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7 Best Couch Materials and Fabrics for Dogs: Pros & Cons

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Dog Ears_shutterstock_kuban_girl

When it comes to furniture, there are two types of dog owners. You have the type of pet owners who let their dogs on the furniture, and you have the opposite; owners who refuse to let their dogs on the couch.

To be fair, if you want to keep your couch clean, the easiest way is to refuse your dog access. But if you’re like us and would prefer to cuddle with your dog while watching tv, then this isn’t an option. Instead, you’ll need to use couches covered in any of the 7 best materials we’ve found for dog homes. These will help you keep your couches in great condition for years to come. Before we discuss the materials, however, we thought it would be a good idea to give you a quick overview of why and how dogs ruin couches (so you can better prevent it), and a quick guide at the end on what to avoid when picking your next couch.

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The Ways Dogs Ruin Furniture

If you’ve had a dog long enough, then you probably understand the ways they destroy furniture. For some, it’s purposeful behavior, though not vindictive in intent. But even dogs that aren’t trying to find something nice to chew on can accidentally ruin your furniture through other means.


Image Credit: ulisesbeviglia, Pixabay

Even if you keep your dog’s nails well-manicured, they still have loads of potential for destroying soft fabrics like what’s covering most couches. It might be as simple as they got on the couch and a nail just managed to get through, possibly even getting stuck and ripping the fabric more when trying to pull it out. Or, maybe their favorite tennis ball rolled under the couch and they’re frantically trying to get it back, not realizing they’re tearing up the front of your couch with their nails!


Dog Teeth
Image Credit: Jumpstory

Dogs love to chew. Even dogs that don’t destroy household items will tear into a bone or other hard dog treat if you give them one, enjoying it for hours (if it lasts that long). But many puppies do go through a chewing phase for at least a little while. It’s during this time when your furniture can be chewed up and ruined by your dog’s teeth if you’re not careful.


Dog Mess
Image Credit: Pxfuel

Sometimes, dogs have accidents. Even if they’re well trained and housebroken, things can still happen. One accident on your couch can easily ruin its appearance and even make it smell pretty terrible. But that’s not the only type of messes dogs make. After spending some time outside, it’s very common for dogs to accidentally track in some dirt, debris, mud, and more on the bottoms of their feet, which will easily stick to and stain your furniture.


Dog Shedding_shutterstock_smrm1977
Image Credit: smrm1977, Shutterstock

Some dogs don’t really shed. But most canines do, and while it won’t ruin your couch, it can definitely ruin its look. You’ll end up spending too much time vacuuming and re-vacuuming your furniture just to remove the old hair!

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The 7 Best Couch Materials for Dogs:

We’ve discussed the types of materials you want to stay away from if you have dogs. But what you really want to know is which materials you should be using. In our experience, seven options seem to work the best.

1. Leather

Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

Leather is one of the best options for any pet owner. It’s extremely easy to clean because it doesn’t hold onto messes. You can simply wipe up any visible messes. And because leather isn’t absorbent, it doesn’t stain easily or start to hold onto unpleasant odors.

It can be scratched, but leather has a unique look when it’s distressed, that some people like enough to purchase brand new couches that already have distressed leather. If you don’t like that look, you can usually buff out most marks and scratches pretty easily.

  • Easy to clean
  • Still looks great once distressed
  • Marks and scratches can be buffed out
  • Doesn’t stain easily
  • Doesn’t hold onto odors
  • Can be scratched

2. Pleather

Image Credit: terimakasih0, Pixabay

Pleather is a knockoff, synthetic version of leather. It’s not nearly as durable as leather and doesn’t buff as well if it does get scratched. Other than that, pleather shares many of leather’s great qualities.

Like leather, pleather is non-absorbent. It doesn’t hold onto smells or messes and won’t stain easily. Most messes can be easily wiped up with a paper towel.

  • Cleans easily
  • Resistant to staining
  • Non-absorbent
  • Not as durable as leather
  • Can be scratched

3. Outdoor Fabrics

Outdoor Sofa
Image Credit: Pxhere

Outdoor fabrics are what you typically see covering patio furniture. They’re not the most attractive-looking materials, but they’re extremely durable. Since they’re meant for staying outside, they have excellent fading resistance. They’re also resistant to staining and bacteria, which is great for a dog owner.

