Your dog may benefit from wearing shoes for a number of reasons, with the two most common being to protect their paws from being burned on hot pavements in summer, and protect them from snow, ice and ice melt salts on winter sidewalks.
Booties are also a great choice if you like to hike, trail run or mountain bike with your dog and need to protect their paws from running at speed over rough terrain.
This dog booties buyer’s guide explains the key features to look for when choosing some for your dog and how to choose the right size so the boots are more comfortable and don’t come off, as well as our picks of the best dog boots currently available.
Click here to jump down to the buyer’s guide, or continue reading to see the dog shoe and sock recommendations.
If you’ve visited this post because you’re looking for winter dog gear, you may also want to check out our reflective and light-up dog gear guide, and our winter dog jackets buyer’s guide, next (links open in new tabs).
1. Ruffwear Grip Trex Booties
- Price: $40 (for 2 dog boots)
- Good to know: Available in black, red and blue
- Best for: Trail running, biking and hiking with your dog on rough, spiny and hot surfaces.
Built for high mileage, these Ruffwear dog shoes are our top pick for hiking, trail running and mountain biking with your dog on gnarly, rough and long distance trails.
These heavy duty dog boots feature a breathable mesh upper, reflective trim, and a Vibram grippy outsole – much like trail running shoes and hiking boots.
Because they’re sold in pairs, you can get a more accurate fit (as front and back paws are often different sizes).
Alternatively, you may find, as we do, that your dog just needs protection on those front two paws that take the brunt of the force and traction control when your dog is moving at speed along a trail.
1 new from $39.95
1 used from $28.95
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2. Ultra Paws Durable Dog Boots
- Price: $34 (for 4 boots)
- Good to know: Available in red and black, in six sizes
- Best for: Lightweight traction on slippery indoor surfaces.
These booties have openings on both sides, making it easy to open them wide to slip your dog’s paw in easily before securing with the velcro strap that wraps around.
They also come up over your dog’s wrist, so are less prone to slipping off than other, lower-cut boots.
The material on the sole is grippy on smooth floors (great for slippery tile and hardwood flooring) and also offers some traction and plenty of flexibility for range of motion.
These are, in our opinion, the best all-round best dog boots if your priority is indoor traction on hardwood and tiled surfaces and walking on snow, ice, hot or slippery surfaces but nothing too rough.
As they’re more minimal than other boots on this list, they make a nice choice if you need to put them on your dog regularly for everyday activities.
While these boots are described as being durable, there are more durable choices with better grip if you’re looking for boots your dog can wear on trails and rougher surfaces (like the Kurgo Blaze Cross and Ruffwear Grip Trex).
1 new from $14.50
3. Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes
- Price: $75 (for 4 boots)
- Good to know: These rugged boots feature dual closure with a bungee and hook-and-loop to help them stay put no matter how energetic and adventurous your dog is
- Best for: Year-round trail adventures including hiking, backpacking and rough or thorny terrain, as well as long walks on hot pavement.
One of the most durable options on this list, these Kurgo boots are designed to be worn year-round, with water-resistant material, breathable mesh, a tough rubber outsole and faux leather details.
We love the detailing on these dog shoes, especially the dual-closure feature and 360 degree reflective detailing for visibility during night and low-light conditions.
4. Ruffwear Polar Trex Waterproof Winter Boots
- Price: $50 (for 2 boots)
- Good to know: These rugged boots are made using added insulation and waterproof materials
- Best for: Wearing in cold, snow and icy conditions for winter hikes and skiing.
As you would expect from a brand dedicated to gearing up the adventure dogs in your life, Ruffwear offers a few different styles of dog footwear. The Polar Trex are their waterproof, winter paw protection offering.
If you ski, snowshoe or snowboard with your dog along for the run, then these are likely the best dog shoes to choose for all round grip and insulation from snow and ice.
The waterproof material helps paws stay dry (and warm!) and the stretchy gaiter helps minimize any snow entry into the boot.
They’re harder to get on than other boots on this list, but for seasoned paw handlers and bandages, it’s worth the extra effort for the winter paw protection they offer.
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5. Ruffwear Dog Socks (‘Bark N Boots Liners’)
- Price: $15 for 4
- Good to know: These socks are shaped to fit dog’s feet (as opposed to using human baby or child socks)
- Best for: Adding comfort and boot security
Ruffwear recommends you consider getting your dog socks to wear under their boots for added comfort, padding and protection for areas prone to catching, such as their dew claws on the side of their feet.
The extra padding provided by the socks can also help make sure the boots don’t come off unexpectedly, which is always a possibility, especially if they’re running in mud, snow, water or thicker brush that may catch and pull the boot off.
While made by Ruffwear, these socks can, of course, be worn under any brand of dog boots.
Dog socks are useful to have not just for wearing under boots but also for helping deter paw licking or protect a bandaged paw injury.
1 new from $14.95
Dog boots buyer’s guide | How to choose the right shoes for your dog
To help you choose what style and size boots are best for your dog, it’s worth considering the main reason (or reasons) why you’re looking to buy them footwear in the first place.
Why do dogs need to wear shoes?
There are several reasons it may be beneficial for your dog to wear shoes:
To protect their feet from hot pavement in summer and warmer climates year-round. Concrete, sand, and especially tarmac can get exceptionally hot and create nasty paw burns, even if the air outside isn’t particularly hot.
