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Whether it’s indoors or out, a dog house can become your dog’s favorite place. Dogs love to curl up in a secure den. A dog house can keep them warm in the winter, keep the sun and rain off of them in hot weather, and give them a sense of security all year round.

If you’re handy, you can build a dog house, but fortunately for the rest of us, there are lots of ready-made dog houses available.

The Basics of Dog Houses

Finding the best dog house for your dog starts with finding the right size. The best dog house for you is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. You’ll hear lots of conflicting information about sizing dog houses, but the easy way to choose the best dog house is to measure your dog. The door should be tall enough for the dog to get in and out without having to crouch. The interior should be big enough for the dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. A dog shouldn’t be cramped inside its house, but a dog won’t stay as warm in a house that’s too big for it.

Next, consider materials. A wooden dog house is often warmer than dog houses made from other materials, especially if it is insulated, and they are good looking. If your dog is a chewer, plastic might be a better choice than wood. A plastic dog house is also much easier to clean and disinfect, and less likely to attract insects than a wooden dog house. Whatever the material you choose, the best dog house will have a raised floor to keep your pet dry. A roof that opens or comes off easily lets you clean the inside of the house or change bedding without having to crawl inside. All of these features, and price, of course, enter into your thinking as you choose a dog house.

Do you want an outdoor dog house?

How well a dog tolerates cold weather varies by breed and by individual, so you have to be careful. Limit a dog’s time outdoors in cold weather and watch it for signs of stress and anxiety. If it barks or whines, it should come inside. Even in only moderately cold weather, a dog can turn hypothermic if it’s wet and windy out. The right dog house can keep your pet safe and warm.

The first thing to consider about an outdoor dog house is the size. Choose the smallest size that still lets the dog stand up and turn around. A dog’s body heat warms the house, and the less air the dog has to heat, the cozier the house will be. Be sure to site the house with the door facing away from cold winds.

Best cold weather dog house: GUTINEEN Insulated Dog House

Six-Sided Insulation

Built for the cold, this house has foam-filled wooden walls, floor, and ceiling. GUTINNEEN

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The sloping roof of this insulated dog house lets rain run right off it, and the roof opens so you can easily add extra bedding or provide ventilation on warm days. A PVC curtain on the door helps keep wind and rain out, and a divider just inside the door blocks drafts, creating a warm inner room. The floor is removable for cleaning, too.

Do you want an indoor dog house?

Even when inside your house, dogs like a den. It gives them a secure place to curl up and nap, or to go when they feel anxious. An indoor dog house is handy for us, too, because sometimes you want the dog to be quietly out of the way when you have guests or workers in the house. If you crate trained your dog properly as a puppy, it probably likes having a place to go, but you might not like having a dog crate in the house. Indoor houses serve the same function and fit better with your furniture.

Best Indoor Dog House: New Age Pet ecoFLEX Pet Crate/End Table

Dog House Beautiful

Good looking, and it comes in several sizes and colors. New Age Pet

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Crate your dog in style with this paintable dog box. Made from a blend of recycled plastic and reclaimed wood, this crate doubles as a good-looking end table. It’s easy to clean, and the front door is latched if you need to keep your dog out from underfoot.

Do you need a portable dog house?

A dog house that sets up anywhere gives your dog its familiar den in any surroundings. In or out of the house, even on vacation, your dog will benefit from the sense of security that comes from having its own place.

A portable dog house doesn’t have to be an ugly metal crate, either. It can have features such as a raised floor, and be good looking, yet break down for transport.

Best Portable Dog House: MidWest Homes for Pets Eillo Folding Outdoor Wood Dog House

Fast Set Up

This handsome wooden house sets up in seconds without any tools. MidWest Homes for Pets

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Simply unfold this house and it’s ready to go. All the wood is stained for water resistance, and it has an asphalt roof to help it withstand the elements. It’s elevated to keep your dog dry outside, and it’s good-looking enough to go in the home, too.

Does your dog need a safe place outside?

