We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Whether you call them potty pads, puppy pads, or pee pads, these absorbent sheets have become an invaluable part of the puppy training process. Effective potty training depends on teaching your dog consistent habits. The right puppy pad not only enables positive habits during housebreak training but also makes cleanup as simple as throwing out the pad and replacing it with a new one.
After testing 20 different puppy pads in our New York Lab, our winner and best overall pick is the Premium Puppy Training Pads from Bulldogology. The Bulldogology training pads have all the qualities necessary for perfect performance, including the ability to absorb smells and hold in liquid effectively enough that you'll never have to deal with puppy pee on your hands or floors.
We also tested several other puppy training pads that worked exceptionally well and received high ratings from our volunteer testers.
Here are the best puppy pads, according to our testing.
Best Overall: Bulldogology Premium Puppy Training Pads
Slightly larger than most comparable training pads
Margin around pad stays dry, making it easy to pick up
Fully absorbs scent
Charcoal version also available
Sold in multiple sizes and quantities
Our testers recommend Bulldogology Puppy Training Pads with no reservations. They are incredibly absorbent and hold multiple cups of liquid without spilling a drop. They are also durable and didn't tear or get weighed down when our testers used a combination of liquid and solid material.
Bulldogology Premium Puppy Training Pads combine several layers of material designed to absorb liquids and pull them into the center of the pad, including an outer "attractant fabric" layer and another layer that keeps scents locked in. But it's the superabsorbent polymer (SAP) at the center of the pad that most effectively absorbs and retains liquids, transforming powder into a gel that won't release water back onto your floor or hands.
Testers assessed puppy pads using several tests and five different metrics, rating each puppy pad for its effectiveness, durability, scent (and how well it absorbs scents), how easy they are to clean up, and the product's overall value. In our evaluation, Bulldogology Puppy Training Pads received a perfect score in every category except overall value, since they are more expensive than several other training pads we recommend.
During testing, we poured a combination of water and vinegar on the Bulldogology puppy pad up to the maximum absorbency claimed by the manufacturer. After soaking, the training pad's margins remained dry, making it easy to pick up with your hands. Remarkably, even touching the wet portion of the pee pad still felt nearly dry. When lifting the soaked puppy pad off the ground, the Bulldogology pad didn't feel like it was about to rip or at risk of falling apart. There was no dripping, and the floor was dry after we were done.
Bulldogology Puppy Training Pads also come in a flexible range of options, including different sizes, materials, and quantities. The standard pee pads are sold in 50-, 100-, and 150-count packages. There are also XL pads that are 24 x 35 inches, available in packages of 40, 60, 180, ad 360. Bulldogology also makes it easy to subscribe, so a steady supply of pee pads will keep coming to your door. Finally, there's an activated carbon version of the Bulldogology Puppy Training Pads, which have an additional charcoal layer designed to more fully absorb smells (though we find the standard pads very effective at scent absorption already).
The Bulldogology pee pads also incorporate a feature we were unable to test under lab conditions: a pheromone attractant. Designed to draw the attention of a puppy while housebreaking, we were unable to test whether or not this is a useful feature or a gimmick. Other minor features were more obviously useful, including the adhesive tape at each corner, which kept the Bulldogology pads attached firmly to our test floor.
It should be noted that while the Bulldogology Puppy Training Pads were our overall favorite, many of our other recommendations performed as well or nearly as well. There are a number of viable puppy training pads on the market, so don't hesitate to try something else on this list if it's more convenient to purchase.
Best Washable: Pet Parents Pawtect Pads Washable Dog Pee Pads
Multiple sizes, including round pads
Durable and high quality construction
Fabric can get soaked to the edges
While we tested a handful of non-disposable options, the Pawtect Pads Washable Dog Pee Pads from Pet Parents was the only one that provided comparable performance to our favorite disposable options.
Described as a "WickQuick proprietary fabric blend," the material in the Pawtect pee pads was surprisingly absorbent. We found that it quickly absorbed several cups of water, pulling the liquid into the center of the pad. The main disadvantage to this design is that there's no margin around the absorbent area of the pad, so there's always a possibility that it might be a little soggy wherever you grip to pick it up.
