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Dog houses! Very interesting topic we have on our hands today. And trust us, there’s so much to learn about them. Those cute dog houses you find in your cartoons are not just designed that way for aesthetics. There’s a structural reason behind how dog houses are built.
Now, if you’re considering dog houses, there are basically two ways you can go…
One way is that you can decide to build one. But, of course, you should only consider building if you’re actually handy. Striking your finger in the name of hitting the nail on the plank stings something awful in case you forgot.
And for those who already know where their strengths lie and know that it is nowhere near handiness, there’s the option of buying. Like really, we don’t even know why people consider a different option. Wouldn’t you rather someone else did all the work?
Well, some dog parents are caring that way. They can’t bear the thought of someone else building their pooch his living quarters.
Anyway, whichever you choose, you need to equip yourself with enough information on dog houses to enable you make an informed decision. Truth is that there’s more to dog houses than meets the eye. And those parts that hide from the eyes are the parts we are here to reveal to you today.
So, come along with us and let’s show you!
History of Dog Houses
You won’t believe how far back dogs have been having their own houses. Archaeological evidence actually points back to 4500 BC!
In those days in Egypt, dogs were treated with enviable regard. Egyptian royalties would usually keep their furry friends in a kennel made of mud bricks specially built for them.
Also, in some parts of ancient Rome, China, and Greece, dogs also enjoyed similar privileges. They were allowed to spend their time relaxing and sleeping in the same bed as their masters.
However, this is not to say there were no destitute dogs at that time. There were. Lots of dogs roamed the streets without shelter. And then dogs of peasants, though not destitute, had considerably less luxury available to them as their counterparts in the bourgeois neighborhoods.
Okay, so back to dog houses.
In those days, dog houses were usually built rather than bought. A common style was the pitched roof house (we will get to this part in a bit). But then, in the past century, a lot has changed. Now, more dog houses are being made commercially in factories all over the world.
Several factors contribute to the reason more people seem to buy dog houses rather than build theirs. Of these factors the primary one include: reduced cost, technological advancements, and the introduction of newer construction materials like weather-resistant plastics.
Types Of Dog Houses
To many people, dog houses are all the same and indistinguishable. Well, it seems that way to many people until they have to go house hunting. It then becomes apparent to them that they don’t know the first thing about dog houses.
And talking about people not knowing the first thing about dog houses…
Not Everything Is A Dog Kennel, People!
Okay, so the term “kennel” is over flogged. Everyone uses it for everything relating to a dog’s accommodation. There are two definitions for a dog kennel.
One, it refers to any type of dog shelter at all.
Two, it refers to a place where pups are trained, boarded and bred.
But now, marketers use the term “kennel” to mean every and anything that a dog can put his head into. From carriers, to exercise pens, to crates, to dog houses. So, when you see things like that, don’t get too upset. It’s a silly error.
These days, the definition of the term “kennel” has evolved to now mean anything at all that can contain a dog… which is just crazy. But hey, no judgment! Back to dog houses…
There are different types of dog houses…
Stationary Dog Houses
Alright, like their names suggest, these dog houses don’t move. Or if they do, they don’t move much. Great. So, let’s check out the different types of stationary (and not so stationary) dog houses.
Wooden Dog Houses
Like we saw earlier, wood was the material of choice for building dog houses in the beginning. Even though fewer people build their dogs a house these days, wood is still quite a popular choice.
This is probably because wood is ubiquitous, inexpensive, easy to build with, and looks really cute if well maintained. To maintain that shine for dog wooden houses, the builder has to ensure that the wood used to build is decay-resistant. Good examples are redwood and cedar.
Wooden dog houses are differentiated into groups according to their roof styles. So, based on that, you could say that wooden dog houses fall into three main categories.
- Pitched Roof: This is the most common design of wooden dog houses. It’s like the one you know from Snoopy. The roof consists of two panels of wood which are angled and joined together at the center to form a roof. It’s the type that looks closest to a human house.
