One of the most frequently asked questions I get is:

“What types of hardwood flooring are best for dogs? (or pets)

Hardwood flooring that is good for dogsMany of my customers have pets, and they would love to have hardwood floors that stand up well to dog claws.  Can dogs and hardwood co-exist and live happily ever after?


It’s a challenging question to answer because all hardwood will dent and scratch over time – it’s just a matter of how much and how much it shows. But, I don’t think this is a reason to avoid getting hardwood for your home if you have pets.   Usually, this question is less of an issue for with cats and more of a concern with dogs, especially active dogs. And, while there are things you can do w/ your pets (e.g. clip or file nails), I’m going to focus on hardwoods that can take a better beating and will last longer.


Here are some guidelines to help with your furry friends.

Types of hardwood flooring that are good for dogs

1. Avoid the soft woods:

    • Amercan Walnut Pine, fir, cedar
    • American Cherry
    • American Walnut
    • Carbonized bamboo (caramel colored)

These woods are softer and will dent very easily – even without dog or without kids. They look beautiful, but they are not very practical. And, ironically, most are more expensive (because fewer people buy them and there is lower supply). Note: American Cherry and Walnut are different than Brazilian Cherry and Walnut. American = soft; Brazilian = hard.


solid hardwood flooring is better for dog2. Use solid hardwood rather than Engineered hardwood.  Solid hardwood is often better quality and most engineered hardwood floors have a limited number of sandings.  It’s always good to have an insurance plan, and you will have stronger peace of mind with solid, since you can refinish solid hardwood floors if you get deep scratches or if you get pet stains.


3. Take off your shoes. A lot of customers blame their pets for scratches, but often we do more damage to our floors than our pets do. While high heels are often not wonderful for hardwood floor, the biggest culprit is not the shoes themselves, but rather what gets caught in the shoes. It’s those pebbles and dirt that get caught in our shoes that cause most of the scratches. Or, sometimes w/ high heels that have been worn a while, the rubber wears off and there is a nail at the bottom. So before blaming your furry family members, look at your own habits. For my customers that take their shoes off, their hardwood floors are in way better shape and it’s a much longer time before they need to be refinished.
distressed hardwood good flooring for pets


4. Consider distressed hardwoods. This is a stylized look that some customers love and others hate. It tends to be in style in the South, certain areas in the west, and more rustic homes in the Northeast. This look is not for everyone. But, here’s why it’s good for pets…it shows the scratches and dents less because that’s how the wood is designed – it dent looks like it fits right in. Likewise, hardwood that has more knots and character marks will hide the dent and scratches more.


5. All things being equal, harder hardwoods are better. This is tricky because not all things are equal – see the next point. But, Hickory is great choice (1820 on the Janka scale). There are many other hardwoods that are harder…see the janka scale of hardness…but you can’t just look at hardness by itself.


hardwood floors good for dogs and pets6. Woods with stronger graining are better for HIDING the scratches. Oak is a great example of this, especially red oak which has stronger graining than white oak. While Red Oak is only 1290 on the janka hardness scale (which is still hard and is hard enough), it does an excellent job of hiding the dents and scratches due to the strong graining. In fact, it usually hides them better than Brazilian Cherry (2,350) and Brazilian Walnut (3,684) which have less and smoother graining. Hickory is another example of a hardwood with strong graining, and it’s harder than oak (1,820 on the hardness scale).  Conversely, hardwoods with smoother graining (e.g. maple, birch, exotic hardwoods such as Santos Mahogany and Brazilian Cherry, Walnut and Teak)


7. Satin finishes/less glossy finishes. Satin (or even Matte) finishes are usually best. The glossier the finish, the more it will show the scratches from the light reflecting off of it. This is true with or without pets.


light hardwood flooring best for dogs8. Usually, lighter colors are better for pets and show scratches less. First, darker colors seem to show the scratches and the dirt more. Second, oak is the most common type of hardwood and oak is naturally light. So, if you have a scratch that penetrates the stain color, it will show less on lighter colors since what is revealed beneath is similar in color.  You may also want to consider a color that is similar to you dog’s fur as it will blend a bit more.



9. Bamboo is very “iffy” with pets – can vary greatly – some are good; most are not. Bamboo’s resilience can vary widely pending the type and the type of bamboo as well as the brand, and what follows are some generalizations. a) stay away from stained bamboo – these scratch very easily and bamboo does not accept stains as well as oak does, b) carmelized bamboo is weaker than natural as the process of heating it weakens the grass, c) strand bamboo can be very strong – so if you have pets and want bamboo, this is a GREAT option – more expensive, but will hold up better, d) buying bamboo from big box stores and/or cheap bamboo results in a lot of dents, e) even though natural bamboo is technically stronger than oak, it shows dents more easily (and carmelized bamboo is usually softer than oak). See my page on bamboo flooring for more info and for pictures.


