The Best Dog Houses for Pets of All Sizes
Any dog who spends time outdoors needs a dog house that will provide protection from the elements and a safe and cozy spot to chill out.
The best dog house not only shields your pooch from snow and driving rain, but it also offers him a secure space he can call his own. No matter the weather, all dogs should have a sheltered outdoor spot. Not all dog houses are suitable for all climates or all situations, however, so if you’re in the market for a dog house, choose one that meets all of your dog’s needs.
Keep reading to learn what to look for in a great dog house, and to find out why the following eight models are the best dog houses for most pet owners, and their four-legged friends.
- BEST OVERALL: Petsfit Dog House, Large
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Petmate Aspen Pet PetBarn
- BEST FOR LARGE DOGS: Petmate Precision Extreme Outback Log Cabin
- BEST FOR SMALL DOGS: Petsfit Dog House, Small
- BEST INDOOR DOG HOUSE: Furhaven Pet Dog Bed
- BEST PORTABLE DOG HOUSE: Petsfit Portable Wooden Dog House
The Benefits of a Dog House
In nature, wild dogs instinctively seek shelter in the shade of a tree if the sun is too warm, or they’ll curl up under a bush or in a cave to protect themselves from blowing sleet and snow. While domestic dogs are often confined to fenced backyards, they still naturally seek (and need) the same protection from the elements.
The best dog house will not only safeguard your pup from anything Mother Nature dishes out, but it will also give it a place to feel secure. Once a dog familiarizes himself with a dog house, he will naturally seek it out as his “special place,” a place where he can go whenever he’s outdoors for a bit of privacy and security. At the minimum, a good dog house should:
- Provide a warm cozy spot in winter, away from strong winds, blowing snow, and hail
- Offer protective shade from the harsh sun in the summer
- Give the dog a sense of privacy and security
What to Consider When Buying a Dog House
When shopping for a new dog house, you’ll find a variety of designs, sizes, shapes, and prices, but the most important factor to consider is how well the dog house will accommodate your individual dog or dogs. Keep the following key considerations in mind when shopping.
Unlike humans, dogs don’t yearn for large dog houses with lots of floor space. The best dog house for your canine companion is one that he can get into and out of with ease, one that has just enough room for him to stand up in without having to crouch, and one that allows him to stretch out a bit. A dog house that’s too large won’t help retain your dog’s body heat in cold weather and won’t give him that cozy den feeling. One that’s too small can leave him feeling cramped. The following steps show you how to measure your dog to help determine the right size house. Be aware that many dog houses are labeled generically as “small,” “medium,” or “large,” while others are defined by the dog’s weight. In both cases, individual dimensions can usually be found in the product’s description.
- Measure your dog (while standing) from the top of his head to the ground. Multiply this number by 1.25 to determine the optimal height of the dog house. For example, if your dog measures 20 inches tall, you would multiply 20 inches times 1.25 for a total of 25 inches. The dog house you buy should be as close to 25 inches tall as possible.
- While your dog is still standing, measure from his nose to his rear. Multiply this measurement by 1.25 to obtain the optimal width and depth of the dog house. If the measurement is 22 inches, look for a dog house that’s approximately 27.5 inches wide and deep. Any wider and your dog may get cold in winter, and any smaller and he may not fit comfortably inside. Of course, if you don’t have to worry about protecting your dog from the cold, you could go with a bigger house, although it might detract from the cozy “den” feeling.
- Take another measurement while your dog is standing from the floor to the top of his shoulder blades. Multiply this measurement by .75 in order to determine the ideal height of the door. You won’t need a higher door than this because your dog will duck his head as he goes through.
- The final measurement is from side to side at the widest part of your dog’s body. The width of the door should be about 2 inches wider than this measurement.
Most dog houses will provide plenty of ventilation through the open door, but if you plan to keep your dog in his house during hot weather, it helps to have additional vents in order to get a cross-draft. If a dog house comes with additional ventilation, it will often be in the form of open slits under the eaves of the roof or a decorative window.
Ventilation is less desirable if the dog will be in the dog house during cold winters, and if this is the case, look for a window that can be closed to keep drafts out, and consider putting a dog flap over the door to help seal out the cold wind and snow.
Just as in a human house, a dog house will be more comfortable if it doesn’t experience temperature extremes. Because of the open-door nature of dog houses, however, it’s more difficult to keep the temperature inside from getting cold. Rather than trying to seal out all drafts, a dog house designed for cold climates will benefit from the double-wall assembly, which creates an air space between the interior and the exterior wall that reduces thermal transfer. Additionally, some dog houses come with insulation kits that help the dog maintain its body heat when outdoor temps drop.
Putting together a new dog house is typically fairly simple; many molded plastic dog houses come in two pieces and snap together while some of the more elaborate wooden dog houses with extras like a porch or stairway leading to an upper deck may require quite a bit more assembly. This type of house will come with assembly instructions and will usually require a screwdriver—the screws will be provided. Most of the time, the pet owner can assemble a dog house in under an hour.
Optional Structural Features
Dogs might not appreciate style as much as their owners do, but if you’re looking for a trendy dog house, you’ll find some super cute ones with a unique architecture out there. Many dog houses still follow the “Snoopy” style—a boxy house with a pointed gable roof—but molded plastic dome- or “igloo”-style dog houses are also popular. A few optional features may be worth considering.
- Clean-out door: This is not the door the dog enters through, this is a door that either opens from the top or from the back of the dog house in order to let the pet owner clean it out. Typically, the larger the house, the more likely it is to have a clean-out door.
- Windows: Either for decoration or for ventilation, windows can dress up an ordinary-looking dog house, but you should be able to close them when necessary to protect your pup from the elements.
