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Don’t Make This Mistake Choosing A Dog House Type

Updated May 25, 2020.

What is the best dog house?  What are the best dog house types?  Well, that entirely depends on what your definition of best is.  First, determine the type of dog house you need. This will determine which one is best for you and your dog.  In this article, we’ll take a look at how to decide. And where you can get the dog house that is best for your needs.

What To Ask Yourself About A Dog Shelter

I pride myself on knowing what’s what when it comes to dog houses. So, I asked the question: if I were buying a dog house, how would I decide which one? This led me to ask why I needed the dog house in the first place.  Here is a list I came up with that asks a few basic questions. These need to be answered in order to ascertain which dog house is best for your dog.

  1. How big of a dog house do I need?
  2. Is the dog house for outside or inside?
  3. If Inside:  What purpose will the dog house serve?
  4. If A Bed Only:
  5. Do I want the dog house to have a second function, like act as an end table?
  6. If A Kennel:  
  7. What kind of door will I need to lock the kennel?
  8. If Outside:  What season(s) will the dog house be used in?
  9. Does the dog house need to be insulated?
  10. Do I need a door in the dog house?
  11. Does the dog house need a heater?
  12. Do I need an air conditioner?
  13. Where will I put the dog house?
  14. Where will I put dog food and water?

To best answer each of these questions, let’s dive a little deeper into each one.  

How Big Of A Dog House Do I Need?

The first, and most obvious starting question.  Well, that’s an easy question to answer. Just refer to the D.H.T. Dog House Sizing Chart. All you need to do is to find your breed. And take a look at the corresponding minimum recommended dimensions for a dog house.

Is The Dog House For Inside Or Outside Use?

This question really implies that we need to know whether or not the dog house needs to be able to provide shelter from the environment or not.  Knowing what kind of environment you need to protect from is essential. This is so that you can choose an appropriate dog house.

Here in Canada, we have 4 seasons.  An appropriate dog house for outside here in Canada would be able to protect the dog against the wind, rain, snow, sun and extreme temperatures both hot and cold.  This is why we ask the question of whether or not the dog house is intended for indoors or outdoors. This question’s point is really just to guide us to the next question, which depending on the result, will lead us to either question 3 or question 4.

If Indoors, What Purpose Will The Dog House Serve?

There is basically 2 indoor dog house types.  

The first are those intended purely as a decorative means of covering a dog bed.  Adding sides and a top to a dog bed provides the dog with a sense of shelter and security so it isn’t purely an aesthetic goal.  This really helps dogs that are nervous or anxious as well by adding extra feelings of security and shelter.

The second type of indoor dog house is used as a dog kennel or dog crate.  This is a lockable dog house with a door and the purpose is for keeping the dog confined.  This may be the case if you cannot trust your dog to have run of the house when you go out.  Or perhaps you keep the dog in his/her kennel at night when you sleep. Either way, this is the typical purpose of having a dog house indoors. 

Covered Bed Or Crate?

The indoor crate type of dog house is usually always also acting as a bed.  The reason for this is that typical indoor dog crates are not intended to keep the dog contained for extended periods.  If they were, they would be larger with both an area to store and serve food and water, but also an area where the dog would be able to relieve itself.  As most dog owners do not require this type of indoor dog house, we will not dive into these other than to say usually they are only found at veterinary and boarding facilities.

If the dog house you need will need a locking door, this narrows down your search considerably.

The type of door will typically be up to your aesthetic appeal but if you are looking for a dog house that has a door built-in, then your options will be limited.  If you intend to get a dog house without a door and add one, that gives you a lot more options for aesthetic control but now puts you into a DIY dog house project. If that’s the way you want to go, then check out my article on dog house door types to give you some ideas.

Outdoor Dog House Questions To Ask Before Asking Which Dog House Types To Review

What Seasons Will The Dog House Be Used In

The seasonality of the dog house will first be impacted by when you anticipate using the dog house.  If you spend a lot of time outdoors in hot weather and want a place of cool shade for your dog to relax in, then summer is your preferred season.  Likewise, if you are an outdoor winter person and you want a warm shelter for your dog outside during the winter months then this is the season you plan to use the dog house.  It really depends on your lifestyle and how you envision your dog’s lifestyle to be. Depending on when you want to be able to use the dog house, and the climate you live in, the following questions may or may not be relevant.

Does The Dog House Need To Be Insulated?

Insulating a structure is usually only considered when thinking about the cold.  But insulation is equally valuable protecting a structure from heat as well. When you are shopping for a dog house, you can go with one of the dog house types which is already insulated or you can insulate one after the fact.  The price difference will be substantial when purchasing. For this reason alone, considering to either build your own dog house or purchase one which is not insulated and insulate it yourself isn’t a bad idea at all.

