Do Dogs Need Shoes for Hiking?

When you hike long distances, you protect your feet with durable hiking boots. When you hike long distances with your dog, do they need boots too? I decided to find out.

Do dogs need shoes for hiking? Shoes protect your dog’s paws during long hikes. Small booties can shield their paw pads from thorns, rocks, sticks, and other pointy objects. Shoes also help reduce blistering and cracking.

While dog shoes offer protection when hiking, there are several details to consider, including whether or not you can get your dog to keep the shoes on.
Read on and you’ll find out the pros and cons of hiking shoes for dogs, how to pick those hiking shoes and how to get your dog to wear them.

The Benefits of Using Hiking Shoes for Dogs

Why do people get hiking shoes for their dogs? They buy these shoes for the same reasons that you wear thick shoes on hiking trips.

When you hike outdoors, you encounter many different terrains. Boots provide protection for your feet and offer extra stability. Your dog can enjoy these same benefits.

Some people may be surprised to learn that companies produce dog shoes designed specifically for hiking. These shoes tend to feature thicker soles compared to other dog shoes.

Dog hiking shoes also often have thicker materials around the upper parts of the shoes. While most dog shoes are essentially thick socks with rubber padding on the bottom, dog hiking shoes are more like regular hiking boots. They may even have velcro straps to adjust the fit.

Dog hiking boots are a great idea when your dog will be hiking long distances.

Pros and Cons of Dog Shoes for Hiking

Are dog shoes good or bad? There are pros and cons to using dog shoes for hiking.


  • Protect the paws
  • Keep paws from cracking
  • Provide extra comfort with padding
  • Offer more stability and support

There are different types of hiking shoes and dog boots, but they all provide the same benefit: they provide cover for your dog’s paws. Even if you choose lightweight dog socks, your dog’s paws will have extra protection when traveling over hiking trails.

The thick padding prevents twigs, branches, and sharp rocks from injuring your dog’s paws.

Some dog shoes also protect against some of the potential threats that you may come across. Snakes, scorpions, ants, and other critters that bite may find it easier to strike your dog’s legs or paws. With the right protection, these critters will be less of a threat.

The padding also prevents your dog’s paws from cracking during long walks. If your dog’s paws get dried out, walking on rough terrain may cause the dry skin to crack, which can be painful to walk on. Dog shoes help protect against this problem.

Your dog may also enjoy the extra comfort offered by the padding. Spending all day on your feet can be tiring for both humans and dogs. You both deserve a little padding to help keep your feet from getting too sore.

A quality pair of dog boots with the right fit can also provide more stability and support. Human sneakers and boots include ankle support, while dog shoes offer support for your dog’s hocks (the dog equivalent to the ankle).


While putting shoes on your dog’s paws makes sense, there are a few potential issues to think about.

When you first try to put small shoes on your dog’s paws, he or she may have trouble walking. If your dog doesn’t like shoes, your dog is also likely to try to kick them off.

Some dogs get used to the experience of walking with something on their paws, while others never adapt.

Another potential issue with dog boots is finding the right size. Look at the video below to understand how to accurately measure your dog for boots.

If the shoes are a little big or a little small, they may not be comfortable on your dog’s paws.

Dog Shoes vs Dog Booties – What’s the Difference?

When shopping for dog shoes, you’ll likely find a wide variety of options, including some products that are labeled as “dog booties.”

Almost any product designed to cover your dog’s paws can be called a dog shoe, including booties or boots. However, booties and boots are not the same.


Dog booties typically refer to lightweight, slip-on dog shoes.

They are typically waterproof and don’t feature any extra padding.

They may be useful for protecting a paw after surgery or for protecting a pool liner when allowing a dog to go swimming in a pool.

Some dog booties are even disposable. You simply slide them off and toss them when you’re done.

Basically, booties provide a single layer of protection. The shoes are often made from a single material that is molded into the shape of the paw. They are also often constructed from flexible plastic or vinyl.

Most people think that dog booties resemble rain boots, which is the best way to think of these lightweight dog shoes.

What do dog booties protect against?

  • Water
  • Snow
  • Salt
  • Hot pavement.

An asphalt pavement can heat up to 143 degrees when the air temperature outside is 87 degrees. If you can fry an egg in five minutes at 131 degrees, imagine how uncomfortably hot your dog’s paws could become.


