Although it is generally preferable to allow your dog to sleep inside at night, this isn’t possible in all situations.
In such cases, you’ll want to provide your pup with the next best thing: a high-quality doghouse, so he can stay warm, comfortable and dry through the night.
This is especially important in the winter when the temperatures fall and the cold winds howl.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the things you want in a dog house, recommend a few of the best available models and even discuss how you can make your own doghouse if you can’t find a commercial product to your liking.
See our quick picks below, or keep reading for full reviews and more detailed winter weather info!
|Petsfit Wooden Dog House||514 Reviews||from $79.99||Buy on Amazon|
|ASL Solutions Deluxe Insulated Dog Palace (38.5" x 31.5" x 47.5")||23 Reviews||from $279.99||Buy on Amazon|
|CozyCatFurniture Waterproof Insulated Large Cat House for Outside Use||8 Reviews||$195.93||Buy on Amazon|
|Climate Master Plus Insulated Dog House w Door - Extra Large||1 Reviews||$1,299.95||Buy on Amazon|
Any company can slap together a few planks of wood or plastic, cover it in a cute paint job and start selling them around the country, but you’ll need a high-quality dog house to ensure your canine enjoys the comfort he deserves.
There are big differences between good dog houses and their not-so-good counterparts, so it is important to be selective when making your choice.
Accordingly, you’ll want to make sure that any dog house you select:
Adequately blocks the wind. Just like you’ll catch a chill if your house has a draft, your dog will feel colder if the wind is blowing into his abode. Make sure that there are no large gaps in the house and that your dog can completely avoid the wind blowing in the door. Double plastic flap doors are often a great way to keep the chill out and warm air in.
Keeps your pooch dry. If your dog gets wet, he can become seriously – even dangerously – chilled. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure that any house you purchase for him has a solid roof that does not leak. It is also important to select a house that won’t allow water to splash or drip in from the door.
Allows your dog to enter and exit easily. Your dog will feel most comfortable using his house if he can easily pass through the door; if he has trouble doing so, he may be reluctant to enter it. This essentially means that you must measure your dog carefully and compare his height and width against the size of the door.
Provides your dog with an appropriate amount of space. You want your dog to have enough space to lay comfortably inside the house, but you don’t want the house to be too large, as this will prevent him from staying as warm as he would in a smaller house. The house should be just large enough to allow him to stand comfortably and turn around inside.
Is well-built, sturdy, and safe. You don’t want the house to collapse with your dog inside, nor do you want him to become injured on sharp objects, so be sure to prioritize quality and craftsmanship when making your selection.
Has adjustable feet to raise it off the ground. Dog houses that sit directly on the ground often rot more quickly than those that are raised a few inches above the soil (sitting directly against the cold ground also makes the dog house chillier). Additionally, adjustable feet allow you to keep the house level on uneven ground. If you choose a house without feet, you may want to put a piece of thick plastic under the house as a moisture barrier.
There aren’t a ton of time-tested, owner-approved dog houses on the market that are likely to keep your dog toasty during the winter. However, we did find two dog houses that we feel confident recommending to our readers: One that is adequate for mild temperatures and windy locations, and another that should keep your dog warm in extremely cold climates.
About: The Petsfit Dog House is a moderately insulated dog house that is a good choice for owners living in areas with relatively mild winters. It features a fairly conventional design, but it comes with a few features that will certainly help keep your dog warmer in the winter.
Features: The Petsfit Dog House is made from kiln-dried cedar planks, which are available in three sizes and two colors (Red and Light Grey). Although there is no insulation included, this house is raised off the ground and comes with a plastic door flap to block the wind – both of which will help keep the house more comfortable in the winter.
The house also features a hinged roof, which can be opened for easy access, and the screw holes are all pre-drilled. This makes the house easier to assemble than many other options on the market.
About: The ASL Solutions Dog Palace is one of the best-insulated dog houses available, and it is designed with a number of different features to help keep your dog warm in the winter. Additionally, this house features all of the things you’d want in any dog house, including easy-to-clean surfaces and great aesthetics.
Features: The ASL Solutions Dog Palace is made from insulated polystyrene walls, which will help retain your dog’s body heat. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg: It also comes with a floor heater and a self-closing door to help keep that heat inside.
A US-made product, the Dog Palace is well-built and designed to accommodate large dogs, such as Labrador retrievers and St. Bernards. Additionally, the ASL Solutions Dog Palace is backed by a lifetime warranty against cracking and breakage. Also, unlike some dog houses which are light enough to blow around in the wind, the Dog Palace weighs more than 60 pounds, so it will stay where you put it.
