Do Zebras Need Their Hooves Trimmed? (Explained)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

The hoof of a zebra is a hard covering that protects its toes from injuries. Zebra hooves can be likened to human toenails.

Just as humans need to trim their toenails, zebras need their hooves trimmed as well.

However, trimming zebra hooves is entirely different from the way and manner humans trim their toenails.

There is special equipment needed for trimming zebra hooves. Also, not anyone can trim the hooves of a zebra; there are experts for this job.

Zebra hooves are trimmed under certain conditions, else you might get kicked! This article has all you need to know about zebra hoof trimming. Happy reading!

Do Zebras Need Their Hooves Trimmed?

Do Zebras Need Their Hooves Trimmed

Only zebras in captivity need their hooves trimmed.

This is because these zebras are kept in terrain or enclosure that is not rough enough to maintain their hooves.

However, zebras in the wild do not need hoof trimming. 

Here is an article I wrote on why are zebras called social animals

What Are The Advantages of Trimming Their Hooves?

Untrimmed hooves may cause overgrowth which may subsequently result in the splitting of the hooves.

Trimming the hooves of zebras will prevent the splitting of the hooves and greatly reduce the chances of sustaining other hoof-related injuries.

How Do Zebras Keep Their Hooves Trimmed?

Zebras in captivity cannot trim their hooves by themselves.

They need the help of a farrier to get their hooves trimmed. A farrier is a person who is specialized in general hoof care of animals in the horse family.

The farrier uses his tools to trim the hooves of the zebra.

The zebra on the other hand must be sedated before this action is done; otherwise, the farrier is only putting himself in great danger.

After sedating the zebra, the farrier hurriedly trims its hooves before the sedative wears away.

On the other hand, zebras in the wild do not need any form of assistance to trim their hooves.

Instead, they trim their hooves by running.

Zebras are known to run over 40 miles per hour. Running for an extended time on different terrains causes uniform wear of the hooves, keeping it naturally trimmed and in good condition.

Do Zebras Need Horseshoes?

A horseshoe is a u-shaped metal plate that is fastened to the hooves of horses to protect the hooves from wearing away on hard or rough surfaces.

The horseshoe is fastened on the palmar surface of the hoof with nails to keep it in place. Sometimes, horseshoes can be glued to the hooves without using nails.

Zebras don’t need horseshoes.

Natural selection left them with strong feet that are appropriate for their environment.

Hooves generally consist of keratin as seen in human hair and nails.

Zebra hooves are extremely tough and durable, hence they do not need horseshoes.

Also check out this article I wrote on why do zebras travel in a herd

What Happens if You Don’t Trim Zebra Hooves?

When zebras in captivity don’t get their hooves trimmed, they may develop foot distortion problems, become prone to injuries and are susceptible to fungal infections.

They may also sustain bruises around the sole, abscesses of the hoof and other hoof defects.

Can Zebras Get Injured While Trimming their Hooves?

Hoof trimming is like cutting your toenails; you don’t get injured unless you cut too deep.

Likewise, zebras don’t get injured unless their hooves are trimmed too deep.

This is why only experts are allowed to trim the hooves of zebras in captivity. Zebras in the wild do not encounter any problem as their hooves are naturally trimmed.

What is The Equipment Needed?

The farrier uses the following tools for hoof trimming.

  • Hoof knife: to trim the frog and sole of the hoof
  • Hoof nippers: to trim hoof wall
  • Hoof testers: to detect cracks, weaknesses or abscesses in the hoof
  • Rasp: to finish trims and smooth out the edges of the hoof.


Zebras in the wild do not have issues with hoof trimming as this is naturally done by running on different terrains.

However, zebras in captivity need their hooves trimmed when necessary.

This can only be done by an expert under certain conditions in order to prevent putting himself in danger.

Trimmed hooves will prevent the zebra from sustaining hoof injuries.

It will also reduce the chances of being infected by diseases and also prevent further complications.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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