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Hunting Dogs: To Boot, or Not To Boot?

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December 20, 2010

Hunting Dogs: To Boot, or Not To Boot?

By Chad Love

by Chad Love

To boot or not to boot, that is the question many upland hunters face when running their dogs in areas with high concentrations of vegetation that bites back. Some hunters swear by boots, while other hunters swear at them.

Cactus spines, thorns and burrs can drastically hinder a bird dog's ability to cover ground. On the other hand, it can be a real pain to spend twenty minutes booting up your dog, only to have them throw one in the middle of a hunt.

I'm pheasant and quail hunting the sandhills of southwestern Kansas this week with Ted Gartner, the director of corporate communications for Garmin International. When he's not working, Gartner is a hard-core bird hunter who regularly runs his string of dogs in the burr-infested sandhills of southwest Kansas. I posed the question of booting dogs to Gartner.

"Only when I absolutely have to," he replied. "I kennel my dogs on concrete and that helps toughen their pads, which in turn helps them with the burrs."

And Dr. Dale Rollins, director of the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch in Roby, Texas, doesn't boot his dogs at all, preferring instead to let his dogs learn how to avoid cactus patches.

Where I live in northwest Oklahoma sandburrs are the big problem, and in some cases boots may be the only way to continue a hunt if your dog isn't used to dealing with them.

Where do you stand on the boots-versus-no boots issue. Do you use them? Not use them? Manufactured or homemade?

Comments (7)

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from huntnfishnut wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

I tried to get my lab to wear boots after she cut up her rear leg on ice crust last year... didn't work so well and I returned them quickly. I am pretty sure she would have broke a leg the way she was moving around in them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hughes842 wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

We have sandburs bad where we hunt, and I feel it's a must to boot you dogs. The secret is knowing the proper way to tape the boots on. I personally like the Lewis dog boot best, and have used them on both German Shorthairs and Brittanys with great success. Bottom line, if you hunt YOUR dog in sandburs without boots, you need to hunt BAREFOOTED!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Boots are a real pain but I got a set for my wife's dog, a young female Brittany this year. The reason I got the boots was she deeply cut her cartoid pad on the right foot on a piece of old sheet metal the day before grouse season opened. When you have put that much time into training and then have something like that occur it makes you sick. Fortunately she healed up in 15 days and we were out and about. We got the boots from Lion Country Supply that are orange so if she losses one we might be able to find it (hopefully). My first Brittany severed his dew claw on crusted snow, back before anyone had ever thought of dog boots. That was expensive to say the least at an emergency vet hospital. These boots will only be used in cornstalk fields or crusted ice and I will stay away from old barns with sheet metal roofing on the ground.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

i never thought of it until last year when Chaos cut his pad on something the second week of duck season. he was out the rest of the year and i was out over a grand but he's worth it. i just don't think he will wear them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from bbainbridge wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Lexi has such fuzzy feet I have to boot her when we hunt in the snow. Otherwise the ice balls between her pads slow her to a crawl. It definitely doesn't take 20 minutes to put them on (more like 2) and a strip of duct tape over the velcro keeps it on. We always booted out brittany hunting quail in western OK too. She never lost one and wouldn't move out there without them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from GregMc wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

I use them when needed, like sand spur country, and I can get my dog into them in just a couple of minutes.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matt Massey wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

Hunting combined corn and then icy fields later in the season, boots for Skeeter are a must.

We've had many 50 bird days late in the season where if it hadn't been for the boots, he would have been cut up good.

Between the icy and razor sharp corn stalks in combined corn fields, the boots are standard gear.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from jamesti wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

i never thought of it until last year when Chaos cut his pad on something the second week of duck season. he was out the rest of the year and i was out over a grand but he's worth it. i just don't think he will wear them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from hughes842 wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

We have sandburs bad where we hunt, and I feel it's a must to boot you dogs. The secret is knowing the proper way to tape the boots on. I personally like the Lewis dog boot best, and have used them on both German Shorthairs and Brittanys with great success. Bottom line, if you hunt YOUR dog in sandburs without boots, you need to hunt BAREFOOTED!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bbainbridge wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Lexi has such fuzzy feet I have to boot her when we hunt in the snow. Otherwise the ice balls between her pads slow her to a crawl. It definitely doesn't take 20 minutes to put them on (more like 2) and a strip of duct tape over the velcro keeps it on. We always booted out brittany hunting quail in western OK too. She never lost one and wouldn't move out there without them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntnfishnut wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

I tried to get my lab to wear boots after she cut up her rear leg on ice crust last year... didn't work so well and I returned them quickly. I am pretty sure she would have broke a leg the way she was moving around in them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Boots are a real pain but I got a set for my wife's dog, a young female Brittany this year. The reason I got the boots was she deeply cut her cartoid pad on the right foot on a piece of old sheet metal the day before grouse season opened. When you have put that much time into training and then have something like that occur it makes you sick. Fortunately she healed up in 15 days and we were out and about. We got the boots from Lion Country Supply that are orange so if she losses one we might be able to find it (hopefully). My first Brittany severed his dew claw on crusted snow, back before anyone had ever thought of dog boots. That was expensive to say the least at an emergency vet hospital. These boots will only be used in cornstalk fields or crusted ice and I will stay away from old barns with sheet metal roofing on the ground.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GregMc wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

I use them when needed, like sand spur country, and I can get my dog into them in just a couple of minutes.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matt Massey wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

Hunting combined corn and then icy fields later in the season, boots for Skeeter are a must.

We've had many 50 bird days late in the season where if it hadn't been for the boots, he would have been cut up good.

Between the icy and razor sharp corn stalks in combined corn fields, the boots are standard gear.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment