It seems almost every other home I work on, there’s a dog there.
In fact, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), 36.5% of American households have a dog! And I’ve seen them all – from the tiniest toy dogs that fit in the palm of your hand to 200lb St. Bernards whos slobber is enough to call a plumber over.
One of the most common questions I’m asked is:
“So what’s the best type of flooring for dogs?”
While certain kinds of flooring are better suited to most dogs, the more accurate answer is…
It all depends on you!
When buying flooring for your home and dog, it’s important to understand precisely what you’re getting so all benefit – your home, dog and yourself!
I’ve ranked each flooring type based on my overall experiences as a flooring specialist for over 18 years. Yes, there are exceptions and I will actually detail those to make sure you cover all your bases. It does not mean you have to consider these options in that order; it’s just a general guideline.
So here’s what I’d like you to do….
After I walk you through each type of flooring and share a few facts about them, simply apply this information to your own dog and circumstances. That way, you will feel a whole lot better about making an informed decision on your ideal floor.
The 3 Crucial Factors
Okay, first thing to understand is every type of flooring is going to have its pros and cons no matter what anyone tells you. Yes, some are more suited to dogs and other pets but overall, there’s no such thing as “this type of floor is best for dogs” because it will really depend on:
The Type Of Dog You Have
This is pretty straightforward: Larger dogs tend to be tougher on floors than smaller ones because, well – everything they do is bigger.
They are heavier, they pee bigger (although I have seen small sized dogs that are freaks and pee like fire hydrants), they shed more, their nails are bigger, they slobber more and if they get sick, then they could literally puke the size of a small dog out.
Understanding this alone can save you a lot of future frustrations. If you have a well behaved 10 lb Pomeranian and you’re concerned it’s going to completely destroy your hardwood floors, it won’t. Now if you have a 100lb goofy Weimaraner with talons that runs around your home like Bambi on ice, then that’s another story.
Your Dog’s Behavior
Although I do flooring for a living, I have a real passion for dogs and their behavior so I get somewhat disappointed when I see dogs behaving badly simply because their owners don’t have the slightest clue how to handle them.
Look, you know your dog best – does it behave or not? Will it listen when verbally corrected or does it stare at you like you owe it money until you look away then goes back to tearing apart your carpet?
A well balanced dog will respect you and your home and as a result, your floors. One that eats, pees, sleeps and walks whenever and wherever it wants is a dog that’s probably going to give you a lot more problems than just your floors.
This is just basic common sense.
Don’t live like Oscar The Grouch from Sesame Street. Regularly maintain your floors based on what type it is and if possible, follow the manufacturer’s specifications. Surface dirt/dust is the leading cause of dulling your floors appearance out.
Other measures you can take to protect your floors is to trim your dog’s nails, use area rugs and/or furniture pads where required and avoid dragging heavy items across it.
Only use approved floor cleaners for regular maintenance.
apartments, rentals & certain homes
1. Laminate Flooring
This type of floor is specifically built to take a beating.
There’s a very good reason why laminate manufacturer’s put dogs and kids in a lot of their advertising: that’s precisely who it’s made for.
We’re talking soccer cleats, Tonka trucks, dogs, toys and anything else an active lifestyle can throw at it. It’s true laminate flooring is significantly louder than hardwood since it is a floating type floor but there are now superior laminate products and upgraded acoustic type pads so sound absorption is better than ever.
The main advantage of laminate flooring is you really do not have to worry about what your dog will do to it. It’s resilient enough to withstand plenty of impact, dog nails and pet accidents really well. Today’s laminates look exceptionally good and an untrained eye cannot tell the difference between it and real hardwood such is the advancements in technology.
Make sure you get a good quality brand like Shaw or Mohawk as they are fade, scratch, stain and fade resistant as opposed to the cheap/budget brands which quite frankly aren’t worth the money paid for them.
The main disadvantage is it is noticeably louder than glue down products and your dog may find it slippery if they love to run around your home (sorry, but I find it hilarious seeing their legs flail everywhere as they try to turn a corner). If this is a concern for you, then either avoid it or look into a textured option. Otherwise, enjoy the show. 🙂
These textured, hand-scraped and distressed products mimic real wood so well, they offer you and your dog better traction than the traditional smooth finish.
So today’s laminate’s not only look like real wood, they act like it too.
Recommended for: Any dog alive.
2. Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring
I want you to completely forget about everything you have known or heard about vinyl floors in the past because right now, they are not only radically different but are actually the fastest growing market segment in the flooring industry today!
Because they have really come a long way in terms of looks, style, technology and overall performance. They are now the go to choice for many contractors and homeowners alike when it comes to furnishing homes, apartments, townhomes, retail stores and many other applications.
