Dog Grooming Clippers vs. Human Clippers – What’s the Difference?

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You take your dog to the groomers, and they look clean-cut, cared for, and loved. Then, you turn around and — they look shaggy all over again.

Many dog breeds require grooming as a part of their general maintenance. But regularly visiting the groomers also cuts into your budget. So, some people have opted to cut their dogs’ hair themselves.

If you’ve decided to give this a try, you might not want to invest in dog-specific clippers, especially if you already have human clippers lying around. It turns out that while grooming your dog yourself isn’t necessarily a bad idea, using human clippers is a bit more dangerous.

There are significant differences between clippers designed for a dog versus those for humans, including that human hair and dog fur is different and grow in different densities. Dogs tend to be jumpier than humans during a haircut and must be groomed differently due to their shape and size.

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Critical Differences Between Dog and Human Clippers

Clippers for dogs and humans often look the same or similar. There are still noticeable differences that are important to note before using them.

yorkshire terrier getting hair cut

Motor

The motor of clippers meant for humans quickly takes the hair off of the head, shaving it down according to the clip length. They have large motors to get the job down smoothly and reduce the number of strokes needed.

For dogs, full-body grooming for dogs with thick, long hair takes a more concentrated effort than on a human. The motor of human clippers is not meant for this prolonged use and can quickly result in overheating.

A dog clipper has a less aggressive motor, allowing for more prolonged use and creating a softer noise. It also reduces the heavy vibrations common in human clippers. Since a dog’s skin is so sensitive, the vibrations can damage the skin and cause the dog pain.

Blade Types

The blades that come with human clippers are vastly different than those for a dog. The adjustment is made to accommodate the different types of material getting cut.

Human hair tends to be much thinner and lighter than dog hair. The blade teeth are designed to be close together, only requiring one or two passes over each part of the head.

The blade teeth for a dog get spaced with wide gaps between every two teeth. The spacing between the prongs helps prevent the clipper from getting caught in thick fur and stopping painful pulling.

dog getting haircut with razor
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Cut Size

To do a thorough job, human clippers can trim hair down to .2 mm away from the head to get a clean cut. It works well for us because of how generally rounded our scalp is and the tightness of the skin across it. It rarely causes human skin any injury, particularly in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing.

Dogs need a much longer cut to be safe, with the typical #10 blades leaving 1/16 inches of hair away from their scalp. The length of the cut prevents skin from getting bruised and cut and helps stop catching fur in the blade and causing more pain.

Speed

The speed of the clippers is different between human and dog varieties as well. Dog clippers give more options when it comes to speeds, allowing for up to 5,000 strokes per minute. The increased rate helps trim long, coarse pet hair faster and cleaner.

Clippers meant for human use never offer such high speeds or have as many different options for practical styling.

Noise

A critical aspect of the difference in motors is the reduced noise that it produces. Even though they run at higher speeds, the motors run lighter and create fewer vibrations.

The differences in vibrations and the noise produced prevent dogs from being scared, stopping them from being so jumpy during the grooming period. Keeping them calm helps keep them safe.

fox terrier getting haircut
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Accessories

Often, clippers for both dogs and people come in kits with applicable accessories. Both come with a range of different combs to cover the gamut of hair types, thicknesses, and lengths.

A typical dog grooming kit includes multiple options for combs, ranging in size from 1/16 to 2 inches. Compare this to kits for human clippers, which generally don’t offer cuts longer than an inch.

Note that different accessories may need to be bought explicitly for puppies and giant dog breeds, since these often don’t come included in typical kits.

There are only a couple of situations in which using human clippers may work on your dog. These include if your dog doesn’t have an undercoat, the short, soft fur underneath the top, longer and coarser layer.

Human clippers are only made to go through one layer and type of hair at a time and will get painfully caught in the undercoat.

The other is if your human clipper includes the necessary characteristics for grooming dogs. Some are capable if you only want to spend money on one type of clippers. However, they are generally even more expensive and require research to find.

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Conclusion 

In summary, dog clippers should not be used on dogs as a general rule. They differ in many aspects, including:

  • The motor in human clippers is not made for prolonged use and can overheat.
  • The high-power motor in human clippers can cause damaging vibrations, bruising a dog’s skin.
  • The blades included in a typical human clipper kit are too narrow and catch a dog’s fur, especially the undercoat, and cause pain and skin damage.
  • The increased noise from the motor might scare jumpy dogs.
  • The speed of a human clipper is not fast enough to groom a dog effectively.

If you would like to find a great dog clipper, make sure you do thorough research to find the right one for the type of dog you want to groom. Any dog clipper will do a more effective and safer job than a human clipper will when trying to groom your pup.

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