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How To Properly Size A Dog House

What size dog house do I need? Dog house sizing is crucial to get right before you make a big purchase. So, what size dog house should you get? We’ve done the research for you, so let’s take a deep dive into the world of sizing dog houses.

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What size dog house?

There are 3 things need to be considered when sizing a dog house for your dog or dogs.

  1. How many dogs will the dog house need to fit?
  2. The size of the dog determines the size of the door and the interior height of the dog house.
  3. The dog’s behavioral needs are taken into consideration.

Conflicting Information

There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet regarding proper dog house sizing. Some sources state that dog house sizing is all about the dog’s actual size. Most mention nothing of behavior or breed-specific requirements. Purchasing the incorrect sized dog house could prove to be a colossal waste of money. And your dog would be no further ahead. In this article, we break down the confusion surrounding the topic by compiling data from multiple sources including books, websites, veterinarians (my dad was a veterinarian) and years of research so you can find it all out here in one convenient place: Dog House Times. So let’s first take a look at dog size versus dog house size. DOG SIZE VS HOUSE SIZE

Dog House Size Should Be Given Serious Thought
Dog House Size Should Be Given Serious Thought

When considering the dog house size, it is best not to make too many assumptions about the size requirements. Making an assumption regarding the size of the dog house can not only cost you money and time but also may wind up being totally useless for your dog. Most pet stores that supply the public with dog houses are easy to find and will often suggest sizing based upon whatever is printed on the box of the dog house product they are selling.

Keeping a few things in mind before you believe the person working at the pet store though can save you a lot of aggravation down the road. So will knowing your dog house fundamentals.

Want A free Quick Reference Dog House Size By Breed?

I’ve already done the work, for 440 breeds, to bring you a standardized minimum recommended dog house size. And it’s catered to your specific dogs’ breed.

My Experience

I set up, owned and ran a pet shop in Toronto, Ontario. And I was lucky enough to see first hand how some companies really don’t care about you or your dog, so long as you are purchasing their products. This is truer than the general public realizes. So when you are looking at purchasing a dog house, it is wise to do your own research. And do not take that freckled teenager working at the pet store for minimum wage as the truth giver.  When it comes to recommending a properly sized dog house for your furry family member, do your own research.

Here’s a video where I build a Wood Plank Dog House:

Wood Plank Dog House Build


Dog House Sizing
Dog House Sizing

The size of the dog is, of course, the first consideration when analyzing the proper dog house size. But it is not the only factor you should be concerned with. This is also true if you are building your own dog house. A few key points to consider when purchasing or building a dog house, in terms of sizing are:

Rules Of The Road

  1. The dog should be able to enter the dog house without having to lower anything except its head. In other words, the dog’s shoulders should clear the opening.
  2. The dog should be able to stand comfortably inside the dog house. Would you want to crouch in a crawl space to relax? Probably not, and it’s likely true that your dog would agree.
  3. The dog should be able to lie down comfortably inside the dog house enough to avoid the sun. A common issue with dogs in the summer is overheating so we want to make sure the dog can escape the sun.
  4. The dog should be able to turn around inside the dog house. What goes in, must come out as they say. We ’t want our furry friends to get stuck now, do we?

With these things in mind, we need to dig further into each one, so we know where and how to measure it.


The size of the dog house door is an important feature of the dog house. Your dog will love his or her new dog house, as long as they can comfortably enter and exit the dog house. There are only really 3 things we need to think about when considering the size of the door.

First Measurement – Dog Standing Height

First, we want to know how tall our dog stands. We will measure this by measuring the highest possible point on the dog when they stand normally, typically this is the tip of the ears or top of the head.

Second Measurement – Withers

The second height measurement we take is shoulder height. We want to measure about 1″ above the height of the shoulder when the dog is standing normally. Last we want to consider if the dog has a personality that makes them a little shy or they get scared or spooked easily. We want to keep the door size slightly smaller for dogs with these issues. Otherwise, we recommend a door height between the first and second measurements we took of the dog’s highest point and the dog’s shoulder, right in between is perfect. That way the dog doesn’t have to lower their head too much to enter, but they will still feel the security of a smaller opening to their dog cave.


With regards to door width, we find a good rule to follow is to measure the widest point of the dog and add 1″ on either side. This gives us our minimum width. For maximum width, multiply the width of the dog at the widest point by two. Bigger than that and you risk causing insecurity issues due to too wide an opening. If you’re curious, here is a link to a useful site article about doorway sizes by building code, although it doesn’t relate to dogs, it does relate to doorways. I found it an interesting read.

Dog House Tip: Try a double layer strip curtain for the cooler months. Your dog will appreciate how easy it is for him or her to enter or exit the dog house. And it will help keep the warmth in and the wind out.


If your dog is a German Shepherd, then you don’t want to have a dog house that has an interior roof height of only one foot. Likewise, if you have a Yorkshire Terrier, a 42″ high roof is more than a little excessive.

When we are measuring the interior roof height, it’s always good practice to allow the dog to stand up straight and measure the highest point of the dog as done previously assuming you are following this article like a guide. We will use the German Shepherd as an example.

Example: German Shepherd

The German Shepherd height is 60-65 cm for a male and 55-60 cm for a female (source). A normal-sized male German Shepherd, for example, would need an interior house height of 80cm. This way your dog isn’t getting annoyed by ears rubbing on the ceiling, but the dog house would not be so big that it loses too much heat. The equation to calculate minimum ceiling height inside a dog house is



Dog Steps With Dog Statues
Dog Steps With Dog Statues

If your dog house is intended to be placed outdoors, then more than likely you will want to keep it from sinking into the ground. You’ll also want to prevent rotting depending on the material the dog house is constructed out of. With this in mind, if you were putting a wooden dog house out in the yard, you may want to elevate it by placing it on some type of footing, like patio stones, to keep it off the dirt.

