Ask the Experts, Blog, How To

How to Choose Pet-Friendly Furniture

To guide your choices in pet-friendly furniture, we consulted with Bruce Galbraith, Sofa Mart’s national merchandise manager, and David Cox, Sofa Mart’s leather buyer.

Question: What’s the best type of furniture to buy if I have pets?
Answer: No furniture is indestructible, but many options are perfect for furry friends who just want to curl up next to us on the couch.


“Start by asking how your pets treat your current furniture,” Cox advises. “Chances are you’ll see more of the same behavior when your new furniture is delivered. If your pets never get up on the furniture, all leathers and fabrics are available to you. If your pets lie on the furniture but never claw or scratch the upholstery, some additional signs of wear may occur, especially on natural fibers such as cotton, wool or linen. If your pets lie on, play on, dig, scratch or chew at the upholstery, no fabric upholstery can withstand that kind of daily treatment. The best option would be corrected-grain leather.”

Rachael Sofa

The Rachael Sofa, by Sofa Mart.

Upholstered Furniture

Galbraith maintains that tightly woven fabric and special processing make microdenier suede or microdenier velvet constructions the best choices, well because its pile surface and heavy weight stand up to pets. Woven textures are not recommended because dog and cat claws will damage the weaves.

Cox says 100-percent synthetic-fiber upholstery such as polyester, acrylic or polypropylene (aka Olefin) will last longer and show fewer signs of wear than natural-fiber fabrics.

Newscastle Sofa

The Newcastle Sofa, by Sofa Mart

Leather Furniture

“The most durable upholstery is leather,” Cox explains. “Top-grain cowhide leather will last, on average, four to five times longer than most fabrics. No normal house pet will be able to puncture or tear top-grain cowhide leather.”

Corrected-grain leather, aka “protected leather,” will take the most abuse. Make sure the leather is top-grain cowhide and not bonded leather (which is not actually leather) or split-hide leather (which lacks the strength of top-grain leather). Moderate to heavily corrected leather feels less-soft because of the relatively heavy urethane protective surface coating, but it resists scratches more than natural-grain leathers and cleans up easily with distilled water and mild soap.

Be sure to choose the right finish. For example, scratches may show on a heavy-wax antique finish, but they won’t penetrate the leather. Work with your sales professional to determine what’s right for you.