Now, don’t make fun of my greyhound in his little red boots! It’s not a fashion statement, dog boots are a necessity in the darkest pit of the Canadian winter.
Paw protection is especially important for the short-coated dog breeds like greyhounds, and especially when the weather is as brutal as it’s been here lately — we’re talking about -28°C, with a windchill factor that makes it feel like -40°C (that’s the same as 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, for my American friends). The snow squeaks when you walk on it, and exposed skin can begin to freeze in less than one minute!
So, my latest sewing project has been to sew up some new polar-fleece dog boots. These are quick to make and easy to put on the dog, but they don’t shake off very easily. I’ve made these boots with non-slid vinyl soles, elastic at the ankles, and Velcro fasteners, and the dogs don’t hate them too much.
I based this pattern on an old set of store-bought dog booties that I borrowed from a neighbour, and used some scraps of fleece, elastic, and Velcro that were left over from other sewing projects.
Feel free to use my pattern to make your own dog boots — just right-click to save the image to your computer. It’s not very fancy, because I just sketched it out on a piece of scrap paper, but it works just fine! And you can size the pattern up or down on your printer, to fit the size of your dog’s paws.
For the large male greyhound, I printed out the pattern so that it was 4½ inches wide, measured across the sole. Those large boots fit the Golden Retriever, too, while 1½ inches was plenty wide for boots for a mutt of vaguely Beagle-Chihuahua ancestry.
I love fleece fabric for dog boots because it sews up easily, keeps the paws as warm as possible, doesn’t stain too badly, and dries quickly to be ready for the next outing. For large size boots, I used ¾-inch Velcro and the same width of elastic. For smaller boots, obviously, you’d use a narrower size.
• Place the “toe” of the pattern on a fold of fabric and cut out around the boot shape. When you unfold the fabric, you’ll have a sort of hourglass shape. Don’t sew up the sides until you’ve done the next steps!
• Following the marks I’ve put on the pattern, place a circle of vinyl or other non-slip material on the sole of the boot and sew it in place.
• Sew on a piece of Velcro at the ankle position, using the softer fuzzy half, and catching a piece of elastic underneath it, as shown. The stitching for the Velcro will hold on the elastic.
• Sew the other half of the Velcro strip (the part with all the tiny hooks) securely onto the free end of the elastic. Make sure that the hooks are facing down when you’re looking at the sole of the boot.
• Finally, fold the boot in half with the right sides together (so that the vinyl sole is inside) and sew up the sides. Turn it right side out.
Because I knew that I was going to sew my dog boots from fleece fabric, which doesn’t fray or ravel, I didn’t add much of a seam allowance to the pattern — about ¼” around the edges — so you might want to count in an extra bit of width for seam allowance if you’re planning to use a woven fabric like a waterproof nylon or such. The other thing I did that’s different from the pattern is adjust the height of the boots — ankle boots are of limited use for a country dog, so I extended the tops up a little bit to better handle the snow-softened farm lanes where we like to walk.
To put the boots on the dog — just turn the boot so that the sole is to the back of the dog’s leg, and slide his paw into the boot. Wrap the elastic around the front of the leg, as shown, and fasten the Velcro. (If your dog has never worn boots before, see also How to Teach a Dog to Wear Boots.)
This lazy greyhound was napping in his crate and refused to get up to model his boots, in case I was going to make him go out in the cold, so this picture shows the view you get when a dog is lying down… but you can get the idea…
So there you have it: my pattern and instructions for sewing dog boots. Feel free to use it as you like!
Oh, and I’d love it if you could let me know if you come up with any improvements to the design. I’m thinking, for example, of making an even taller pair (with two fasteners) for when the dogs are walking in a real bit of snow…