There are a number of other dog houses designed to keep dogs warm in the winter, but lack the number of owner reviews we like to see before recommending a product.
However, the following dog houses may still warrant consideration – just be sure to scrutinize the information provided by the manufacturer carefully before making your choice. You may also consider making adjustments or upgrading the dog houses yourself to make them more winter proof.
We found three different houses that deserve consideration and recognition in the honorable mention category:
Yes, the CozyCatFurniture Insulated House is actually a house designed for cats, but it may be a great choice for small dogs too. Made from rot- and insect-resistant cedar planks, this Canadian-made house features Thermal-Ply insulation in the floors, walls, and ceiling to help keep your pet cozy. A door flap and a back door are optional features available with the unit.
The door opening is only 7 inches wide and 9 inches tall, but this will likely accommodate Chihuahuas, Yorkies, and other small breeds comfortably. The small size of the door will also help to keep the wind from blowing in the door. The few owners who shared their impressions of the house had mostly positive things to say about it.
The Climate Master Plus Insulated Dog House appears to be one of the best dog houses available for owners living in cold climates, and the only thing that prevents us from wholeheartedly recommending it is the lack of user reviews.
Although the house looks like most other dog houses, the walls are actually made from PanelAbode™ Laminated Engineered Panels to provide optimum levels of insulation. It also features a locking, all-weather door and several weather seals to help prevent drafts. The roof is also removable, which makes cleaning the house interior quick and easy.
The Dogeden Open Yard Series Dog House features an unusual and intriguing design.
This house actually forms more of a burrow than a proper dog house, and it requires you to dig a small pit in your yard during installation. This enables your dog to crawl through the door and retreat to a comfortable and cozy underground chamber.
This semi-subterranean design mimics the types of burrows and dens wild animals use, and it relies on the ground to insulate your pet.
It features a 3-inch lip that sits above ground level and prevents water from entering the house. This house looks great and probably keeps dogs very warm, so we’d love to hear from owners who’ve tried it out.
Even if you provide your dog with the warmest dog house you can find, he may still shiver and suffer through exceptionally cold nights. But there are a few items that you can use to help keep him even warmer and perfectly comfy in his canine castle.
Some of the most important things to consider for your dog’s house include:
A heated bed is a great way to give your pup a comfortable sleeping place and keep warm at the same time. Heated beds can provide therapeutic benefits for dogs with ailing joints, arthritis or hip dysplasia. We’ve covered heated dog beds before, so be sure to check out our comprehensive review to find some of the best options.
You’ll want to be sure to select a bed that is suitable for outdoor use and that you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines explicitly to prevent your pup from being shocked or burned. You may even want to select a self-heating bed, which requires no electricity.
Heated mats work similarly to heated beds, but they are a better option for dogs who don’t like beds and owners who’ve already provided their dog with a cozy bed to sleep in. The Milliard Indoor/Outdoor Heated Pet Pad and the Farm Innovators Heated Pet Mat are both great options for these types of situations.
However, while electricity can definitely do wonders for warming up your dog, it’s really not a safe option for chewers.As when using a heated bed, you’ll want to keep safety at the forefront of your mind – especially as it relates to the cords associated with heat mats and beds.
Some owners try to protect the cord by threading it through a steel or PVC pipe. You could also bury the cord, and thread it up through a hole drilled into the floor of the dog house. Another option would be to use conduit to keep the cord protected. In all three cases, the basic idea is the same: Prevent your dog from having access to the cords.
You don’t want your pup to be parched during the night, so it is always a good idea to place a water bowl right outside his house. Be sure to use a wide, heavy dish to help prevent spills (the Ethical Stoneware Dog Dish is a great option), and you may want to select an ice-free water bowl if the temperatures in your area drop below the freezing point.
The K&H Pet Products Thermal-Bowl fits the bill perfectly, is designed to keep your pet’s water from freezing. It’ll prevent freezing down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, and comes in sizes ranging from 32 ounces to 1.5 gallons.
It usually makes sense to cover the floor of your dog’s house with a bit of extra insulation. The easiest way to do so is by covering the bottom of your pet’s house with a good indoor-outdoor blanket (or even several).
You can use any old blanket you like, but if you want it to last and provide the best possible comfort for your pet, consider one designed specifically for outdoor use. The KritterWorld Microplush Sherpa Snuggle Blanket is a great choice, as it is available in several sizes and colors, it’s designed for outdoor use, and it is machine washable and dryable.
You can also take the old-school approach, and use a littler-style product to help cushion and insulate your dog’s home (you can actually put the litter under your dog’s blanket for the ultimate in canine comfort). Avoid hays or grasses, as they frequently harbor bacteria and parasites; instead, opt for wood shavings.
