Getting your large dog a new home
When it comes to the variety of dog sizes there is mini, small, medium, large, extra large and oh my gosh get out of its way!
Owners of the extra large breed dogs face many obstacles besides a large vet bill or an enormous grocery bill. Locating dog houses for large dogs may not be so easy especially at your local retail big box stores.
Most retail outlets just don’t have the floor space to inventory a big selection of large houses it is not their fault they have to cater to other pet needs as well.
Okay so what do I do?
So let’s dig into the needs of the large pet owner and try to solve some of the issues they face when addressing their dog’s needs and providing a new home.
First on the list is the cost of ownership, the large breeds require large amounts of food, they require attention to their health… some breeds more than others and finally they require comfort, which means an extra large bed (ideally orthopedic) and depending on the situation living quarters indoors or outdoors.
Bigger breeds usually end up outside because they can be too much in the house, especially if the house has lots of children, high end furniture and other pets such as cats etc.
The big boys need space to spread out and relax, an empty shoebox is not going to work, and they need real estate… lots of it.
The same is true for their dog house, which brings us to your options:
First option – The weekend DIY project
You can break out your mad carpentry skills and build a house on the weekend or two weekends depending how mad your skills are. This is going to require some specialty tools (skill saw or table saw etc) and some common everyday tools.
Before you go all ninja on the project start out with a plan, having a good set of blueprints will save you time, money and some major headaches.
From your blueprint you can compile a lumber list, all the hardware needed and any other items that may be needed to complete the project. The list saves you multiple trips to your local home improvement store.
Second option – Bring on the professional builder
If you don’t have the time or the tools or you just want to do other things with your time off (don’t blame you) then you can hire a local carpenter to build a house for you. This is not a bad idea, it may not be cheap because most carpenters worth their salt won’t work that cheap, and why should they when they can get the big bucks working for a contractor.
You also have to consider that you still need to invest in the materials for the dwelling besides the cost of the builder. One unique feature of a local builder is you can have some input on the design aspects.
Which brings up another decision and that is what type of material you are going to build the house with… plywood, cedar, composite, pine or any other material you may brainstorm. Be sure to take into consideration your dogs habits like if they like to chew everything in sight.
If they do like to chew everything make sure that the materials you use are non toxic, some woods are treated with chemicals that can be harmful to your dog.
Remember the more “custom” the doghouse is the more “dollars” you will spend getting all the bells and whistles that you desire.
Final thought on the hired professional and that is check out their references, you don’t want to invest time and money only to find out they are a no show and winter is approaching!
Third option – Click my mouse and ship to me now
You can purchase your new dog house from an online specialist, by specialist I mean someone that deals with dog houses as their main focus so they have intimate knowledge of the building, buying and selling process.
These suppliers for the most part have done the homework for you, usually if they are more high quality and custom type dog houses then they have worked out relationships with specialty builders that offer unique, luxury dog houses and usually one for every budget.
The most important element when buying online is to studying the product description of the particular house you are interested in. If the description is one sentence that basically states “hey buy this house it is great” then look elsewhere.
Quality online retailers will have in depth product descriptions an 800 number and/or email address where you can ask questions and by all means ask those questions. You do not want to invest in a product have it shipped to your house and realize… it is way too small, it is too big…it is not right for your pet.
The number one consideration when purchasing online is the SIZE …when you purchase your home a realtor is going to be preaching location, location, location whereas with a doghouse it is size matters! In fact there is an entire page dedicated to providing tips for selecting the right size here.
Most (but not all) retailers will have a sizing recommendation and/or a chart or some other means of helping you with the size decision, remember when in doubt it is so much easier to go larger and deal with a little extra space than to go too small and your dog doesn’t fit!
Imagine if you purchased a new mattress and found out your feet hung over the edge, not likely you would be delighted with your purchase or the quality of your sleep at night.
