How to Choose a Dog Bed: 12 Different Types and Their Pros and Cons

We LOVE this article from Your Dog Advisor about how to choose a dog bed as we get this question all the time!

How to Choose a Dog Bed: 12 Different Types and Their Pros and Cons 1

Adopting a new dog or getting a new puppy?  Surprised by the number of dog bed styles there are out there?  No wonder! It can be overwhelming enough welcoming a new dog into the family, never mind contending with all the different things to buy and opinions from fellow dog owners.  Every dog is different in terms of what type of bed will suit them best. Hopefully, this article will help you to decide which dog bed it may be best to buy in the first instance.

It is really important that your dog has a comfortable and appropriate place to sleep in your home from the beginning.

You Don’t Need to Invest in an Expensive Bed Straight Away

First of all, puppies grow quickly.  Don’t spend a lot of money on a little puppy bed that your pup is likely to grow out of superfast.  Yes, sometimes investing in a bed that is too overwhelmingly big may not be great for a dog that likes to be cosy and snuggly but you could always add some extra blankets initially or just buy something cheap and cheerful until they are fully grown.

Don’t forget too that puppies can be chewers and you may find that they manage to destroy anything you buy easily so again, investing in something fancy may not be a sensible choice right away.  Also, if you do have a chewer make sure that you are offering them lots of other safe alternative things to give them an appropriate outlet.

How Does Your Dog Sleep?

Some dogs like to always be curled up into a ball (sometimes though this can also be an indication they are cold or nervous), some like to sprawl out on their side – legs akimbo, some like to snuggle underneath something.  It is always good to watch how your pet likes to sleep when considering the type of bed that might best suit them.

Does Your Dog Have Any Special Requirements?

Is your dog elderly, perhaps they have arthritis? Do they have any allergies, what about other medical conditions?  Perhaps they have incontinence or maybe they have anxiety issues.

Sometimes behavioural or health issues can inform the decision you make when purchasing a dog bed.  With all the different types of beds outlined below, we will detail which may be good for any of the issues mentioned above.

1. Traditional Nest Style/Sided Dog Bed

These are the most commonly available style of bed.  They are usually a soft style bed, often oval or rectangular with supportive sides.

A cheap and cheerful version may be a good value for money but they often do not stay plump for long and they don’t tend to be machine washable or, if they are they can, they lose their shape easily.

Look for one that is well stuffed, machine washable and perhaps has a removable inner cushion so this can be washed separately.

Some are all fibre-filled and some may have a firmer foam side.  Fibre-filled will allow your dog to sprawl over the edges more easily but a firmer sided one gives extra support.

Make sure you pick the right size too.  You don’t want to go too small and have them falling over the sides if they spread out a bit, but don’t go so big that the bed may overwhelm your dog, especially if they like to be really cosy.

These beds are made in a variety of different materials.  A cotton outer will be comfortable but not too hot in the warmer weather, fleece or fur-lined one is great for dogs that really want to stay super cosy.  Some come in a water repellent material and this can be handy if being used in a car or if you have a dog that is often damp after walks.

Be aware that these beds are not a good choice if you have a dog that likes to chew.  Leave them alone with it for a few hours and you will likely find that you come home to a hollow bed and a room strewn with the stuffing!

How to Choose a Dog Bed: 12 Different Types and Their Pros and Cons 2

Nest or sided beds come in rectangular and oval shapes.  Make sure you pick the right size for your dog 

2. Orthopaedic Dog Bed

Whilst they do tend to be a more expensive investment, an orthopaedic bed can be a really worthwhile investment especially for a dog that is elderly, has arthritis or other bone conditions.  Like a human memory foam mattress, this is a much more supportive form of bed that will mould itself around your dog’s body.

They can also be good for dog breeds that don’t have so much natural body fat like greyhounds or whippets.

For a good orthopaedic dog bed, you will have to spend a bit extra but they are usually very durable and long-lasting and, if properly looked after, and not chewed on by your dog, they could last a lifetime.

