Types of Dog Houses
To many people, the term "dog house" refers to the classic "Snoopy"
-- a house with a peaked roof (that Snoopy somehow slept on top of) and
an arched doorway centered on one end of the house.
But once you start looking, you quickly realize that dog houses come in
many different shapes and styles and are made from a variety of
materials including wood, plastic, aluminum, and steel.
Dog houses also vary by their intended use. Some houses are designed
to sit stationary in your back yard. This is what most people consider
to be a true dog house. However, there are also portable dog houses.
This category includes dog boxes, dog tents, crates, and various types
of carriers. You can think of these as temporary dog homes.
To help you make sense of things, here is a summary of the most
common types of dog houses on the market. But first, a quick aside about
the term "kennel"...
Kennel - an overused term
You'll frequently encounter the term "kennel" when shopping for dog
houses. If you look up its definition, there are two basic meanings, one
general and one more specific: 1) any kind of a dog shelter, and 2) a
place where dogs are bred, trained, and boarded. It seems that
marketers have liberally adopted the first definition of kennel so that
the word now refers to a broad range of pet containment products such as
pet carriers, crates, exercise pens and good old fashioned outdoor dog
So, when you see the term "kennel" used for some of the products
described here, don't get too hung up on the terminology. Just think dog
shelter or dog container.
Stationary Dog Houses (or mostly stationary)
Wood Dog Houses
Wood has traditionally been the material of choice for building dog
houses and it is still very popular today. Some reasons for wood's
popularity are that it is plentiful, relatively inexpensive, easy to
work with, and it just looks nice - when properly maintained. The best
wooden dog houses are made from decay resistant woods such as cedar and
If one were to group wooden dog houses by roof style, there are three
Roof - This is the classic Snoopy peaked roof formed by two
angled panels joined at the center of the house. A very popular and
attractive design that results in a house resembling a miniature
version of a human home
Single Panel Flat Roof - A simpler design consisting of a
single flat panel that usually has a gentle tilt going from the
front to the back of the house. Many dogs love to lounge on top of
houses with such a roof.
- Some of the fancier houses have a loft or sun deck above the
house. In some cases, the loft is built above a conventional pitched
or slanted roof. Some loft roof dog houses look like they would make
good play houses for kids...
Plastic Dog Houses
Plastic dog houses have come on strong in recent years. They are
competitively priced, light-weight, and low maintenance. Some are
ready to go right out of the box; others require snapping together a few
panels. No fuss, no muss -- that's the value proposition. Some of the
most popular plastic dog house styles are the igloo, the barn (gambrel
roof), and the conventional dog house with a pitched roof.
In spite of what the sales literature may say about the virtues of
"structural foam construction with nitrogen insulation", a properly
insulated wooden house will generally keep a dog cooler in the summer
and warmer in the winter than a plastic one will. Keep this in mind if
you live in an area with hot or cold weather extremes.
Metal Dog Houses
You don't see them very often but there are metal dog houses on the
market. These are typically rectangular shaped, made from stainless
steel or aluminum, and heavily insulated. They are fairly indestructible
because dogs can't chew apart the metal and they won't rot. They're not
for everybody -- you'll mostly see these sold by vendors that specialize
in hunting dog supplies.
Note: A distinction is made here between metal dog houses and metal
dog boxes. Metal dog houses are often designed for stationary use
whereas a dog box is generally designed for mobile use. One sits in your
back yard, the other goes in your truck.
Barrel Dog Houses
Pretty much in a class by itself is the barrel dog house. These can
be made from old wooden wine barrels, plastic barrels, or metal barrels.
The thinking behind this design is that dogs naturally prefer to sleep
in shallow, curved holes and so a barrel - lined with lots of wood chips
- can be used to emulate this natural environment.
Fiberglass Cave Dog House
Just when you think you've seen it all, this fiberglass cave dog
house comes along... It's made of 100% heavy-duty fiberglass that should
never rot or leak and is designed to hold two large dogs comfortably.
This look may not appeal to everyone but it sure it sure makes for a
unique dwelling for your pet.
Portable and Temporary Dog Houses
A dog tent is a soft-sided portable shelter. Made from waterproof
materials, most dog tents are easy to assemble and break down in
minutes. They are lightweight and easy to transport which makes them
popular for camping, traveling, and other outdoor pursuits. Some dog
tents are quite elaborate, sporting features like ventilated side
panels, elevated floors, hold open door flaps, and zippered closures.
Dog tents are not for diggers, chewers, aggressive dogs or dogs that
experience anxiety while contained.
Soft Dog Crate
A soft dog crate is basically a rectangular dog tent. It resembles a
conventional dog crate except that it is soft-sided with nylon mesh
instead of metal or plastic grating. A soft dog crate is also lighter
than a conventional crate which makes it more convenient for
transporting a dog. However, soft crates are not suitable for diggers,
chewers, aggressive dogs or dogs that "freak out" while crated.
Inflatable Dog Houses
Egads, what will they think of next? The Kodiak is an inflatable dog
house made from materials normally used for high end outdoor camping and
sporting gear. The manufacturer claims that it provides 10X the
insulating qualities of plastic dog houses, making it a viable temporary
shelter for cold weather situations. If your dog is a chewer, this may
not be the most appropriate dog house for him...
Dog Crates - Hard Sided
Dog crates are a multi-purpose enclosures made from metal or molded
plastic. They are used for housebreaking, travel, protection of
household items, and to provide your dog with a secure haven of his own.
Once a dog gets used to his crate, he will look forward to using it
because he feels safe and secure there. A crate takes advantage of a
dog's natural instinct to be in an enclosed place when resting. Note
that many models come with divider panels to accommodate growing
puppies. As the dog grows, you just widen the living area by moving the
Hard Plastic Pet Carriers / Kennels
As the name implies, hard plastic pet carriers (also called
"kennels") are used to carry and transport pets. Unlike soft crates and
tents, many carriers are approved for airline travel. They can also be
used as an everyday crate but note that they typically don't come with
divider panels so they aren't the best choice for growing puppies. Dog
carriers usually have a metal grate locking door, a handle on top, and
ample ventilation slots on the top and sides.
Soft Sided Pet Carriers
Soft sided pet carriers or travel bags are designed to transport a
small dog - say under 25 lbs. They are handy for containing your
pet in a vehicle and many are also approved for airline travel. They are
lighter and more compact than other types of dog carriers or containers.
When not in use, many compress into a flat bundle to conserve storage
space. Note that a soft pet carrier should not be used as a dog crate.
A close relative of the afore-mentioned metal dog house is the dog
box. These are typically used as temporary shelters for transporting
dogs and are often seen in the back of a pick-up truck or on a trailer.
Many dog boxes are made from aluminum although steel, plastic, and wood
are also used. Dog boxes can be quite elaborate. For example, some
models are built as a stand-alone trailer with wheels. Others are
custom-built to fit snugly in the back of pickup trucks. Some
incorporate cages into the design. Many are just simple rectangular
boxes that can be carried by one or two people.