Hickory - Shaw Jubilee good for pets and dogs10. Use felt pads underneath furniture and area rugs/entrance mats. This is especially important for chairs that are used a lot. Avoid chairs with wheels – often dirt gets caught in the wheels and cause scratches. If you do have chairs with wheels, put an area rug underneath. And, make sure you have area rugs/entrance mats at all your main entries. You should also put one outside, too. These are the areas that get worn down the fastest due to rain, snow, salt, dirt, so protecting these areas will go a long way towards preserving your floors. And, remember that your pet isn’t wearing shoes and therefore won’t take them off, so it’s even more important to have an area rug here.


11. If you are refinishing you hardwood flooring on-site, then use oil based polyurethane and add an extra coat. Oil based polyurethane lasts much longer than water based polyurethane.  And, adding an extra coat will help protect your floors a little bit extra and prolong the time before you need to refinish your floors. You can read more about oil vs. water based polyurethane in this article.


Types of Hardwood Flooring for dogsI hope this is helpful. Sorry it’s long, but there are a lot of things to consider with hardwood and this is not an easy question to answer. Above is meant to address denting/scratching. If you are concerned about pets peeing on the hardwood, that is a whole different issue…basically no hardwoods will stand up well to that, so clean up the mess quickly is the best advice I can give you on that (Plus get solid hardwood so that it is easy to replace sections and refinish the hardwood if you need to(. Also, if you have pet stains already in the hardwood, when you refinish the floors, try to replace those boards as that blackness from the water/urine, will not sand out. If you replace them and refinish, your floor will look good as new. Alternatively, if you can’t replace them/can’t afford it, then use a dark color to hide the dark marks.


Other tips for hardwood floors and dogs:

  • Be sure to place a mat underneath the dog’s water bowl (and food) to help protect the floors.
  • Doggie slippers3  for hardwood flooringConsider doggie socks.  Yes, we understand that this is not a good option for some dogs, but I’ve had a few customers that have used these effectively, and their dogs LOVE them, especially in the winter as it helps keep their feet warm.  It was actually one of my customers that told me about this idea.
  • If your dog sheds a lot, consider choosing a hardwood color (or an area rug) that is similar to your dog’s fur.
  • If your dog has an “accident,” be sure to clean it up quickly. The uric acid (along w/ the moisture) can damage the polyurethane and wood floor and even turn it black. Avoid using ammonia to clean (which can wear down the poly and potentially attract your pet to use the same spot), and instead use vinegar and warm water. Note: this is another reason why site finished hardwood is often better than prefinished hardwood as the seams are usually sealed with polyurethane, whereas prefinished hardwood may have some spaces on the edges without protection.
  • Use walk off and/or entry mats by the key entrances that you and your pets use.  This will reduce water, snow as well as grit getting on your hardwood floors.  It’s ideal to have one inside and one outside at each entrance.


When it comes to hardwood flooring and your dogs, choose wisely.
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My name is Debbie Gartner, and I'm known as "The Flooring Girl." I own my own flooring store called Floor Coverings International, and we serve Westchester NY and Fairfield CT counties.We install hardwood flooring, carpet, tile flooring, laminate, bamboo and cork flooring. We also refinish hardwood floors. We are a shop at home flooring store. You can call us at 914-937-2950 to schedule a free flooring consultation or email us at Let us "bring the store to your door."If you are calling outside of Westchester/Fairfield Counties, please contact us at 914-407-3899.

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44 Response Comments

  • Petes Hardwood Flooring  November 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I agree, and tend to recommend lighter stained flooring. We see a lot of refinishing jobs due to owners who neglect to clip their dog’s nails. Thanks for posting, great info.

    • TheFlooringGirl  November 21, 2012 at 12:09 am

      So glad you agree. Yes, the lighter colors definitely show the scratches less.

  • John Lucas  November 20, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Living in New York City, it can be difficult to find places with good,durable flooring that’s dog-friendly. Your suggestion regarding light colored floors is definitely true! Our pets wouldn’t have been very kind to dark flooring.

    • TheFlooringGirl  November 21, 2012 at 12:10 am

      John – Yes, indeed. And, even more challenging in apartments with a concrete subfloor. Light colors do tend to last a lot longer though, as I’m sure you’ve experienced.

  • Hard Wood Floor  January 28, 2013 at 4:28 am

    Magnificent site. Plenty of useful info here. I’m sending it to some pals ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks to your sweat!

  • Diane Podolsky, CPDT-KA, CTC  January 29, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Thank you for this very detailed article. I agree. The best way to protect floors from damage from pet stains is to housetrain your dog. Even if your dog has been making errors for many years, as long as your dog is healthy, he or she can still be successfully housetrained by an expert dog trainer.

    The Cultured Canine has helped many pet parents in Westchester, Manhattan and Greenwich successfully housetrain their puppies and adult dogs. We board dogs in an apartment with oak hardwood flooring and are proud to state that our floors are in great condition! Yours can be, too, when you combine expert flooring advice with expert dog training.

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 29, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      Diane – Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, and I’m so glad to hear that there is such a great resource for those here in Westchester and Greenwich.

  • Maria Gilda Racelis  April 21, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Hello Debbie: My dogs are my best friends. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us.