They come in many different styles but the most popular right now are luxury vinyl planks (LVP) and luxury vinyl tiles (LVT).
Vinyl flooring for dogs brings the best of both worlds – it is both resilient so will take whatever your dog throws at it, cleans up exceptionally well, is stain, fade and scratch resistant, inexpensive to repair and their biggest advantage is they are waterproof. Water, pee, vomit, drool or feces won’t do a darn thing to them.
I have installed plenty of this stuff all over Dallas-Fort Worth in both commercial and residential settings and it’s worked out just fabulous for the client.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows however.
While putting vinyl plank flooring in your home may be great for you and your dog, the value of your home will not increase in any way. Just do your homework first but if this is not an issue, then this is a great floor for any dog.
Luxury vinyl flooring comes in two categories:
- SPC (stone polymer composite)
- WPC (wood polymer composite)
I highly recommend going for a WPC over an SPC because it has more “give” and not as hard on the joints. Stone composites are specifically made for commercial applications so they’re considerably harder underfoot.
They come in both glue down and click products; the click going in most residential homes.
Recommended for: Light dogs, dogs whose nails are regularly trimmed and well behaved pooches who would rather dig outside than inside.
3. Hardwood Flooring
One of the biggest issues that I come across are dogs and hardwood flooring – more specifically dogs who run in the house!
Homeowners often ask me if their dog will scratch their wood floors (this includes bamboo) and my answer is always; how active is your dog?
If they are old, calm and just casually lumber around the house then no, it will be very unlikely they are going to scratch your wood floors.
However if they are very high energy and act like they are on crack, then yes, their nails will scratch your wood floors. Most dogs do very well with hardwood floors so long as their nails are maintained and they are reasonably well behaved.
Being a natural product, all hardwood will eventually scratch; it’s just a matter of when.
Think of it this way – if your bundle of joy is running on your wood floor; at one point in time when it’s built up enough momentum, all of its weight is resting on its front nails. That’s a lot of weight digging into the floor (if the dog is heavy enough).
There’s plenty of upside though to wood floors.
The harder species like hickory, maple, pecan and Brazilian family (teak, walnut and cherry) are more resilient than most other woods.
Quick Tip: Hand-scraped/distressed wood floors tend to hide imperfections a lot better than smooth finish or glossy ones so that’s definitely something to consider.
Since the wear layer of wood flooring whether engineered or solid contains a protective wear layer by way of aluminum oxide or polyurethane, they don’t absorb pet accidents like carpet does so they’re super easy to clean up.
Wood floors are also hypoallergenic and do not absorb dust and dog hair like carpet do, so they’re much easier to keep looking newer for longer. Plus, they add good value to your home.
Recommended for: Small-medium dogs, dogs whose claws are regularly trimmed and well behaved pooches who would rather dig outside than inside.
4 & 5. Tile & Stone Flooring
Let me make a very clear distinction between tile and natural stone (like marble, travertine, slate, etc) since both of them are vastly different materials and behave very differently when it comes to dogs.
Glazed porcelain tile is the most indestructible flooring you can buy.
It wouldn’t matter if you had a herd of stallions, the worst thing your dog could possibly do to this kind of floor is perhaps stain the grout lines but you can even minimize that by making the grout lines as small as possible (talk to your installer about the narrowest width for your tile) and then sealing them afterwards or using a pre-sealed grout.
Nothing goes wrong with this type of floor due to its exceptionally dense and hard properties. It’s fired at a very high temperature so the result is a product that’s not only hard but impervious to moisture – it’s water absorption rate is so small, some are even frost proof and can resist freezing temperatures. So it’s virtually impossible to scratch, stain or damage.
I used to demonstrate this by running a screwdriver across the tile and clients would see the sparks literally flying yet not a scratch would appear on its surface. Your dog will not hurt a glazed porcelain tile. They install this type of material in shopping malls and airports so that should give you an idea of just how resilient it is. It’s also super easy to clean providing the surface is somewhat smooth.
As visually stunning as it can be, natural stone on the other hand is a different story.
It’s relatively soft, porous and susceptible to damage. It absorbs everything so unless your floor is very well sealed, I wouldn’t recommend this kind of floor for dogs with weak bladders and stomachs. They can easily scratch or stain it and once their vomit or pee has penetrated the stone, you will need to replace that tile because it’s not coming out. We both know high quality natural stone is not cheap!
Both materials are relatively hard on both human and dog joints so if your dog has arthritis and you get this kind of floor, be sure to furnish plenty of area rugs and give them their own allocated beds or adequately cushioned area to lay down on.