Unattended dogs can wander off, be stolen, or even be attacked by predators like coyotes. A secure run where they can’t get out and nothing else can get in gives you peace of mind. You also can put a dog house in the run. Be sure you can lock your run to keep thieves or curious kids from letting your dogs out.

The smaller the dog, the smaller a dog pen can be and still give it enough space. A run measuring 10 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 6 feet tall is a good size for dogs up to 50 pounds. For bigger dogs, the pen should be a foot wider.

Best Sheltered Dog Run: PawHut 8′ x 4′ x 6′ Large Outdoor Dog Kennel

Home Run

A tough steel frame and a tarp roof keep your dog sheltered and safe. PawHut

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Rated for dogs up to 33 pounds, this outdoor sheltered run goes together quickly. Six-foot tall wire panels connect easily and the tarp roof stretches to a peak so rain rolls off. These pens are designed so they can be connected to a second unit if you need more room for a bigger dog.

Budget Dog Houses: What You Get for Less Than $55

Nothing about dog ownership is inexpensive. The cost of pet supplies and vet visits adds up. If you shop smart, you can cut corners on a dog house and not short-change your pet. It may not be as attractive as pricier dog houses, and you’ll miss out on features like a roof that opens easily for cleaning or to change bedding, but the right budget dog house can still be a safe, comfortable place for your dog.

Best Cheap Dog House: Petmate Aspen Dog House

Sturdy Construction

The stout two-piece plastic house goes together easily and makes a comfortable refuge for your dog. Petmate

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Vents in the back help keep the house cool in warm weather, and the plastic body does a good job of insulating in the cold. The raised floor inside keeps your dog dry, and this easy-care dog house cleans up with a hose.

FAQ: People Also Ask

Do dogs actually use dog houses?

Dogs instinctively look for denlike places where they can feel secure, so they’re inclined to like dog houses. They seek out warm places in the winter and cool places in the summer as well, and if the house makes them more comfortable, they will seek it out. However, you have to do your part. Teach the “kennel” command, and reinforce it positively by giving your dog a treat such as a toy filled with a snack in its house. Don’t use the dog house as punishment, and never speak angrily to the dog when it’s in its house. Be sure, too, that no wild animals or stinging insects move into your dog’s house. One bad experience in the house may make the dog reluctant to go in again.

What makes a good dog house?

A good dog house should be the correct size for your dog. It should be big enough not to be cramped to cause your dog to stiffen up or hurt itself getting in and out, but not too big for the dog to warm with its body heat in cold weather. It should withstand the elements. A slanted roof that doesn’t leak or collect rain, and tight walls that keep drafts out, help keep your pet comfortable inside. A raised floor helps keep the inside of the pen dry, and a roof that opens makes it much easier for you to reach the inside of the house for inspection, cleaning, and changing bedding.

What is the best dog house for cold weather? 

An insulated dog house is the best for cold weather. Foam insulation in the walls, floor, and ceiling helps the house retain your dog’s body heat. Choosing a house that’s not too big for the dog to heat efficiently makes a big difference in how warm it stays inside. House placement matters, too. If possible, put the house where it will get sun, which usually means a southern exposure, and faces the door so it’s not facing into cold winds. Invest in a well-made, durable dog bed and consider covering the door with some kind of flap to keep cold out.  You can add insulation to a house, too, although you will then have to put siding over it so the dog doesn’t tear and chew at the insulating material. Even after taking all those precautions, be very careful about leaving your dog outside in extreme cold. Your house is always warmer than a dog house will be.

A Final Word on Shopping for the Best Dog House

Choosing the best dog house means picking the right size for your dog, and choosing a dog house that will keep it comfortable. If you live in a cold climate, you will want to choose an insulated dog house. If you live where heat is a more of a problem, a large dog house will probably be better. Wooden dog houses are better looking. Plastic dog houses are easier to clean and attract fewer insects. Make your choice wisely, as a dog house is one of the most important dog products you will buy and the right one will last through several dog’s lifetimes.

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