Considering how the dog house is constructed, it may not have a floor. You may need to construct a small platform to keep the dog house off the ground. Or perhaps the dog house has a floor in it already which is slightly elevated. Either way, you may need to place a small ramp up to the doorway.

Ramp Rules

If you are using an elevated dog house with a Tea Cup Chihuahua, for example, you will likely need a ramp. This is because a Tea Cup Chihuahua is typically only 6 to 9 inches tall. So, if your elevated dog house is 2 to 3 inches off the ground, this can pose an uncomfortable entrance/exit for the dog house. A good rule is that if the dog house is elevated, you should have a ramp for the dog if the elevated height is greater than 25 % of the dog’s leg length.


Dog behavior is an often neglected topic when considering dog house sizing. Most sources don’t even mention dog house sizing having anything at all to do with behavior. The problem with ignoring behavior when sizing a dog house is that you can have some rather troublesome results. For example, I always recommend that if you have high energy, excitable dog, that you add an extra 2″ to the door opening height. This is to help prevent excitable dogs from smacking their heads on the opening of the dog house.

Likewise, if you have a shy, dog, then you will want to tighten the opening slightly. Do this to help the dog feel a greater sense of security when in the dog house. Keeping these things in mind will be more beneficial for your dogs’ mental health. This is especially important if your dog will be spending a lot of time in their dog house.


I like to use this handy tool for calculating floor space, click here to use the tool.

The interior floor space of a dog house should be enough that the dog can lie down in the dog house. Their nose on the floor, 2″ from the inside of the door opening and 2″ from their rear end and the rear wall. This should be used as a minimum measurement. Your dog will be happiest if you use this same measurement but from the end of the tail instead of the rear. This way your dog will be provided with maximum comfort without the sacrifice of losing too much heat.

If you’re interested in heaters, check out my article on heaters here. The width of a dog house does not need to be as great as the length. The rule I use is to have the minimum width of the dog house equal to the length of the dog from nose to rear. This is not including the tail. This measurement ensures that the dog can comfortably sprawl out in the dog house as well as comfortably be able to turn around.


Windows are sometimes constructed into dog houses. They can help with ventilation and cooling in the summer and can be closed in cooler months to retain heat. Windows are also found convenient for dogs who are inquisitive and like to look around.

If you are either purchasing or building a dog house with windows, you should consider the maximum size of your dog and compare it to the window size. This is so that you can ensure that your dog will not get it’s head stuck, which would be a situation I think I would want to avoid.

The Great (Dog House) Escape

The other consideration is whether or not your dog will try to fit through the window. This situation typically occurs when a squirrel or similar small creature wanders by. This is either unintentional or in the case of the squirrels around my house, on purpose. If you are looking into a dog hotel with windows, make sure the bottom of the window is 1″ higher than your dog’s chest. This makes it slightly annoying for your dog to exit through the window. And it is likely they will choose to go out the door instead.

For the window opening, I recommend the width and height be more than your dog’s head, but less than their chest. This allows the dog to look out and stick their head out the window. But it does not allow them to jump through. It’s always good for your dog to be able to look outside. For more information on breeds that do well outdoors, check out my article on the best dog breeds for outside life here.


Climate typically doesn’t change the size of your dog house. But it does have an effect on heating and cooling. I actually wrote an article on heating and cooling for your doghouse. If you want, check out the article on heaters here. And here is the link to the article on air conditioners. Everyone knows it is more costly to heat a large space than it is to heat a small space. Likewise, it is more difficult to heat an open space with a large opening for a doorway at one end. Due to these facts, you will want to reduce the doorway size and window size(s) of your dog house. But, only in colder climates.

Elevating the dog house can also affect the heating/cooling and if you’re interested we will be adding information about this. A good rule for colder climates is to reduce the door and window openings by about 10%. This will allow your pooch to still use the windows and doorway but will reduce heat loss. We do not recommend reducing ceiling height or floor space.


If you are intending to have multiple dogs live in one dog house, it is important to get the measurements right. This is important to try to avoid one dog taking over the whole dog house. This can happen if it being too small to fit the dog’s potential ego.

If two dogs cannot comfortably lie stretched out together in the dog house, the floor space is obviously too small. And the dog house will likely be inherited by the dominant dog. When looking at the doorway of your dog castle, you should use the measurements of the largest dog. Carry those same measurements for each dog, even if the other dog is smaller. This ensures the dogs will have enough room and can help prevent aggressive behavior.

Multiple Dog Analysis

Keeping the dog’s confined in small spaces is typically not the choice of the dog. This should be kept in mind when sizing a dog house for multiple dogs. The steps I take for analyzing and determining the dog house size for multiple dogs are as follows.

1) First, measure the largest dog at shoulder height. Measure the length from the nose to the rear end. Measure the chest width, front leg height, head height.

2) Using these measurements, determine the dog house size for a single dog (largest).

3) For each subsequent dog: width of the interior of the dog house for single dog + (chest width x 1.25). The length does not need to change. When you get to three dogs, consider adding a second door on the opposite side, opposite corner.


To avoid costly mistakes, get the correct size dog house. Remember to measure the interior and the doorway to make sure they are adequate for your dog. The most important thing to consider is the breed’s maximum size. Also knowing the breeds’ behavior and the climate where the dog house will be situated are important factors.

There are many factors that are significant with regard to measuring and fitting a dog house. They are all important to consider when deciding on a properly fitted dog house. Keeping in mind these considerations will save you money. It will also make your dog happy and at home in their own private doggy castle.

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