Flooring for Fido

Custom-build a kennel floor just right for your dog
Outdoor Life Online Editor

Above-ground kennels aren’t little jails. Rather, the kennel is a dog’s bedroom and den, a place where a dog feels happy and secure. Kennel’s aren’t places for running-dogs exercise outdoors. Health-wise, an above-ground kennel keeps a dog away from most vermin and parasites, out of its own mess and off the damp, germ-laden ground. The kennel cage, however, needs just the right floor.

The grating material must be strong enough to bear the weight of the dog and withstand the corrosive effect of the animal’s urine. It also needs to be open enough to allow waste to fall or be pushed through properly spaced gaps. Openings too large allow feet to slip through; openings too small catch a dog’s toes.

What is perfect for one dog may not work for another. You need to select materials and building style based upon your dog’s size and weight. These three different approaches for above-ground kennel floors should satisfy the needs of a variety of dogs and dog owners.

Medium-to-Big Dogs
For free standing above-ground cages (not attached to a building) to kennel pointing dogs, tree hounds and retrievers, I build a 2×4 treated-wood frame 43 inches or more wide by 39 inches high by 8 feet long. To prevent chewing, protruding surfaces should face outward, leaving all inside surfaces flush. The 4×4-inch treated stilts are 18-inches high. I add a single floor joist for support and two more front-end studs with a header to create a frame for a plywood door (see photo). The roof is galvanized corrugated sheet metal attached to the frame by 1 1/2-inch roofing nails.

The dog house fills the rear opening of the framework. It should be high enough for the dog to sit up and wide enough to curl his body when sleeping. Again, all inside surfaces are flush. A Scott’s Dog Supply spring-loaded aluminum door leading to the main space keeps out the wind (see photo). The floor grating can be hog panels (found at farm stores) or 6×6-inch mesh concrete reinforcing wire (found at building supply stores). Cut the material to size and staple it with fence staples atop the frame, like a deck, and then put over it a layer of 1×1 1/2-inch mesh welded wire.

Hog panels are usually 16 feet long, 52 inches wide and made of 1/4-inch rods welded into 5 1/2×8-inch steel mesh. A 5/16-inch bolt cutter trims these materials to size much easier than a hacksaw. The hog panels can be used to make the kennel sides as well (see photo); staple them on the outside surface of the framing.

A third method avoids the need for occasional welded wire replacements. Use 1/2-inch rebar (building supply stores) cut from 20-foot lengths and laid across and atop the frame to form a mesh with 1 1/8-inch gaps. Attach this with 1 1/2-inch roofing nails on either side of the bar ends. The floor grating easiest and fastest to install and most gentle on dogs’ feet is a 43×24-inch welded and galvanized panel with 1 1/8-inch spacing between flattened rods, available from Scott’s Dog Supply (800-966-3647). Side and gate panels are also available.

Small-to-Medium Dogs
I’ve kenneled beagles on unsupported 1 1/2-inch welded wire stapled across the frame. The wire lasts about two years, or possibly three to four years with support from hog panels or 6×6 reinforcing wire. If you use rebar, the spacing should be an inch for beagles and cocker spaniels, and 1 1/8-inches for springer spaniels.

Little Dogs
Terrier-type squirrel dogs such as feists and Jack Russels are too small, especially as pups, and far too quick in their movements to be safe on one to 1 1/8-inch-gap mesh. A plywood floor is safe, but terribly messy with these bouncy dogs. I build a frame of oak wood, which is resistant to chewing, with 1/2-inch mesh wire (called “hardware cloth” at farm or hardware stores) fastened across the framework with one-inch dry wall screws and washers large enoough to cover the mesh. I put this over existing Scott’s panels. Droppings that don’t fall through can be pushed down or scraped when dried.