Most dog owners don’t realize it, but dog houses are actually the most natural type of enclosure you can provide for your dog. Wild dogs and wolves are actually den-living animals and a dog house gives your dog the feeling of being in its own den, a space of its own, and one which is much more comfortable than the ones their wild cousins use. Dog houses are the best way to not only keep your dog warm when it’s cold outside, but also cool when it’s hot outside. They are also perfect for keeping your dog dry and safe no matter what the weather may be.
Luckily for your pet, regardless of if it’s an outdoor dog that needs a place to sleep every night, or an indoor dog that loves to hangout in the yard and needs a cool and shady spot for a snooze, there is a housing option for every dog and its needs. There are even indoor dog houses to give your dog a space of its very own inside the comfort of your home. From standard a-frame dog houses to ones which look like igloos, there is a huge variety of shapes, designs, sizes, materials, and features that will satisfy the pickiest of dog owners and of course their dogs.
What You Need to Look for in Dog Houses
While there are many types of dog houses available, many of which that have their own distinct features and advantages, there are a few standard features that all good dog houses, even very basic ones, need to have. These are:
-Durability and Water Resistance
Any dog house needs to be tough enough to stand up to the weather as well as water resistant to keep your dog from getting wet. Whether it’s keeping out the rain, snow, or sleet, if it can’t keep your dog dry while being able to stand up to these conditions, you don’t want it.
Not only does a dog house need to be able to keep out water from above; it needs to be able to do so from below too. A quality house should have a raised floor to keep water from getting inside the door or opening. This means it should have a thick base which keeps it above ground level or it should be raised off the ground with legs.
All dog houses should be easy to put together. Easy assembly with as few tools as possible, or a dog house that quickly snaps together, ensures that all of its panels or pieces are flush against each other allowing it to be able to perform to its full potential.
-Cool in the Summer/Warm in the Winter
Other than keeping your dog dry and protected from the elements it also needs to be able to keep your dog both cool in the summer and warm in the winter time. This is a must or else it’s not worth buying.
-Easy to Clean
If a dog house is not clean it’s not healthy for your dog to be in it. Therefore it’s very important that the house you choose is easy to clean, making it convenient for you to do so. If it’s made so that you can quickly wash or clean with garden hose for example, it is much more likely you will do so on a regular basis. A removable roof or one that at least opens up on hinges makes it much easier to get inside and do some cleaning. Many plastic dog house have a removable floor panel as well so that you can take it out and give it a good scrub down if it needs it. A few even have a drain hole which not only makes cleaning a cinch because the water can drain right out during cleaning but it guarantees that your dog will never be lying in a damp dog house.
Other than these basic and necessary features, things like ventilation slats which increase air flow, insulation for keeping in heat, and light weight materials for easy placement and changing its location are also excellent options and ones which can make dog houses a fantastic investment in your pet’s outdoor comfort.
Choosing the Correct Size
Dog houses don’t need as big most people think. Really they just need to be large enough for your dog to be able to enter, turn around, and lie down. If they are too big, they will actually lose too much heat and not be able to keep your dog warm. While many companies size their dog houses by the dogs weight, this may not be accurate for all dogs, because while some dogs may be small and heavy, others may be tall and thin but weigh the same. Taking a few simple measurements is always a smart way to guarantee your dog will fit in its house and save you not only money but the time and stress involved with purchasing one which is either too big or too small and having to either exchange it or buy a new one. 5 easy measurements will help you tremendously to choose the right size the first time around.
1) Weigh your dog, as most manufacturers advertise their sizes by the weight of the dog it can accommodate. This will give a rough idea of the size house you should choose, but definitely do the other measurements to make sure.
2) Measure the length of your dog from the tip of its nose to the base of the tail (do not measure the length of the tail). This will help you determine how long your dog house needs to be. It should be at least the length of your dog and ideally a few inches longer. It can be about up to 25% longer than your dog’s body before it starts losing its ability to keep your dog warm in the winter.
