What Species of Hardwood Flooring is Best for Homes with Dogs?

June 24, 2015

Posted in macstaff

When it comes to choosing the right hardwood flooring for your home, many decisions need to be made:

  • What species?
  • What kind of finish?
  • How wide and long will the boards be?

And, several factors need to be considered in making those decisions:

  • Climate
  • Foot traffic
  • Cost
  • And, of course, pets

You need a floor that is going to be able to hold up under your household’s wear. If your family introduces a dog, particular species will tend to hold up better than others.

Two primary factors tend to be especially important when it comes to the compatibility of dogs and hardwood floors.  You want to choose wood that is hard enough to resist the scratches and dents that pet nails might leave on less durable woods and you want to consider a species with a grain pattern that will hide what scratches your wood and finish don’t manage to prevent.

In a recent survey of interior designers, we asked what species they most often recommend for homes with pets. Two of their most popular answers came as no surprise, but one caught us a little off-guard at first.

 Hardwood floor survey - pets

As you can see, three species stood out.


Oak is a tried a true favorite for hardwood floors.  Whit Oak is among the harder of the domestic woods and is well known for its resiliency and durability.  Oak is versatile and abundant, a great and affordable choice for homes with pets.

Hand-scraped Hickory is a great option to stand up to scratches and wear and mask damage from pet nails.


Hickory, another domestic hardwood, is a favorite for its extraordinary durability and dramatic grain patterns.  Significantly harder even than Oak, it also tends to have stark color variations that hide scratches exceptionally well.


This was the surprise entry for us, but given the uncommon hardness that results from strand weaving bamboo, we see why designers would recommend it. While not all bamboo is going to be good for homes with pets, strand woven varieties have rated as high as 3014 on the Janka hardness scale, more than 600 points higher than even Brazilian Cherry, one of the hardest woods commonly used for flooring.

Other tips for choosing a hardwood to handle pet traffic

  • Try to choose a stain that is similar to the natural color of the wood – this will keep scratches from showing up too starkly.
  • Though gloss finishes are going out of style, we thought it worth mentioning that these high-maintenance finishes are especially difficult to keep up in houses with pets.  A matte or semi-gloss finish will be a much better option if you have a dog.
  • Hand-scraped floors, on the other hand, continue to be a popular style choice and their texture works wonders for hiding scratches and dings that a dog’s nails can make in the wood.
  • Check out our earlier post for more tips about choosing the right hardwood for your dog.
  • Consider other aspects of your life to make the right hardwood flooring decision.