For dogs that really like squishy, cosy comfort, you may find that they don’t like the firmer feel of an orthopaedic bed.

The Pet Fusion Memory Foam Dog Bed is well-reviewed and available in a variety of different sizes.

Pet Fusion Memory Foam Bed

3. Donut Dog Bed

For dogs that really like squashy, squishy comfort then a donut style dog bed may be the way to go.  They also have a rim like a traditional nest dog bed but they tend to be made so that your dog almost sinks into the centre.  So if you have a dog that likes to really curl up and get cosy, maybe they are always scratching to get comfier on a flatter bed, then this could be the choice to go for.

Very squishy donut beds are not so great for dogs that may have mobility issues as they can sometimes be difficult to clamber into or out of. They can move about a lot and their squishiness can make them unsteady.  They can also be tricky to wash and dry as they are very densely fibre filled.

The Best Friends by Sheri Luxury Shag Faux Fur Donut Cuddler is a perfect example of a super squishy, cosy and popular style of Donut Bed.

Luxury Donut Cuddler

4. Raised Dog Bed

Elevated dog beds which are raised off the floor can have a number of benefits.  They can be really useful for helping to regulate your pets temperatures, it lifts them off a cold, potentially damp floor and also allows a draught through for the hot days.  They usually provide very good support and do not wobble around as some softer beds can. Some of the most popular types of elevated beds are the ones that come on a frame so they can be folded up to make space when there are visitors or when going on holiday. They can also be a good choice if you have a dog that likes nothing more than getting the stuffing out of a nest type bed. They also tend to be hygienic and easy to clean.

Some people argue that, because the bed is raised, your dog is less likely to become infected with parasites as they have to get further up to reach them.  I am afraid this is not a benefit of these types of beds. Fleas can jump! If your dog has fleas you need to treat the house and your pet with safe and effective treatment.  To avoid fleas in the first place, talk to your vet about using an effective preventative.

Raised dog beds are usually more expensive than a standard nest or donut bed but they do tend to last well, especially if you have a mucky, hairy or smelly dog and the bed will require frequent cleaning.

For a dog that likes to be very snug and cosy, they may not be the best choice though.

Elevated Cooling Dog Bed

5. Traditional Duvet Dog Bed

These are a flatter bed with no sides, usually rectangular in shape and containing a duvet style inner.  These are great for dogs that like to sprawl out rather than curl up, or for dogs that get too hot easily.  They are also often good for washing and drying. A good quality duvet bed will have a removable outer cover that can be washed separately to the inner duvet.

These often work better for use inside a crate as they do not take up too much space and they can be bought to fit the dimensions.

Animal Planet Duvet Dog Bed

6. Covered/Cave Dog Beds or Snuggle Sacks

For dogs that can get anxious and like to have a den type space or for those that just like to be super cosy then this could be the bed for them.  They can be bought as a soft cube style for smaller pets or, more commonly, they come in a sleeping bag style where the base tends to be thicker and then there is a lighter weight top which will cover them and keep them cosy once they have managed to get inside.

Some dogs may need a bit of encouragement or help to work out how to get in initially but, if they like to be snug or just feel reassured by having a safe place to bury inside then, this could be a hit.

Snoozer Luxury Cozy Cave, Camel, Large
Snoozer Luxury Cozy Cave, Camel, Large
  • Sherpa lining for warmth in winter and cool in summer
  • Removable washable/dryable cover
  • Luxury microsuede cover
  • Heavy-duty rustproof brass zipper
  • Zippered liner

7.  Hard Plastic Shell Bed

The good old fashion plastic oval bed still has its place amongst dog bed choices.  Usually, these are bought as the shell itself and then an oval mattress is bought to fit inside it separately.  You can now also buy a cover that wraps around the edges of the shell and stays in place with elastic. This makes the bed a little comfier for the dog to lean it’s head or extremities on.

They can be a good choice if you have a chewy dog or one that gets smelly easily as they are easy to wipe clean and they don’t harbour dampness and it is easier and cheaper to just wash or replace the inner.

