In a recent post, I told you a little bit about how much of a pain the dog boots I first got Gwynn were. I also explained why the weather in Toronto last winter was such a bizarre combination of abysmal (seriously, SO. MUCH. RAIN.), and lacking in severe weather conditions. I got new boots… Gwynn got new boots… it’s a miracle winter came this year, frankly.
Ruffwear was nice enough to send me a set of their Polar Trex dog boot. What most interested me about their boots was that they don’t use velcro. The boot is held on with (and I quote, here) a Cam buckle ankle strap and cord loop closure system. My hope for this was that, if snow did get into the system, it would still function.
The next thing I noticed was that the rubber sole of the boot is by the same company that produced my toe shoes. That isn’t what you’d call ‘pertinent’ information, but it is information.
I’m going to break it down into aspects of the whole boot experience, so bear with me.
If you’re not in the United States, trying them on in-store won’t be an option. That being said, they go into great detail about the sizing online, and I chose the right size pair for Gwynn based on the measurements of his paws. DO trace your dog’s foot and measure it – I think they quite purposely didn’t mark their sizing down as small, medium, large, etc – because your large dog might have medium sized feet. Gwynn looks like a ballerina in his boots, his surprisingly dainty feet usually covered in a thick muppet-like coating of hair. 4/4 paws!
Donning and Fitting
The back ones are easy – he practically puts them on himself by trying to put his foot down. The front ones require a bit more shimmying around, but with practice, it’s getting easier to do – basically, his wrist gets in the way.
They have some good tips, and a video talking about how to adjust the boot properly, which I found very helpful. The strap needs to be pulled tighter than I did the first few times, but I’m getting better at it.
I am very happy with the buckle closure, and with the additional strap and loop closure at the top of the boot. The only way I could think of to improve that would be to make it a plastic snapping-buckle with adjustable strap (like on many collars). Then I could, mostly, keep each boot at the correct tightness for fore- and hind-legs.
I’m not entirely happy about the way the boots fit on his front legs – they come up over his Carpal Pad, which I think is a big part of why the front boots don’t stay on nearly as well as the back boots. It doesn’t seem to make him uncomfortable, but it’s not ideal. They should consider selling the boots with a shorter front-set. If either of their other types of (non-winter) boots had the buckle closure, I’d consider getting two of those to use on his front legs, since they’re a lower boot. Velcro+snow, however, generally means rummaging through snowbanks, trying to find that boot. Based on some of the reviews on their site, I wonder if Gwynn might need a different size of boot for his front paws.
Gearing up and Fit – 2/4 paws!
The boots have held up quite well to a few months of off-and-on usage. They don’t seem to be getting salt-damaged, and all the seams are solid. After they’ve been out in fresh snow, they look just as good as when I took them out of the box. It’s a wonderful thing. Just based on the construction of these boots, I wouldn’t have any concerns with ordering other products from the Ruffwear website. 4/4 paws!
The first time I put them on him, I held in so much laughter that my stomach hurt for days. Want to see a dog act like the ground is lava? Yeah.
He got used to them within short order – just get the dog moving around outside, and they’ll tend to forget about the boots. Both Ruffwear and I strongly recommend tightening the boot after you’ve been walking for a while.
Additionally, I’d suggest checking/tightening the strap every half hour or so, if your dog is off-leash and running around in the snow. We had a beautiful snowfall last friday, and spent 2 hours out walking in the woods, with Gwynn off-leash and running like a madman. By then, I’d had much more practice with getting the boots tight enough, and before letting him offleash at the park, I retightened them. An hour later, he still had the boots on. Downside – I didn’t check them and retighten at that point, and I spent the next 20 minutes trying to find a lost boot (soon followed by the other front boot) in the snow at dusk. They stay on as well as I think is reasonable to expect – but all that running around does loosen the straps a bit, so tighten them on a regular basis. While I wish I could just put his boots on at the beginning of a few hours of off-leash hike and forget about them, I think the only way that would happen is if his boots were part of a full-body snowsuit, or were attached to each other in a harness over his back.
On-leash, I didn’t bother tightening them at all, and could forget about them entirely.
Wearability – 3/4 paws
Price: 89.95 USD
The price seemed kind of steep, especally compared to the 40 I spent on the frankenboots (pre-modification). The frankenboots were terrible quality, however, and the Polar Trex should last me quite a few years without any modification or repair. You really do get what you pay for. One nice feature of the product is that, if you do lose a boot, they sell individual replacements online.
+ great quality
+ helps a lot to keep our walks enjoyable with snow and salt
+ stays on perfectly while on-leash
– have to tighten straps regularly if the dog is running around loose
– The boots are too high to fit the front paw comfortably, based on my dog.
+ easy to order spares
– boots will fall off
– definitely requires practice putting them on.
Would I recommend them? Depending on their purpose, yes. On-leash, they’re wonderful – they’re sturdy, protect Gwynn from all the things that ruin our walks, and Gwynn doesn’t seem bothered by them at all. They aren’t a perfect product, though, and I do have to spend a bit more time than I like counting red-feet when Gwynn is bounding through the snow. If your dog spends a lot of time out of your sight when they’re off-leash, that could become a particularly big problem.
Gwynn and I are giving them a 70%. Slightly less than 3 paws!
**The company gave me a pair of boots to review, but the opinions are my own, and not influenced by Ruffwear.**