The deal is done and there it is
Okay if you ordered online then it will show up at your front door and there will be some assembly required but do not panic almost all dog houses sold online come in a “kit” form meaning all the work has been done you just need to put it together.
Most common houses can be assembled in 30 minutes or less and with basic household tools. Almost all of these homes are panelized and consist of 6 to 7 panels depending on the type… left and right walls, front and rear wall assembly (one being the door), the floor and the roof (it may be 2 pieces).
If you build one or had someone build it for you then the next step is to decide location and prep the space where the dwelling will reside in your backyard.
Building a strong foundation
The perfect scenario for a dog house foundation would be a concrete slab but not everyone will have the space or the budget for one.
The next best solution is to place the house on cider blocks or any other material that will not rot prematurely and the house can be raised off the ground. There are many houses that offer raised feet so that solves the elevation problem, something to check for in the product description.
Why do you want it off the ground?
If the dog house is raised off the ground it will not decay prematurely because it is not making contact with the soil, also it allows for air to flow underneath the house, this is beneficial in the summer and it is off the frozen ground in winter.
Some common sense thoughts about placement in the backyard
If it is possible a great location for the dog house is under a tree which will provide shade during the hot summer months. If there are no trees then the next best thing is find where the shade is at the peak of the day.
Another location consideration is where will the door be facing, ideally it would not face the north because the cold harsh winter winds usually originate from the north.
It is also not a bad idea to have the house visible from a window in your home so you can check on your pet when you deem it necessary.
Finally its position in relation to food and water is very important, if you have to haul water around the house each day that can get old real fast.
Some important items to incorporate or consider when in buying or building an extra large dog house
It is a good idea for the roof to be vented; this will help eliminate heat buildup during the hot months.
It is very beneficial as mentioned above to have the dog house feet elevated and/or adjustable.
Depending on the type of doghouse it is wise to have an offset door , this helps keep the cold wind off your pet on days it is blowing extremely hard.
Another idea that needs to be covered is an insulation option. The home you currently live in is more than likely insulated and if so the amount and quality of the insulation is determined by the “R” factor. The higher the number the better the insulation properties are, in plain English you are warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
If you do decide to invest in a dog house that has insulation option make sure all the walls, the floor and ceiling are insulated. A house can boast about being “insulated” but that doesn’t mean all of it is. See reading product descriptions above .
Wow all this sounds great what next heating and air conditioning?
Well actually that is an option, most but not all doghouses can accommodate a climate control unit, whether or not this is an option is determined by the type of house it is and most importantly the size.
The output of heating and cooling combination units are measured in BTU’s (just like your central air and heating unit) so the square footage of the dog house is important, too big and the unit will not be efficient enough, too small and your pet could become overheated.
There are also options for smaller heating only or cooling only units that you can invest in if your budget is limited or if assuming the house even requires one because of your mild climate.
Concerned about ruining the environment for a doghouse?
You are not alone when it comes to this issue, many builders are completely aware of the cause and the materials they use are from managed forest (FSC®) or recycled materials.
When considering the environment it raises another issue that is important and that is toxicity, not all wood is created equal some are treated with chemicals that can be toxic to your dog.
Again it is important to read the product descriptions (sounding like a stuck record here) if the material used to build the house is non toxic more than likely it will be mentioned and again if in doubt ask the question!
This can be a serious concern if your dog likes to chew everything in sight and they just drew a bead on the new dog house!
How do I know which is the best dog house?
There is no such thing as the “best” dog house but rather which house is best for your situation and your dog. A three thousand dollar custom built dog house could be considered the best but makes no sense for a Chihuahua living in a mild climate.
By contrast a Great Dane living in the northern hemisphere where the temperatures can be extreme cold or hot, an insulated dog house with a climate control unit makes perfect sense and could be considered the best option.
When you are deciding on which type of house for your dog it is wise to look at the breed, your climate all year and your operating budget.
If your breed gets cold easily (usually the short hair breeds) then it is better to look for a doghouse that may offer an insulated option that is included.