- Single Panel Flat Roof: This comes as a single slab of wood that tilts from front to back. Some dogs with this kind of house love lounging on the roof of such houses.
- Loft Roof: This one is actually quite fancy. So, there’s a loft built on top of a single panel roof with a cute little ladder by the side sometimes. This type of house actually looks like a pretty playhouse for kids.
Plastic Dog Houses
Plastic dog houses are fast taking over the market for dog houses. And there are so many reasons they are stealing hearts. They are quite affordable, weigh next to nothing, and require little funds to maintain them.
Most times after ordering a plastic dog house, you can even find it ready to function right outta the box. And if they are not, they’d just need a quick assembly. No need to exert yourself hammering anything, all the while risking the loss of your ten fingers and other random parts of the body the hammer might choose.
There are different kinds of plastic dog houses. However, the most popular types are the barn, the igloo, and the traditional pitched roof dog house.
Now, here’s a quick myth buster…
When advertising plastic dog houses to you, some might tell you that it will keep your dog warmer during the winter than wood. And they say it’s because their plastic is constructed with nitrogen insulation.
Well, long story short, that’s not true. A well insulted wooden dog house is better at protecting your dog from extreme temperatures than a plastic one. In the summer, a well insulted wooden dog house will keep your dog cooler. And in the winter, it will keep your dog warm better than a plastic dog house can.
Metal Dog Houses
Though they aren’t a very popular option, metal dog houses actually do exist. They are usually made of either aluminum or steel. Plus, they usually come insulated pretty heavily. Since dogs can’t chew on them, metal dog houses cannot be destroyed by the average dog (except you have a genetically modified superdog).
But then again, metal dog houses aren’t for everybody or every dog. They are mostly used by dog parents that own hunting dogs and go hunting with them.
One more thing, metal dog houses are not the same as metal dog boxes. While one is fairly permanent, the other is usually moved around. Can you guess which? Of course, the metal dog boxes will usually be used to transport your dog in your vehicle. A metal dog house, on the other hand, remains in the yard.
Barrel Dog Houses
Well, it is proposed by certain schools of thought that dogs would rather sleep in curved, shallow holes. So, based on this premise, some manufacturers craft their dog houses from old wine barrels and line them with wood chips. This is done in a bid to emulate the natural sleeping environment of the dog.
Fiberglass Cave Dog Houses
Okay, we don’t know how many people are crazy about the fiberglass cave dog houses. Whatever your feelings though, it’s kinda too late cos they’ve already been built.
Fiberglass cave dog houses are built to never leak or rot. Plus, they can comfortably house two large breeds. Think you might give it a try?
Rustic Dog Houses
The rustic dog house is what you get when beauty meets functionality. Those who live or holiday in or around a log cabin would find this type of dog house very fitting for the scenery.
Portable/Temporary Dog Houses
What comes to your mind when you think of tents? Camping, right? Of course.
Dog tents are soft-sided dog shelters usually made from waterproof materials. They are very easy to assemble and disassemble. Plus, they fold flat into really small, flat shapes. And this is really important because they are made with the adventurous camper or hiker in mind. And so the dog tent must be very portable.
Dog tents vary in their elaborateness. It all depends on what you’re looking to get out of your dog tent. So depending on what you going for, you could find dog tents with any of the following…
- Ventilated side panels.
- Elevated floors.
- Hold-open door flaps.
- Zippered closures.
If your dog is a chewer, a digger, an anxious dog or an aggressive breed, then a dog tent isn’t a good idea for them at all.
We won’t go in depth into dog crates because we already did a really detailed guide on that. So, please refer to it for a proper understanding of dog crates.
Now, not only do dogs stay in their crates to pass the night, crates are also used to transport dogs as well. There are different kinds of dog crates which have their unique characteristics and benefits. There are wire crates, plastic, fashion crates, and talking about crates would veer us off course. So, check out our guide on that so we can get back to dog houses.
Inflatable Dog Houses
A good example of one of these is the Kodiak. According to the manufacturers, this inflatable dog house gives 10 times as much warmth as plastic dog houses. Hence these dog houses are currently being touted as better than plastic dog houses for the winter. Nonetheless, this is not the best option for chewers.
