Every dog who spends a lot of time outdoors needs a dog house.
Dog houses provide shelter from inclement weather and inhospitable temperatures, and they give your pet a place he can feel safe.
But not all dog houses are equally effective. Some will help keep your dog comfy and cozy, while others will do little to help him (and still manage to cost you quite a bit of money).
We’ll try to help you pick out a good house for your dog and explain some of the most important things to consider when making your choice.
We’ll even provide a few tips for customizing your dog’s house so that it provides the best accommodations possible!
But first, let’s talk about the reasons dog houses are so important and the benefits they provide.
Quick Picks: Best Dog Houses for Different Situations
See our quick picks below, or keep reading for full reviews and more details!
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The Benefits of Using a Dog House
Dog houses offer several benefits for your dog. Some of the most important include:
- Providing your dog with a shady place to hang out in the summer.
- Helping your dog escape strong winds.
- Shielding your dog from rain, sleet, hail, and snow.
- Helping your dog stay warmer in the winter.
- Allowing your dog to rest more peacefully and providing a sense of security.
Wild canines use various types of burrows, dens, and vegetation to shelter them from the elements, but your dog won’t be able to make such a cozy retreat in your backyard.
Always make sure that your pet has a good dog house if you expect him to hang out in the backyard for long periods of time.
Dog House Considerations: Things to Think About
Dog houses differ in a number of ways, so you’ll want to make sure that you pick one that has the features and characteristics that are most appropriate for you and your pet.
Some of the most important things to consider when picking a dog house include:
The first thing you’ll want to consider when trying to pick out a house for your pup is the size. This will immediately help you narrow down the number of houses you must consider, as many will be too large or too small for your pooch.
Minimally, you’ll want a dog house that is big enough for your dog to lay comfortably, stand up, and turn around completely. This means that your dog’s house should be roughly the same size as his crate.
To determine the proper size, measure your dog’s nose-to-rump length and his floor to head height when sitting. Add a few inches to each measurement, and you’ve determined the minimum acceptable size.
If you have a confident dog who doesn’t struggle with fear or anxiety, you can probably provide him with accommodations that are as spacious as you like. However, nervous dogs will feel safer in a relatively small house, as it will provide a den-like feeling.
Also note that large dog houses will tend to stay cooler in the summer, but they’ll also be a bit cooler in the winter too.
Dog houses come in several different styles, and you’ll need to decide which one suits your dog best.
- Traditional dog houses (like the kind Snoopy uses) are popular for their aesthetics and durability, and they tend to help dogs stay cool during the summer.
- Igloo, or dome-style houses, include shorter profiles and are generally better for keeping your dog warm in the winter, and they often feature innovative ventilation openings, which help promote the flow of fresh air through the house. Dome-style houses will also remain more stable in high winds.
- Dog gazebo shelters are best for hot temperatures when shade is more important than protection. These gazebo-style structures are usually composed of fenced-in enclosures that feature a canvas top, allowing your dog to relax in the shade while still enjoying the breeze. They are a good option for owners living in hot and dry climates.
Dog House Materials
Traditionally, dog houses were made from wood and topped with shingles, but modern dog owners can buy plastic dog houses instead if they seem like the better option.
Each material offers a different set of pros and cons, but the primary differences are:
- Wood houses will be heavier than plastic houses of the same size.
- Well-sealed wood houses will last for a long time, but plastic houses won’t rot for centuries.
- You can paint wood dog houses, but it isn’t easy to paint plastic.
Either material is acceptable; just try to pick the best one for you and your dog.
Your dog won’t care what his new house looks like – he only cares that it keeps him dry and comfortable. But you’ll probably prefer getting a dog house that appeals to your aesthetic tastes. For that matter, your neighbors or HOA may care what your dog house looks like too!
There are no right or wrong answers here – you know what you like, so look for a house that speaks to your tastes.
Just be sure that you don’t sacrifice function for form. It is much more important to pick a house that works well for your pet than it is to pick one you think looks nice.
Don’t Forget to Consider Your Climate
It is very important that you consider the typical temperature and precipitation patterns in your area when picking a dog house.
This is the only way to ensure that your dog’s new abode will keep him comfortable, and it will also influence how long your dog’s house lasts.
For example, you’ll need to prioritize things like insulation and size if you live in a very cold region. Conversely, owners living in hot climates should prioritize things like headroom and ventilation.
