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How to Choose a Dog House

Reviewed by Vanessa Farner, DVM on July 08, 2021

No matter how much your dog may love the outdoors, there’s nothing like having their own space to retreat to when it gets dark, rainy, or cold. And no matter how much they love you, dogs sometimes need their alone time. But you want to make sure that their dog house is large enough for them to be comfortable and strong enough to hold up to weather conditions common to where you live. 

What to Look for in a Dog House

The array of choices available when it comes to dog houses can quickly become overwhelming. They come in all shapes and sizes and they're built from just about any material you can think of. Let’s focus on the most important aspects of finding the right home for your dog.

Sizing. You should take your dog’s height and weight into consideration when it comes to finding a dog house. Small and medium-sized dogs should have an indoor space that measures around 2.5 feet. You don’t want it to be too large because it can become difficult for them to retain heat and stay warm in that space when it’s cold. But that can become an asset when the weather is warmer. Consider whether temperatures tend to get low where you live or if the weather is generally mild. 

Taller dogs need room to stand up comfortably. It’s a good idea to make the space at least 3 to 4 feet long. Go bigger if the size of your dog requires them to have more room. The goal is to create a place where your dog can comfortably turn around or spread out in all directions without feeling cramped. Dogs tend to feel more secure when they are in a home that’s the right size. You can use the following metrics to determine whether your dog house is large enough to accommodate your canine:

1.Measure the door height to see where it hits your dog's shoulder. It doesn’t have to be any larger than 3/4 of the length between your dog’s shoulder and the ground. Since dogs usually duck when they go through the entrance of a dog house, there’s no need for it to be overly large. 

2.Check the width and height to verify whether it measures around 25% more than the length of space between your dog’s nose to its flank, not counting the tail. 

3.The height of your dog house should not stand more than 50% higher than the measurement from the top of your dog’s head to their toes. That allows them to have enough room to stand comfortably while still having the ability to use their body heat to keep the space warm.   

Appearance. While no one expects a dog owner to match a dog house to every attribute of their house, you do want something that looks good with your current home exterior and landscape. It shouldn’t stand out as an eyesore or violate any local HOA regulations.

Materials. Materials like wood work best for dog houses as it is a natural insulator. You should avoid buying one made of plastic. They tend to get too hot in the summer and remain too cold in the winter, leaving your dog miserable year-round. You should also avoid adding asphalt shingles without first making sure to install an insulation barrier between the living space and the roof. Look for structures that have a roof made of 100% wood. That helps block sunlight while retaining heat to keep the dog house warm in the winter. 

Things to Consider When Looking for a Dog House

  • Think about where the dog house can fit comfortably in your backyard. You don’t want to put it in a place where there is a lot of moisture. Keep the dog house raised off the ground to help control the temperature. That also helps keep your dog from becoming infested with fleas. 
  • Leave the dog house doors open when it gets hot outside for better ventilation. It helps to have a floor that slants toward the doorway so that rain does not build up in the dog house. 
  • Add bedding made of a material like dense foam or cedar shavings. You want something that is moisture-proof and capable of keeping fleas away from your dog. 
  • Think about adding an awning or other covering over the doorway of your dog house to provide some extra shade when it gets sunny outside. A good porch cover can also protect your dog when severe weather hits the area.
  • Look for a dog house with hinges on the roof to make it easier to clean. You should plan on cleaning your dog’s home whenever you give them a bath. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Calling All Dogs: “How To Choose The Right Size Dog House.”

Hayneedle: “Dog House Sizing Guide.”

Street Directory: “5 Great Tips On Building A Dog House.”

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