For your couch, outdoor fabrics might be a bit stiff and uncomfortable. They’re ideal for outdoor chairs, but we usually relax differently on the couch inside where we want ultimate comfort. But when you consider the ease of cleaning that outdoor fabrics provide, it starts to look pretty appealing.

  • Very durable
  • Keeps their colors for a long time
  • Can be cleaned easily
  • Not the most attractive
  • Many other materials are softer and more comfortable

4. Canvas

Image Credit: Pikrepo

A canvas slipcover is a great way to give yourself the convenience of a dog-friendly couch covering without the added expense of replacing your favorite furniture. Canvas is very durable, able to easily withstand your dog’s nails. It’s also tightly weaved, preventing hair and other messes from getting caught.

On the other hand, canvas isn’t the softest or most comfortable material. It’s also not available in the same wide range of colors and designs that you might find in other materials.

  • Durable
  • Tightly weaved
  • Affordable
  • Not the most comfortable
  • Can be difficult to find in many colors

5. Denim

Denim Couch_shutterstock_Oksana Mala
Image Credit: Oksana Mala, Shutterstock

Most people think of jeans when they hear denim, maybe jean jackets. But how about jean sofas? Denim is extremely strong and resilient to damage. It’s also very tightly weaved so messes won’t get trapped. If a stain starts to form, you can usually clean it pretty easily with soap and water.

But denim has a very specific look and you might not want your couch to look that way. It can definitely make a room appear dated. You also have very few choices with denim as far as appearances go.

  • Very resilient to damage
  • Tight weave prevents messes
  • Easy to clean with soap and water
  • Has a very specific look that not everyone likes
  • You have few stylistic options

6. Microfiber

Microfiber Couch_shutterstock_ARENA Creative
Image Credit: ARENA Creative, Shutterstock

Microfiber is a synthetic fabric that’s very resistant to scratching and ripping. If your dog does it scratch it, you won’t even be able to see it. Hair is also easily removed from microfiber with a simple lint brush. Any stains can usually be lifted with soap and water. But microfiber isn’t cost-effective. You’ll probably be spending quite a bit more for a microfiber couch.

  • Difficult to scratch
  • Durable against ripping
  • Hair and messes are easy to remove
  • Very soft
  • Can be pretty pricey

7. Plastic

Image Credit: Pikrepo

We agree. Plastic isn’t the most comfortable thing to sit on. Nor is It a very attractive look. But you can’t argue with its performance. If your dog soils the sofa, then plastic might be your best bet. It forms a barrier over your couch, protecting it from all sorts of messes. Plastic will create a barrier against water, dirt, odors, debris, and more. It’s also very affordable since you just need a plastic cover for your couch.

  • Protects your couch underneath
  • Repels fluids and moisture
  • Creates a barrier against messes
  • Affordable
  • Not very comfortable
  • It’s not the most attractive solution

Fabrics to Avoid For Dogs

In a dog home, all furniture covering materials are not created equally. Some are decidedly poor options for most pet owners because they display the following traits.

Loosely Weaved Fabrics

Any fabrics with loosely weaved threads, such as tweed, are at high risk for destruction and mess at the paws of your best friend. Those loose threads can easily get caught on your dog’s nails. When they try to get loose, this can result in ripped threads and holes in your couch.

Loosely weaved fabrics also tend to hold dirt, debris, twigs, and more. These little messes can easily fall between threads, getting stuck deeper into the couch than you can reach with a vacuum.

Anything High Maintenance

Some materials are durable enough to withstand a pet but have other drawbacks that make them awful choices for dog owners. Take suede, for example. It’s durable enough to handle your dog’s nails, but it’s incredibly difficult to clean. If your dog gets a mess on your suede sofa, good luck getting it out.

Delicate Materials

Anything delicate is a big no-no with dogs in the house. Just picture a silk or velvet piece of furniture being torn up by your dog’s nails. Once a nail sinks in and a hole starts, it will rip very easily, soon ruining your couch.

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Couch Fabric & Your Dog: Conclusion

There are many different materials you could use to cover your couch if you want to protect it from your dog. The main things to remember are to avoid loosely weaved fabrics that can hold messes, forgo delicate materials that will rip easily, and pass on the high maintenance choices as well.

Remember, you’re combatting nails, chewing, messes, pet hair, and more. Luckily, you’ve got several viable options, from purchasing a couch covered in leather or microfiber, to buying a canvas or plastic cover to protect your existing couch from your dog’s accidental destructiveness.

Featured Image Credit: kuban_girl, Shutterstock

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