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Reviews > Animal Companion Gear > Dog Wear > Ruff Wear Barkn Boots > Owner Review by Sheila Morrissey

Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots Grip Trex
Dog Boots

Ruff Wear boots

Date: August 14, 2008

Name: Sheila Morrissey
Age: 28
Gender: female
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.7 m)
Weight: 155 lb (70 kg)
Email address: geosheila(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country: Goleta, California, USA

I have been backpacking, mostly in the Sierra Nevada and Los Padres National Forest, with friends and my dog since 2005. I most often enjoy a leisurely 5 mi (8 km) or so in a day. Including consumables, my pack is usually around 25 lb (11 kg).

Breed: Shepherd mix
Age: 4
Gender: Spayed female
Weight: 70 lb (32 kg)
Dewclaws: yes

Breed: Boxer
Age: 6
Gender: Neutered male
Weight: 60 lb (27 kg)
Dewclaws: clipped

Manufacturer: Ruff Wear, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Manufacturer's Website:
Size: Medium
Listed Weight: N/A   
Measured Weight: 8.1 oz (230 g) for all four
MSRP: US$ 59.95

The Ruff Wear Grip Trex dog boots were designed to fit a dog's paw shape. According to the manufacturer, they are "built on an anatomical mold like human shoes". The shoes have rigid-feeling Vibram soles and mesh uppers. The "expansion gusset" is meant to make putting these shoes on a little easier. The "Sure Cinch closure straps" tighten around the dog's legs above the paws.

Both dogs wore the Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots Grip Trex dog boots in the snow on an eight-day car-camping and hiking trip in the eastern Sierra and Lake Tahoe areas in 2006. The total mileage was low, since we were just playing in the snow, but they probably each put a few miles (several kilometers) on the boots. For the most part, the dogs were sinking into the snow above the tops of the boots.

Since then, we've carried them in our packs on a couple of summer-weather hikes, just in case one of the dogs cut a paw. The boxer wore them once to protect a new indoor floor when visiting a friend.

The boxer wore the boots again for at least half of a 25-mi (40-km) backpacking trip on the Lost Coast in northern California. A few miles of the trail were on packed dirt and we had a couple of bouldery stream crossings, but most of the trail was on sandy beaches.

My boxer happily wore an older (now unavailable) version of Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots (the kind without the Vibram soles) on many short hikes in the snow. He likes them so much that he won't step out into the snow without boots. When I was planning a winter trip with a friend, I suggested my friend buy Bark'n Boots for his shepherd mix. He bought the newer Bark'n Boots Grip Trex because that's what was available.

The Bark'n Boots Grip Trex boots belong to the shepherd mix, so she was the first dog to wear them on our snowy camping trip. The trip was her first time wearing boots, so we waited until right before letting her off to play in the snow before putting on the boots. We've found that the training period shouldn't be torturous for the dog, so we just had to convince her that wearing boots is just something dogs have to do when they get to play and run around and have fun in the snow. The boots stayed on her paws and didn't seem to bother her at first. After a half of a mile or so (less than a km), she trailed some blood in the snow, so we took off the boots right away. The front boots had caused her dewclaws to bleed. When we couldn't find a way to avoid the dewclaw irritation, we had the dogs switch boots. The shepherd had no problems with her dewclaws in the older Bark'n Boots and my boxer had his dewclaws clipped, so he was able to comfortably wear these boots for our short hikes in the snow.
However, when the snow was deep and his paws sank into it, snow collected in the expandable gusset at the back of his paws. The packed snow eventually formed ice and, at one point, he got a little cut on the back of his paw from the ice. The ice formation seemed terribly uncomfortable. Once we were aware of the problem, we continually scooped out all of the snow that was caught at the back. Back at the car, we were happy to find that the dogs had toasty warm paws. But they were also terribly stinky. That whole thing about how dogs don't sweat is a total lie -- their feet sweat big time! We experimented with baby socks, but they just slipped down. I see from Ruff Wear's website that they are now selling sock liners for these boots.

Ruff Wear boots5

After that trip, we carried the boots around with us on a few hikes in case a dog cut a paw, but the dogs never used them on these hikes. When both dogs went to visit a friend with brand new flooring, they each wore a pair of boots. The boxer got the Bark'n Boots because they caused the shepherd's dewclaws to bleed.

Fast forward a year and a half with the boots stashed away in the garage, and we remembered the dewclaw problem, but not the problem of snow filling up the back of the expandable gusset above the Sure Cinch closure. When choosing which dog boots the boxer should wear for a backpacking trip (without the shepherd mix) on the Lost Coast, I thought the grippy Vibram soles would make these boots worthwhile. I must say they were better than nothing, and I'm glad I brought dog boots on this trip, but I made the wrong decision on which dog boots to bring. Piles of sand got into the Bark'n Boots and we found ourselves dumping out all four dog boots and wiping off my dog's feet at least every quarter of a mile (0.4 km). The whole point of wearing dog boots on this trail is that the coarse sand there is known to be particularly harsh on dog paws. With sand inside the boots, it had just as much of an opportunity to wear down the pads of my dog's paws. After about 20 mi (32 km), I could see the boots were wearing away the fur on the inside of his back paws. (Three weeks have passed and he's still got little red bald spots there.) My dog didn't want to keep wearing the boots, but I made him because at least there was something under my dog's pads to provide some protection from bruising. A few times, he convinced me to let him get away with just wearing front boots or back boots. I found the boots worked best on the sections of hard-packed dirt trail we encountered, but I decided to let my dog have a break from the boots there. Despite the Vibram soles, he didn't feel very sure of himself walking on boulders or crossing streams while wearing the boots, so I also removed the boots then. He did get the boots wet in a couple of streams. They took at least a day to dry and they definitely got even more stinky.

Ruff Wear boots

I absolutely would not recommend these to any dog owner. There have to be better dog boots out there. For now, I'm sticking with the older Ruff Wear boots.

  • They stayed on securely
  • Kept dog paws warm in the snow
  • They protected indoor floors
  • They were better than nothing for protecting dog paws on harsh trails
  • They worked well on packed trails, but were unnecessary there
  • They smell really bad
  • Once they got wet, they took a long time to dry
  • The high fit caused dewclaws to bleed
  • The cuff above the Sure Cinch closure collected ice, cutting dog paws
  • Sand easily entered the shoes, sanding down dog paw pads
  • Rubbed off the hair on the insides of the back paws after extended use

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