So, we’ve successfully looked at the different types of dog houses. And inadvertently, we have also discussed the various types of materials used to build dog houses. These materials include wood, plastic, and metal. Which of these is the best, though? We are about to find out…
Ideal Material For Building Dog Houses
Now, let’s look at each of the materials quite briefly…
Plastic dog houses are less expensive and more convenient. Plus, they are quite lightweight which makes them easy to transport. And they hardly pose safety hazards since they don’t splinter. They also do not rot and you won’t have to keep refinishing them to keep them in good condition.
Another plus for plastic dog houses is that they are very easy to clean. And because they do not contain pores, fleas and ticks cannot make their homes in them which makes them somewhat safe for your pooch.
Wood dog houses, on the other hand, are more substantial when compared to plastic dog houses. And with wood dog houses, it’s easier to install any add-on fixture you might later think to add.
Wooden dog houses are also better able to protect your dog from the elements than any other type of dog house. And though you might not know it, wood is actually a better insulator than plastic. So, if your dog lives in a wooden dog house, chances that he’ll overheat in hot weather conditions are greatly reduced. Plus, it’s easier to feel warm in a wooden dog house than in a plastic dog house especially during the winters.
More so, wood gives a more natural look that many dog owners actually prefer.
Problems can arise when ticks and fleas decide to pay a visit, though. But if you want to curb this chance, get a house that’s made of good, decay-resistant wood like cedar. Also, you might want to use the cedar shavings to make bedding for your dog house.
Metal dog houses are also sometimes called dog boxes. They are only meant to be used temporarily, though. Usually, they are used to keep dogs while in transit.
In most cases, metal dog boxes are either made of aluminum or steel. And then they come insulated with metal. Problem is metal is a terrible insulator. However, metal dog boxes are the most durable of the types of dog houses.
Now that we understand a bit about the implications of different materials for dog houses, let us consider sizing.
How To Correctly Size Dog Houses
As we discussed in dog crates, one of the most fundamental things you must consider when getting something your dog is going to live in is size. The size of your dog’s house is a primary factor that determines whether your pooch is going to be comfortable in his house or not.
There are some really technical guidelines for building a dog house. If you fancy that much information, you could check out this site or you could also check out this other one. Both of them provide ample information on correctly sizing dog houses.
If you just want to get to the meat of the matter, then don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here are quick tips to help you correctly size your dog’s house.
- A correctly sized dog house must be large enough to allow your dog turn around comfortably. It should also allow him the freedom to lie on his side with his limbs fully stretched out inside the house.
- Dogs do not necessarily need a mansion. Keep the space fairly narrow so your dog can feel a sense of security. Plus, if it’s too wide, you’re going to have a hard time insulating it come winter.
- If you’re getting a dog house for a puppy, it’s wisdom to get something that she can use till she becomes an adult. Experts would advise you to get the dimensions of an average adult dog of their breed. And then get a house that’s right for that dimension. It will help you cut down on your spending by a ton.
- To be very sure, you might consider building a miniature version of the dog you want to get with cardboard. Now, try to get your dog into it and see if he’s comfortable in his house size wise.
The ideal way to floor a dog house is to insulate the floor and then elevate it several inches above ground level. The space between the ground and the floor is referred to as dead air space. The dead air space helps to keep moisture away and also keeps them safe.
Also, with a raised floor, eggs hatching in the soil won’t be able to reach the dog house so it keeps the house free from pest infestation.
There are several ways people achieve elevating the floors of a dog house. Some might make the house with skid plates. Another method might be to extend the corner posts such that the house is lifted from off the ground.
If you are not able to do any of these though, you could just place the dog house on top of 4 by 4 slabs of wood, stones, or bricks.
You need to be careful with wood. Even when the floor of a dog house is raised, the wood will still rot at some point. It becomes worse if the dog house actually sits on the ground.
