Do Dogs Need Hiking Boots? (Everything You Need to Know)

No doubt, if you’re a dog owner, you’ve included your canine companion on some of your hiking adventures. However, as you pack the right gear to prepare for the trip, did you ever consider that your dog might need hiking boots also? 

Depending on where you plan on hiking or the time of the year, outdoor dog shoes might make a necessary addition to your essential gear. However, dog boots are not always a necessary item for you to pack. 

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about dog boots and whether or not you should put a pair on your furry friend the next time you hit the trails. 

Quick Summary 

  • Dogs generally do not need to wear booties or shoes outdoors. However, they can provide your dog with an extra layer of protection against the winter, hot pavement or rocky terrain.  
  • An older dog may find some benefits from wearing hiking shoes or boots regularly, as they help to improve stability and traction and increase safety. 
  • You should always get your dog used to wearing boots or shoes by trying them on at home and wearing them for short walks before hiking long trails. 

Should Dogs Wear Shoes When Hiking? 

For outdoor walks or hikes, most dogs should not need to wear shoes or boots. However, if you’ll be walking in extreme weather conditions or on very rough terrain, your dog may benefit from some extra paw protection. 

Dog boots protect the dog’s paws and paw pads from injuries and cuts due to sharp rocks, pointy sticks, cold surfaces, hot pavement, and other hazards. 

How Does Your Dog Benefit From Hiking Shoes?

dog crossing a river

Increased Stability and Traction 

This advantage mainly applies to older dogs, who tend to be less stable than their younger peers. The rubber soles on the bottom of the dog boots help grip the ground better than their naked paws, especially when walking on the uneven terrain of hiking trails.

The improved traction effect also applies to patches of snow and ice, where your dog may slip or fall. 

Since the dog booties also provide stability for your dog while walking, the chance of a sprain to the dog’s hocks ankles) or other injury decreases, especially if you’re walking long distances together.    

Extra Padding On Feet

Although a dog’s paw pads have good cushioning on their own, the thick padding of the shoes will provide extra comfort for your dog’s feet. In return, your dog (especially the leg area) will feel less sore at the end of the day.  

Paw Protection

As mentioned earlier, one of the main benefits of dog shoes or boots is that they protect the dog’s paws from any unforeseen obstacles.  

If you mainly keep your dog inside at home, it will have softer pads than dogs that spend most of their time outdoors. That means that the dog boots provide protection to the more delicate pads against heat, cold, and sharp objects. 

Dog boots can also help reduce blistering and cracked paws, two other things that can leave your dog feeling uncomfortable at the end of a hike. 

Are There Any Drawbacks?

dog resting in the grass

Although the advantages we mentioned above prove that dog booties can help protect paws and provide better traction on long hikes, a few disadvantages also exist for dog boots.   

Your Dog Might Not Like Them 

Dog boots aren’t natural for your dog, and many dogs do not enjoy wearing boots at all. Your dog may even try to pull them off and refuse to wear them. 

Note your dog’s personality when deciding whether or not to invest in dog boots. If your dog does not like to wear clothing (like sweaters or jackets), it might not enjoy wearing hiking boots. 

They Can Affect How Your Dog Walks 

Undoubtedly, dog shoes can affect how your dog walks, and it can take a while for your dog to get used to them. Your friend may feel like it’s off balance or unsteady the first time they wear dog booties. 

Before trying shoes out on rough terrain, first introduce your dog to them around the house to get used to the feel of the boots and how they affect their gait. If your dog adjusts well to them in the house, you can feel confident taking them with you on a hike.  

It Can Be Challenging To Find The Right Size of Boots 

Foot pads should fit similarly to the way your own hiking boots fit, close-fitting but not too tight. You also don’t want them to fit too loosely, either.

Make sure to read the sizing chart of the dog shoes you want to purchase, as the sizes of different brands may vary, and you want to make sure that you get a good fit. 

The wrong size boots will provide a negative experience for your dog and may even compromise safety and exposure your dog to injuries. 

The Dog’s Paws Won’t Harden 

As we talked about, the paws of indoor dogs tend to be softer than the paws of dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors. If you plan to start hiking with your dog more often, you want the paw pads to get a bit tougher so that they’ll be less prone to injury. 

Wearing dog boots frequently will not allow this process to happen, as they provide too much protection to the dog’s feet and won’t allow the dog’s paws to get tough. After a while, your dog may depend too much on the boots. 

Allowing your dog’s paws to naturally harden and build up resistance to their environment is the best way to stay injury-free going forward. 

Just like how you wouldn’t want to wear boots for hiking every day because it’s not good for your foot, your dog will need a break as well.   

