heavier compared to a glass nail file. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Chewy and Home Depot


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Kasey Van Dyke writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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