Let’s say your dog is getting a little scruffy and you want to give them a trim. But your only hair clipping tools on hand are your regular hair clippers made to clip human hair. Can you still use them on your dog? Will anything bad happen to them in the process?
That’s what I’m going to look into in this article. I’m going to do a complete comparison between dog clippers vs human clippers. I’m going to look at the positives of each of the two types of clippers and come to a definitive conclusion.
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Can You Cut Dog Hair With Human Clippers?
They’re basically the same thing mechanically, so can we use them for the same purpose? In this section, I’m going to get into the nitty gritty of the differences between dog clippers and clippers made for humans.
Difference 1: The Motor
The first major difference is the motor. It might be a simple motor, since all it’s doing is driving a blade back and forth, but the differences are quite pronounced. There are two qualities that are very different in dog clippers and human clippers, and these are the noise and heat they produce.
- Motor Noise Level
Dogs can get skittish around loud noises, which is why dog clippers are made to be as quiet as they can get. Regular clippers do not have such noise-reduction measures. This means that your dog may find regular clippers to be unsettling, and this may result in your dog refusing to stay still, or jumping around and trying to get away from the clippers. Not only does this make grooming your dog more difficult, but it may also cause injury when coupled with the other factors below.
- Heat Reduction
All clippers will run hot. That’s just the natural consequence of having a motor that drives two blades running together. The motor itself will get hot simply by running. The blades get hot by the friction of the two blades rubbing together.
However, humans have a lot less hair than dogs, and so human clippers can afford to get hot much sooner than dog clippers. Dog clippers are made with heat reduction measures to ensure that you can go for as long as possible before the heat becomes unbearable for your dog. If you use your regular clippers on your dog, not only will you need to take more frequent breaks to let the blade cool off, but you also run the risk of burning your dog with the hot blade.
Difference 2: The Blades
The second major difference is in blades. Again, they’re doing the same thing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that what works for humans will work for dogs. As we’ll see later, human hair is very different from dog hair. Blades are different between the two types of clippers in regards to two aspects: construction and speed.
- Construction And Sharpness
Clipper blades work by the same principle as scissors. The two blades have sharp teeth on their business end, and the top blade moves back and forth. Any hair caught in the teeth of the blades are thus cut. This holds for all clippers regardless of type.
What’s different is the hair they’re cutting. On average, human hair is thinner than dog hair and isn’t as dense. Thus, the gaps between blade teeth on a human clipper tend to be smaller. On a dog clipper, the gaps have to be wider to accommodate a dog’s thicker hair. Similarly, dog clippers are sharper than regular clippers, the better to cope with thicker hair.
This means that if you try to use a regular clipper on a dog, the hairs might not catch on the blade, or if the blade does catch, it might not cut. This will lead to either the clipper getting stuck or pulling the hair, which can injure your dog.
- Blade Speed
The thickness of dog hair also requires that dog clippers move the blades faster. This is because a fast blade speed is necessary to cut through thick dog fur without the blade gumming up from all the hair it’s cutting through. Regular clippers aren’t fast enough to clear through all that fur.
Another bonus that some dog clippers have is multiple blade speeds. If a dog clipper has multiple speeds, it usually has a slow speed and a fast speed. The fast setting is good for general clipping around the body, while the slow speed is better at precision work around delicate areas. Regular clippers generally run at just one speed, and so this extra convenience isn’t available to them.
- Accessories And Extras
Dog clippers also come with accessories that regular clippers might not have. While these don’t affect performance directly, they do make grooming a dog much easier. Some accessories work the same way regardless of what type of clipper they come with, but others are made specifically for dog care.
For instance, guide combs. Most combs for regular clippers top out at 1 inch, as they don’t need to be any longer. For small and medium breeds, this might be enough, but large breeds need a bit more hair left over. Additional comb kits for pet clippers frequently go up to 2 inches specifically to answer this need.
Additional blades also fall into this need. Skip-tooth blades are a type frequently used by dog groomers to cut through thick hair. These usually don’t fit on regular clippers or will suffer from the same lack of power that a regular clipper’s motor faces when trying to cut through dog hair. It’s best to use the right tool for the job.
