How To Choose the Best Flooring for Dogs

Updated: Oct. 03, 2023

Considering new dog-friendly flooring for your home? We asked a dog trainer for advice on the best choices to make life easy for you and your pet.

I got my first clue that not all flooring types are suitable for dogs while staying with a friend in an apartment with new laminate floors. The laminate was so smooth that Sadie, my friend’s Labradoodle, slid all over the place. The sound of her claws slipping and clattering at night kept all of us awake.

If you’re considering new flooring and own dogs, put some thought into the best type for your pup. We consulted dog trainer Ali Smith, CEO and founder of Rebarkable, who had plenty of helpful tips and advice. She agreed traction is an important consideration, and pointed out several more.

“Most floor types are absolutely fine for dog clean up for fur and dirt, and the claws can be one variable,” she says. “But the biggest one is toilet training.”

Many types of flooring work for most adult dogs. But a few don’t, like super-smooth laminate or non-washable carpet. Dogs scratch, and even toilet-trained dogs have accidents. Don’t find out the hard way you made the wrong flooring choice.

What To Consider When Choosing the Best Flooring for Dogs

According to Smith, homeowners should consider the following:

  • Claws: Long, sharp claws will scratch wood, pull strands out of pile carpeting and hinder your dog’s traction on hard, pre-finished surfaces.
  • Muck: Does your dog like to roll in mud puddles? You’ll need non-absorbent flooring that’s easy to clean. Explore how to stop pets from tracking mud into your house.
  • Dog’s size: Bigger dogs with bigger claws can do more damage than smaller ones. They also have bigger accidents.
  • Dog’s health: “If hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, IVDD, patellar luxation, etc. are a potential problem, opt for grippier floors, like carpet, or include rugs,” Smith says. While less practical, they’re healthier for your dog’s joints.
  • Easy cleanup: If your dog sheds copiously, avoid flooring that collects hair unless you plan to vacuum daily. Carpeting and engineered hardwood with grooved joints can be hair magnets.
  • Soakability or staining: Pet urine can permanently stain porous materials like travertine and natural stone. Be wary also of hardwood and laminates, because standing urine can soak through the joints.

5 Best Flooring Types for Dogs

Dog lying on floor at homeWestend61/Getty Images

The ideal flooring material for dogs provides cushion and traction while resisting scratches and repelling liquids. “Overall, I’d strongly recommend tile, stone or epoxy,” Smith says. We added two more: luxury vinyl and cork.

Epoxy

If your house features a concrete slab foundation, finish it with an epoxy coating. “It could be our overall best choice,” says Smith.

Epoxy is the most durable material out there, so it won’t scratch and it’s non-absorbent. A bonus: Non-slip epoxy provides plenty of grip.

Ceramic tile

Smith is bullish on tile. It cleans up with little effort so it’s easy to take care of an accident. “If you have an area that is dedicated to a puppy,” she says, “then this is a phenomenal choice.”

An important caveat: You must grout floor tile frequently. Unsealed grout is absorbent so it retains odors and staining.

Non-porous stone

“I love stone,” says Smith. “It’s grippy and usually relatively easy to clean, but it can stain if your dog’s pee is left on the surface.”

Go with granite, slate and quartzite. You can control stainability by sealing regularly, giving you a durable, pet-proof surface that’s easy to clean.

Luxury vinyl

Luxury vinyl is affordable, cushiony, waterproof and easy to install as a DIY project. It provides plenty of traction. If your over-active dog should happen to chew through it, don’t worry; you can replace individual panels. Another bonus: It’s available in lots of colors and patterns, so you can use it practically anywhere.

Cork planks

Cork is a hypoallergenic, antibacterial material sustainably sourced, and it’s no more expensive than hardwood. It provides plenty of traction. And when properly coated with urethane finish, it’s exceptionally stain resistant. Cork flooring comes in snap-together planks.

The main drawback: Urine can soak through the gaps between planks if you leave it standing, so wipe up accidents as soon as you see them.

3 Worst Flooring Types for Dogs

Relaxing on the RugSolStock/Getty Images

Whatever you do, don’t choose these:

Carpet

Pet parents should avoid carpeting, says Smith. While it provides great traction, it’s hard to clean up vomit or accidents.

“Carpet also really doesn’t help if you have a dog who sheds, or you’re slightly allergic to dogs,” she says. “Carpeting will always retain allergens [even the hypoallergenic ones].”

Solid hardwood

We aren’t talking about engineered hardwood with a super durable factory finish, but unfinished solid hardwood finished on-site. The finish rarely resists scratching, and untended urine deposits can soak in. You’ll be left with permanent odors and warping.

Porous stone

While non-porous stone can be a great choice, porous ones like marble, travertine and sandstone aren’t. They readily absorb liquids and stain, even when you seal them. Soft porous stone also scratches easily.