Hiking Boots for Dogs?

My trusty trail partner, Coco, likes her backpacking gear as much as the next well dressed doggy. This is her wearing her Kelty Chuckwagon backpack that she is very well accustomed to. So much so that she gets excited at the slightest sight of it in my gear closet. It’s a great doggy pack with dual expandable saddlebags that can hold a lot of her “stuff” and at the same time stay balanced and comfortable – I base the last part on tail wagging alone!

Coco on the Trail

I’ve noticed a lot of other dogs out and about on the trails that been wearing doggy hiking boots to protect their feet. When I’ve approached the owners to inquire as to the reasons why they felt them necessary and the benefits and I usually get very similar answers. Many owners say that their dogs feet get badly cut up or scraped on longer hikes and it can be painful for them, especially if they are mostly indoor dogs during the week.

Even though my chocolate lab, Coco, likes to be outdoors almost as much as I do, my day job means that throughout the week she is inside with me in my home office. According to the other dog owners I have crossed paths with, this can cause her paws to become slightly ‘delicate’ and susceptible to injury on longer backpacking trips.

Coco on the Trail

So, as weird as they look, I’m considering getting her royal dogness some boots for on the trail. I’m currently doing research on hiking boots for dogs in order to determine what style and brand to test on Coco first. As with regular (human) hiking shoes, there are a lot of options and styles to consider.  If you have any experience using hiking shoes/boots with your dog, I’d definitely appreciate any recommendations, considerations, or feedback you have to offer. Please leave a comment below.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07709358863171332562 Ryan

    I’ll be watching to see what you think of them. I have been considering buying some for my dogs as well. I can say that last summer when we spent a lot of time kayaking around Lake Fontana (In Western NC) my dog did get some cuts on her paws. Admittedly there are a lot of rocks there, but she kept bringing her frisbee back begging me to toss it again!

  • http://www.takealonghike.com/ Ray Anderson

    I saw “paw boots” several times while hiking near the rugged John Muir trail. They seemed to work well on the animals I saw.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09628095804170935682 Brian

    Ryan, I’m leaning towards the Ruff Wear Bark’n Boots™ Grip Trex™ boots. There are so many to choose from. Here’s a great resource that I found: Backcountry K-9. Have you seen any particular make or model that looked good?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03565749970955932092 Mark

    Hiking Kennesaw Mountain in GA, I came across a Scottie that had hiking boots. The owner said that it took several hikes before the dog liked them. Now, he can not get them out without the dog going nuts since he knows they are going on a hike. They look something like the Grip Tex boots Brian described.

    I have an Aussie Shepard who likes to go in the woods with me. I am not sure how he will take to boots. However, I have noticed that on long hikes his pads get tender. Maybe this would help.

  • http://thehikehouse.com/ SedonaHiking

    I am so not into dog outfits or dog accessories but I think I will definitely make an exception for dogs who go on long hikes. While their feet are “made” for the outdoors, the doggie “hike boots” will provide protection throughout the long hike.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07709358863171332562 Ryan

    Brian, those really look great. I cant say any particular model stands out for me (and my dog).

    I have even toyed with the idea of making my own to see how my dog likes them. I can just see paying a bunch of money on some booties that she hates.

    Here is a free doggie boot sample pattern:
    http://uberpest.com/2006/10/make-your-own-dog-booties/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09628095804170935682 Brian

    Ryan, thanks for sharing the booties pattern. Now I tempted to make a pair to see how Coco likes with boots on her feet.

    Are you going to try making some?

  • http://makais.com/ Todd

    From what I can tell, Ruff Wear makes the best boots for dogs. I checked them out personally at the last Outdoor Retailer show. We are actually just about to start carrying them! Brian, please shoot me an email if you are serious about getting them. We can get you a deal…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12807326839402308764 mybackpackingblog

    I kinda thought that their paws were their hiking boots? Kinda like adding fingers to the end of our fingers…lol!!…I’m still interested…I have Siberian/Shepherd mix that love running the trails…I was gonna get him some New Balance though…:)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07709358863171332562 Ryan

    I think I might try sewing my own but my sewing skills are not what I’d call stellar…

    @mybackpackingblog, I totally agree with you but I think because my dog doesn’t spend 24 hrs a day on rough terrain, she is more susceptible to cuts and abrasions. Sorta like me, if I walked around barefoot all the time I would have tougher feet too.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03565749970955932092 Mark

    Hiking Kennesaw Mountain in GA, I came across a Scottie that had hiking boots. The owner said that it took several hikes before the dog liked them. Now, he can not get them out without the dog going nuts since he knows they are going on a hike. They look something like the Grip Tex boots Brian described.

    I have an Aussie Shepard who likes to go in the woods with me. I am not sure how he will take to boots. However, I have noticed that on long hikes his pads get tender. Maybe this would help.

  • http://www.takealonghike.com/ Ray Anderson

    I saw “paw boots” several times while hiking near the rugged John Muir trail. They seemed to work well on the animals I saw.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.ratzloff James Ratzloff

    GunDogSupply has a large selection of boots.  I got several pairs of Lewis Vented Boots for my backpacking border collies. (http://www.gundogsupply.com/-950-.html).  The problem with a lot of boots is the dog will throw them off on the trail.   What you do with these is tape them on, as described here:http://www.stevesnell.com/how-i-put-lewis-dog-boots-on-my-bird-dogs

    One of my border collies got a bad scrape on his footpad while backpacking in the Beartooths a few years ago.  It took a couple of weeks to heal once we got home.   That is when I started using the dog boots.

