If you’re looking for buyer tips on how to choose the right dog house, you’re in the right place.
You shouldn’t just consider the types of dog house, but also the practical features to look for that will suit your situation specifically.
How big should the dog house be? What about the entry/exit door? What about the shape and size? What about if you live in a cold weather location?
We’ve saved you time by putting these considerations in an easy to follow checklist.
Without further ado, let’s take a look!
In case you want to go straight to viewing the best dog houses, you can check out this guide.
How To Choose The Right Dog House: 18 Simple Buyer Tips
The quick list of tips is:
- Check what the product actually is – standarddog house, or 2 in 1 pet home and portable pet crate?
- Check what the dog house is designed for – indoor or outdoor use? Outdoor undercover, or outdoor in direct exposure?
- Check the dog house is for direct exposure to weather, or undercover outdoors only
- Will the dog house be good for both hot and cold weather?
- What shape is the dog house – traditional box shaped, or igloo?
- Check the material it is made of – plastic, wood or other material?
- Check the sizes of the dog house available – inner and outer dimensions
- Check the size of the entry/exit door to the dog house
- Check how the dog house is assembled together, and whether the design will be weatherproof
- Check how simple the dog house is to put together – some take longer than others
- Check if there is insulation or not
- Check the shape of the floor and it’s size to make sure you can fit your dog’s bed or mattress on it
- Check the dog house has ventilation holes
- Check there is some type of warranty for the dog house
- Check there are accessories available for the dog house
- Check there is an electrical cord port to run things like heated beds, fans and heaters inside the dog house
- Check the dog house floor is raised off the ground for winter
- Check the dog house floor is sloped to allow water to run away
We discuss each tip in more detail below…
1. Check what the product is – dog house, or 2 in 1 dog house and pet crate?
First things first, give the product description a quick read. What does it say the product actually is?
Some products are straight dog houses, but some can be a 2 in 1 pet home AND portable pet crate.
These 2 in 1 pet houses can be better value for you if you aren’t using the dpg house in direct exposure to the elements and you only place it outside undercover in mild temperatures.
An example of a 2 in 1 dog home and portable dog crate is the Elitefield 3 Door Folding Soft Dog Crate (on Amazon).
This pet home and lightweight soft portable crate can provide a tonne of value if you’re looking for a crate, and a dog home that can be used inside or outside under cover out of the weather.
One of the good things about the Elitefield is that it has mesh walls – providing for a heap of ventilation in the summer or hotter months.
2. Check what the dog house is designed for – indoor or outdoor?
Secondly, check whether the dog house is an outdoor or indoor dog house.
It should tell you in the product description. Some might be an indoor AND outdoor dog house.
Pretty easy and simple to check.
Examples of indoor dog houses are pet furniture crates, pet homes and pet tents.
3. Check the dog house is for direct exposure to weather, or undercover outdoors only
Further to the previous tip, something to be aware of is if the dog house is stated as an outdoor dog house, check whether it’s for outdoor undercover only, or if you can use it in direct exposure to the weather.
Even if the dog house can be used in the sun for example, it might not have a waterproof design if it starts raining.
The best outdoor dog houses for direct exposure are the Petmate Indigo Igloo Dog House (on Amazon), ASL Solutions DP Hunter Dog House For Small Dogs (on Amazon) and ASL Solution Dog Palace Dog House For Medium and Large Dogs (on Amazon).
Both dog houses are tough and have weatherproof type designs.
The ASL Solutions dog house has insulation in the walls, ceiling and floor, and has resin coated UV rated material it’s made of.
Cheap plastic dog houses are usually not suited to direct weather exposure.
4. Will the dog house be good for both hot and cold weather?
For hot weather, a well ventilated dog house is key.
Look for either ventilation holes/vents, or insulation to keep the heat out. Some dog houses like the Elitefield 3 Door Folding Soft Dog Crate (on Amazon) have full mesh walls to allow plenty of ventilation, while other dog houses have smaller slots that are easier to close up in winter.
Insulation is also effective in keeping the cold weather out in the winter.
The ASL Solutions DP Hunter Dog House For Small Dogs (on Amazon) and ASL Solution Dog Palace Dog House For Medium and Large Dogs (on Amazon) both have insulation and vents that you can plug up in the winter.
The ASL dog houses also have an electrical inlet/outlet port that you can run electrical cords through for dog bed heaters, pads and dog house furnaces.
As far as insulation goes, the ASL dog houses have 4 inches of insulation.
Experiments have been conducted specifically with the Dog Palace with and without insulation, with the results as follows:
- The results of the experiment tested heat retention inside the Dog Palace using a common 100 watt light bulb (no other source of heat). At an outside temperature of 40°, the insulated Dog Palace was 70° inside, while the Dog Palace without insulation was approximately 45° inside. At an outside temperature of 0° degrees, the insulated Dog Palace was 30° inside while the Dog Palace without insulation was approximately 4° inside. An average dog’s body heat will raise the temperature inside the Dog Palace 25° in the winter without the floor heater; therefore, if the outside temperature is 25°, with an average dog inside the Dog Palace the temperature was approximately 50°.
These results should be taken as general feedback of the performance of the dog house, and results are not typical for every dog and situation/climate.
If you want to read more about hot weather and cold weather dog houses, these are helpful guides:
- Best Insulated Dog House For Cold Weather and Winter
- Best Dog Houses For Hot Weather and Summer
- Best Dog House For Both Cold and Hot Weather
- How to cool a dog house down in the summer
- How to heat and warm a dog house in the winter
5. What shape is the dog house – traditional box shaped, or igloo?
The shape of the dog house doesn’t matter too much as long as the dog house has the features to do what you want it to do.
