Cowboy Boot Guide: Types Of Western Boots

Cowboy boot styles span many shapes, sizes, and materials for all personalities and occasions. Styles range from traditional to dress boots to work boots. There are so many different kinds of cowboy boots to choose from, so check the Ariat guide to cowboy boots to figure out what to look for in your next pair.

What are the different Cowboy Boot styles?

Traditional Western Boots

Traditionally, cowboy boots were made for riding horses, with a tall shaft that goes up to your calf; a narrow, pointed toe that makes it easier to get your boots through the stirrups; and a higher heel to keep your feet in place while riding. Traditional Western boots are designed authentically to this heritage design style.



Ropers & Roper Boots

Ropers are an offshoot of traditional Western boots, named after originally being made for roping cattle. The heel is lower; and the shaft is shorter, stopping below your calf, making them easier and more comfortable to wear when walking long distances or running.



Short Western Boots

Short western boots are just what they sound like: shorter versions of the traditional western boot style. With short boots, the shaft typically rests just above your ankle. They’re easier to put on and take off, more comfortable in warmer weather, and tend to be more fashion forward.



Dress Cowboy Boots

Dress cowboy boots usually feature intricate stitch work and embroidery or are made from higher quality materials than traditional boots. Some dress cowboy boots are distressed for a pre-worn look; others are stained to form a patina, a non-uniform stain that makes leather look aged.


What Toe Shapes Are Western Boots Available In?

Another element of cowboy boot design is the toe shape. Western boot toe shapes have an impact on the overall style, and there are plenty to choose from; including:

  • Regular – Regular Toe, also referred to as R Toe, is what most people think of when they think of cowboy boots. Regular toe shapes are narrow and oval, sometimes with a slight point to facilitate getting your feet in and out of stirrups.
  • Round toe - More popular in casual fits, ropers, and work cowboy/cowgirl boots, rounded toe shapes leave more room for your toes.
  • Square toe - Similar to round toe shapes, square toes have more space in the front and are comfortable for both walking and riding.
  • Wide square toe - Just like square, but with a wider toe end for people with wide feet.
  • Snip toe - Snip shapes are a sharp point, usually found in dress boots.
  • Cutter toe - Cutter toe boots are narrower than square toe boots but wider than regular. It’s a good option if you want the look of a regular toe but have wider feet.

Types of leather for Western boots

Traditionally, and still today, most cowboy boots are made from leather. There are lots of different types of leather to choose from when looking for your perfect Western boots.

Full Grain Leather

The most sought-after leather for nearly all cowboy boot styles is full grain leather, meaning that the leather hasn’t been altered or corrected from its natural state, such as by buffing or polishing out imperfections. The minor imperfections in full grain leather are what make each pair of Western boots unique.

Top Grain Leather

The next most popular leather boot is made from top grain leather. Top grain leather is also considered a premium leather but is more accessible, since larger imperfections in the surface leather can be mended instead of cut away.

Synthetic & Hybrid Materials

Naturally, modern technology has changed how some Western boots are made. It’s no longer unusual to find a pair of Western boots made with some synthetic material. For example, some boots are mostly leather but Ariat's VentTEK boots have mesh panels in the shaft to make them more breathable on hot days.

When to Wear Your Cowboy Boots

Since Western boots come in such a variety of styles, fits, and colours, there’s a cowboy boot style for any occasion. They can be worn for work, to complement your everyday wardrobe, or even to a wedding!

What cowboy boot style should I wear with casual clothes?

For weekends and more casual evenings, ropers and short cowboy boots are your go-to Western boot choice. They’re understated, comfortable to walk in, and pair well with pretty much any outfit.

What type of Western boot should I wear for riding?

Riders have been wearing cowboy boots for over 100 years, and they’ve only gotten better with time. The narrow toe and tall heel of a traditional cowboy boot are a must when riding, since they keep your feet squarely in your stirrups. If your feet are on the wider side and regular cowboy boot styles feel uncomfortable, try a pair of cowboy boots with a cutter toe (a balance between the pointed toe and square toe).

What style of cowboy boots should I wear to a wedding?

A western theme for your big day can be a great way to express your style and heritage and is a great way to add more fun and festivity. Cowboy boots and cowgirl boots have come a long way in terms of fashion in recent years and are no longer the utilitarian footwear they once were. Bring some western flair to your wedding with a pair of well-made cowgirl boots, and your groom can wear cowboy boots with a suit or tuxedo!

What style of cowboy boots should I wear to a country concert?

Going to a Western concert or festival? When it comes to choosing what to wear, you can’t go wrong with cowgirl boots, denim, and a t-shirt or flowy top. Wear skinny jeans tucked into your boots—or denim shorts for a fun, casual look—along with your favourite western shirt or t-shirt. Whatever you choose, statement cowgirl boots are the most important part!