Buying an insulated dog house will also limit your choices of dog house drastically.  This is because most of the dog houses for sale on the market are non-insulated. Many of these are made of plastic and are single layer thick.  Insulating these can be relatively easy and inexpensive. Again you will be setting yourself up for a dog house DIY project, but there are some great resources out there to help you with this dog house renovation.  Check out our article on insulating a dog house as a great reference point to help you get your dog house insulated.

Do I Need A Door On My Dog House?

To answer this, we need to look at your answers about the seasons and use of the dog house in question.  First, is the dog house going to shelter the dog from the elements for extended periods of time? Second, is the door going to help keep heated or cooled air inside the dog house?  If the intent is that the door will help protect the dog from the elements, all we need to consider is how the dog will enter or exit the door and of course overall ventilation as I will talk about next.  

As mentioned, we need to consider how much ventilation will be available inside the dog house.  This is always a juggling act when considering heating and cooling a dog house. Whether you are heating or cooling the dog house, you want to maintain a temperature range inside the dog house.  To do this the most efficiently, we want to seal the air from exchanging with the outside air as much as possible. But the dog has to breathe too so we need air exchange with the outside.

To Be A Door Or Not To Be A Door

And here lies our dilemma, let too much air exchange and we loose our heated or cooled air.  Don’t let enough air exchange and your dog will die inside the dog house of asphyxiation.  We definitely don’t want the dog to die so we need to make sure the door is sufficient to maintain air temperature but also that there is enough air movement to keep the dog breathing nice and healthy.

Just like with insulation, buying a dog house with a door on it already is going to escalate the price dramatically.  Also, it will limit your choices for which dog house to purchase. Good idea is to consider a dog house DIY project and add your own dog house door to your dog house.  Take a look at our article on the best ideas for dog house doors for some great inspiration to help you decide.

Do I Need A Heated Dog House Or A Dog House Heater?

Obviously, if you live in Costa Rica, you won’t need a heated dog house.  Nor would you need a dog house heater to add to your dog house. But many countries, like Canada and the United States, have some fairly chilly months with cold weather and even lots of snow depending on where you live.  In these climates, if you are intending to have the dog house be used during the cooler periods, you’ll want to consider either a heated dog house or adding a heater to a dog house.  

Buying a heated dog house, like the previous options like insulation or an existing door, is going to jack up the price of a new dog house dramatically.  Adding a heater as a dog house DIY project will likely save you a lot of money, but has it’s own pitfalls as well.  This is especially true if you mess up and wind up melting your plastic dog house or even worse, having your wooden dog house catch fire.  

My advice is not to worry about buying a heated dog house and purchasing one that you add a heater to later.  I’ve explained this in an article all about the best heater types to use in dog houses, but I’ll give you the short notes version really quick.  

I have been an avid amateur herpetologist for the better part of 30 years now.  With my experience raising cold-blooded life forms, I have found that the best and safest way to keep them happy is to provide them with temperature gradients to choose from.  Combine this experience with my experience raising rabbits with my mom, and I believe that a pet-specific heating pad is the best option for a heated dog house.  

See the diagram below for the heating pad layout recommendation.  

The concept is fairly straight forward.  Heat the floor in the back half of the dog house, away from the door.  The doorway is typically the draftiest part of the dog house so heating the floor in the rear will maximize efficiency.  Also, if the dog wants to cool off a bit, all it needs to do is reposition itself on the front half of the floor. Likewise, if the dog wants to warm up, it can curl up at the back on the heated floor portion of the dog house.  This gives the dog the ability to choose it’s comfort level while still focusing on efficiency.  

Using a heating pad that is weather-resistant, like those made specifically with outdoor use in mind, will limit the dangers of a possible fire.  This type of heater will also limit any dangers of electrocution. Overall I believe them to be the safest type of heater to use for this purpose.  I have, as of yet, to find a dog house for sale with a heater setup like this. Don’t let it scare you from choosing which dog house is best. You can add one later as I mentioned in my article about dog house heaters which I recommend you take a read of for reference.

Do I Need A Dog House Air Conditioner?

Air conditioners are not cheap.  And like buying anything with possible options, buying a dog house with an a/c unit is going to cost you big time.  Now maybe money is no object, but if that were the case you wouldn’t read this, you’d likely just pay someone else to figure out this stuff for you.  It must be nice to have a lot of money. For the rest of humanity, its a process of elimination, figure out which kind of air conditioning setup we can either afford or build.  

I recommend adding cooling after the fact.  If you are going to need the dog house to be as cool as possible, getting a slightly larger than required dog house is a good idea.  Not that heating or cooling extra air is efficient, but a larger dog house will not heat up as much as a smaller one. Also, larger dog houses offer more airflow than a smaller dog house.  With these things in mind, there are also several different types of systems we can choose from for cooling our existing dog houses. Take a look at my article on dog house air conditioners to really get a deep dive on the subject.

