Hello, my name’s Valerie and I am the proud pet owner of Bentley the Clumberdoodle.
Today, we’re going to talk about dog houses, and check out some of the best that I’ve found in my research.
So why do we Need a Dog House?
Well, I know Bentley wants to be with us every single minute of every day, and it’s a lovely thought that this is his ideal world, but unfortunately the reality of life is that it simply can’t always happen.
There are times when our boy needs to stay at home.
Some places just do not welcome your dog like you do! We love playing golf, and while Bentley would no doubt love to fetch our golf balls after we’ve played a shot, other players may object to him collecting theirs as well!
Added to that, it’s safer for him not to be in the way of a swinging club.
There are in fact many places where our dog is not welcome, such as supermarkets, dentists, church, and coffee shops (Bentley, being a large dog, can easily overturn a table in his quest to see what’s on it!).
So unfortunately, he gets to stay at home for some events in our life.
I don’t think it’s cruel to leave him for a few hours every so often, provided he is safe and comfortable. Also, it may not be either wise or safe to leave your pooch alone in the house – as we found out with our boy Bentley.
The open kitchen was too much of a temptation, not to mention other things that we left around, thinking they were safe. We have come home to many chewed things such as sunglasses, tv remotes, wooden spoons, and overturned bins.
After a few such incidents we decided that a dog house located in the yard may be the answer. This way he would have the run of a secure back yard, plenty of water, his own toys, and better still – his own special place to sleep or rest.
In legal terms, the definition of ‘adequate shelter’ which we must provide to our pets, differs from state to state to prevent cruelty to animals, which is a very good thing.
So, it’s well worth just checking your own area rules before you start building or buying a dog kennel which is going to go outside.
A Good Dog House Should Include:
Protection from the elements whether they be blazing sun, snow, rain or wind. The dog house needs to make sure that your dog is protected from whatever may come through all seasons that the dog house is used.
This is vitally important especially if you live in a hot climate like Bentley does in Spain. Shade is of utmost importance outside the dog house, so he can move to a cooler spot if he pleases.
Insulation if you are in a cold climate. This is just as important as shade.
The dog house should be a place where your pooch can feel secure and provide a cosy feel. It needs to be a place he knows he can retreat to for a bit of peace and quiet.
Consideration in size and height is important if you have smaller or older dogs. Smaller breeds just can’t jump up as high as bigger dogs so if there is a step into the dog house it needs to be lower.
This is also important for sick and elderly dogs who will battle to climb into a raised dog house.
What are the Different Dog House materials?
While researching dog houses for Bentley, I learned that best materials are need and site specific.
Everything about the construction depends on where you live, where your dog house is going to be placed, and what the needs of your dog are.
It seems that wood is the easiest material to work with, although it is not at all insulating, and you would need to make sure that the roof is completely waterproof otherwise it will not only leak but will rot away.
Plastic is the other option I find, with most plastic dog houses coming almost ready made.
Most of them need fitting together and would be lightweight it you wanted to move it around. It would also be waterproof.
There is always the chance that your beautifully made wooden dog house gets eaten by termites, so that would be where plastic has the advantage. It should also last for years without rotting away.
On the other hand, if your dog likes to chew things – as Bentley does – plastic may not be the best idea. It will be easy to replace a piece of wood but may be a problem to replace the plastic sides if you come home to find they’ve been chewed.
Whatever material you choose, the dog house is going to need to suit the climate.
Although we live in Spain, the winters here can get cold. In fact, two years ago the village had an inch of snow!
Yes, there are still pictures of it in the local store, that’s how rare it is. But snow it did, and any pooch who was in a dog house would have needed to be warm or have his dog house brought inside.
The opposite is also true, in that the dog house must be cool enough to keep your pooch from overheating. Most of the time here in Spain we make use of the shade as much as we can so even placing the dog house in the shade all day will cool it down.
Ventilating by using ducts will give a through draft, to make it more comfortable.
One thing I’ve found out is that if you build your own dog house, you must make sure that any substance you use to treat the wood is safe for your pooch. Dogs will lick and gnaw, so you should opt for non-toxic lumber or plywood, as some toxins can harm a dog.