They are not as snuggly as some of the other bed types though and some dogs are not able to luxuriate in them they way they would in, say, the Donut.

They can also scratch wooden flooring so, if being used on this type of surface, there should always be something protective underneath.

How to Choose a Dog Bed: 12 Different Types and Their Pros and Cons 3

Hard plastic beds can be a popular choice for puppies.  They are not so easy to chew up and they are easy to clean if there is the odd accident 

8. Cooling Dog Bed/ Mat

In very hot weather, it can be easy for dogs to get overheated.  A cooling mat can be a great option to help your dog get a little respite from the extreme heat.  Most of the mats emit a cooler temperature when the pressure of the dog’s body is applied.

Some dogs may need some encouragement to use the mat as they are often a harder/shiny texture.  Reward them with tasty treats whenever they sit or lie on the mat and usually this will help the dog associate the mat with good things and eventually if they are feeling the heat, they will start to realise the benefit and seek it out themselves.

It can be handy for them to sit on whilst you are driving in the car in hot weather.

This should not be looked on as a solution to avoiding heat exhaustion though.  In very hot temperatures make sure that your dog is never left in the direct sun for too long outside and NEVER leave your dog in a car unattended in hot weather.

Green Pet Shop Cooling Mat

9. Travel Dog Bed

There are beds that have specifically been developed for when you are travelling.  These are not always the best option as a permanent bed but they usually fold or roll up into a very small space, making them portable and lightweight for when you are on the road or camping.

Chuckit Travel Dog Bed

10. Eco-friendly Dog Beds

For those of us that are eco-conscious, there are a number of brands that are now providing environmentally friendly and sustainable dog bed options.  Some are made with recycled materials, some are made from biodegradable fabrics, others are made with fair trade organic fabrics.

Do your research if this is something you are passionate about.  Don’t forget though that your dog’s comfort is important too. Just because something may be good for the environment doesn’t always mean it will work for your dog.

PLAY eco-friendly dog bed

11. Waterproof/ repellant dog beds

There are lots of dog beds out there that are water repellent/ resistant and a few that are completely waterproof.  These are really useful options to consider if you are using a dog bed in the car and your dog is wet after a dog walk, they can also be useful for a dog that suffers from incontinence or who is not fully house trained yet.

If your dog has airborne allergies, picking the right bed can make a difference in how your dog copes.  Beds that are very fluffy and likely to harbour dust and other particles can sometimes agitate a dog that has severe allergies.  Picking a water repellent cover style means fewer particles will be caught up in the fabric and they can be wiped clean more readily.  The elevated frame type dog beds also have this benefit too.

How to Choose a Dog Bed: 12 Different Types and Their Pros and Cons 4

A waterproof or repellant dog bed can be great for damp dogs  in cars, those that may have incontinence issues and those that have airborne allergies  

12. Your Bed or Sofa

Sometimes your dog will gravitate towards your bed or the sofa.  They are, of course, comfy and also it means that they get cuddles and contact from their humans too.

Whether you let your dog be on these is totally a personal choice.  I love my dogs being up with me on the sofa and they also get to sleep on (not in) my bed too.  I just invest in a good quality, large blanket that I can cover them with and I do also teach them to use a dog bed so that if there are visitors that are not so sure about dogs or children that may be a bit too rambunctious for my dog then they still have a safe haven or alternative comfy space to go to.

If you want to teach them to use their own dog bed rather than the sofa or your bed then it is all about showing them that their bed is the better place to be.  Reward then with super yummy treats any time they go there and also reward them anytime they come down from the sofa.

With consistency, patience and lots of positive reinforcement, your dog will eventually get to know where you want them to sleep.

How to Choose a Dog Bed: 12 Different Types and Their Pros and Cons 5

It is a personal choice whether you allow your dog to sleep on your bed or the sofa.  It is all about being consistent and rewarding them for relaxing where you want them to be.


Ashley Carestia
Ashley Carestia

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