Since writing this review, we bought a second set of 500D in black and a full set of 1000D in bright neon green! To make sure the boots wouldn’t be too stiff, I sized all four feet up to size XXS (1.75″). They work great – Robin doesn’t mind the slight extra stiffness, they feel tougher and stay on just as well. If you care about dirt, skip the light colors, but otherwise I’d recommend 1000D for all sizes 1.25 +.
Dogbooties.com sent us a test set of their 500D booties! They were recommended to me by @groundbirdgear, maker of custom fit dog packs for thru-hikers, and they’re also popular with sled dogs.
Price: $3 per boot, $12 per set
Sizing and colors: Black, XXXS (1.5″ paw width) – XL (3.5″ paw width) in 500D (the 300D and 1000D both have many more color options)
We did an extensive boots test awhile back, comparing Ruffwear Summit Trex, Hurtta Outbacks, Ultrapaws Durable and Muttluks All-Weather. Our top pick then was the Ruffwear boot for its durability and, but we have a new favorite – these simple booties from dogbooties.com. They stand out in three big ways- they pack flat, they stay on, and they don’t cause dew claw blisters. The best boots are always going to be the ones you have with you, and these are so light and flat I can stuff them into Robin’s pack or my hipbelt pocket without noticing they’re there. Even better, these are the only boots that Robin hasn’t thrown, EVER. They won’t come off no matter how much leaping and careening he does, and I think it’s the combination of ultralight construction and the slightly stretchy closures that do it. And those same closures resolve our biggest reoccurring problem with boots- dew claw blisters. Even without socks, his dew claws don’t get irritated, probably because the stretch closures give with his movement.
The boots are ultra-simple: a sewn sock with a wrap-around “VELSTRETCH” closure. You can choose breathable 330D Cordura (best for dry snow), or water-resistant Cordura in 500D or 1000D for rougher ground. There’s also a fleece option, and a “Toughtek” material (the same as Ultrapaws soles) for indoor traction. The website doesn’t list the smaller sizes under 1000D fabric because small dogs have typically found them to be stiff, but they’ll make them for you upon request. I was hesitant to start with a stiffer material since Robin has a history of refusing flat boots, but I think we’ll try the 1000D for our next set and report back.
The seams on the inside are finished (unlike Muttluks) but they do protrude into the boot. There is no sole, so you can use either side as the top, and even flip them upside down when the “sole” starts to get worn. The toes are square and slightly tapered, which makes them fit a range of paw widths snugly without a lot of excess, though they do have a bit of a clunky, basic look, especially coupled with the lack of adornment or reflectors. Unfortunately, the 500D fabric only comes in black, while the 330D and 1000D come in a range of colors. The boots are ultralight – a single boot in the 1.5″ size weighs 5.5g (compared to 22g for Ruffwear, 17g for Hurtta, and 20g for Ultrapaws).
The Velcro closures are the star of the show here. Though I prefer closures that double back on themselves (like on the Muttluks and Ruffwear) because it’s easier to adjust the tightness, these do work and they stay stuck. The stretch Velcro is a particularly sticky, particularly loopy one that gets fuzzy with multiple removals, but even in its current shredded state, stays closed with no problems.
I picked XXS (1.75″) for his 1.75″ front paws, and XXXS (1.5″) for his 1.25″ back paws. The front boots fit on all the way, with his toenails hitting the front of the boot, but during activity settle downward just enough that he has space in front of his toes, and stay there. The XXXS are a little snugger and his feet don’t quite go all the way in, so they’d actually fit a dog with smaller feet – maybe even 1″. Due to the tapered toes, there’s some flexibility on size. If the sizes don’t work for your pup, you could even sew your own – the website offers the nylon and the VELSTRETCH closures for sale.
I do think the toes could be slightly less square, to streamline the boots a bit, but Robin shockingly doesn’t seem to find them clunky at all. The lightness of the boots combined with the stretch straps seems to be a winning combination for his comfort.
Although our test run without socks proved that he doesn’t get dew claw blisters with these boots, Robin’s still prone to toe blisters because he has incredibly thin foot fur, so we do use socks. These coated water-resistant boots are also a little rougher on the inside than outside, so it helps protect his fur. We’ve learned a lot about socks since our initial boot comparison test and here is our new favorite sock solution.
Trail: Robin’s feet have wings with these on. They’re just enough protection to keep his feet comfortable, but not enough that he can’t feel the ground – he’s much more surefooted in these than in hard boots. I’m revising my previous preference for hard soles on the trail – he has much better grip on steep slopes when he can flex his feet through the boot, and the only slipping he does is his recreational skidding. I wasn’t worried about him running along the ridgeline of the mountain in these, but in hard boots, I would have been terrified about his traction. With that said, they’ll wear out much faster than hard sole boots like Hurttas or Ruffwear – so expect to buy multiples or put in a little effort to maintain the sole (whether that means coating them in Freesole or gluing on suede soles). But aside from all that – these boots STAY ON. And not having to scramble down a loose slope to fetch a thrown boot is pretty fantastic.