Related Article: What Kind Of Shoes I Should Wear When Hiking

Are There Any Dog Breeds That Need Booties More Than Others? 

We’ve already mentioned that elderly dogs reap the benefits of booties more than younger dogs, but what about specific breeds?

Do some types of dogs need booties more than others? Here are a couple of examples of dogs that may require booties more than others, especially for hiking. 


Chihuahua dog playing in the grass

The Chihuahua was bred in the warm weather climate of Mexico.

So, if you live in an area with harsh winter conditions, cold pavement, or ice, its paws may suffer and feel discomfort.

This dog may benefit from wearing dog shoes, especially in harsh winter conditions.  

Bernese Mountain Dog or Siberian Husky 

Bernese Mountain Dog posing for picture
Bernese Mountain Dog

These two types of dogs were bred in extreme cold weather conditions and are used to ice, snow, rough terrain, and some of the harshest conditions. 

In the summer months, the heat will cause them to suffer.

Hot surfaces may really bother their paws, and you may find that dog shoes help alleviate some of the pain. 

As you can see from the examples, the type of canine that you have and the climate in the area of the world where it was bred can greatly affect their need for dog shoes or booties. Each dog’s paws will react differently to the environmental conditions.   

How To Keep Booties On My Dog? 

If you want to put dog shoes on your canine and find that they keep removing them from their paws, you can try a few steps to help them learn to keep them on. 

  • Puppies will get used to hiking boots or shoes easier than grown dogs. Try introducing wearing boots to your dog when it’s just a pup. 
  • Put the boots on your dog for short periods of time around the home before you expect the dog to wear the footwear for hours on the trails for your outdoor adventures. 
  • Praise your dog often for wearing shoes. You may want to give them treats or extra attention. 

Best Dog Boots Alternatives 

dog standing for a picture in the woods

If you want to provide protection to your dog’s feet but can’t get your dog to wear shoes because it finds them to be uncomfortable, you may want to try a product called paw wax. 

Paw wax provides a layer of protection to your dog’s paws against extreme temperatures on surfaces without the hassle of putting shoes on its feet.  

Simply apply the wax to the bottom of your dog’s paws. The wax will moisturize and help prevent dry skin on the paw. It can also help soothe the dog’s pads that are cracked or have scrapes. 

The only downfall is that it will not protect against sharp rocks or other objects the same way hiking shoes do. 

You can also purchase dog socks instead of dog hiking shoes. Your dog may find that socks feel more comfortable than dog shoes, and they can help protect the dog’s legs from extreme temperatures. 

Should You Buy Hiking Shoes For Your Dog?

Deciding whether or not to buy hiking shoes for your dog’s paws is largely a matter of personal preference. As a dog owner, you know your dog best and can determine if it may require the added layer of protection that shoes will provide.  

If you do wish for a man’s best friend to wear boots or shoes, numerous brands provide options to protect your dog’s paws from snow and ice, extreme temperatures, or hazards. 

Here are a few pairs that I recommend if you’re in the market for some new gear for your furry friend. Make sure to read customer reviews before purchasing to determine if they’d work well for your dog.  

  • Ultra Paws Durable Dog Boots – protect the foot from sharp objects, like rocks or sticks. They’re also water-resistant. 
  • Ruffwear Dog Hiking Boots  – these boots have rubber soles to provide great traction, and they tend to last a long time when compared to other dog hiking boots on the market. They also make a great pair of snow boots for your dog. 


Do Dogs Need Boots for Snow Hiking?

Dog hiking boots can help your dog when hiking in the snow by providing traction and protecting your dog’s paws from getting too wet or cold. You may want to have your dog wear boots in the snow if you’ll be taking it on a long hike. 

Finally, in the winter, you’ll see salt on the ground to melt the snow. This salt can be very harsh on your dog’s paws, and putting shoes on can also help prevent injuries. 

How Do I Protect My Dog’s Paws When Hiking?

Your dog’s paws are well adapted for outdoor adventures and often do not need too much protection from the typical terrain you’ll encounter.

However, if you feel want to make sure that your dog stays safe on rough terrain or when hiking in the mountains, you may want to invest in some booties, dog socks, or dog hiking shoes.  

Jennifer Strom

Jennifer Strom

Jennifer Strom has been a writer for over 20 years and an outdoor and hiking enthusiast for most of her life. After spending much of her career in the corporate world, she decided to freelance to spend more time with her family and explore new places. You will find her always looking forward to her next weekend adventure and writing guides that help others make the most of their own hikes and time outdoors.

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