Would a "working deer" living in cities with hard paved or cobbled stone ground need "deershoes"? The deer are mainly used for light work: no heavy lifting or pulling.

Would unchanged deer feet and hoof anatomy allow for the same type of shoeing as horse hooves (nailing) or would they just need something else?

While most of the concern is on the hoof’s quality and protection with it striking hard rock nearly all day every day. Concern is also for the general balance and support of the body, as they’ve got a lot less area for balance on slippery flat streets when compared to horses with their dinner plate hooves and great weight.

So basically:

  • Could deer anatomy allow nailed in ‘deershoes’ and if so, what would they look like to allow support, stability, and protection of the hoof?

  • If not nailed in shoes, then what would the boots or actual ‘deer shoes’ need to look like to accomplish the same?

(And to note this question is not about how good deer would actually be for anything in the city or any other concern of why or how they’re there in the first place. This question is literally just about the hooves. The rest is for another question another time.)

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    $\begingroup$ I'm just gonna say that whatever those deer are doing in the city, I'm personally going to use a goat instead. =P $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2019 at 16:18

3 Answers 3


Shoes for cloven hoofed animals already exist.

behold the ox shoe or sometimes called cow shoes. Traditionally made for plow oxen. They come in a fair variety of shapes but the most common is shown below. Note modern farriers often attach them (and horseshoes) with epoxy instead of nails, less risk of damaging the hoof, also a lot easier.

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But there is a problem

If they are commonly walking on concrete or asphalt modern farriers prefer softer hard plastic shoes with textured surfaces, because an iron shoe on a hard wet surface has very little traction. plastic shoes reduce shock and improve traction.

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  • $\begingroup$ oh, nice, I honestly didn't know that! Some very nice example pics too. Unfortunately the site you link for the 'variety' isn't accessible in my country :/ $\endgroup$
    – Axolotl
    Aug 29, 2019 at 16:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Axolotl there is a type of oxshoe that has a tab of iron that was wrapped completely around each hoof, think something like an iron sandal, two for each foot. countryhomeantiques.co.uk/upload/images/shopprod/11114/… $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 29, 2019 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ Basically you're gluing the soles of a shoe directly onto the hooves. Since hooves don't really have nerves you can get away with it. The construction is not that complicated; just need to match the hoof's shape. $\endgroup$
    – Nelson
    Aug 30, 2019 at 5:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Axolotl Wow nice instead of agreeing not to steal people's data they just block the EEA 😂 $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2019 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ While GDPR is overall a good thing, there's definitely collateral damage in the form of smaller sites which simply don't have the resources to comply, AND there's a lot of misinformation floating around, with consultants making scary claims to sell their services.... $\endgroup$
    – barbecue
    Aug 31, 2019 at 15:24

Oxen have been shod for centuries -- mainly the ones who pull carts on paved roads (cobblestones), though plow oxen are also shod. Ordinary horseshoes won't work on cloven hooves, but ox shoes are designed for cloven hoofs. The issue that might arise is that deer (whitetails, wapiti, moose, etc.) have narrower hooves and are much lighter animals (even moos) than oxen. The shoe would require some modification, but any relative of common deer ought to be possible to shoe if the animal is well domesticated (i.e. calm enough for the farrier to handle as needed).

Worth noting that reindeer (domesticated caribou) aren't shod; despite having hooves, they, like camels, actually walk on a pad behind the visible hoof, and as a result, don't need shoes and cannot benefit from them.

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    $\begingroup$ That’s very interesting about reindeer/caribou and camels—I didn’t know that! $\endgroup$
    – KRyan
    Aug 30, 2019 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ When I first read the question, I immediately thought of looking for reindeer shoes, since reindeer are domesticated working deer, that would presumably be an exact answer to the question. I found a bunch of weird stuff, but no reindeer shoes. Thanks for explaining why. $\endgroup$
    – prl
    Aug 31, 2019 at 1:10

Considering how giggly are deer when walking on wet paved roads (based on the footage I can see on the internet), shoes are surely needed to improve grip.

Elk are hoofed mammals.

A hoof (/ˈhuːf/ or /ˈhʊf/), plural hooves (/ˈhuːvz/ or /ˈhʊvz/) or hoofs /ˈhʊfs/, is the tip of a toe of an ungulate mammal, strengthened by a thick, and horny keratin covering.

Artiodactyls are even-toed ungulates, meaning that these species have an even number of digits on each foot. Ruminants, with two main digits, are the largest group. Examples include deer, bison, cattle, goats and sheep. Perissodactyls have an odd number of toes. Examples of perissodactyl mammals are horses, rhinoceroses and tapirs.

You can use horseshoes for deer the same way they are used for horses, you only need to adjust for the two main digits instead of the single one found in horses.

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    $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "giggly" in the first sentence? $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2019 at 11:49
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    $\begingroup$ @AnthonyGrist, they easily slip and fall on the wet roads $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Aug 30, 2019 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry if I came across as rude. I'm just genuinely interested. I think it's a very poetic phrase in English and I'm curious as to what language it originally comes from. $\endgroup$
    – DaveRGP
    Aug 30, 2019 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ Probably "jiggly" is closer to the intended word here. "Giggly" sounds like it means "prone to laughter," whereas "jiggly" is more closely related to motion. $\endgroup$
    – Jim Conant
    Aug 30, 2019 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ I can affirm deer don't have much grip even on dry pavement. I saw a deer crossing a road in front of me watching her fawns and another car. She didn't see me until I was close, so she put her front feet out with locked knees to stop fast, even though it wasn't necessary (because both she and I were going slow), and fell flat on her face. It looked like the typical "banana peel" gag, where the feet slid out front with no control. $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2019 at 18:33

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