Booties may not provide the protection and stability needed for hiking.

Dog shoe or boot

A dog shoe or boot designed for hiking may resemble a human sneaker or hiking boot.

They typically have thick rubber soles and material around the ankles for support.

These types of dog shoes are also more likely to have Velcro straps for a secure fit.

While some protection may be better than no protection, dog shoes that resemble sneakers or hiking boots offer more padding compared to other styles such as dog booties.

Five Tips for Keeping Shoes on Your Dog

One of the difficulties of dealing with dog shoes is keeping them on your dog’s paws. Most dogs react negatively when you put shoes on their paws for the first time. It’s not natural and they simply want to kick them off their feet.

Here are five tips that you can use to learn how to keep dog boots on:

  1. Make sure you get the right fit
  2. Familiarize your dog with the boots
  3. Cover one paw at a time
  4. Keep the boots on for short periods
  5. Go for short walks in the boots.

1. Right fit

The first step is to make sure that the dog boots fit properly. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for sizing before buying the boots. You may want to purchase an adjustable pair with Velcro or zippers.

2. Familiarize your dog with their boots

Before putting the boots on, you should get your dog used to the sight and smell of the boots. Leave them lying around the house for a few days. After a while, your dog may not be scared when you pick up one of the boots.

3. One paw at a time

Here are the steps we recommend you follow if you think that your dog is ready :

  1. Try putting a boot on one paw
  2. Give your dog a treat
  3. Don’t fasten the zipper or Velcro.
  4. Keep the boot on loosely and allow your dog to walk or sit.
  5. After a minute or two, remove the boot and give your dog another small treat.

Repeat this process several times per day. With repetition, your dog will start to associate the boots with a reward.

Work your way up to two boots at a time, followed by three, and then all four boots. Don’t rush the process. Let your dog get used to the boots at his or her own pace.

4. Short periods

Once you get all four boots on, start leaving them on for short periods.

If your dog gets used to walking around the house in the boots, take your dog out for a walk with them on.

5. Short walks

Go for short walks with the boots on and fastened.

You may want to start with short walks around the block before taking your dog on a trail.

If you keep at it, your dog will start to get excited any time that you pull out the boots.

They’ll instantly connect the boots with going outdoors and will no longer try to kick them off at every opportunity.

If you want to know how to keep dog boots from falling off, make sure that the boots fit properly. As your dog walks around, try to see if the boots shift or slide around. If the boots are a good fit, your dog should be able to walk normally.

How to Choose the Right Dog Shoe for Hiking

Finding the right dog shoes for hiking is a lot like finding the right shoes for yourself. You need something that can hold up to repeated wear and provide extra protection for rugged outdoor play.

Some of the key considerations for choosing the right dog shoe for hiking include the following:

  • Material
  • Sole
  • Sizing
  • Quality


The upper part of the boots should feature water-resistant material. Some dog boots feature mesh canvas on the upper part, like human sneakers. There are also dog boots made from durable leather, which may offer a little extra protection.

The material should also be thick, to provide stability and support for your dog’s legs. The dog boots typically cover the lowest portions of the leg, helping to prevent your dog from twisting a paw.


Quality dog shoes for hiking should also feature durable, rugged soles. Rubber soles with ridges for added traction can help keep your dog from sliding or slipping on loose terrain.

Some dog shoes don’t include soles or padding. For example, dog booties are often made from a single material, much like rain boots for dogs.


The next consideration is the size of the boots. Remember to check the sizing in the product details and match the recommendations to your dog’s size.

Unfortunately, some shoes may not provide a perfect match for your dog’s paws. Your dog’s paws may also be a little big or small for his or her breed.

If the shoes are a little big or small, you’ll need to try the next size up or down or try shoes from a different brand. When the shoes are just a little too big, you may want to try using doggie socks, which is not the best idea.

Doggie socks may help create a snug fit, but they also limit the breathability of the shoes. Your dog needs to perspire from the pads on the bottom of the paws. With socks and boots on, your dog is likely to get uncomfortable very quickly.


When comparing dog shoes, you also need to think about the overall quality of the product. Always read customer reviews. You may find that the pair that you want wears out quickly or frequently has defects.

Tips for Keeping the Dog Shoes in Top Condition

If you take your dog for long hikes, the dog shoes will eventually get worn out. With a few shoe care tips, you can make them last longer and sustain their comfort and protection.