Some dog clippers are also sold as kits that include accessories to go along with the clipper unit. Such extras like scissors, nail clippers, styling combs, hairbrushes, or travel cases may not directly impact the clipper’s performance, but purchasing a kit that includes these will make your shopping a lot easier since you won’t have to get them separately. Also, human clippers generally don’t include any of these extras.
The Difference Between Dog Hair And Human Hair
We’ve talked a lot about the clippers, now it’s time to look at what they’re cutting. Why do dog clippers need all that extra power and blade quality? Let’s get into dog hair.
Let’s get this out of the way first: human hair and dog hair are chemically the same. They’re both made out of keratin. Moreover, there isn’t any distinction between hair and fur. The real difference between your hair and your dog’s hair is what kind of hair your dog has.
Generally speaking, dogs have three types of hair. These are the primary hair or guard hair, which forms the topcoat. Then you have secondary hair, which forms the undercoat. The third is their whiskers. We’re not going to cover whiskers here, since you don’t cut whiskers.
All dogs have a topcoat. Generally speaking, topcoats tend to be thicker, rougher, and longer than undercoats. The topcoat helps protect the skin from injuries, keeps water and dirt away from the boy, and helps insulate your dog’s body from the weather.
The undercoat is softer in texture than the topcoat, and its purpose is entirely insulation. Not all breeds have an undercoat. If a dog breed is described as double-coated, then it has an undercoat. Where the topcoat is kept year-round, the undercoat sheds every so often in response to the climate.
Because of the undercoat, double-coated dogs shed more than single-coated dogs. Generally speaking, double-coated dogs will shed all of their undercoat when the seasons change from cool to warm, so it’s best to give a double-coated dog frequent grooming over this time. This will help reduce any problems from shedding, and in the summer, your dog will appreciate the extra air circulating close to their body.
Also, insulation works both ways. An undercoat helps your dog keep warm in the winter and stay cool in the summer, which is why I don’t recommend shaving your dog once the warmth comes in. Also, the seasonal changes of the undercoat give your dog a coat that’s appropriate for the weather and the temperature. But if your dog is having trouble staying cool even after their summer coat has grown in, by all means, give them a cut.
Double-coated dogs include Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Pomeranians, Border Collies, Corgis, and Siberian Huskies. Single-coated breeds include Greyhounds, Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Beagles, and Basset Hounds. Of course, neither of these lists is exhaustive. If in doubt, look up your specific breed to be sure.
Since dog hair is so different, and since dogs respond much differently to loud noises and vibrations than humans do, separate dog clippers are necessary. Even just looking at blades and hair, the tough topcoat on even a single-coated dog is enough to challenge a regular clipper. Double-coated dogs need both motor and cutting power that few human clippers can provide. Also, the sheer amount of hair that a clipper has to cut through may cause a regular clipper to lock up. This can be troublesome, especially if the blades didn’t quite cut through the hair and thus may be pulling on the skin.
When Can You Use Human Clippers On A Dog?
Theoretically, if you’re in a pinch, you could use human clippers on a dog. This will work better assuming several factors. There are some dogs that you just simply cannot groom with regular clippers, but there may be some dogs who might stand for being trimmed.
Given all the problems outlined above, a dog should have the following qualities to make things easier for a regular clipper:
- A single coat. If your dog has a double coat, using human clippers is a no-no. But if they have a single coat, you might be able to get away with it.
- Small size. A smaller dog means less time spent grooming, and thus less time for your clipper to heat up or otherwise struggle.
- A calm disposition. Remember, human clippers are louder and produce more vibrations than dog clippers, so it’s important to have a dog that can tolerate this.
If your dog does not meet these qualifications, don’t even try. Even if your dog does meet them, I still recommend that you use dog clippers. You should only be using human clippers if there is no other option and you have to do the clipping now. Even then, I still advise going to a dog groomer instead if it’s that urgent. The extra expense is worth the trouble, and there’s a lot less chance of things going wrong.
They may look the same and they might work the same way, but dog clippers and human clippers are made for two different jobs. Dog hair is different from human hair, and it’s best to use the right type of clippers for the right type of hair. You might be able to groom a small, well-behaved dog with short hair and a single coat with regular clippers, but I still don’t recommend it unless you have absolutely no other options. Human clippers run too loud and too hot, and their blades can’t handle the amount of fur that a dog has. It just isn’t worth it.
Don’t risk your dog’s safety and health. Can you cut dog hair with human clippers? The answer is no.