Pine and cedar are the most popular choices, as they are relatively inexpensive, they exhibit pest-repelling properties, and they smell nice too. However, these odors are sometimes quite strong in enclosed spaces, and some dogs suffer from respiratory ailments after sleeping on shavings (particularly cedar shavings). You can read up on more pros and cons of various dog house bedding options here.
Additionally, shavings can be quite dangerous for puppies and pregnant or whelping females, so they should be avoided in such cases.
Also make sure to insulate the space between the ground and your dog’s house (which will hopefully be raised so it’s not resting against the cold ground). A bit of Mylar (discussed further below) would help radiate your dog’s body heat back into the house, or you could use a piece of Styrofoam to help insulate the house.
You can also find insulation boards made from a combination of Styrofoam (or a similar material) and Mylar at most big box home improvement stores. This will allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds and keep your pooch’s house quite warm.
Want to really make sure your dog is snug and cozy? Make sure to read our full list of strategies to heat your dog’s winter dog house up without electricity.
You want to ensure your dog is adequately stimulated – especially if he spends lots of time in his house during the day.
To keep your pup amused, toss a safe and durable chew toy inside to give him something to do and help prevent him from chewing on his house.
Check out our article on good chew toys for pit bulls to peruse a few of the toughest (and therefore safest) chew toys around. But if you’re in a hurry, and just want a quick recommendation, it’s hard to go wrong with something like the Goughnuts Maxx 50 Stick or a Kong Rubber Ball Extreme.
If you possess a few basic tools, basic carpentry skills, and a bit of time you can build your own dog house.
You’ll usually be able to save a few bucks by doing so, and it gives you the chance to construct a house that meets the specific needs of you and your mutt. And as long as you keep your dog’s safety in mind, it’s a pretty low-risk project with little downside.
You’ll probably want to start with a good design or blueprint if you aren’t a design- or construction-oriented professional. Fortunately, they aren’t hard to come by; check these out for some great ideas:
This list also includes a number of other plans and designs, if none of the three listed above tickle your fancy.
The actual building procedure will vary based on the plans you choose, but you’ll want to keep a few basic things in mind while building your own doghouse:
Assemble all of the necessary tools and materials at the outset. Part of the reason that celebrity carpenters make things look so easy is that they set up everything before they get started. This prevents you from having to drop what you’re doing and go searching through your garage for something during the middle of your project.
Don’t exceed your skillset. Picking an unnecessarily difficult project will only set you up for frustration and failure. If you have to go buy a circular saw and a tape measure to build the house, you may want to go with a cute little barn-style house, rather than the two-story Victorian mansion.
Measure twice; cut once. This is just a helpful adage to keep in mind when building anything. After all, you can always remove more material, but it is pretty tough to make a plank longer, for example.
Double and triple check for hazards. Before you let your dog begin using the house, be sure that you go over the entire structure with a fine-toothed comb to ensure there are no nails or sharp surfaces that may injure your pet. It is also important to look for small gaps, which may pinch your pooch.
Watch out for water. Moisture will seep into most woods over time, which will lead to decay. Avoid this by using rot- and insect-resistant woods – cedar is the most common choice – or selecting a paint or waterproofing agent that is safe for dogs (although you’ll still want to allow any fumes to dissipate before allowing your dog to go inside the house).
Select a style with a strong roof. Some dogs love to embrace their inner Billy goat and end up spending lots of time hanging out on top of their dog house, Snoopy-style. Accordingly, you’ll want to ensure the roof is strong enough to support your dog’s weight, if you suspect he’ll use the roof as a perch.
Leave a small hole for an electric cord. If you plan to use a heated bed or mat, may want to drill a small hole near the floor of the house. This will keep the house tidier and safer, and it isn’t very hard to do. Just be sure that the hole is large enough that the end of the electric cord can pass through it easily. You may also want to insulate around the whole to get a nice seal and prevent cold air coming through via the cord opening.
Consider using Mylar. Mylar is a thin, reflective film that is used to make “survival blankets” and in the construction of self-heating dog beds. It works by reflecting the infrared rays emitted by your dog’s body right back at him. Obviously, you’ll need to use the Mylar in a way that precludes your dog from chewing on it, but there are dozens of ways you could conceivably incorporate into the construction of a doghouse.
Have you found a good doghouse that keeps your pup warm in the winter? Did you build your dog his own custom home?
Tell us about your purchase or project, and let us know how it has worked for you. Does your dog appear to stay warm enough? What would you have done differently, were you to have the chance?
We’d also love for you to share any great plans you’ve found or hacks you’ve developed to keep your canine cozy.
Last update on 2018-09-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Ben is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, outdoor recreation, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com.