Some of these tips are the same tips that you should use for your own hiking boots.

At the end of the day, shake your boots out and remove any sand or debris.

If you’re camping, you should also keep them stored in the tent in case it rains.

After a long day of walking, the interior parts of the boot may be a little damp from sweat. Always try to store the boots so that the tops are open, allowing the insides to air out. If possible, allow the boots to completely dry before putting them back on your dog.

If the boots were tracked through mud, you should rinse them off instead of allowing the mud to harden. Trying to peel the mud off a few weeks later increases the risk of damaging the shoes and creating unnecessary wear.

You should also ensure that you’ve purchased the right shoes for the environment. If you’re going to go hiking, you should choose shoes with durable rubber soles and thick upper material. These shoes may hold up better to the rugged outdoors.

Frequently Asked Questions

While you now have a lot of information about dog shoes, you may still have a few questions. Let’s cover any other concerns about putting shoes on your dog’s paws.

What are dog shoes made of?

Dog shoes are made from a variety of materials.

You can find waterproof silicone dog booties, slip-on dog socks, dog sneakers, dog hiking boots, and dog snow boots.

Dog socks are typically made from cotton or wool and offer the least amount of protection and support.

Sneakers are often made from canvas or synthetic materials and may feature a breathable mesh design, like human sneakers. These shoes may be suitable for casual hiking.

Dog hiking boots and snow boots are often made with rubber soles and leather uppers. They may also have wool or cotton lining to make them warmer without sacrificing too much breathability.

Does a dog need socks with shoes?

You shouldn’t put socks on your dog’s paws without trying on the shoes. It’s better to find shoes that offer the right fit instead of compensating with socks.

Dogs sweat through the pads on the bottom of their paws, which is one of the reasons why dogs don’t typically like wearing shoes. It’s also the reason why you need to find breathable shoes.

When you put socks and shoes on your dog’s paws, you’re smothering their paws. The better option is to take the time to find a quality pair of dog shoes that properly fit your dog. You may also look for a pair that includes a Velcro strap for tightening the shoes.

It’s also possible to find dog socks with padded bottoms or rubber soles. These types of shoes slip on, but don’t have velcro straps to keep the shoes in place.

Are dog shoes cool or cruel?

Some people believe that placing any type of clothing on your dog is cruel, while lots of dog owners don’t see a problem with it.

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, most veterinarians agree that dog boots can help protect paws when traveling outdoors.

Do dog shoes come in different sizes?

Yes, dog shoes come in different sizes. Some shoes include a wide selection of sizes while others simply offer a few sizes for small, medium, or large dogs.

When looking at dog shoes, pay attention to the recommended size. The product details should include a few examples of breeds that should fit in the shoes. Compare your dog to these examples to increase the chances of finding a good fit.

What is the alternative to dog boots?

There are two options:

  1. Dog socks. Dog socks are not durable enough for hiking.
  2. Applying balms or ointments before heading out for the hike. Look for the ones made from natural ingredients to reduce the chance it stings when applied to the paw pad. This creamy application will eventually rub off. In this case, check the underneath of your dog’s paws at each break when hiking or at the first sign of limping to see if there’s anything causing your dog discomfort.

These Boots Were Made For Hiking

Do dogs need shoes when hiking? While you may not need special dog shoes for hiking, they do offer a few added benefits. As discussed, there are dog shoes that feature thicker rubber soles with good traction. They also typically have thicker material around the sides to give your dog more support.

Where Are Those Boots Gonna Go To?

With or without boots, if you and your dog are keen for your next hiking adventure and need some inspiration on where to go, look at the detailed dog-friendly hiking guides we’ve created for our readers. These will be great resources in planning your trip. Enjoy!

Name and link to articleState
Hiking with dogs in National ParksArizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Utah, Maine and Virginia
Grand Lake Colorado: dog friendly hiking trailsColorado
Off leash hikes in ColoradoColorado
Cherokee National ForestTennessee


Michelle loves enjoying the outdoors with her dogs. She grew in a big house near the beach with German Shepherds. Nowadays, Michelle has down-sized her dogs to poodles, proving small dogs can enjoy the outdoors too! Her dogs enjoy playing fetch, swimming, and long walks. Michelle and her dogs enjoy escaping the city limits to hike, camp, and swim.

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