Outdoor Dog Houses: Find the Right Fit for Your Dog

All dogs spend at least some time outside.

And if your dog is ever left outside when you're not home, then he'll need a doghouse or some sort of shelter.

Is Bigger Better?

If a dog house is large enough for a medium-sized dog, like a Beagle, then it stands to reason it ought to be great for a smaller dog, like a dachshund, correct? Not necessarily. Bigger isn't necessarily better when it comes to a dog house. Dogs like room enough to move around, but not necessarily a lot of extra room. Instinct tells them to find a cozy spot that is warm, provides shelter from the elements, and is safe from predators. Plus it's easier for a dog's own body heat to keep the house warm if it's not too large.

What's the Perfect Size?

The standard size requirements are that your dog be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably in his house. The door should be set off to the side, to help keep wind, rain, snow, and sun out of the house. The door only needs to be tall enough for your dog's shoulders to clear: he'll likely instinctively duck as he goes in anyway. Make sure the doorway is wide enough to accommodate your dog at his widest point, but not much wider. To get a basic idea of dimensions, start by measuring your dog's height from the floor to the top of his head (or ears, if they stand erect) and from the floor to his shoulder, his girth from side to side at his widest point (probably his shoulders), and his length from the tip of his nose to the base of his tail. There are a number of different formulas to the right size. However, if the height and the length of the dog house are about 1 1/2 times your dog's dimensions, you should be fine. A little less is okay, but don't get too much larger than that. The width should be about the same as the length of your dog (slightly larger or smaller is okay).

Some Extra Tips

Many manufacturers of pre-made dog houses will give breed suggestions. You can use those as a guideline. Some manufacturers set guidelines by weight. Don't use this as your sole factor in determining the house to get. A short, stocky dog like a Basset Hound may weigh as much as a tall, lithe dog like a Greyhound, but their house specifications would be vastly different. The floor to the house should be raised two or three inches off the ground, especially if it will be sitting on dirt. This not only allows rain water to flow under it, it will cut down the dirt and insects that get in.
dog crate ©istockphoto/lempelziv

What About Crates?

So how do the dimension of a dog house compare to the dimensions of a dog crate? The basic requirements for a crate are similar to that of a dog house: the dog should be able to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably. But you also need to consider why you need the crate. If you're traveling by air with your dog, it's important that the crate complies with the specifications of the airline you'll be using. In addition, you do want to pay attention to the weight specifications on a crate: make sure it is sturdy enough to support the weight of your dog. You may want to use the crate to contain your dog within the house. You may feel more comfortable if you know your dog is safe in his crate while you're away. In multiple dog homes, it can be useful to have a crate to keep an ill dog or one recovering from surgery separated from his well-meaning friends. If you're getting a crate for your puppy, considering getting one that allows for dividers. By adding or moving the dividers, you can make the crate larger or smaller as his size and training needs change. The article, "6 Reasons to Crate Train Your Puppy" gives some information on this. Not at all puppies like their crates initially. Check out "Troubleshooting Crate Training" and "Tips n' Tricks for Getting Your Dog to Love His Crate" for some helpful tips with that problem. Both your dog's house in the backyard and his crate in the house provide cozy dens for your furry friend. Make sure he's safe and comfortable, but also make sure he knows your favorite place to keep him is by your side.

Pam Hair

Pam Hair is a pet industry copywriter with Fuzzy Friends Writer, where she combines her three passions: a love of animals, a strong desire to help other people, and the joy of writing. She has been a pet parent over the years to dogs, cats, and a variety of rodents. Currently she and her husband share their home with two guinea pigs.
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