To minimize the chances of rotting with a wooden house, take the pains to build (or buy a house that’s built) with decay-resistant wood. You could try redwood or cedar. You could use pressure-treated wood too.
But if you must use pressure-treated wood, ensure that your dog won’t be having any direct contact with the wood. You don’t want your dog chewing on the wood. But if you have a very persistent chewer on your hands, and he still chews the wood after all you tried, then try covering the pressure-treated wood with plywood.
The list of ideas that a dog house bedding can be is endless. Like, literally, endless. You’d find all kinds of suggestions ranging from towel, blankets, straw, carpet, hay, old newspapers, all sorts.
These materials are cool in themselves but they have this one fatal flaw. This fatal flaw lies in the fact that they can harbor insects like ticks, fleas and other things for a very long time. And with time, the house could get infested. Plus, they even tend to harbor fungal growth such as mildew and mold.
Instead of using any of the afore-mentioned , why not try the shavings from the cedar used to make the dog house? Cedar contains some naturally occurring oils which naturally help to repel ticks and fleas. But then again, be careful, cedar oil has been known to trigger allergic responses in dogs.
If you don’t want to use cedar shavings, then try moisture-proof foam pad. It would remain dry. Fleas cannoy get into it. And if you have a determined dog who chews on everything including this mat, then try covering it with some cedar shavings.
Porch or Awning
It’s important to include an awning or a porch to your doggie house. There should be, at least, something hanging overhead that acts as a shade during the hot summer weeks. And it’s not just shade from the sun, an awning or a porch will also provide shade from rain and snow.
You’d find some dog houses with what is called a combination porch. So the combination porch comes with two parts as the name suggests. There’s a deck where they can climb into to chill. There’s also the normal awning for dogs to rest when the elements get stronger.
Whatever you decide, just ensure there’s something protecting him overhead from the elements.
In a dog house that’s inadequately ventilated, you can expect the air to be stifling and hot, especially during the summer weeks. This makes the environment in the dog house ultimately dangerous for your dog.
And it isn’t limited to the summer. Even in the winter, as your dog breathes in and out, moisture can build on certain parts of the house. When this happens, it creates an enabling environment for fungi and bugs to grow and thrive.
See why adequate ventilation is necessary?
The doorway is already one fantastic way to help with ventilation. However, if it’s a door flap, it puts a limit to the amount of air your dog’s house will receive by way of ventilation.
To properly ventilate your dog’s house, consider making two holes the size of a quarter close to the top part of the house. Keep in mind the simple physics that we were taught: hot air rises.
Another method can be to try slatted openings. These openings kinda function like windows. But don’t make them too large, though. If the ventilation spaces are too large, the house can quickly lose heat during the winter and your dog will chill.
If the window-like openings are already large, then during the winter, ensure that you have a vinyl door flap close by. You’ll be needing it to protect your pooch from chilling during the winter days.
Whether or not your dog house would need heating is dependent on the kind of breed you have. So, if your dog is short-haired, then you already know that you’d need to heat his house in the winter.
You might not need to fuss over fixing a heater or not if your dog is a long haired breed. However, you might still want to check out dog sweaters, you know… just be doubly sure.
Heating options vary, depending on what the individual needs, some might come as metal light bulb heaters, heated kennel mats, and standalone heater/AC units. You might want to get some more information on your options before making a decision. Here is a site that can help.
This should be one of your first considerations when building a dog house. It must be large enough for your dog to move in and out of his house without much trouble. But then, there’s another thing. It must still be narrow enough to not lose so much heat either.
Now, the door to your dog’s house shouldn’t be constructed like that for a human’s house. Why? Well, humans would mind very much if they had to bend to go into their house. Dogs, on the other hand, are different. They don’t need the door to be that much higher than their total height. Quite on the contrary, they want it smaller. They don’t mind having t duck.
Sizing The Doorway To Dog Houses
When sizing the doorway to dog houses, there are two fundamental formulas you can apply.
The first is that the height of the doorway should not be shorter than three quarters of the dog’s height. Now the height here is measured from your dog’s shoulder down to the ground.