To protect their feet from cold, snowy and icy ground. While your dog may be ok walking on the cold surfaces themselves for short periods of time, the salt that some people use to melt ice on pavements can cause burns on your dog’s paws.
It’s also probably not the best thing to get salt (or chemicals) on your dog’s paws in case they decide to lick it off after your walk or run. So, dog boots will protect them from those chemicals as well as the cold.
To reduce the chance of them tearing or cutting paw pads on sharp terrain. Rocks and gravel they may encounter when hiking or trail running can create nasty cuts on your dog’s leg or paws, especially if your dog is off leash and able to run full-speed over that terrain.
To reduce the chance of other trail items such as thorns, cactus needles and foxtails getting stuck between their toes or in sensitive areas of your dog’s paw pads.
In cities, pet parents also consider getting their dog some dog boots when concerned about broken glass and other trash they could stand on during daily walks.
Many pet owners also choose to buy their dogs some shoes to help with traction on slippery surfaces indoors and outdoors.
Hardwood, tile and laminate floors can be difficult for dogs to walk or get up from, especially if they have a condition which means they’d benefit from the additional traction they can gain from wearing booties.
Also, if your dog has a paw injury or infection, you may consider getting them dog boots to protect your dog’s paws from dirt or further injury while they heal.
Measuring your dog’s paws for dog boots
Just like with your own shoes, you’re going to want to get dog boots that provide a good fit and won’t be too small and uncomfortable, or too large and rub or fall off altogether.
Most dog boots are sized based on the width of your pup’s paws.
As the different dog bootie brands have their own fits and also measuring and size guides, it’s best to check their guidance to ensure you’ve correctly measured your dog’s paws.
Normally this is most easily done by having your dog get their paws wet and then standing on a surface that will show the wet paw print.
You can then use the wet paw print to measure the width of the paw at the widest part.
If your dog will stand still for long enough you could also just measure their paw while they’re standing by having them stand on a fabric tape measure (don’t do it when they are lying down as the paws may appear smaller without weight on them).
It’s also important to take separate measurements for the front paws and the back paws.
Many dogs have smaller back paws. This is why some dog boot brands sell them in pairs, so you can get the second pair of dog boots in a smaller size for the back feet.
To help dog shoes stay on and stay comfortable, you can also look at getting your dog some socks. They can provide extra padding (and warmth) and reduce the chance of chafing, as well as helping the dog boots stay secure when they’re done up.
Features to look for when choosing the best boots for your dog
The following are features to look out for when choosing which brand and style of shoes is best for your dog:
- Adjustability and fit options – Dog shoes that are easy to put on are going to be quicker to train your dog to put on, and also useful if you intend to use dog boots on an injured or sensitive paw.
- Fastener style – most dog boot options straps to keep the booties on your dog’s feet. These are usually either velcro straps / hook-and-loop closures, buckles or snap-locks.
- Material – look for dog shoes with a durable outer material and soft inner material that will not catch on their nails or dew claws.
- Water resistance – if you plan for your dog to wear booties in the wet or snow, then some level of water resistance will help their feet stay comfortable and warmer for longer.
- Textured sole for traction – this is an important feature so your dog can feel safe and confident when walking with the boots on.
- Flexible sole – just like with shoes you may wear, flexible dog boots are going to be more comfortable and natural to walk in than a dog boot that’s overly rigid (which may cause issues with strange gaits or over-compensating for shoes discomfort).
Tips for training your dog to wear boots
There are different ways you can train your dog to wear boots, depending on your dog and the level of tolerance you’re starting from.
Kepler does not like having people grab his sensitive paws, so we trained him to wear dog boots by firstly rewarding him for choosing to give us his paw (using the ‘shake’ trick to shake paws), and then rewarding him for touching the boot with his paw.
From that point, we were able to progress to rewarding him for putting his paw in the bootie, being careful to get all our dog’s toes including his dewclaws inside in one go so they don’t get caught.
To train this way it’s helpful to use booties that have a large opening and are easy to put on without putting pressure on his paw to fit it inside.
To help your dog get more comfortable with wearing them, it can also help to ‘break in’ their boots by working them (bending them and flexing the sole) so they have a little more ‘give’ in them when your dog wears the boots.
Alternatives to dog booties for paw protection
As well as dog shoes and socks, also consider bandages such as vet wrap, which you can wrap your dog’s legs for protecting their legs, which can be helpful in some circumstances.
Vet wrap is easy to wrap (not too tight) around your pup’s paws, it doesn’t stick to hair or skin, just to itself, and then secure it with some medical tape.
We sometimes wrap our Border Collie Kepler’s paws with vet wrap if he needs to keep minor paw injuries clean while they heal as you may have noticed on some past photos of him playing frisbee on our Instagram feed.
To protect paw pads in cold or hot weather (from snow and ice to rough and hot surfaces), it’s also worth considering a balm such as Musher’s Secret.
This ‘paw butter’ product is a food-grade wax that when applied a couple of times a week, develops a barrier to protect their paws.
It also helps prevent the issue some dogs get in snow where they collect little snowballs between their toes!
Another option for those occasions where it is truly too cold or hot outdoors is to find ways to exercise your dog indoors. It’s not a substitute for a good walk and sniff, but dog treadmills are getting increasingly popular! To learn more about them, read our guide to the best dog treadmills.
Now you’ve read the dog boots buyer’s guide, click here to jump up and see our list of the best dog boots, or if you’re looking for a dog hiking harness, we’ve included some of the best options in this post that are great for hiking as well as trail running with your dog.