How to choose the best bed for your dog.

How to Choose the Best Dog Bed for Your Dog

Your dog’s bed is their spot to rest, sleep, and be comfortable. Because many dogs spend large amounts of time lounging or relaxing on their beds (12-14 hours per day), it’s important that you choose the right bed for your companion. After all, it is their personal spot in your home, so it should be well-suited for your pet.

A dog bed gives your dog a sense of security. Find a convenient, safe spot and try to keep the bed in the same location. Your dog will enjoy having a special place of their own. Not only do dog beds provide comfort for your pet, but they also help to protect your home and keep it cleaner. For people with allergies, this is particularly important.

Also, since a dog bed is a highly visible in your home, choose one that suits the style and decor of your home. A good quality dog bed can last for years, so make sure it’s something both you and your dog like.

There are likely more things to consider when picking a dog bed than many people realize, including your dog’s size, age, sleep habits, and health, as well as cleaning considerations. We’re going to go over all the factors you might want to consider when buying a dog bed.

Styles and Types of Dog Beds

First, let’s review the various types of dog beds and styles that are available:

  • Pillow or Cushion Style Dog Beds

    These are among the most common types of dog beds you’ll see. They are basically a large, round pillow (similar to a bean bag chair) filled with either polyester fiber, cotton batting, beads, or some other type of loose-fill. The covers come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and materials, and are usually removable for cleaning.

  • Bolster Dog Beds

    Bolster dog beds are also very popular. They consist of a bottom cushion and one or more raised sides. Many dogs like to either rest their head or body on the sides or snuggle up against them.

Bolster dog beds have raised sides.

Many dogs like to rest their heads on the raised sides of a bolster dog bed.

  • Donut Dog Beds

    A donut bed is similar to a bolster bed, but is completely surrounded by raised sides. They are generally round. These are often ideal for smaller dogs or dogs who like to curl up.

  • Rectangle Dog Beds

    Rectangle dog beds are usually large, rectangular cushions that do not have any raised sides. They are often used for larger dogs or dogs who prefer to stretch out.

  • Nesting (Cave) Style Dog Beds

    These types of dog beds are like an enclosed bolster bed. This creates a nest or cave area where dogs can burrow or dig in.

  • Hammock or Cot Style Dog Beds

    Hammock or cot style beds are raised off the ground. They are often used for dogs who like to sleep or relax outside, as being off the ground helps keep them cooler. They are also often used in kennels, to give dogs a place to rest above hard floors.

Now that we’ve reviewed the various types of dog beds that are available, let’s go over some other factors to consider when choosing a dog bed:

Your Dog’s Sleeping Style and Habits

Different dogs have different styles of resting or sleeping. Pay attention to the way your dog positions his legs and body when he lies down. This will give you an idea of how your dog is most comfortable, and you can choose a bed which best suits your dog’s style of resting.

  • Dogs that Sprawl or Stretch Out

    Some dogs like to sprawl when they sleep or relax. They like to spread their body, legs, and neck out, and need a bed which is big enough for them to stretch out in. Rectangle dog beds are often good for these types of dogs, as they cover a larger area and don’t have any edges or walls to inhibit their sprawling. Whatever the size of your dog, if they are a sprawler, make sure their dog bed is large enough to allow them to comfortably and fully spread out.

Rectangle dog beds are good for dogs who sprawl.

Sprawlers like to stretch out in all directions on their dog bed.

  • Dogs that Curl Up

    Other dogs prefer to curl up into a ball when they rest or sleep. They like to curl themselves up as tightly as possible to feel safe and secure. These dogs often enjoy beds that match their sleeping style, such as donut beds or pillow-style dog beds, which create cozy contours that your dog can curl up inside of.

  • Dogs that Burrow

    Some dogs have a preference for burrowing when they sleep or rest. They like to burrow into a cozy space and feel comfortable covered up. An ideal type of bed for these dogs is a nesting dog bed. Nesting dog beds generally have an overhang which partially covers the bed, allowing dogs to dig in and get cozy.