If you live in an arid region, you could probably get away with a house made from unfinished wood. But those living in very rainy areas will likely want to opt for dog houses made from plastic.
The Six Best Dog Houses for Different Situations
We’ll talk about six of the best dog houses available below. Each one is ideal for a different set of circumstances, so be sure to choose the one that best suits your pup, location, and climate.
1. Petsfit Dog House (Best Wooden Dog House)
About: The Petsfit Dog House is a cozy, good-looking dog house that comes with several owner-friendly features.
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Features: The Petsfit Dog House is designed to keep your pet comfortable and protect him from the elements, while still being easy to assemble and maintain. It comes unassembled, but it features pre-drilled screw holes, so assembly is a snap (you’ll just need a cordless drill).
The Petsfit Dog House has a raised floor to protect your dog from the wet and cold ground, and it features adjustable feet that allow you to set it up properly on uneven surfaces.
It comes with a plastic door flap and features an asphalt roof, both of which will help keep your dog dry when it is raining or snowing outside.
The Petsfit Dog House is easy to clean, as you can open the roof to access the interior. You can also remove the floor if need be when cleaning the house. It’s also made from naturally insect-repellant cedar planks and is available in three different colors (Light Grey, Red, and Yellow/White).
Most owners who tried the Petsfit Dog House were very happy with their choice. It appears to be sturdy and well-made, and most dogs seemed to find it comfortable. The raised floor, adjustable legs, and plastic door flap are all helpful features, and several owners were very happy with the ability to open the roof. Additionally, unlike many other unassembled dog houses, the Petsfit Dog House seems to be very easy to assemble.
Generally speaking, complaints about the Petsfit Dog House were pretty rare. A few owners experienced one-off quality-control problems, and a few complained that the wood used was thinner than they expected given the price of the house.
2. Always-Quality Dog House (Best Budget Dog House)
About: The Always-Quality Dog House features a simple, yet effective design that makes it an attractive option for budget-limited owners.
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Features: The Always-Quality Dog House is a plastic shelter that is surprisingly cute for such a budget-priced product.
The plastic used in the construction is both strong and lightweight (the entire house weighs about 12 pounds), which should help ensure the house lasts for years.
The Always-Quality Dog House comes with a raised floor to keep your dog warm and dry in wet weather. Vents are situated on both sides of the house to ensure adequate ventilation, and, because they’re located under the roof eaves, rain won’t splash inside.
The house also features an angled roof which will prevent snow from piling up on the top of the house.
The Always-Quality Dog House features smooth surfaces to make it easy to clean, and the roomy front door makes it easy for your dog (and you, when necessary) to access the interior. It is available in three colors (Red, Blue, and Green).
Most owners who tried the Always-Quality Dog House were very pleased with the product. Several owners were surprised at how durable and sturdy the house was, given its low price. Most owners were happy with the way the dog house looked and reported that it was very easy to assemble.
Virtually every complaint made about the Always-Quality Dog House related to damage that occurred during shipping. A few also noted minor aesthetic blemishes, but these types of problems won’t affect your dog’s experience at all.
3. Suncast DH350 Dog House (Best Dog House for Large Breeds)
About: It can be challenging to find a high-quality, yet affordable dog house that will work for large breed dogs, but the Suncast DH350 is a well-made product, designed to accommodate dogs weighing up to 100 pounds.
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Features: The Suncast DH350 is made from a durable resin (plastic) which provides the strength and stability needed in a large dog house. The floor features a crowned design, which not only provides additional structural strength, but also raises your dog up off the ground a bit to keep him warmer.
Vents are included to provide plenty of airflow, and the vinyl doors help keep your pet warm and dry during wet weather.
The house is designed with all kinds of neat little aesthetic details that look great, and it even comes with stick-on letters, so you can put your dog’s name above the door.
This house ships unassembled, but it is easy to put together, thanks to the snap-together connectors. The roof can be removed to provide easy access to the house’s interior.
The Suncast DH350 received pretty good reviews from pet owners. Many were very happy with the way the house looked, and most reported that it helped keep their dog warm, comfortable, and dry. It also appears to be very durable, as several owners shared photos of their house after using it for more than a year.
While several owners mentioned that it was great at keeping their dog cool in the summer and dry in wet weather, some found that extra insulation was necessary during the winter. A few owners also complained that assembly instructions were unhelpful and that the corner connectors weren’t as sturdy as they’d have liked.