    What I do is apply creme to my border collie’s pads every evening before sleep.  I also try to keep them out of rocks unnecessarily.   If I see some scrapes or soreness in their pads I tape on the dog boots with some healing suave inside – that usually fixes the problem before it gets bad.

    – Jim Ratzloff

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.ratzloff James Ratzloff

    GunDogSupply has a large selection of boots.  I got several pairs of Lewis Vented Boots for my backpacking border collies. (http://www.gundogsupply.com/-950-.html).  The problem with a lot of boots is the dog will throw them off on the trail.   What you do with these is tape them on, as described here:http://www.stevesnell.com/how-i-put-lewis-dog-boots-on-my-bird-dogs

    One of my border collies got a bad scrape on his footpad while backpacking in the Beartooths a few years ago.  It took a couple of weeks to heal once we got home.   That is when I started using the dog boots.

    What I do is apply creme to my border collie’s pads every evening before sleep.  I also try to keep them out of rocks unnecessarily.   If I see some scrapes or soreness in their pads I tape on the dog boots with some healing suave inside – that usually fixes the problem before it gets bad.

    - Jim Ratzloff

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.ratzloff James Ratzloff

    GunDogSupply has a large selection of boots.  I got several pairs of Lewis Vented Boots for my backpacking border collies. (http://www.gundogsupply.com/-950-.html).  The problem with a lot of boots is the dog will throw them off on the trail.   What you do with these is tape them on, as described here:http://www.stevesnell.com/how-i-put-lewis-dog-boots-on-my-bird-dogs

    One of my border collies got a bad scrape on his footpad while backpacking in the Beartooths a few years ago.  It took a couple of weeks to heal once we got home.   That is when I started using the dog boots.

    What I do is apply creme to my border collie’s pads every evening before sleep.  I also try to keep them out of rocks unnecessarily.   If I see some scrapes or soreness in their pads I tape on the dog boots with some healing suave inside – that usually fixes the problem before it gets bad.

    - Jim Ratzloff

  • http://renegadepilgrim.com/ RenegadePilgrim

    One of the things I have been told is that dogs sweat through their paws, so be careful about using booties on hot days.  It can overheat your dog.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      I did not know that, will have to make sure I watch her for overheating and dehydration. Thanks!

  • http://profiles.google.com/heather.knight.pdx Heather Knight

    One of the things I have been told is that dogs sweat through their paws, so be careful about using booties on hot days.  It can overheat your dog.

  • Dee

    I’m going to try boots for my dog. We went out on a longer than usual, rocky hike and his paw pads on one paw became degloved.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Dee, I actually need to write an update to this about the new size boots I go for Coco and how much better they are now. She knows we’re going for a long hike when I get out her bag of booties :)

  • Dee

    I’m going to try boots for my dog. We went out on a longer
    than usual, rocky hike and his paw pads on one paw became
    degloved.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Dee, I actually need to write an update to this about the new size boots I go for Coco and how much better they are now. She knows we’re going for a long hike when I get out her bag of booties :)

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    I did not know that, will have to make sure I watch her for overheating and dehydration. Thanks!

  • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

    The problem is that most domesticated dogs simple don’t get the amount of outdoor activity their ancestors did – therefore their paws are nowhere near as good at protecting them from 20+ miles of rough, rocky terrain.

    I’ve had to take care of bleeding paws too many times to mention and my dog hikes with me a LOT. It’s just a great way to make sure that she can keep up with me along the trail without developing any kinds of foot issues.

    I’ve also see far too much broken glass along the trails and removed shards from between her toes more than once :-( Ain’t no laughing matter in all honesty.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    The problem is that most domesticated dogs simple don’t get the amount of outdoor activity their ancestors did – therefore their paws are nowhere near as good at protecting them from 20+ miles of rough, rocky terrain.

    I’ve had to take care of bleeding paws too many times to mention and my dog hikes with me a LOT. It’s just a great way to make sure that she can keep up with me along the trail without developing any kinds of foot issues.

    I’ve also see far too much broken glass along the trails and removed shards from between her toes more than once :-( Ain’t no laughing matter in all honesty.

  • fuccurmomma

    Ruff Wear Bark’n Boots™ Grip Trex™ boots. There are many options to choose from & I’ll be looking for the “shoes” version come spring time. I’ve been using the “boots” version for some time now for winter walks & they’re the best I’ve found in the snow at least. They stay on even in deep snow (just make sure they’re tight enough) & provide enough traction that they don’t land face 1st constantly. They ARE expensive & they DEF take time getting used to (my dogs still trip on them occasionally after 3yrs) but 1 of my guys has a really horrible reaction to the salt they use on the roads in the winter..it means an emergency vet visit & 3mo of intensive paw care at home every time. He doesn’t much appreciate the boots but we haven’t had an issue w/his feet since we started using them & as I said, they have many versions, I’m hoping the “shoes” for summertime will be easier for him to manage. The soles of Ruffwear’s boots are thick & well adapted for what they’re supposed to do, they seem to breathe well & aren’t “uncomfortable”, despite the occasional trip up & if you’ve had the misfortune of getting too far into the boot issue yet, you’ll know getting them to STAY ON is a nearly impossible task for most brands…Ruffwear does very well here. Good luck!