3) Measure the width of your dog from the widest part of its shoulders. This will help you to determine how wide the door needs to be. The dog house you purchase should have a door or opening that is at least 1” wider than the width of your dog.
4) Measure the height of your dog from its feet to the base of its neck. This will help you determine the height of your dog house opening, which should be at least 75% of whatever the measurement is. You don’t need a door or opening that is the full height of your dog as most dogs can easily duck into a door which is pretty low, and an opening which is too large will allow wind, rain, and snow to get inside the dog house.
5) Measure the height of your dog from the top its head down to its feet. This will help you to determine the height of the roof of the dog house. All you have to do is add 1” to 2” to the height of your dog and you will have a good roof height for your dog house. It can really be about up to 40%-50% higher than the height of your dog and still keep in warmth.
Types of Dog Houses
Unlike in the past, where most people had to make their own dog houses, today there is a wide array of options for dog owners to choose from.
Wooden Dog Houses:
The classic image of a dog house is one which is made from wood with an a-frame design. This style is still popular today and looks similar to a simple home that is square in the front and back, with rectangular sides, making it longer than it is wide. They have an opening which is centered in the middle and many times even have shingles on their triangular shaped roof. Another common shape are rectangular style wooden dog houses which are wider than they are long and a have a roof which slopes down at an angle so that rain water drips down behind the house as opposed to on the sides. These are sometimes referred to as log cabin or lodge style dog houses and have more room than the standard a-frame style houses. They also have an off-centered opening which protects your dog from the wind as well. One of the biggest advantages of wooden dog houses and one
which is their main selling point is their natural beauty. Not only are they pleasing to look at, but can also compliment your yard making it look even better. Wood is an excellent material to use because it can also withstand heat and humidity very well and is a natural insulator. An extra plus is that many types of wood also have a natural and pleasing scent. Woods like cedar, pine, and fir are very commonly used and are great looking too. When choosing a wooden dog house it’s important to find one which is sealed with a non-toxic sealant or stain so that not only will it be water resistant, but won’t have any chemicals that are harmful to your dog either. Also it should be raised off the ground to prevent water getting in and to protect the wood itself.
It’s good idea to choose one which has feet that are either plastic or are protected by a cover to prevent rot or water damage. If you have an uneven surface or yard you should look for a house with adjustable legs which will allow the dog house to be level even if the ground is not. Wooden houses tend to be a little more difficult to put together so it’s a good idea to choose one which is advertised as easy to assemble or with only a screwdriver. Wood also tends to be heavier so if you plan to move the dog house around it would be a good idea to find one which is light weight. The biggest drawback to wooden houses is that they are typically more expensive than ones made from other materials.
Plastic Dog Houses:
A more modern option than wood, are plastic dog houses. While they don’t have the natural beauty of wood, they do have many other advantages. Plastic is very durable and unlike wood it does not need to be sealed because it naturally water resistant. It is also much lighter in weight than wood, which makes it easier to move by yourself. One of the best features is that plastic dog houses almost never require any tools to put them together. Most often they just snap together or the panels lock into each other. Because they are easy to put together it also means they are easy to take apart, and that makes cleaning a cinch.
Depending on the brand and model you choose, houses made from plastic are also almost always cheaper than those made of wood, many less than half the price. Plastic easily keeps your pet warm in the winter and cool in the summer especially if the dog house has double walls or is insulated. Because plastic can be molded into different shapes when it is manufactured, the largest variety of dog houses is made from plastic. They are often seen in the shape of igloos, barns, and of course the traditional a-frame. Some even have vents for excellent airflow for your dog as well. Purchasing one that has UV protection is always a plus as that means it will also be fade resistant.