- Roof: All dog houses have roofs of some type, but in hot climates, it’s beneficial to have a roof with an extended overhang that shades the door and the sides of the house from the sun’s rays.
- Porch: Porches are popular in dog houses located in kennels because they give the dog a place to lie that’s off the ground when he doesn’t want to stay in his house. You can always add this feature later by installing a separate deck.
Our Top Picks
With those key features and shopping tips in mind, we’ve spent hours narrowing the market to find the top-rated dog houses for various homes and settings. Any of these eight recommendations should suit your pooch’s needs.
BEST OVERALL: Petsfit Dog House
Made from wood, the Petsfit Outdoor Dog House blends aesthetically with most yards, and it can be painted to match your house or left as is. It comes in three colors, silvery gray and white, red and white, or yellow and white, and it’s available in three sizes, small, medium, and large, to accommodate just about any size dog.
The Petsfit features an offset door that permits dogs to curl up out of the wind, and it comes with an optional clear plastic door flap for additional protection against the elements while allowing the dog to see outside. Its sloped roof features asphalt shingles and is removable for cleaning, and the house comes with predrilled holes for quick assembly—a screwdriver or drill is required. An insulation kit is also available for the large-size model, making this the top overall pick for most dogs.
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Petmate Aspen Pet PetBarn
With its durable plastic construction, the Petmate Aspen PetBarn provides shelter from the elements in addition to offering a barrier to ground fleas and insects. The doghouse comes in two sections—a top and a bottom—that snap together easily, and it features a sloped gable roof with an extension over the door to help keep out rain and block harsh sun rays.
The Petmate doghouse is easy to clean—just spray it down with a hose when necessary—and it comes in three sizes, Up to 15 lbs., 25 to 50 lbs., and 50 to 90 lbs., making it suitable for housing small, medium, and large dogs. Its molded floor is slightly elevated, which creates an air pocket that provides an insulating effect. This dog house is more affordable than many, making it a top choice for budget-minded pet owners.
BEST FOR LARGE DOGS: Petmate Precision Extreme Outback Log Cabin
Large-breed dogs will love the large version of the Petmate Outback Log Cabin. With its offset door, even the biggest dog can curl up out of the blowing rain or snow. The house is also available in small, medium, and extra-large sizes. Made from solid wood with a sealed protective coating and stainless steel hardware, the Petmate Log Cabin is designed to provide years of safe and secure protection for your dog.
The dog house features a sloped roof for optimal drainage and it assembles in three easy steps (a screwdriver or drill is necessary). The Petmate Log Cabin can be fitted with the Precision Pet Insulation Kit (sold separately) for additional protection in cold weather.
BEST FOR SMALL DOGS: Petsfit Outdoor Dog House, Small
Small dogs will love lounging in the shade on the covered porch of the Petsfit Outdoor Dog House that features an extended roof (over the porch) that serves as both sun and rain protection. It’s also available in medium and large, although only the small model comes with a covered porch.
The roof of the Petsfit is hinged for easy cleaning and the extended roof design will keep your diminutive fur baby out of the wind and the elements. The front of the dog house features a window that allows the dog to peer out without coming out of its house. Made from kiln-dried cedar, which naturally resists water and insect damage, the Petsfit dog house is a great choice for small dogs that want to feel secure but still observe outdoor goings-on from the safety of their house.
BEST INDOOR DOG HOUSE: Furhaven Pet Dog Bed
Your dog doesn’t have to be outside to appreciate the snuggly and secure feel of having its own private den. The Furhaven Pet Condo is the perfect option for pet owners who want to give their furry friend a place of his own while keeping him safely indoors. Available in either “Footstool” or “Ottoman” options, the Furhaven Pet Condo is suitable for small to small to medium dogs, and it’s available in a few feline options as well. The Condo is covered in fabric in a variety of colors and patterns, including “Beach House Stripe” and “Solid Coconut Brown” to complement any interior décor. The top of the condo is removable for easy cleaning, and no assembly is required.
BEST PORTABLE DOG HOUSE: Petsfit Portable Wooden Dog House
Transporting your dog’s house has never been easier! With the Petsfit Portable Dog House, just fold it up and stow it in the car trunk or garage. The Petsfit dog house is made from wood and hinged along its sides and top to fold flat for transportation or when not in use. It’s a great choice for pet owners who travel with their dogs or for accommodating visiting guests who bring their pooches along.
This portable dog house is designed for dogs up to 30 lbs., and when set up, it features a raised floor to keep the dog off the ground. Its offset door adds a measure of extra protection from the elements, and it can be fitted with a soft pad or rug (not included) for additional comfort.
FAQs About Your New Dog House
If you’re new to the world of dog houses, it’s only natural to have some questions. Below, you’ll find the answers to common dog-owner questions.
Q. What should a dog house have for protection in hot weather?
A: Dogs need special protection in hot weather, so look for a dog house that has an extended roof to block harsh sun rays and a raised floor to allow air to circulate beneath. In addition, position the dog house in a shady spot and make sure your dog always has an ample supply of fresh water.
Q. How do I get my dog to sleep in his house?
A: Most dogs will naturally enter their dog houses and curl up, but if your pooch is transitioning from sleeping indoors to outdoors, it may experience a temporary feeling of separation anxiety and refuse to sleep in its house. You can encourage it to warm up to its new house by putting treats and dog toys inside, or you can start by putting the dog house on your porch, where your dog may feel safer at first. As your dog becomes accustomed to its house, you can move it farther away.
Q. Will two dogs share the same house?
A: More than one dog will often share a dog house as long as it’s big enough for both to sleep comfortably, but this also depends on the way the dogs interact with one another. Some dogs love companionship while others will feel they “own” the dog house. If you have a dog that won’t share its house, it’s a good idea to buy another house for a second dog.