Our testers were pleasantly surprised to find that the Pawtect pads didn't smell after absorbing vinegar. While there's no guarantee that its odor protection will work as well with dog pee, its scent-absorbing abilities seemed on par with our favorite disposable pee pads.
The Pet Parents pee pads felt exceptionally durable as well, with multiple fabric layers triple stitched all around the perimeter of the pad. The bottom layer is a waterproof backing with a grippy, rubberized feel that held the Pawtects pee pad to the floor even better than the adhesive tape included on some disposable models. It's even got enough cushion that your dog might use it as a resting mat, making the Pawtect a useful crate liner as well as a potty pad.
"It's the standout one of the fabric options," one tester said, describing the Pawtect. "It's both the smallest and best absorbing. I'm pretty impressed by this one."
At only 18 x 24 inches, the Pawtect Pad we tested was among the smallest pads we tested, but numerous other options are available, including a jumbo 41 x 41-inch pad and circular variants up to 48 inches in diameter.
The Pawtects Pads Washable Dog Pee Pad is sold in bundles of two, so you can always have one in use and one in the wash. And, of course, the pads are machine washable.
Best Budget: Glad for Pets Activated Carbon Training Pads
Available in flexible quantities: 14, 30, 50, 100
Excellent smell absorption
Large sizes are odd dimensions
A little slower to absorb liquids fully
While not quite the cheapest pads we tested, there's no better budget pick than Glad for Pets Activated Carbon Training Pads, which are not only affordable but also among the most effective potty pads we tested.
We tested the Glad for Pets training pad with 3 cups of vinegar and water. The floor beneath stayed dry, and the pads successfully retained the moisture in their center, so the paper margins also stayed dry, making it easy to throw out and replace a pad without getting puppy pee on your fingers. Downsides were minor, though the Glad for Pets potty pads did take a little longer to absorb liquid than our top picks. Plus, the top layer was thin enough that some of the sticky gel squeezed through when pressed with a finger (of course, no one other than a product tester is likely to press their finger into the center of the wet puppy pad).
The Glad for Pets training pads also incorporated activated carbon for better smell absorbency. While we didn't see a noticeable improvement in overall absorbency over non-charcoal pads, none of our testers could smell any of the vinegar we used.
Scent: None | Dimensions: Regular, 23 x 23 in.; Giant, 30 x 36 in.; Jumbo, 28 x 30 in. | Absorbency: Regular, 3 cups
Best Scented: Frisco Dog Training & Potty Pads
Subtle wildflower scent
Good regular sizing (22 x 23 in.)
Limited retailer availability
Frisco Dog Training & Potty Pads tested just as well as our top picks, with many of the useful features found among our other recommendations, including the inclusion of a pheromone meant to attract your puppy to the pad. They have a similar dry paper margin and leakproof plastic liner as many of our other faves. Plus, the Frisco pads are available in a scented version.
Our favorite of the scented pads we tested, one tester described the Frisco pad's wildflower scent as "very mild and not at all aggressive."
Another tester said they were "impressed" by how well the scent covered the vinegar smell included in the water we used during absorbency tests. Of course, we found that many of the unscented pads were just as good at fully absorbing strong smells, so scented pads should be seen as a personal preference rather than a necessity. Frisco also offers an unscented version of their Dog Training & Potty Pads.
The main downside to the Frisco puppy pads is their relatively limited availability. If you already do your pet shopping through Chewy, they're a great all-around pick, whether you go scented or unscented.
Best for Large Dogs: Four Paws Wee-Wee Pee Pads
Usefully large size
Highly absorbent and effective
Large paper margin
Slight plastic smell
The Four Paws Wee-Wee Gigantic Pads measure 27.5 x 44 inches, providing substantially more surface area than almost any other disposable training pad (our best scented pick from Frisco offers a "Giant" size in the same dimensions).
During our tests, we found it to perform just as well as our other favorites, with its quilted lining ensuring that the floor beneath the pad stays dry, even after multiple cups of liquid have been spilled. The Wee-Wee Gigantic Pads have a generous paper margin, so you won't get your fingers wet, and the extra surface area helped the Wee-Wee soak up 5 cups of liquid without ever feeling waterlogged.
The main downside to the Wee-Wee Gigantic Pads is the price. We could only find the pads available through online retailers in packages of 8 or 18, without an option for the bulk packaging that brings down the per-pad price of many of our other favorite brands.