The last questions to ask when trying to decide which dog house is best, really have to do with purpose and yard layout.  Let’s take a look at the last considerations to make when trying to figure out which dog house to buy.

Where To Put A Dog House

Dog house placement is actually more important than you would think.  We have to consider a few things.

  1. How Much Shade Do We Need?
  2. What Kind Of Ground Is The Area?
  3. Where Does The Dog Go Pee Or Poop?
  4. How Close Is The Area To Where The Family Is?


This one is obvious I think.  If you have hot weather and there is shade, you should place the dog house is the shade.  This will maximize the ability to keep the dog house cool.


The dog house should be elevated off the dirt.  This helps prevent rotting if the house is made of wood.  If there is metal, this can also help prevent corrosion. It will also help keep mold from growing under the dog house.  Keeping the dog house off the ground will also help prevent condensation aka morning dew and will help keep the floor from giving the dog a chill.

We also want to consider what kind of foundation the dog house sits on.  If the ground is soft, you may want to lay down some gravel to put the dog house platform on to help drainage and prevent sinking.

Where Does The Dog Defecate/Urinate?

If the dog will be spending a lot of time by the dog house, it should have an area close by where it can urinate and defecate.  Keeping a dog house on a patio is fine, but the dog needs to be able to access the lawn. Otherwise, you’re going to have a mess to clean up on your patio.  You may also want to consider if there are any small trees that the dog will urinate on in the area.

How Close Will The Dog House Be To Family?

Dogs are pack animals.  They love their families and want nothing more than to spend all their time by your side.  Well, if you have a big yard placing the dog house at the far back corner of the property is going to leave your dog feeling alienated and abandoned.  Remember that dog loves you unconditionally and wants to be by your side. Keeping the dog house within a reasonable distance from where you like to spend your time is good practice to keep your dog’s emotional health in check and avoid bad behaviors caused by stress.  Dogs need love too after all.

Recommended Dog Houses

All our recommendations were studied, tested, reviewed, researched and we either own or someone we know well owns the product.  Basically, if we think it’s crap, we’re not going to recommend it no matter what anyone says they would pay us to do so. Honesty is the best policy so you’ll just have to live with the truth.

Farmer Jer’s Top Picks


Wood Plank Dog House DIY

But if building your own isn’t your thing, here’s some cheap dog houses made for you:

Small Dog Houses

Indoor Small Dog Crate

  • Locking Door
  • Non-Insulated
  • Toy and Small Breeds
  • 1-Year Warranty
  • Cute Design

Indoor Small Dog House More Information: Petsfit Indoor Wooden Dog House with Wire Door for Small Dog, 1-Year Warranty

Small Outdoor Dog House

New Age Pets Mossy Oak Rustic Lodge Dog House
  • No Door
  • Insulated
  • Small Breeds Perfect
  • All-Weather Professional Construction

I like this spunky little dog house. Install a strip curtain door and it’s perfect. And half the price you’d expect for a professionally built dog house.

Medium Dog Houses

Indoor Medium Dog Crate 

Medium Indoor Dog Crate
Medium Indoor Dog Crate
  • Has Door
  • Non-Insulated
  • Medium Sized Dog Breeds
  • Converts Into Pet Gate!
  • This is the transformer of dog crates.  What a cool idea they came up with. It has great reviews and it’s an absolutely ingenious design.

Medium Indoor Dog House More Information: Merry Pet 2-in-1 Configurable Pet Crate and Gate, Medium

Outdoor Medium Dog House

New Age Pet ThermoCore Mossy Oak Insulated Canine Cabin dog house
  • No Door
  • Insulated
  • Medium Sized Dog Breeds
  • Waterproof
  • Portable
  • Professional Construction

Medium Outdoor Dog House More Information: This is an awesome dog house. I recommend it. All you need to do is add a strip curtain door and you’re good to go.

Large Dog Houses

Indoor Large Cage Style Dog Crate

Large Indoor Dog Crate
Large Indoor Dog Crate
  • Locking Door
  • Non-Insulated
  • Large Sized Dog Breeds
  • Comes With Cover

Dog House – Large Indoor – More Information: MidWest iCrate Starter Kit | The Perfect Kit for Your New Dog Includes a Dog Crate, Dog Crate Cover, 2 Dog Bowls & Pet Bed | 1-Year Warranty on ALL Items

Large Dog House For Outdoors

New Age Pet ThermoCore Insulated Canine Cabin dog house
  • No Door
  • Insulated
  • Large Sized Dog Breeds
  • Professional Construction
  • Built to last and looks fantastic

Another fine dog house for your large dog breed, this one is insulated and looks fantastic. Like most dog houses, this one does not come with a door. But, if you’ve seen my video on making a strip curtain dog house door, then you’ll know just how easy it is to add. This is a great dog house for a larger breed (like Alaskan Malamute) and you’re pooch will love it I’m sure.

Want the BEST DOG HOUSE EVER? Read On.

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