Or you could use the other method which is that the doorway should be higher than the distance from your pooch’s shoulder to the lowest part of his chest by, at least, an inch.
You can use any of the formulas mentioned above. But then keep in mind that these formulas describe a minimum height measurement. You could make it higher if you so please. Nonetheless, keep in mind that the higher the doorway, the more the inside of the house is exposed to the elements. And that consequently means that the house loses heat more.
Now, to the width of the doorway…
You want to keep the width just a tidbit larger than the width (or girth) of your dog. A good tip would be to measure him after he has had a filling meal. You know what we’re saying, right? *winks*
Locating The Doorway To Dog Houses
Of course there’s the classic way of locating the doorway dead center of the house which is fine too. However, though, sometimes, this might not be your best bet depending on where you live.
If you live in a place with extreme weather conditions or your dog is one to need some privacy, then a doorway in the center might not be the answer. You might want to locate the doorway a little off center for a change.
With a doorway that’s off center, the house isn’t so exposed to the elements. Plus, there’s now plenty of space for your dog to have a quiet time by himself in his house.
Again, with an off center doorway, you can always easily install a wind deflection panel. Doing this will make the house even warmer and cozier.
Doors And Dog Houses
It’s important to get a dog house that has a door, especially if the house has its doorway in the center. A door will help to keep the house protected from the sun, the rain, and the cold.
The trend these days is to construct a flap door made of vinyl. The flap door usually comes with slits vertically cut. With this kind of door, your dog can easily get in and out of his house. And when he’s in, he’ll still be able to see the outside world easily.
Again, some dog houses come with a removable door. This isn’t an entirely bad idea. At least, when the heat is really over the top, you can always take out the door. But then, you have to factor in the rain as well. Removing the door during summer means that rain will get into the house every now and then.
What If The Dog House I Like Doesn’t Come With A Door?
Well, that’s not a problem. You can get the dog house anyway. There are many home depots around that sell vinyl. You can get some vinyl from them and just make your own door.
Now if you can’t afford vinyl because you’ve spent so much on a dog house already, you can use other kinds of materials to construct a door for your dog house. You could try mud flaps, old carpet, the inner tubes of a tractor tire, or canvas.
But while choosing a material, bear it in mind that your dog might chew certain materials to bits. You know your dog best and you know what he can and can’t chew. Make sure that the material you settle for isn’t something your dog will destroy in a flash.
We’ve already looked at the types of roofs that there are (refer to the sub on wooden dog houses). Deciding on a good roofing system for you should involve an attempt to balance out function and style. Since we’ve already looked at the various types of roofing styles, we won’t go back to that.
We will talk very briefly about the protective covering your roof should have instead. You can choose between metal, wood (boards, shingles, or plywood), asphalt shingles or tar paper. Each of these materials have their pros and cons too. You could check out this article to get a more detailed guide to dog house roofing.
Dog Accessories For Dog Houses
Here are some nice dog house accessories you should totally consider after getting your dog his house.
- A Dog House Door Flap: We already explained how this works in the sub on doorways. So, please refer to it.
- Dog House Windscreen and Shade Kit: It will keep your dog from being overexposed to the sun.
- Dog Bedding/Padding: It’s very important. No dog should be made to lie on the cold, hard floor.
- Dog House Heater: You’ll be a hero come winter with this unit. There are some heaters that even come with a cooling option for the summer as well.
- Dog Bowl: If your dog house will be outside, then it’s important that his water bowl is something rugged. It has to be able to withstand the elements for a very long time.
We told you that there’s so much to learn about dog houses and this is just about getting a dog house. We haven’t even gone into building a dog house. So, you see that we’ve barely scratched the surface.
Anyway, don’t get overwhelmed by all the information. Your dog is a very important member of your family. And just like you’ll put a bit of effort into finding the right house for you, it follows that you do same for your dog.
It’s been a long ride, people. Thanks for riding with us. We hope you learned one or two things. Until next time, ciao!