And for Snoopy…
Yes, you know the one. He will survey his kingdom from the top of his house! Never use shingles or metal to cover the roof, or anything that will heat up in the sun. You will come home to an injured dog with burned feet and have a hefty vet bill to follow!
How to Size a Dog House
I have learned that the height measurement for the dog house door should be not less than ¾ of the measurement from your dog’s shoulder to the ground.
So, for example if he measures 19” from ground to shoulder, the door should be no less than 14” high.
If you have watched dogs you will notice that they naturally stoop to go into a small space, and they will automatically do it in a dog house.
Having a smaller door also means that you can insulate the dog house better than if the door is large.
The ideal size for a dog house is where your pooch can go inside, stand up without knocking on the roof, turn around, and lie down without being cramped.
A dog house that’s too small for a dog will not work, he will not be sufficiently protected from the elements and being constantly in a curl will not be good for his health. Dogs needs to be able to lie down flat inside.
If you think about how difficult it is too keep a large house warm in winter, you can imagine how a dog will feel in an enormous house which is cold. So, while it may seem a luxury to have a huge dog house, the practicality of it is that one that just fits him will work better.
The length measurement of the dog’s house should be 25% more than the measurement from his nose to his flank. Don’t count his tail, measure it to his behind. Then add 25% and you will get the ideal length.
The width should be from your dog’s head to the floor, so he can lie with his legs outstretched if he chooses to.
Let’s Look at Dog House Bedding
If you choose to put things like blankets and rugs in the dog house, make sure they are washable.
You may want to cut a blanket into smaller pieces so that you can get them into the washing machine every so often.
Towels are a good choice as they wash perfectly every time. Old ones are better as any colour that is going to run will have done so.
You would get a nasty shock if your dog chewed on a new red towel and his face was coloured!
So, old towels are a good idea and make effective bedding for the dog house.
I know that using an old duvet may seem at first to be a good idea but if your dog is a chewer like Bentley, then eventually he will chew through it. What I don’t want is for him to eat the internal stuffing, this cannot be good for any dog.
Another word on chewer dogs is that if the rug you choose has long piles they will pull them out and may also eat them, so a short haired rug is the better solution.
Other things that are worth considering are rugs that you can cut to fit the house. Layering is best to keep the cold from coming up through the floor.
There are other things which are also suitable for using in a dog house and some of them are wood chips.
This is a naturally insulating materials and will help to keep the house warm.
I have to say that using these largely depends on your dog and whether he is likely to chew them.
If so, that’s not a good idea.
The only down side I find with wood chips is that you should never use them for puppies because they can harbour bacteria. While this may not be harmful to an older dog, it can make puppies ill.
Another reason why bedding in the dog house is a good idea is that it will protect the base. If the base of the house is made out of wood, and it is constantly scratched, eventually you will find that there is no protection and the wood will rot away.
If it is plastic, it will eventually wear through and form a weak area which may eventually collapse.
While I was looking up different bedding solutions, I found that there are some great dog beds to be had. Some of them are even heated!
This may work if you know that your dog won’t chew anything, but I doubt this would work for Bentley.
If you do opt for a special bed for the dog house, then it is a good idea to buy a durable one that will at least last a few seasons before you have to throw it away. You can get a waterproof bed cover which will keep the actual bed dry and make it last longer.
We’ve actually covered some outdoor dog beds, which you can check out here!
Stay away from these:
Things which are not a good idea to use in the dog house are hay and straw. As well as being a great home for bugs, you will most likely find that they are infested with fleas and other bugs. It is not unusual for hay to have a mite infestation and you could find your pooch infected with sarcoptic mange.
What makes hay and straw an even worse bedding material is that it often contains bacteria because it has come from a farm which may have livestock diseases and other pathogens.
All things considered, hay and straw are not things you want to have near your pooch, I know I would never use if for Bentley.
Saw dust is also not a good idea, although you may be able to get it very cheaply.
The problem with saw dust is that it is far too fine to use.
With any moisture you will find that it clumps. It will get into your dog’s eyes, ears and mouth, and overall it will be far too messy in the dog house.
