My Yorkie, Max, is usually adorable. But a few months ago, he looked like a mix between a baby yak and a muppet. He needed a haircut badly, and I wanted to try to give him a Yorkie puppy cut myself. But then I got to thinking, can you use regular clippers on a dog?
Knowing Max didn’t have the amazing downy fur of a Husky, I figured I’d give it a whirl with the human clippers I have at home. The trimming went okay. Max didn’t get hurt or anything, but I did notice a few issues.
The loud noise, intense vibration, and swinging cord really scared him. I also noticed that even though he has fine hair and no undercoat, the clippers would occasionally get packed with his hair. This did not allow for smooth trimming.
Thinking pet clippers must be better, I did some digging and eventually bought a pair online. It made a big difference. Here’s what I learned.
In this review:
- Can you cut dog hair with human clippers?
- The difference between dog fur and human hair
- Dog clippers vs human clippers: Key differences
Can you cut dog hair with human clippers?
Most people should not use human clippers on their dogs due to a difference in the clippers’ blade speed, volume, and heat buildup. But in certain cases, it’s okay, so there’s no simple answer to this question other than, “sometimes.” Your dog’s breed, the current state of their coat, and how anxious they get around grooming tools all play a role.
The information in this guide will help you determine if you can use human clippers on your dog and when it’s worth adding a good pair of pet clippers to your arsenal.
In a nutshell:
Your dog might be a candidate for human clippers if they:
- Are a single-coated breed
- Currently have shorter fur that is neither matted nor too thick
- Are small and you can work quickly to avoid the clippers overheating
- Do not easily become distressed by vibrations or loud noises
- Haven’t experienced any hair pulling from the clippers in the past
Pet clippers are a must if your dog:
- Has an undercoat or long, thick fur that could get stuck in the clippers
- Has matted hair
- Is large and will take more than a few minutes to trim
- Is jumpy or easily scared—especially by loud noises
>> Read more: What Are the Best Dog Clippers for Thick or Matted Hair?
The best and safest option is to just get a pair of good-quality pet clippers to avoid any injury or distress to your dog.
If you’re still unsure if you can use human hair clippers on your dog, understanding the difference between dog fur and human hair, as well as the difference between pet clippers and human clippers, can help. Keep reading to learn more.
The difference between dog hair and human hair
If you want to know if you can use human clippers on your dog, you first need to determine what kind of coat your dog has and if it’s similar to human hair.
Dogs with a double coat have an outer primary coat that contains coarse guard hairs, which help repel moisture and protect against injury. Under this top layer, they also have a softer, thicker undercoat that works as an insulator against extreme temperatures.1
No human—not even Rapunzel—has double-coated hair, so human hair clippers won’t work well on these types of dogs. They simply aren’t meant to deal with the volume or texture of double-coated dog fur.
Single-coated dog breeds do not have an undercoat. They only have an outer primary coat, which is similar to human hair. Examples of single-coated dogs are Whippets, Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzus, and Poodles.
Human hair clippers may work on a single-coated dog, but I say this with caution since dogs (just as with humans) have varying levels of thickness to their hair. So, if your single-coated dog has thicker hair than the average human does, you will probably want to use pet clippers.
>> Read more: Best Dog Clippers for Yorkies
Dog clippers vs human clippers: Key differences
There are several key differences between dog clippers and human clippers, which can have a big effect when trimming your dog’s fur. Keep reading to learn more.
The motors in pet clippers are constructed to be lighter and quieter than human clippers. This results in softer vibrations that will be easier for you to handle and less likely to distress your pet.
This lighter motor also means your pet clippers will be able to run longer. Human clippers heat up quickly but tend to be used for just a couple of minutes of trimming. Pet clippers, on the other hand, need to stay cool as they are used for much longer periods of time.
Pet clippers tend to operate at a faster speed. They need to have more strokes per minute to get through thick fur without it jamming the blade.
Some dog clippers will have multiple speeds. Slower speeds are great for precision grooming in delicate areas like the face. Cheaper pet clipper varieties may not have varying speeds.
Unlike human clippers, clippers for dogs come in two different types of blades that can make a big difference when grooming your dog, especially dogs with a double coat.
Fine-tooth blades are marked on the blade with an “F” or “FC.” For example, a fine-tooth 7 blade will be marked as #7F. Fine-tooth blades will have less space between each tooth than skip-tooth blades, but more space between teeth than human clippers.
All fine-tooth teeth are the same length, like human clipper blades, giving a smooth, finished look to the trim. These blades won’t work on thick fur, dirty hair, or matted coats.
Skip-tooth blades have gaps in between the teeth allowing for thick or matted fur to be fed into the blade. This is crucial if your dog has a thick double coat. The long teeth also help prevent painful fur pulling.
These can be used to do an initial quick pass-through to get rid of long fur, matting, and dirt before bathing and detailed grooming.
If you are new to grooming, use caution when using skip tooth blades, as it is easy to injure your pet. When in doubt, use sheers to cut out matting or to trim sensitive areas.
Skip tooth blades will not be marked by any alphabetical initial and only come in numbers 3, 4, 5, and 7.
Blade numbering for pet clippers is different from the numbering system for human clippers. While they may have the same blade number, be aware that the cut length is different. In general, the higher the blade number, the shorter your dog’s fur will be.
Grooming combs or guards fit over the clipper blade, allowing the groomer to adjust for their desired length. While human clippers also have combs, pet combs are designed to cut longer lengths, 1/16th inch to 2 inches. Typically, human combs cut shorter lengths of 1 inch or less.
Cord or cordless
For corded dog clippers, the length of the cord will be longer to allow you to be able to work around your pet and equipment. However, clippers can come cordless for easy movement around the dog. This is beneficial if your dog is already uncomfortable with the trimming process.
Final thoughts on using human clippers for dogs
While human clippers and pet clippers appear to be the same, the features and functionality are very different. In general, human clippers should not be used for dog grooming due to the increased risk of injuring your pet. The motor is not ideal for prolonged use, and its noise and vibrations can also easily startle your pet.
Additionally, pet clippers are so much better for you! They can make your DIY grooming job so much easier due to the clippers’ ability to sail through thick fur.
Personally, after considering Max’s small size, single-coat, and short Yorkie haircut, I feel like I could safely use human clippers as long as I go slowly and he is not in distress (which is unlikely since he is a scaredy-cat…errr -dog). But I have decided to keep the pet clippers because I think they will work so much better for both of us.
- Whitaker, D.T., and Ostrander, E. “Hair of the Dog: Identification of a Cis-Regulatory Module Predicted to Influence Canine Coat Composition.” Genes. 2019, Apr 26. 10(5): 323. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6562840/