Dog Houses 101: How to Choose the Best Shelter for Your Pet

By Ava Brown, April 8, 2020

Some breeds of dogs aren’t happy living inside a cramped home and sharing the space with you, other pets or children. They need their own space to roam, which is why they’re the happiest when left outside. However, if you plan to keep your dog outside, he will need a good shelter from the weather. After all, you might not always be around to let your pet in when it’s raining heavily or there are strong winds.

For that reason, every outdoor dog should have his own house that keeps him warm in the winter, cool in the summer and dry at all times. But just like any house, you will need to invest some time and effort into establishing a comfortable and suitable shelter for your dog. Plus, it also needs to look good. Not that your dog will be picky when looks are concerned, but the fact that the doghouse will be out in your yard means that you also need to consider how it will affect your home’s curb appeal. That being said, here are some tips that can help you make the right choice.

dog inside wooden dog house

Opt for the Right Materials

Most dog houses on the market are available in one of three types of materials: wood, metal or plastic. Dog houses for dogs living in locations with a large amount of sunshine and relatively warm temperatures should be made of materials that don’t easily heat up, like for instance wood. However, if your dog has a temperament, a wooden house won’t be suitable as he can easily damage it. In this case, consider the range of metal and plastic dog houses for dogs who like to chew and scratch. But remember that under direct sunlight, a metal dog house can get too hot in the summer months. In this case, make sure that the house has proper ventilation or your pet will overheat inside. You can also prevent the house from getting too hot by placing it under a shaded area of your yard.

Consider the Overall Design of the House

It’s not just materials that are important when it comes to how functional a dog house is. You also need to pay attention to its overall design and architectural features. For instance, in order for the house to keep water out when it’s raining, it needs to have an elevated floor. Plus, a raised floor can keep your dog cooler in the summer as it allows air circulation and warmer in the winter since it’s not next to the icy cold ground. For this reason, it’s recommended to pick a house that is at least 6cm elevated from the ground. However, be careful that the house isn’t so high that the dog has trouble getting inside, which can be a problem when taking care of arthritic or senior dogs.

Additionally, pay attention to the way the roof is designed. Dog houses with flat roofs can be prone to damage from heavy rain, snow or debris which can cause the roof to bend inwards. Considering this, you may want to pick a design that features a sloped roof for easy rain runoff. Plus, a sloped roof makes cleaning the inside of the house much easier.

dog sitting in front of outdoor dog house

How Large Should a Dog House Be?

While an outdoor dog house can take up a significant amount of space, especially if you have a tiny yard, the last thing you want is to buy a dog house that’s too small for your pet. Ideally, you should pick a model that will allow your dog to easily get inside, spread out and comfortably turn around. However, you also need to avoid making the mistake of picking a very large dog house. Your dog should be able to curl up inside on winter days without a lot of room around him that allows his body heat to escape easily and leave him feeling cold. Dogs prefer houses that are cosy and with just enough room for them to spread out if needed, rather than houses that are spacious.

outside dog house for a little dog

Unique Dog House Features

Doghouses can come with a variety of features that make using the shelter a lot more convenient for the animal. For instance, some feature a door flap that allows your pet to go in and out of the house while the inside is completely protected from factors such as rain, snow, wind and sun. Since air needs to circulate inside the doghouse, if you choose a model that features a door flap, you will also need to make sure that it has windows to allow fresh air in. To prevent any insects from getting in and disturbing your pet’s peace, you can pick a design that features flyscreens, or install your own.

Consider Bringing In Some Furniture

Of course, no home is complete without furniture. And when it comes to your dog, there’s only one piece of furniture he’ll need – a comfy bed to spread out on. After all, you don’t want your dog to lie on a hard surface for long periods of time. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it can also aggravate any musculoskeletal problems your dog has, such as arthritis for instance.