I know that in the wild a dog will have to sleep on the bare ground, so I suppose you could leave the floor bare, although I very much doubt that any dog lover would ever do this.
I know that Bentley has his own set of blankies, lovingly crocheted by me, in an array of colours. I would never dream of leaving him to sleep on the floor without a covering.
The not-so-good, but not-too-bad option:
I think that as a last resort you can use newspaper to line a dog house and bed.
It’s one of those things that is not bad, really, but not too good either.
If all the bedding is still on the washing line and you have nothing else, then newspaper may do.
It will fall apart after only one or two uses and if you have a white or cream dog you may find that they have some stains from the ink, but the stuff is pretty absorbent, and of course there is no need to wash it, you simply throw it away.
Let’s Look at Dog House Ventilation
Leaving a dog exposed to heat for long periods will eventually result in health conditions and in some cause death, there is no other way to put it. Heat can be fatal to a dog.
Common causes of fatality from over-heating are heat stroke and extreme dehydration.
I think it is vitally important that the dog house is adequately ventilated for the safety for your pooch.
With a little thought the dog house can be cool and ventilated through the summer months. It’s a good idea to take a good look at the place you want it to be at all times of the day. What you don’t want is for the dog house to be in the shade first thing in the morning, and in the afternoon heat later on.
Also remember that the shade is in a different place in summer than it is in winter, so keep an eye on where the best shade is.
If you can place the dog house under a tree, then do so. The less exposure to the sun, the cooler the house will stay. If you are in a hot climate then don’t put the house on a concrete base as this retains the heat. If possible place it on a piece of grass, off the ground. This will also help with air circulation.
One of the best places I have come across to put a dog house may be in the garage, raised up. This will mean that there is no direct contact with sunlight and you will also get the maximum protection from the elements. If the garage is not an option, then you could try placing a canopy over the house to keep direct sunlight off.
A tarpaulin should work just fine. In fact, we used this for the first summer with Bentley’s house and it kept the place nice and cool. It’s not a good idea to use a transparent covering as this will just increase heat absorption.
You will find that if you place the dog house parallel to the wind direction the cool breezes will make for a very comfortable dog house. This also gives circulation which is a good thing. Not having air circulating may even suffocate your pooch, so getting a good amount of air movement is important.
If possible, and if your pooch is able to climb up a step or two, elevate the dog house 12”. Not only will this allow for more circulation, but it will keep the heat off the ground from rising up.
Additionally, you’ll find that the base stays dry if you have a rain storm and there is standing water around.
One last thought on circulation is that if you have a very hot spell you may want to use a sprinkler system to wet the house roof.
You could do this during the hottest part of the day, although if your dog is like Bentley he will spend the time dancing in the shower, because he is part Spaniel and any water is fair game!
Don’t Forget Dog House Insulation
If you have a small or short-haired dog, they will feel the cold more than a larger dog. Even Bentley feels the cold, and he’s a big boy! So, a little dog is bound to be uncomfortable when the temperatures drop.
Over the years that we’ve lived in Spain we find that even though the days are lovely and warm, the nights can get really chilly, so this is something that you should bear in mind.
If you are in any doubt about the air temperatures, try standing outside with a swimsuit on at midnight for an hour or two.
If you are in the slightest bit chilly, then your dog will also be uncomfortable.
The swimsuit is so that the neighbours don’t report you!
If you are building the dog house yourself, you may want to think about insulating panels. From what I’ve read, an additional layer of insulation inside the dog house will go a long way to keep a furry friend warm. Just make sure that the ventilation places are still open when you do this.
Ideal things to fit between an outer wall and an inner wall are things like Styrofoam or plastic sheeting, and I think these will go a long way to warm the dog house. You should make sure that there is no way your dog can get to the stuff to chew it, so this may take some work to be sure.
There are rolls of thermal insulation which are used in lofts and attics, which should also do the trick. Again, make sure that it is well secured away from curious dogs.
Insulation is all about layering. Several layers of rugs topped with some old blankets can go a long way to keep your pooch cosy.
Keep out Bugs and Pests!