    • TheFlooringGirl  April 21, 2013 at 7:35 am

      Maria – Yes, pets are the best. I love them, too. And, thx for your compliment.

  • Michael Jones  August 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    I have recently heard there is a flooring material that looks like wood but is made from hardened rubber. Its supposed to be slip resistant. Have you heard of any products like this?

  • Michael Jones  August 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Is this luxury vinyl plank good for large dogs (150 lbs) with bad hips? Is it slip resistant? Have a dog with multiple hip surgeries.. he has trouble standing up on typical wood floors. Looking for either a residential or possibly commercial product. I felt something in a hotel over the weekend that was similar where it would stop a slide from happening.

    • TheFlooringGirl  August 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Michael – Some types of luxury vinyl should be able to help reduce the sliding. You’ll need to find one of the higher grade ones that have texture/embossing. Some of the cheaper ones are more flat so those won’t help as much. Regarding shock absorption, that’s a completely different matter, and I don’t think it will cushion the fall, if the dog falls, but it is probably more likely to result in a fall/slip.

  • Beth Witt  January 6, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    we had a client asked us this just the other day and I knew the perfect place to go. Of course I sent them to your website and this post was perfect for them. Thank you Debbie

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 9, 2014 at 9:01 am

      Oh thank you, Beth. I’m so glad to hear that. Have a wonderful day.

  • Eric B  May 6, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    This is an excellent resource. I learned a great deal. The only point (and it is an important one) is that dog owners should strongly using water based polyurethane as oil-based is more toxic for dogs.

    • TheFlooringGirl  May 10, 2014 at 10:42 am

      Thanks for your comment. Eric. I actually think it’s better to use oil based poly when you have dogs as it will up much better and much longer. The dogs should be out of the area while the work is done and should not walk on the floors for 2 weeks.

  • Patti  July 19, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    What a great article, thank you. I live in the Pacific Northwest where we usually get rain 10 months of the year. I’ve always wanted dark hardwood floors, but with 4 German Shepherds, after reading this article, I would say no. I am looking at houses now and wanted to put in floor heating, so would all the advice in this article still apply? Unfortunately I’m thinking I will have to go with lighter floors. You would think I would find clumps of black hair, but no, most of my German Shedders clumps are white. And there is a lot of it. So I guess I will have to go with a lighter floor?

    • TheFlooringGirl  July 20, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Hi Patty. Yes, lighter floors will hold up better. This is primarily because you won’t see the scratches as much. The fur can just be swept up, the scratches remain.

      Radiant heat tends to work better under tile as tile conducts the heat better. But, most areas w/ wood floors do not need radiant heat as they tend to be warmer on your feet vs. the tile (which conducts heat away from your feet).

      I hope that helps.

  • doyle davison  December 20, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Debbie… just the info I was looking for. thank you.

    • TheFlooringGirl  December 22, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      Doyle – Oh good, I’m so glad to hear that. See you on Active Rain.

  • dana  May 16, 2015 at 2:49 am

    What do you think about acaia wood? I have a rental and the local flooring store recommended that as something that would hold up against pets. (I don’t allow pets but you never know when somebody will try to sneak a pet in.)

    • TheFlooringGirl  May 16, 2015 at 3:19 am

      Dana – I have heard that this wood does not hold up well and dents easily. A lot of stores push it because it’s cheap and it looks nice…at least initially. Lumber Liquidators was the first to push acacia, if that is any indication.

  • dana  May 16, 2015 at 3:54 am

    Thanks for the warning. I looked at the Janka rating, and it seemed fairly high with a 1700 and 2100 rating so I thought it might a good choice.

    I got that recommendation about acaia from one of the small, local independent flooring stores here. And, it sounds like you’re warning me to stay away from Lumber Liquidators.

    Any recommendations about where to buy flooring from, other than your place of course?

    • TheFlooringGirl  May 19, 2015 at 8:22 am

      Dana – Most local wood flooring stores are great! I would just be very cautious with some of the big box stores and those that offer highly discounted prices. There is usually a reason for that.

      A great place to find reputable contractors and stores is In general, you will be better off when you a place both supplies and installs the wood.

  • dana  May 25, 2015 at 3:50 am

    Is the whole closeout thing I see at Lumber Liquidators and other discount box retailers a real thing or is just a marketing gimmick?

    Are there really hardwood flooring that goes on closeout, where you better buy them now or else it will be too late?

    And, what’s wrong with the flooring so it has to go on closeout like that?

    One thing I will say that I prefer the big box retailers is that they give you the prices for the different flooring.

    I don’t like going into a local wood flooring store and having to ask somebody the price for anything I’m interested in.

    I don’t want to fall for something only to find out it is out of my price range.

  • barbara ziemba  November 3, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    I read your article on hardwoods for dogs. My question would be what is the best for a dogs in pre- finished hardwood floors. we live in NC . thank you for the info.

    • TheFlooringGirl  November 5, 2015 at 5:47 am

      I would probably go for a hickory or oak. I’d probably do lighter and one with more character will hide things better. Definitely go for a satin (or matte) finish.


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