The main differences are:
- An igloo dog house has a round dog house floor
- An igloo dog house has an extended entry/exit way to protect against weather and cold/heat
The Petmate Indigo Igloo Dog House (on Amazon) is an example of a great igloo dog house for outdoors.
6. Check what the material it is made of – plastic, wood or other material?
Next, you want to consider what material the dog house is made of to get an idea of how strong and durable the dog house will be.
- The hardened plastic dog houses are the strongest and most durable dog houses, and they are made of the best premium materials like special resins that are UV protected. Examples include the Petmate Indigo Igloo Dog House (on Amazon), ASL Solutions DP Hunter Dog House (on Amazon) and ASL Solution Dog Palace Dog House (on Amazon)
- A step down from that in strength and durability, you have the outdoor wooden dog houses which are still pretty durable. An example is the Pet Squeak Arf Frame Dog House (on Amazon)
- The next step down is the cheap plastic dog houses like the Sunhouse DH350 Dog House (on Amazon)
- And then you have the indoor dog houses which are more built for and indoor environment and their looks like the Casual Home Wood Crate House (on Amazon), Merry Products Wood Pet Home (on Amazon), and Best Pet Supplies Pet Tent (on Amazon)
Hard plastic is not going to bend, crack or warp like outdoor treated wood will over time.
Cheap plastic is going to be weaker than the more premium plastics.
Indoor wood houses are made of softer woods that aren’t treated for outdoors.
7. Check the sizes of the dog house available – inner and outer dimensions
Checking the inner dimensions of the dog house is pretty important.
If you can’t find the inner dimensions, find the outer dimensions and take 2 to 3 inches of each measurement and that should give you a rough idea of the inner dimensions.
You want to make sure the dog house has enough space inside for your dog to lay down and stand up comfortably.
Most dog houses tell you what sized dogs they are for i.e. either weight, or the size in small, medium and large.
It can be harder to find dog houses for large dogs – the Petmate Indigo Igloo and ASL Solutions dog houses have larger sizes available.
The Sunhouse can fit dogs up to around 90lbs too.
8. Check the size of the entry/exit door to the dog house
Pretty simple – check the dog house entry/exit opening is big enough for your dog to fit through.
Measure your dog’s height to their shoulders and also their rib cage width to find the dimensions your dog needs
9. Check how the dog house is assembled together, and whether the design will be weatherproof
The way that some dog houses go together or snap together are is better for weatherproofing.
The Petmate Indigo Igloo Dog House (on Amazon) is one of the best with it’s design.
Two dog houses that seem to have poor designs for weatherproofing and keeping water out however are the Petmate Barnhome 3 (on Amazon) which let’s water in at the side joints, and the Sunhouse DH350 Dog House (on Amazon) which similarly lets water in through the top and side of the dog house.
10. Check how simple the dog house is to put together
Are you prepared to spend time putting a dog house together, or do you want it to be quick to assemble?
Two examples of dog houses at the opposite end of the spectrum are the Petmate Indigo Igloo Dog House (on Amazon) which goes together almost instantly, and the Pet Squeak Arf Frame Dog House (on Amazon) which can take almost an hour to put together and has more parts to put together.
11. Check if there is insulation or not
Most dog houses don’t have insulation. The ASL Solutions dog houses on the other hand do.
They have up to 4 inches of real recycled foam (Styro/EPS) insulation (used in construction) in each panel in the walls, ceiling and floor for comfort and for a healthy temperature.
There is some level of insulation from cold and warmth with these dog houses.
12. Check the shape of the floor and it’s size to make sure you can fit your dog’s bed or mattress on it
Check the dimensions and shape of the dog house before you buy if you already have an existing dog bed or mattress you want to use in the dog house.
Most beds and matresses are pretty flexible, so you should be fine unless it’s a case of the bed being too big or not being able to fit through the dog house opening.
13. Check the dog house has ventilation holes
Ventilation holes are needed for summer and hot weather, but also just to get some fresh air into the dog house.
The Petmate Indigo Igloo Dog House (on Amazon) has small ventilation holes in the top of the dog house.
The Elitefield 3 Door Folding Soft Dog Crate (on Amazon) has full mesh walls to allow plenty of ventilation.
Those are three types of different ventilation available in the different dog houses.
14. Check there is some type of warranty for the dog house
A warranty is always important, especially if you are spending good money.
Check what the warranty covers the dog house for, how long it lasts, and the conditions of the dog house – is it still valid through a third party seller?
15. Check there are accessories available for the dog house
What accessories are available? Can you buy dog house heaters, dog house pads, or dog beds fitted to the size of the dog house?
Check before buying.
16. Check there is an electrical cord port to run things like heated beds, fans and heaters inside the dog house
The ASL Solutions dog houses have a little outlet/inlet hole in the back of the dog house to allow you to run and electrical device through it.
This is handy for dog house heated bed, mats and other electrical devices like dog house hater furnaces.
17. The floor is raised off the ground for winter
A dog house floor in contact with the ground can get cold quickly.
Whether it’s wet grass or a poor insulator like concrete, it help if the floor of the dog house is raised.
An obvious example of a dog house with a raised floor is the Pet Squeak Arf Frame Dog House (on Amazon).
18. The floor is sloped to allow water to run away
A sloped internal floor allows any water that does get inside to drain away from the main part of the floor.
Both the Petmate Indigo Igloo and the ASL Solutions dog houses have this feature.
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