Really, this part is all common sense. The bedding in the dog house are going to need to be washed frequently. I wash Bentley’s blankies once a week and this seems to do the trick of keeping them smelling fresh and bug free.
The last thing I need is an attack of fleas, and neither does Bentley, so even if they seem clean, I still wash them.
If the dog house is in the garage or even in your own home there is a slightly smaller chance of a bug infestation, but it is still possible that you get some creepy crawlies, so again – prevention is better than cure.
So, having covered most of the points that I feel are relevant to dog houses, let’s move on to some of the best that you can buy.
1. Suncast DH350 Dog House
It will easily take a dog of up to 100 pounds, so will fit most pooches.
The dog house comes with vents for air circulation and the roof can be removed for easy cleaning.
One nice touch with this dog house is that you can personalise the vinyl doors with your dog’s name, the letters are included.
I think this is a nice touch, and just makes the dog house a special place.
2. Confidence Pet Waterproof Plastic Dog Kennel Outdoor Winter House
The dog house is extremely durable and tough. Its an all-weather house so can be placed outside in any conditions.
This has a nice big room, so your large dog can spread out in comfort.
It is easy to put together and can be constructed in no time at all, with easy to follow instructions.
When the dog house is built up it weighs 30lbs so if you want to move it around, it’s not that heavy for two people to do.
Because the dog house is made of plastic, its also easy to keep clean.
3. Petmate Indigo
The igloo shape is great for all sizes of dogs, and comes in various sizes, so you could even have one for a small dog.
One thing that is good about this house is that it is made from an antibacterial covering which prevents bacteria and stains.
The floor is off the ground and there is a side moat to drain off any liquid, so your pet will stay dry.
The igloo is easy to assemble and take apart if you want to give it a good wash. You can add accessories such as the floor pad and door if you want to personalise it.
4. Petsfit Dog House
The house is also very easy to assemble and comes with pre-drilled holes, so you hardly need to do anything at all to have a ready built house.
Great for people like me who are not too savvy with screwdrivers and kit building.
The dog house is completely weather proof so is a good choice for any conditions.
The door comes with a flap, so your pooch is extra snug and cosy.
The floor is reinforced so will take quite a heavy dog, and still hold its shape without sagging after a while.
5. Merry Pet MPS002 Wood Room with a View Pet House
The dog house is made of beautiful cedar wood and treated with natural colours so will not harm your pooch if he licks it.
This is mainly for smaller dogs as big dogs will be too heavy for the rooftop. The floor is raised, and the roof comes off, so you can clean the house easily.
This house can be assembled in about 20 minutes, which is pretty good, considering how intricate it is, but all the hardware and instructions are included.
The house is light enough to be moved to any other position you want, and the design is so pretty it can be set as a feature in your own home if that’s where you want to keep it.
I absolutely love the look of this dog house! Just take a look for yourself, it’s so stylish!
6. SENYEPETS Soft Indoor Dog House
It can be made very comfortable as it comes with a padded interior which is fitted and filled with superfine material.
What makes this dog house so cute is that you can colour code the padding to match your doggie outfit or scarves.
It is easy to clean the house. The door height measures 11”.
I think this would also make a great present to a dog owner who is looking to buy a house for their new addition.
It’s probably not practical for outdoors, due to the material, but is suitable for indoor use, to give your pooch a place to chill!
7. Petsfit Indoor Wooden Dog House
This is the ideal house for those tiny little pooches who need something cute to escape to.
The paint will not harm your pet and the house is light enough to carry anywhere you want to move it.
The company state that if you don’t like everything about it, they will refund within the first 30 days, which in my view is a great statement to make and shows that they are confident in the product.
Well, we are at the end of my article on dog houses and I hope you have learned as much as I have when researching them.
I’ve found that the best dog house is the one that your pooch feels comfortable in, whether you build it yourself or buy a ready built one.
I think in ending there is just one thing to say and that is that a dog house must never take the place of your own company with the dog.
Bentley likes his dog house, but truthfully there is nothing we like more than cuddling up on the sofa together.
Nothing will ever take the place of that!
If you have any questions, or comments, leave them below and we’ll do our best to get back to you.