Best of the Rest: IMMCute Puppy Pee Pads
Highly rated performance at a budget price
Multiple size and packaging options
Only available on Amazon
We tested 20 puppy pee pads in total, and while the IMMCute Dog Pee Pads were not our favorite for any particular category, they were still one of our highest-rated training pads. Check out these training pads if other recommendations on this list don't fit your specific needs.
We found them to be an especially good alternative to the Amazon Basics Dog and Puppy Pads, which we also tested. While the Amazon Basics scored on the upper end of our test and are perfectly usable pee pads, we found them to be less absorbent than our recommended picks—getting waterlogged to the point that it was hard to pick them up without getting our hands a little wet. The IMMCute pads are very similar, with a very similar price, but held up better in our tests.
We still found the floor completely dry beneath after letting liquid soak into the pads. Plus, there was no runoff when we lifted the pads, and the paper margins stayed dry, so we never had to get our fingers wet.
The IMMCute pee pads are available in packs of 14, 50, and 100 pads, all in three different sizes.
Best Charcoal: Bark Charcoal Training Pads
Comes with a training guide
Adhesive tabs for attaching to floor
Very high absorbency
Options are occasionally out of stock
Limited retailer availability
While the Bulldogology pads have one or two minor advantages—they are 2 inches larger, for example—most puppy owners would be just as happy with the Bark training pads. In our testing, the Bark Charcoal Training Pads performed just as well as our best overall pick from Bulldogology. Plus, they cost less than half as much: about $0.25 per pad instead of $0.58.
But the major difficulty is getting your hands on them. Bark offers basic and charcoal versions of their training pads, each available in three different sizes. But as of publication, only one of the six options is available for purchase in their BarkShop. Plus, orders take 5-10 days for delivery. While periodically available on Amazon, Bark's pee pads are primarily sold directly from Bark, so don't expect to see them on store shelves. Still, if you're able to easily purchase Bark's pee pads, they're very likely to be your best option.
We tested the regular-sized Bark Charcoal Training Pads in our New York labs, and they definitely made an impression on our testers.
"This is crazy," one tester wrote after the Bark puppy pads easily absorbed 5 cups of liquid. "That's impressive. This is probably the most effective one so far."
For testing, we used water mixed with vinegar to see how well the pads absorbed scents. Even holding the pee pad directly under our noses, we could barely smell the vinegar.
Just as important as absorbency is cleanup once you're ready to dispose of the pad. Like our other favorite puppy pads, the Bark Charcoal Training Pads have a margin around the absorbent portion of the pad. It stayed dry throughout, so you could lift the pad off the floor without getting puppy pee on your hands. The floor underneath was completely dry too.
While we tested several pads containing charcoal, also known as "activated carbon," our testing didn't detect better performance when compared to the more standard absorbent gel pads. The Bark pads combine a layer of charcoal with a layer of absorbent gel. Our best overall pick from Bulldogology also offers training pads with this two-layer system. While the charcoal is meant to better absorb scents, we didn't notice much difference compared to puppy pads without charcoal, at least with our vinegar test.
Bark's puppy pads also have adhesive tabs, making them easy to keep in place on your floor. The pads even come with a training guide to help you get your puppy acclimated to using the indoor pee pads.
The Bark Charcoal Training Pads are available in regular, large, and XL sizes.
The Bulldogology Premium Puppy Training Pads are our favorites, with a generous size, superior absorption, and an optional charcoal version. If you're looking for a non-disposable option, check out Pet Parents Pawtect Pads Washable Dog Pee Pads, which use a durable fabric blend material to quickly wick and absorb liquids—just toss it in your washing machine to clean.
How We Tested Puppy Pads
We purchased and tested 20 puppy pads in our New York Lab to find the absolute best. The pads were set up side by side on linoleum flooring. Using a methodology written in advance, our volunteer testers subjected each pad to several tests, providing 1-5 ratings, taking measurements, and making observational notes along the way.
Each puppy pee pad was rated according to 5 different scoring categories.