If your breed is the rough and tumble type (like a Siberian Husky) then they can handle the harsh elements and may not need a specialized house.
My dog loves it what do I have to do to make it last?
Oh the dreaded maintenance word every home owners nightmare, no one wants to work on the house when there is golf to be played or having fun with the family.
Fear not most dog houses do not require much attention at all; in fact there are some that do not require any upkeep point. But this is where the old adage comes into play that states you get what you pay for. An investment of fifty dollars in you dogs new home is not going to last that long, sorry the weather science backs it up!
The deciding factor is what type of material the house was made of, let’s suppose you invested in a Western Red Cedar Dog House, excellent choice it is one of the very best woods to use in building a doghouse because of its natural properties it will be resistant to insects, mold, mildew but most importantly it will stand up to the elements.
You could apply a sealer once a year to make it look new again but it is not mandatory, it may fade but it will still be standing for years.
Enough of the cedar what if it is made of plywood? As long as it is marine grade plywood you are going to be fine, just paint it to match your house and it should last as long as the paint on your current home.
The other materials would be pine or firwood, again these are fine but since they are a soft wood they may require a little more attention if you want them to last. Just apply a waterproof sealer stain type product every six months and the house will last much longer.
While we are on the subject of longevity one of the key components of a well built doghouse is not only the material used but also the hardware that is used to hold it all together.
Most builders will use stainless steel fasteners to secure the house together… it makes no sense to build a high quality house using premium materials and then go cheap when it comes to the nuts and bolts.
The call of the wild
Lets step away from all this house business and talk about your dog, remember we were doing all of this for them!
Our beloved dogs ancestors were den dwellers, they loved to carve out an opening in the earth to hide out, raise their pups and decorate it with the latest fashions from HGTV... okay maybe that is a stretch.
If we examine a den closely you will notice that the opening is really small and then it opens into a larger space for mom, pups and maybe dad if he is a good provider!
The small opening is a genius design created to keep unwanted intruders at bay, like door to door sales people or someone wanting to do harm to the pups. It is much easier to defend a small opening than a larger one.
Builders of the modern dog house are keen to this feature and that is why some door openings may appear too small, fret not most dogs like to “dip” a bit as they go inside this dates back to their den dwelling relatives and it feels natural for them.
Oh yes and about Snoopy
Contrary to what you may have seen dogs do not (well most) sleep on the peak of a gable roof, but that does segue into another subject matter and that is what type of roof you may want to consider for your big boys new home.
Most dog houses feature a gable roof design very much like the homes built on your street, it is to accommodate runoff of rain or snow.
However there is another design option for dog houses and that is the sloped or slanted roof design (see image) . The main advantage to this design is most are hinged so you can gain access into the house for easy cleaning or if your female is having pups you can tend to the puppies without disturbing mom.
There are some gable style dog houses (not all) that have a removable roof option which is ideal because at some point you will want to gain access inside for whatever reason, usually to clean and it makes it much easier.
The final chapter and a pop quiz
So let’s review, what have we learned? We learned about the different types of dog houses , we also learned what our options are for getting the right home for our pet.
We also learned what we need to do to prepare a landing spot for the new dwelling and we learned about all the extra add-ons (like insulation or heating cooling) we can opt in or out of when we are finalizing the decision.
We learned about how much time and energy it will require to properly maintain the house so that it will last for many years. We also learned what is or is not the best house but rather what is the best house for our dog.
Finally we learned about whether to build one ourselves, have it built professionally or purchase from a specialist at an online source.
Okay maybe there is no quiz but if there were a quiz armed with all the information before you would have scored an A!
Dog houses for large dogs doesn’t have to be that difficult if you do some due diligence and no not again… read the product descriptions you will be able to invest in the right dog house for your pet, since it is for your dog that makes it the “best” dog house.
So I just dropped a make believe microphone and exited stage left…not really I have to feed my dog she is giving me that look…