Do Camels Wear Shoes Like Horses?

Unlike horses, some oxen, and donkeys, camels do not wear shoes. On the bottom of their feet, camels have soft pads you can’t nail the shoes to. Farriers do not put shoes on camels.

Camels can cross between 25 and 100 miles per day (40-160km).

That can put a lot of stress on their legs and feet, which makes it natural to ask: do camels wear shoes in the desert or even need ones like horses do?!

Horses have hooves that are made of keratin, the same material our nails and hair are made from. Owners usually put horseshoes on working horses to improve the durability of their hoof. As they walk, their hoof will naturally wear off so a shoe helps prevent that wear and tear and keeps the animals’ feet in good condition.

Unlike horses, camels do not have hooves. At the end of each foot, a camel has two split toes with webbing in-between. At the bottom of the feet, there are large leathery sole pads that get in contact with the ground. They are very soft and around 7.5 inches long and 5.5 inches wide (19 by 14 cm).

do camels wear shoes

Why Don’t Camels Wear Shoes?

Shoeing a camel’s foot would probably be detrimental to the animal’s health. It would prevent the camel from walking properly on the desert sand, it would require more energy, and it would increase the musculoskeletal stress on the legs and the body.

The main reason camels walk easier on sand compared to other hoofed animals (like horses) is the pressure the animal exerts on the ground. The smaller the surface of the feet, the bigger the pressure the animal puts on the ground. This makes it easier to penetrate the ground, sink into the sand, and move harder. 

That’s why camels have wide and soft padded feet and do not require shoes; their feet exert less pressure on the grainy sand and penetrate it a lot less than other animals with shoes would. A camel can then move more easily in the desert, spend less energy on that movement, and waste less water.

Also, because of the fatty cushions towards the heel of the camel, the pressures of walking and running are reduced. Similar to how running shoes work in humans and reduce the stress wave coming to the knee and other parts of the body, pads work the same way in camels. 

Furthermore, a study from 2016 showed that horseshoes place additional stress on the feet of horses. The scientists examined the effect of a stainless steel horseshoe on skeletal stresses in racehorses and concluded that it might increase mechanical loading and pressure on the forefoot phalanges. [1]

It is safe to conclude that shoeing a camel would not be beneficial to the animal and that they are a lot better without shoes.

Further reading: Camels vs Horses – Who Is Smarter?

What Shoes Do Camels Wear?

For the end of this article, we want to share with you a camel shoe joke, or a riddle if you prefer, that goes like this: 

What shoes do camels wear?

Sandals.

(In case you didn’t get it, here’s an explanation: sandals=sand+als; camels mostly walk on sand)

Final Thoughts

Camels do not wear shoes. Unlike horses and their strong hooves, camels have soft pads on the bottom of their feet which makes it hard to put a shoe on. Camels do not require shoes as it would make it harder to walk on sand, would require more energy, and would increase stresses of locomotion on their body.

We hope we answered the question “do camels wear shoes” properly.


References

[1] Panagiotopoulou, Olga, et al. “A preliminary case study of the effect of shoe-wearing on the biomechanics of a horse’s foot.” PeerJ 4 (2016): e2164.

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