Our testers began by evaluating the effectiveness of top-brand training pads. To do this, we used measuring cups to dispense 3-6 cups of water on each pad. Each brand was evaluated according to its claimed capacity: if a pee pad said it could 3 cups of puppy pee, we rated it on its ability to absorb 3 cups. The water used on each puppy pad contained both food coloring for visibility and vinegar so that our testers could also rate the scent, evaluating the ability of scented pads to cover up the vinegar smell, and rating unscented pads for their smell absorbency. To test durability, we simulated solid puppy waste in combination with waterlogged pads to determine whether they ripped or leaked when lifted off the ground.
Finally, our testers rated for ease of cleaning by scoring each pad according to how well it kept the linoleum beneath dry and how easy each puppy pad was to dispose of without coming into contact with soiled portions of the pad. Testers looked for weaknesses, such as liquid running off the pad, wet floors underneath, and pads that got soaked out to the edges, so your fingers would get wet picking them up.
After making their evaluations, testers were told the price of each puppy pad they tested and were then asked to rate how much of an overall value they saw in the product.
What to Look for in Puppy Pads
Most disposable puppy pads use a superabsorbent polymer powder sandwiched between several other layers, including a pillowy top layer that soaks in liquid like a paper towel and a waterproof plastic bottom layer that keeps liquid from soaking through to your floor. When put in contact with water, the polymer powder absorbs the liquid and turns it into a gel, preventing the water from splashing around or leaking out somewhere else.
Most puppy training pads have enough powder to absorb between 3 and 5 cups of water. This is significantly more than most puppies pee in a day. While different veterinary sources provide slightly different standards, the expected daily urine output for a dog is typically between 0.4 and 0.85 ounces per pound. This means a 10-pound puppy may pee a little more than a cup a day at most.
While we found that our recommended puppy pee pads did a satisfactory job absorbing the smell of vinegar, there's a good chance your dog or puppy-in-training is more than capable of producing far more powerful stinks. Check out pee pads that add a layer of charcoal (sometimes marketed as "activated carbon" or "activated charcoal"), which is excellent at absorbing smells.
Disposable vs. Washable
Most puppy pads are disposable, meant to be used for one day or several hours, and discarded. Washable puppy pads are reusable and designed to be placed in your washing machine after becoming soiled.
While disposable pee pads using SAP powder are reliably absorbent, non-disposable options use many different methods, some more effective than others. While we found that the quilt-like, dense fabric in our favorite washable pad did a good job absorbing liquids, we were less impressed with the other reusable pads we tested. One common design is a rectangle of fake grass in a tray. We found these to be practically useless at tamping down smells or absorbing urine. Instead, liquid just sloshed around at the bottom, making a mess whenever you pick it up.
How many puppy pads should I put down at once?
You usually only need to put down one puppy pad at a time. Good-quality puppy pads are waterproof on the bottom and absorbent enough to last two to three uses before you need to toss them. If you have a very large puppy or if your puppy is routinely missing the pad, you might try putting down multiple pads and slightly overlapping the edges to create a larger surface area for your pup.
How long should you use puppy pads for?
Puppy pads are generally used short term while puppies are very young. It’s best to transition away from puppy pads as soon as you can if you eventually want your puppy to go potty outside rather than on a puppy pad inside the house.
But some people use puppy pads forever and often use them in combination with a litter box or puppy pad holder. Long-term puppy pad use is ideal for very small dogs, for pet owners living in places with temperature or weather extremes, or for pet owners who live in high-rise apartment buildings or otherwise have difficulty bringing their dog outside to potty.
Do puppy pads work for cats?
Most cats prefer to use a litter box and cat litter to go to the bathroom, but puppy pads can work for cats, too. For cats that routinely “miss” the box, pee pads are excellent to use under and around the litter box to keep pee off your floor. Puppy pads can also be used in lieu of litter, either in the box, flat on the ground, or in a pee pad holder. Puppy pads may be helpful for cats that start refusing the box and instead pee on rugs, clothing, or towels.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Andrew Whalen, commerce editor for The Spruce Pets, who joined a group of volunteer testers for direct insight into the usefulness of 20 different puppy pads. Using a rigorous methodology, testers evaluated each puppy pad for effectiveness, smell control, durability, value, and how easy they were to clean up. He has tested hundreds of products in our New York product labs.
A previous version of this roundup was written by Theresa Holland, a professional writer and animal lover with extensive experience writing about cats and dogs. In addition to The Spruce, she regularly contributes to MyDomaine and Byrdie.