4. ASL Solutions Deluxe Insulated Dog Palace (Best Insulated Dog House for Cold Weather)
About: The ASL Solutions Insulated Dog Palace is designed to be one of the warmest dog houses around, and it comes with several different features that’ll help keep your dog comfortable when the mercury falls.
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Features: The ASL Solutions Dog Palace features an all-plastic design, but unlike most other plastic dog houses, each panel in the ASL Dog Palace is filled with foam insulation. This foam material can be hugely helpful for insulating a plastic dog house against colder temperatures.
This dog house also comes with a self-closing door, rather than a flimsy plastic door flap, to help keep the cold air outside.
The ASL Solutions Dog Palace comes with a floor heater mat to keep your dog even warmer (the cord portal is located on the rear of the house). Note that you can also purchase the ASL Deluxe Dog Palace without a heater mat if you prefer.
The windows can be opened or closed without any tools, and the floor of the house is sloped and features a drain hole to make it easy to clean the house. The entire house sits on top of a riser to prevent ground contact, and it is backed by a lifetime warranty against cracking and breaking.
Most owners were happy with the ASL Solutions Deluxe Insulated Palace, calling it both sturdy and well-made. Most reported that it was easy to assemble and helped keep their pet warm in very low temperatures. A few owners had to teach their dog to use the self-closing door, but most dogs enjoyed using the house once they learned how to enter and exit.
A handful of owners were disappointed in the amount of insulation used inside the doors, but that was the only complaint that appeared with any regularity. A few owners also noted that the heating mat is exposed, which may present a problem for pets who have destructive chewing habits.
Note: If you’re looking for houses specifically designed for winter months, check out our full guide to the best dog houses for cold weather here!
5. Advantek Pet Gazebo (Best Dog Shelter for Hot Weather)
About: The Advantek Pet Gazebo is an open-air shelter, which will give your pet a dry and shaded place to hang out while still enjoying plenty of air flow.
Features: The Advantek Pet Gazebo is an eight-sided, octagonal enclosure made from galvanized steel and designed to be used as a playpen or a warm-weather shelter.
It features a reversible cover – one side is designed for use in hot weather while the other is better for cooler weather.
The cover will help shield your pet from the rain, and the gazebo also features a low-profile design, which means that it’ll still keep your pet pretty dry during high winds. A secure entry window provides access to the interior of the gazebo.
The Advantek Pet Gazebo is easy to transport, and no tools are required to break it down or set it back up. In fact, you can even connect multiple Advantek Gazebos together to provide your dog with even more room.
The Advantek Pet Gazebo received very good reviews from most owners. The majority were very surprised by the quality of the product and reported that it was both strong and sturdy. Several owners also praised the value the gazebo provided, given its relatively affordable price tag. Dogs appear to love using the gazebo, and they’ll surely enjoy the space it provides.
While the majority of owners loved the Advantek Pet Gazebo, a few found it necessary to reinforce the corners with straps to prevent their dog from escaping. One owner even recommended anchoring the gazebo to the ground if you are using it with a strong or large dog.
6. Petmate Indigo W/MICROBAN (Best Dog House for Wet Weather)
About: The Petmate Indigo with MICROBAN is an all-plastic dog house that is treated with anti-microbial chemicals that’ll help prevent stains and bacterial growth.
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Features: The Petmate Indigo is a dome- or igloo-style dog house that is a great option for owners living in wet climates.
The rounded design helps ensure rainwater and snow will roll right off the house, and the innovative ventilation system helps provide plenty of airflow and keep the interior nice and dry.
The Petmate Indigo also features an extended, offset doorway to prevent rain from splashing inside the house. The floor is raised and features side moats, so any moisture that does find its way inside the house will quickly drain away.
The Petmate Indigo is essentially a two-piece dog house which should be very easy for most owners to assemble. It is compatible with the Petmate Indigo Pad and Petmate Indigo Door, which will help keep the house even warmer and more comfortable.
Most owners were happy with the Petmate Indigo Dog House and reported that it helped keep their dog warm and comfortable. It appears very easy to assemble, and several owners seemed to confirm that the MICROBAN treatment used on the plastic worked well and prevented stains and bacterial growth from forming on the house.
A few owners noted that rainwater splashed into the entryway of the door, which is a bit disappointing. However, because the doorway is extended and offset, it should still keep water from accumulating in the interior of the house, where your dog will sleep. It is also important to check the manufacturer’s sizing guide carefully, as the doorway appeared too small for some dogs.