Snow: We’ve only tried these in wet snow so far- dry powder is pretty rare in Southern California. Traction isn’t great, but wet snow is already slippery so it’s hard to say how much the boots contribute. On ice, traction is of course poor – most boots are and unfortunately they don’t make dog crampons. They do such a good job of sealing out dirt and dust that I think they’ll be equally successful with dry snow, but unfortunately they wet through quickly in wet snow, so we are on the search for a different winter solution.
Street: They’re great for the street and sidewalk, but they’ll wear out fast. The holes in Robin’s back boots are from fetch sessions on concrete more than from trail use. For regular walking, they should last awhile, but it would be smart to coat the soles before use.
Indoors: They’re very slippery on anything smooth- wood, tile, retail store laminate. If you’re running errands and going indoors and outdoors frequently, or planning to use these on a service dog, I recommend putting some lines of silicone caulk, fabric paint or similar to add grip to the soles. You’ll still benefit from the boot design and the grip can be re-added when it wears off.
Build Quality 4.5/5
This is a harder category to rate, because unlike all the other boots, these are really designed to be on the disposable side (just look at the price!) However, I’m planning to get some more life out of this first set. I didn’t keep track of the mileage we got out of these, but we’ve had them for about three months and he wore his first real holes in one back boot on our last hike. I’m positive they got the most wear from fetch on concrete, because he skids with his back feet while chasing the toy and dirt trails are gentle in comparison. The Velcro closures are also showing wear – one is shredding on the bottom edge, and they’re all very fuzzy and torn up. However, they still hold perfectly well, they’re easier to undo without hurting Robin, and they wash up well.
To maximize the life of these boots, since I don’t really believe in disposable stuff, I added a suede sole to the worn-through back boots (using Freesole as glue), and added a layer of Freesole to the front boots to see if it helps extend their life. The suede is a safer option because it has better grip, but I wanted to test them against one another.
You’ll notice these rated the same as the Ruffwear Summit Trex, which I still believe are good boots, but the Dogbooties.com are now my favorites and top recommendation because they stay on. They’re also insanely affordable, and make a lot of sense for occasional boot users because they pack flat and will last awhile with occasional use.
They’re not the most attractive boots, but they get the job done and wash well. We’ll report back on the durability of the new suede and Freesole soles. I suspect we’ll always have a set of these in Robin’s pack in case we hit rough ground.
Best for: Trail use- especially rough or more technical trails where grip is critical, snow use, some errand use (wear quickly on rough concrete), dogs with dew claws, sensitive feet
Not ideal for: Heavy use on rough ground if replacements or sole reinforcement isn’t possible
Dogbooties.com vs Ruffwear Summit Trex: For dogs with dew claws, choose Dogbooties.com to avoid blisters (Ruffwear’s Grip Trex have the same rise as the Summit Trex and likely will also hit the dew claw). We found that Dogbooties.com stayed on much better due to their stretch Velcro closures, and Robin had better traction and was more sure-footed. They’re also going to be better in snow than the Summit Trex because the closure is right at the top. However, they don’t have an outsole and will wear out much, much faster, so if you’re not willing to replace them frequently or explore options to extend the sole’s longevity, Ruffwear will be a better bet. They’re much more basic in design as well – Ruffwear are also a LOT cuter and have extras like reflectors. I expect that we’ll still use our Ruffwear boots in certain situations, but he’ll be carrying a set of Dogbooties.com in case he loses a boot.
Dogbooties.com vs Hurtta Outbacks: Another flat boot vs. molded boot comparison. Both models seal out snow and dirt well, since the strap wraps right at the top of the boot, but the Dogbooties.com stay on much, much better for us (especially since the Outbacks aren’t offered in Robin’s front paw size). As with the Ruffwear boots, I was less confident in Robin’s traction with the Outbacks’ hard sole, but the Dogbooties.com will wear out much faster without an outsole. The Outbacks have a microfleece lining and waterproof shell and might be warmer in cold conditions, but are too hot for summer.
Dogbooties.com vs Ultrapaws Durable: Robin flatly refused to walk in the Ultrapaws so I can’t compare durability, but I suspect they’d last longer since they’re a similar design with an added vinyl sole. Because the pup felt insecure with the stiff, slick soles, I can’t recommend Ultrapaws for trail use, but for indoor use they have good grip (Dogbooties.com don’t) and are nice and quiet on floors. They are fussier to put on, with the two-strap system, and didn’t stay on Robin’s feet well because we couldn’t get them very tight. Considering the price difference, I’d recommend Dogbooties.com, and consider adding a silicone sole or getting the Toughtek version for indoor use.
Dogbooties.com vs Muttluks: These are the closest in design, though the Muttluks have a suede sole that adds some durability. The Muttluks have a closure strap that’s nearly as effective (with an added reflector), but it’s situated down lower, right over the dew claw, and the cuff above is free to collect snow and grit. Now that I’ve glued a suede sole onto Robin’s back Dogbooties.com, I think I have the best of both worlds. Considering that the Muttluks cost a good four times as much for a set, the Dogbooties.com are an undeniable value.
3/5/17 Updated information about boots in snow, dropped function rating to 4.5 due to wet snow functionality, but increased build quality rating to 4.5 because boots hold up so well.