  • Dogs that Lean

    There are some dogs who prefer to lean when they sleep or rest. Often, you can see this in dogs who like to lean up against the arms of a couch or chair. They are comfortable having their upper body against a firm support. Bolster dog beds are good for these types of dogs, as the beds have firm edges or walls that they can lean against when they lie down.

Picking the Right Dog Bed for Your Dog’s Size

Generally speaking, the bigger your dog, the bigger the bed they will need. However, depending on your dog’s sleeping style, some smaller dogs might need a larger bed than a bigger dog.

Take note of your dog’s sleeping style and then measure your dog. Use these two factors to determine the size of the bed your dog needs. If in doubt, get a larger size. A larger dog bed probably won’t bother your dog, but having one that is too small will.

Make sure your dog bed is big enough for your dog.

If in doubt, get a bigger dog bed, rather than one that is too small.

Also, if you have a large, strong, or active dog, don’t get a cheap dog bed. A sturdy, good quality dog bed with a thick, durable cover can last throughout your dog’s life, but many inexpensive dog beds will not be able to stand up to a big, strong, or active dog, and may need to be replaced regularly.

Finally, make sure you have a spot picked out in your home which can safely and comfortably fit the dog bed you plan on getting. Make sure there is enough room around the bed so that it isn’t a tripping hazard.

Dog Beds for Age and Health Issues

  • Low Profile Dog Beds

    Many older dogs have joint pain or mobility issues due to arthritis or hip dysplasia, making it difficult for them to step up. Low-profile dog beds are available which are more easily accessible by dogs with mobility issues. Low profile beds include various types of pillows, pads, and mats.

  • Orthopedic Dog Beds

    These are dog beds that provide additional orthopedic support for pets who may be older or experiencing pain. Orthopedic dog beds usually contain a mattress made of high-density foam or memory foam. These beds are usually more expensive, but they provide exceptional support for pets with arthritis or joint pain, making your pet much more comfortable.

    Orthopedic dog beds can also be more comfortable for dog breeds who are very thin. The extra firmness of the mattress can provide comfort for protruding joints and bones that are seen in some very thin dog breeds.

  • Heated Dog Beds

    Older dogs, or dog suffering with chronic pain, may also benefit from using a heated dog bed. These beds contain a heating element that provides soothing warmth, which can help reduce pain and increase mobility.

    Also, some smaller, thinner dog breeds sometimes have trouble maintaining sufficient body heat during colder times of the year. A heated dog bed can be ideal for these pets to keep them warm and comfortable.

    If you get a heated dog bed, be sure that is both UL approved and pet safe. Any type of product containing a heating element is a potential fire hazard, so always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

Cleaning Considerations for Dog Beds

You should make sure that any dog bed you purchase is washable. Dog beds tend to pick up dirt and odors quickly, so you will need to wash it on a fairly regular basis. Depending on your dog, you’ll probably want to wash their bed every one to three weeks. This is where a better quality dog bed can really pay off. Repeated washings can wear out cheaper dog beds quickly.

Most beds made for smaller dogs can be put right in your washer at home. However, many beds for large dogs may be too large to fit in your washer. In this case, you may want to consider a bed that has a washable, removable cover. In fact, whatever the size of your dog, if your dog spends a lot of time outside, you may want to consider getting a bed with a removable cover.

If you have dog that suffers from incontinence or tends to have accidents, look for a dog bed that has a waterproof liner. This will help protect the bed from wetness and save you a lot of trouble.

Of course, you can alwasy use a sheet or blanket to help keep your dog’s bed cleaner, as well as provide them with something cozy to snuggle up with.


There are a wide variety of options when it comes to choosing the right dog bed for your dog. However, many dogs spend the majority of their time on their bed, so making sure you pick the right bed can help keep your pet happier, healthier, and more comfortable for years to come.

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Creative commons image credits: Waugsberg | Sleeping dog 98aTony Alter | JD and the Bed

Posted in Dog Products and Food.

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