Glazed Porcelain Recommended for: Any healthy dog with no joint issues.
Natural Stone Recommended for: NOT RECOMMENDED.
Ok on the face of it, this option appears to be the very worst for dog owners especially if their dog pees and/or vomits a lot since it absorbs quite quickly. A low grade carpet is the worst possible flooring for dogs, no doubt about it. They easily stain it and chew it like a toy.
Better quality carpets however like Mohawk’s stain proof SmartStrand have no exclusion warranties on them meaning they cover items normally not covered by lower grades such as…pet vomit, pet urine, blood and other things you hope don’t visit your carpet anytime soon. It is by far the most comprehensive pet protection warranty in the industry.
Also, never underestimate the value of a high quality carpet shampooer.
Take a look here at the very best ones and read the reviews of dog owners who managed to get every last trace of their pet accidents out with their cleaner. The accompanying pictures in those reviews are very impressive and I can attest to how incredible these cleaners are in maintaining your carpets to pristine condition. It just takes regular maintenance and you’re good to go.
A good carpet cleaner like the ones linked above will also extract all remaining remnants of impurities from the carpet backing so it doesn’t stagnate then leak into the carpet pad. Once that happens, you pretty much have to replace your carpet.
When the pad gets soaked with pet urine and other contaminants, the smell can be so bad, it punches you right in the face! We have torn out 20 year old carpet from homes and the pad underneath discolored from the amount of dog urine in it. The smell of ammonia was so strong, we had to wear face masks just to breathe.
If you’re going down this route; get a stain proof carpet like the one mentioned above and insist on a pet pad which contains a moisture barrier that prevents any accidents getting into the pad.
The main advantage of carpet of course is, it is very comfortable and soft on the foot for both you and your fur buddy. It’s also warm in the winter and less expensive compared to other types of flooring.
The downside of carpet is it absorbs more dirt, debris and stains than other types of flooring and harder on those with allergies since it holds more dust.
Recommended for: Dogs that are house trained, have minimal health issues and shed little.
7. Cork Flooring
Cork flooring for some dogs is an excellent choice – it’s softer than any other floor except carpet, has more give than other surfaces so it’s easy on the joints, super easy to clean, hypoallergenic and very eco friendly.
Because it’s a softer material, it’s pleasant to walk on having a very light underfoot vibe to it which makes it perfect for elderly folks as well as dogs with joint problems. It’s also suitable for any small dog since they are simply not heavy enough to cause any significant damage.
It’s natural acoustical properties also allow it to absorb sound a lot better than other flooring types so if peace and quiet is what you’re after, you wont get a better floor.
It’s properties also give it a built in temperature control quality about it – it absorbs heat readily in the winter so it’s noticeably warmer than tile or laminate but surprisingly cooler in summer. This is due to it wanting to remain at room temperature.
The major drawback of course is cork is very soft and easily damaged not only by larger, more active dogs with big nails but from normal everyday wear and tear like moving furniture, equipment like wheelchairs and walking aides, high heels and even a stone caught in the shoe can dent it.
Manufacturer’s have caught onto this major concern so a good portion of cork made today are heavily distressed as well as patterned in order to disguise imperfections in the floor once it’s installed. Overall, not the ideal floor for larger dogs but it has it’s very specific purpose for smaller ones.
Recommended for: Very small dogs with relatively sedentary owners who entertain little.
As you can see there is no one size fits all when it comes to flooring and your dog. I did the groundwork for you and ranked them in order of what I felt was overall performance vs value for money.
Of course there are flooring types more suited to dogs than others so it’s going to get down to your own assessment of your personal circumstances and the type of dog you have. From my extensive experience with American households and pets, I put laminate flooring very slightly ahead of vinyl plank flooring as the best floor type for dogs but vinyl’s waterproof properties may put it ahead in many folk’s eyes.
Stay clear of natural stone like marble and slate as these will give you a lot of problems. Your dogs will pee, puke and shit all over them and it’ll be impossible to remove any stains. The only way to get rid of such accidents is to replace the tile and you really don’t want to be constantly doing that.
Although laminate is loud and can be slippery, this can be offset by purchasing a higher quality acoustic pad and laminate product. It also handles the demands of any dog and household so well, all while looking great and lasting long. Take this overall assessment based on trends and observations rather than specific recommendations.
In the end, you know your home and dog best.
Use good practice and commonsense like cleaning your floors with approved cleaners and trimming your dog’s nails and your floor will perform the way it was designed.
I really hope this guide helped you set your course for your new flooring purchase.
If you are in the Dallas / Fort Worth area and would like an estimate on your project, please touch base with me here.