Want More Dog House Features? Upgrade Yourself!
Don’t worry if you can’t find a dog house that meets all of your needs – there are plenty of ways you can customize or upgrade most dog houses.
Some of the things you may want to consider adding or modifying include:
Dog houses certainly provide your pet with shade, but that’s of limited value for those living in the Deep South or the Sunbelt, where shade temperatures frequently exceed 90 degrees.
So, you may want to consider adding an air-conditioning unit, such as the Hounditioner Air Conditioner, to your dog’s house.
These types of air conditioners aren’t cheap, and they’ll likely cost a pretty penny to operate, but it may be the only way to ensure your long-haired pooch stays cool in the summer.
It’s probably a good idea to install a plastic door flap along with the air conditioner, to help keep the cool air inside the house.
If you can’t afford to outfit your dog’s house with an air conditioner, you may want to consider installing a fan instead.
A fan will increase the amount of airflow in your dog’s house and help carry his body heat outside. Unlike air conditioners designed for dog houses, most high-quality fans utilize solar panels, so they won’t increase your electric bill.
Some fans are specifically designed to fit specific dog houses (such as the Pet Palace Breeze Fan, which is designed to work with the ASL Solutions Dog Palace discussed above), but you could probably install these fans in just about any dog house if you employ a little ingenuity.
You can also buy a portable fan, such as the GOODSOZ 10-Watt Solar-Powered Fan, which can simply be placed in or in front of your pet’s house.
There are a variety of ways to warm up a dog house, which may be necessary for owners living in northern locations.
The easiest way to provide a little more heat for your dog’s house is through the use of a heated floor mat or a heated pet bed.
Just be sure to pick one that is rated for outdoor use and comes with a chew-resistant cord (if applicable).
The K&H Pet Products Lectro-Kennel Outdoor Heated Pad is a great example for most square or rectangular dog houses. Or, if your dog has a dome-style house, opt for the Igloo Style Outdoor Heated Pad, instead.
If you’d rather heat your dog’s house without requiring any electricity, the K&H Self-Warming Pet Pad is a great option. These types of pads feature a reflective metal film, which redirects your pet’s body heat right back up toward his body.
Thanks to technological advances, security cameras are more affordable than they ever have been. So, why not consider putting one in your dog’s house?
Not only will this make it easy to ensure your pet is safe and sound while snoozing in his house, but it may also give you the opportunity to enjoy your dog’s antics when he thinks no one’s watching.
In fact, many cameras are affordable enough that you could buy two. Put one inside your dog’s house and mount the other one on the front so you can monitor him when he’s hanging out in the sunshine. The Wansview Outdoor WiFi Wireless Bullet Camera is a great option, and it even works at night.
You may also want to check out the Nest Security Camera. This camera is a little more expensive than the Wansview Camera, but it works with Alexa and features a microphone and speaker, so you can talk to your dog while he’s in his house!
Even if you live in a region blessed with a relatively mild climate, it’s a good idea to mount a vinyl weather flap on your dog’s house.
This will not only help your dog stay a little warmer at night, but it’ll also help keep water out of the house. Weather doors ensure that your dog – and the interior of the dog house – will stay dry when it rains or snows.
Most dog house manufacturers market weather flaps that are designed to fit the dog houses they manufacture, but you could likely find a weather flap that’ll work for just about any house.
You could even make your own by simply buying some clear vinyl material and attaching it over the door (pro tip: a “sample” of vinyl only costs a few bucks and will likely be large enough to cover most dog house doors).
There are a number of ways to insulate a dog house to help keep your pup comfortable in cold weather. You can:
- fill the walls with foam
- tack carpet to the interior
- attach mylar film to the inside walls to reflect your dog’s body heat back at him
We discuss a number of methods for insulating dog houses in other articles, so be sure to check out the tips and tricks provided to figure out the best way to keep your dog warm!
Historically, dog owners only had a few different dog house options available. Many even had to construct their own dog houses from scratch. But modern owners have dozens of different options to choose from!
Just be sure to consider your pet’s specific needs and your local climate when making your choice and start by examining the six discussed above.
Have you stumbled across a particularly awesome dog house? Tell us all about it! Make sure to explain what you like about it and share any shortcomings that you’ve noticed. We may even include your favorite dog house in a future article update!