Picking the Best Boots for Your Dog: A How-To Guide

Dog booties can turn your pup into a weather warrior, but it's all about snagging the perfect fit and material for the world outside.

Updated December 7, 2023
Dog in coat and boots on white snowy background

Dog booties may not be an everyday necessity, but in certain circumstances, they can be super helpful to your canine companion. For those living in areas with extreme weather conditions, like blistering hot summers or harsh winters, booties offer protection for your dog's sensitive paws. Whether you're considering purchasing booties for your pet for the first time or looking to replace an old pair, it's important to understand their paw measurements, the suitable material for your specific environment, and the price range that fits your budget.

When Should Dogs Wear Boots and Shoes?

Dog shoes and boots aren't right for every dog, but they do have some great benefits if you're willing to train your dog to wear them. 

Dog Booties for Snow

French Bulldog dog playing in the winter with man

Winter conditions can be particularly challenging in various regions, affecting not just humans but also our dogs. In such climates, dog clothing becomes more than a fashion choice; it's important to protect dogs from the elements and toxins in the environment (like salt on their daily winter walk). Dog boots and shoes are available in a variety of different materials and styles to help with snow or winter weather (more on this later). 

Fast Fact

Even dog sledders use boots to keep their dogs' feet safe, warm, and dry. They understand the importance of keeping their dogs' paws healthy in the severe cold and challenging terrains they travel in.

Dog Booties for Summer

Summer heat can mean hot pavement in many regions — hot enough to burn and crack sensitive paw pads. Many urban dog owners pack a favorite set of dog booties for walking around hot city pavement. 

Need to Know

Dog boots come in different materials including plastic, leather, suede, nylon, and fleece, with some being better than others in harsh weather or different terrain.

Dog Rain Boots

Do you like stepping in puddles with bare feet? Your dog might not either. Plus, many puddles in suburban or urban environments collect toxic chemicals and lawn runoff, which can be dangerous for your dog. For some dogs, wearing a pair of rainboots can help them stay dry and more comfortable.

Dog Water Shoes

Finally, varieties of dog water shoes and booties are available that can both protect your dog's paws from scorching hot sand and also unknown, sharp hazards that might be under the water's surface. 

Picking the Best Dog Boots and Shoes for Your Situation

There are several factors that should be taken into consideration when choosing dog boots. Each style is made for different uses, and some are easier than others for differently-sized dogs. Make sure to pick a style and size that's best-suited for your pup.

Dog Bootie Style Pros and Cons

Now to the boots, their materials, and the different styles they come in. Consider each factor carefully to decide which kind would work best for your dog and the area you reside in. 

Plastic Dog Boots

Typically, dog boots are sold in sets of four, with the most traditional design being a plastic boot featuring an elastic band at the top. The main drawback of this style is that, although they offer excellent waterproof protection for things like puddles, they are prone to slipping off their paws.

To accommodate a dog's foot, the boot needs to have a wide shaft or leg, almost matching the width of the space for the dog's foot. This design can make the boots less secure and more likely to get lost during walks or playtime.

Leather Boots

There's a kind of dog boot made from one piece of leather that has two holes at the front for the dog's middle toes. The dog's toes go into these holes, and then you pull up the tongue of the boot and lace up the sides. Hunters have favored this style for many years because of its thickness and durability, offering substantial protection for the dog's feet against various hazards, except for something as sharp as a nail.

Unfortunately, this type of boot can be quite time-consuming to put on. If you're in a hurry, especially when taking your dog out for a quick bathroom break, it might not be the most practical choice. Your dog might get restless or uncomfortable waiting. In these situations, considering a different type of boot might be more convenient.


Boots made from nylon and polar fleece generally share the same design, but their materials are much different from one another. A great aspect of these boots is that they often feature Velcro closures, making them convenient to put on and adjust to your dog's leg quickly.

Polar fleece boots are excellent for keeping paws warm in cold and snowy conditions, but they tend to absorb water easily. Nylon boots resist water well but don't provide as much insulation. Some dog owners opt to purchase both types. They use the polar fleece boots for warmth and then cover them with the nylon boots for water resistance, ensuring the dog's feet stay both warm and dry.

Sizing Your Dog for Booties

Dog on a winter walk with sweater

Now that you know what style your dog needs, what size should you get? Measuring your dog's paws sounds like a lot of work, but it's definitely worth doing. A shoe that's too small will hurt their paws, and one that's too big will fall off. We want to make sure your dog's paws fit comfortably. Fortunately, it's not too bad if you use the paper method.

Here are the steps to easily measure your dog's footsies:

Gather Materials

Grab a piece of paper, a writing utensil like a pen or pencil, and measuring tape.

Use a Flat Surface

Call your dog over to a flat surface. You'll want them to stay standing up so you can get the size of the paws while they're holding your dog's weight. In other words, don't measure them while your dog is lying down.

Paper Time

Put the piece of paper under each of your dog's paws (sometimes, one paw can be slightly different than the others). 

Get An Outline

Carefully trace around the paw with the pencil. Include the nails, but not the fur, to get an accurate size. Be as precise as possible (grab your pup a treat to distract them from moving).

Do Your Measuring

Let your dog go and use a ruler or measuring tape to measure the length and width of the drawing. The length is from the back of the paw to the tip of the longest nail, and the width is the widest part of the paw. Trim your pup's nails if necessary, as long nails can alter the measurement.

Quick Tip

If you order online, you'll probably see sizes like extra small, small, medium, large, and so on. If that's the case, ask the company what their dimensions are for each shoe size. Make sure you know your dog's measurements to order the appropriate size based on that specific company's measurements.

How Dog Shoes Should Fit

Just like your own shoes, you want to make sure there is enough room to accommodate their entire foot, including their toenails. You don't want them to puncture the boots the first time you get them on. This ensures your dog's maximum comfort. Make sure to zip the shoe all the way up and securely fasten the Velcro around your dog's ankles for correct and safe use of the shoe.

Protect Your Dog's Feet

Dog boots are more than just a fashion statement; in many situations, they serve as a practical and essential tool for ensuring your dog's safety and well-being. In some cases, they can be a really helpful tool for keeping your dog safe and protecting against the harsh elements of the outdoors, whether it's muddy, snowing, swimming, or walking on rough terrain. 

Picking the Best Boots for Your Dog: A How-To Guide