Having a dog house for your furry best friends can be a gift to them as well as yourselves. It might seem like our dogs love being around us 24/7, but having a place to spend time on their own is essential for all dogs. So we've put together this guide to help you make the best possible choice for you and your dog.
How to choose the right size dog house?
The first thing you'll need to think about when purchasing a new dog house is size. Simply choosing a doghouse that "fits" might be a bit shortsighted. A house that "fits" your dog, but is far larger than your dog, will do little to nothing to maintain warmth if the weather gets cold. So, finding a balance is ideal.
Here are a few things to consider to ensure you find the optimal size doghouse for your dog:
- Your doghouse roof should be 25% taller than your dog
Unless they are an incredibly talented doggo - your dog won't be reversing into your doghouse. They'll likely walk in headfirst, turn and then curl up and lie down. So, for starters, you'll need to ensure that your doghouse roof is at least 25% taller than your dog so they can stand comfortably.
- Doghouse door should be 25% shorter than shoulder height
You might think this contradicts point 1, but there's actually a lot of utility in having a door smaller than your dog's shoulder height. A small entryway is your best friend when it comes to temperature control.
Small entryways moderate airflow in and out of your doghouse, allowing the temperature to be relatively stable, which your dog needs for comfort in both warm and cold weather.
Dogs also have a natural tendency to crouch when entering doghouses or dens, so you won't have to worry about your dog feeling cramped or uncomfortable.
- Your doghouse should be slightly longer than body length
Finally, your doghouse should be long enough that your dog can stretch out fully and make themselves comfortable when inside. Having room to comfortably wag your tail (fully extended) is a good rule of thumb for this measurement.
What material to choose for a dog house?
Your material choice will determine a lot about your doghouse:
- How well heat is retained
So we will be taking a quick look at the common material choices and what the benefits are for each of them.
Wood is by and large the most common material in doghouse construction, especially if you're making a doghouse from scratch. Wood is a natural insulator, is able to resist scratching and a bit of rough housing and is relatively simple to repair when necessary. Wooden doghouses also tend to be free from sharp edges that can cause your dog - or you - any harm.
When choosing a wooden doghouse, you should be sure that the wood has not been treated with anything toxic, just in case your dog decides to chew into a panel or the doorframe. Wooden dog houses can splinter over time, so checking occasionally for splinters can save you a trip to the vet.
Wood tends to do well even in the extremes of temperature, however, long-term exposure to rain can be detrimental.
Plastic dog houses have similar longevity to wooden ones - so long as you don't experience too many temperature extremes. If you live in an dry area that gets cold at night and hot during the day, you can expect to have cracks or warping in your doghouse within a few months.
Plastic is also a poor insulator in most cases, although this can be compensated for by purchasing pre-insulated panels or installing your own insulation afterward.
Plastic can be an ideal material for dog owners who might need to move their doghouses around. For instance, if there isn't much shade in your yard and you need to move the doghouse from time to time to prevent overheating, plastic is a good bet. If your dog is a chewer, you can expect plastic dog houses to be worn down quickly.
Since plastic is generally waterproof, rain won't have too much impact on your kennel's structure, and it'll be easy to clean if need be.
If you're interested in a permanent structure, having a doghouse constructed from concrete can be a good idea. You'll spend a bit more upfront of course, for labor and materials, but concrete doghouses last for years or decades and have all the benefits of the other materials we've discussed so far.
Concrete - when cast in thick slabs - is an insulator against wind and sunlight so your dog will have a barrier against most temperature changes. Some insulation will be required during winter if you intend to let your dog stay outside or occasionally have his own space to relax. Concrete can leech warmth during winter and loses heat quickly when in direct contact with water or snow.
Due to its strength, you'll likely never have to worry about your dog chewing or scratching a concrete doghouse. Unfortunately, since concrete won't "flex" like plastic and wood, when your dog lies down, you'll have to take extra steps to ensure your dog's comfort, like installing a dog bed or insulation.
Metal dog houses are a good buy for longevity but are not well suited for maintaining a stable temperature. Metal dog houses are best for indoor use. For instance, if you have a house trained dog and simply want to give them their own space or you're looking for ways to keep them off of your bed. Similarly, to plastic doghouses, metal doghouses can have sharp edges, so you'll need to check for those when purchasing.
Now that you know how to go about choosing the perfect doghouse for you and your pet, here are a few extras worth considering making things that much better.
Having extra insulation on hand can be incredibly useful if you live in a climate with disparate seasons. Pre-insulated kennels and panels can be helpful for cold and warm climates. Contrary to popular belief, insulation doesn't simply keep things warm but acts as a barrier to temperature change. This means that if the inside of your dog's kennel is already cool, it stays that way longer, and if the inside of the kennel is cold, your dog's body heat will get trapped warming the kennel.
A doghouse in itself is a blessing to your furry best friend. It's a place for your dog to pass the time sleeping, retreat to if things get stressful, hide and play with toys and shelter from cold or hot weather. Adding a dog bed to your doghouse provides an extra layer of comfort for your dogs. You'll have to wash and dry your dog bed according to manufacturer's recommendations to make sure your dog's skin stays safe and healthy.
Built-in Water and Food Bowls
Adding a built-in place for eating and watering can help your dog get used to their new doghouse and integrate it deeply as part of a sleeping routine. Many dogs are apprehensive about using new doghouses and require an introduction.
Some prefer to sleep outside until they are invited in with treats, so having an external food bowl can build positive associations between doghouse and eating, encouraging your dog to use their doghouse more. We don't recommend installing a food bowl internally unless you are committed to cleaning your doghouse often.
Throwing a few toys into your new doghouse is a very smart idea, especially if you have an energetic dog or one that is a "chewer". Having toys on hand will give your dog a healthy way to burn off energy and save you from needing to replace your doghouse or repair panels that have been chewed away.