Insulated Dog Houses:
When it comes to keeping your dog cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, insulated dog houses, which are almost always made from plastic, do a much better job than ones which are not. Most people wrongly assume that this type is only good at keeping pets warm. However they also make very cool dog houses on a very hot day. The insulation used is actually foam which is inserted in-between the wall panels of the house and this serves to keep block out the heat from the Sun’s rays in the summer and keep your dog’s body heat inside the house during the winter. The thicker the foam, the more insulation, and the better the job it does. The most commonly seen insulated dog houses are the igloo style houses. One of the best features of these is that they have an offset extended doorway which helps to keep out the rain and wind.
Heated Dog Houses:
If you live in an area that has extremely cold temperatures or just want to keep your dog pampered and extra warm, heated dog houses are another option. Really these are not a specific type or material they are just a dog house which uses one of two heating options: a heated pad or a dog house heater. Heated dog pads or beds are similar in concept to a heading pad for humans which plug into a socket. Most will heat up to a certain temperature so you won’t have to worry about your dog getting too hot. Heated dog pads or beds should be waterproof and usually will come with a soft and warm cover of a material like fleece which can be machine washed. Obviously these are not a good option for dogs that are destructive chewers.
Many dog houses are made with a hole in the back so you can easily slip the electrical cord through and plug it in. The second option is to use a dog house heater such as the well known “Hound Heater”. Heaters like these have adjustable thermostats so you can heat the dog house to whatever temperature you want and many will shut off when they reach the set temperature which saves not only money but your dog from getting hotter than it needs to be. A big advantage of using a dog house is heater is that your dog does not have access to the electrical cord because the unit is mounted on the wall inside of the dog house and is connected to an outlet through a hole in the wall. They also have a heat shield on top which protects the ceiling of the dog house from getting to hot, by dispersing the heat. Both heated pads and dog house heaters work the best with insulated dog houses.
Indoor Dog Houses:
Indoor dog houses can be made out of almost any material because they don’t have to be as tough, durable, or water resistant as the ones used outdoors. Polyester and cotton indoor dog houses are soft options which are extremely light weight and are machine washable as well. Most of these are held together by Velcro and many even come in funny shapes or prints and have a fluffy soft cushion inside. However, these soft dog houses are typically made for small dog breeds. Another popular option is soft crates. These make excellent dog houses for both inside your home but also for travel as well. They usually even fold down for easy storage, are very lightweight, and have sides which are made from heavy duty mesh to give your dog as much air flow as possible while still being very durable. These are also water resistant and have a machine washable shell. Some dog owners simply purchase a plastic dog house that way they can use it indoors or out. Plastic works very well indoors because it’s light to move around, doesn’t have sharp edges, and won’t scratch your floor.
Luxury Dog Houses:
For the pet owner that really wants to spoil their pet, there are many fancy dog houses available as well. Some of these have extra large living spaces, beautifully carved wood, stairs leading to a rooftop resting spot on top of the house, porch area, and more. Many also have attachments for your dog’s food and water bowls as well as storage for dog food or toys. Typically luxury dog houses are made out of wood and are much more expensive than your standard house and usually range from a few hundred to a few thousands of dollars. Many dog owners who have the extra space choose to use them inside their homes. Really anything goes, and if you can think of it has been done or added to a dog house. If you are interested in houses like these, custom dog houses might be an option worth looking into. By contacting a local woodworker you could get a house made to your own exact needs, specifications and creative ideas.
***Extra Tips for Dog Houses***
– If you decide you want to add bedding material for your dog, use straw instead of blankets or towels(these will cause fungus and attract pests) and be sure to replace it every week.
– Doors are an easy way to keep heat inside of your dog house during the winter months.
– Take off dog house doors in the summer months to increase ventilation.
– It’s always smart to place your dog house facing away from the wind.
– The best spot for any dog house is actually up against the wall of your house or garage on the side which is sheltered from the wind. This will provide a huge barrier against the wind.
– A smaller dog house is much better than a larger one at keeping in heat if you live somewhere with a very cold winter climate.
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