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The Anatomy of a Dog House
Examining the various elements of a dog house structure
The dictionary defines anatomy as “a study of the structure or internal workings of something.”
When we consider the common dog house usually it will bring to mind a simple gable style structure with four walls, floor, entry way and roof.
Simple enough…no brain surgery needed here.
However the dog house design can take on a whole host of different configurations or design options other than a plain gable roof design.
Much like our own homes given the right budget and creative thinking there are an endless array of different styles that can be configured into a stylish yet functional doghouse.
The different architectural creations may be eye pleasing and a boost to someone’s ego but does it cover the most important function and that is comfort for your dog?
When you are considering a dog house the most important factor should be the needs of your dog, which can be determined in part by the breed, age, your climate and the dog size.
So at this point you may be thinking it is a dog house what is the big deal?
That may be true but if you are like a lot of dog owners who consider their dog part of the family then you may find some value in this information.
Besides being properly informed may save you money while providing the best comfort you can offer your dog.
This is especially true if you are investing in a dog house for the first time.
The basics of the common dog house structure
The basic dog house is not rocket science it will consist of four walls, some type of roof, the doorway and finally the floor.
How all the components are built to complete a structure may vary a great deal, there are several different options concerning materials and design.
The variety of design options are only limited to someone’s imagination and the budget.
There are dog houses that offer a fenced kennel area so your dog can have the safety of an enclosed area but still be able to engage with the outdoors.
The different design options of the different doghouses
The gable roof design – This is by far the most common dog house that can be found in the backyards all across the country.
Ideally it is wise to have a gable roof that is vented because hot air needs to escape during the hot summer months.
The slanted or sloped roof design – This particular design may often appeal to a dog owner that wants easy access to the interior of the house.
With this type of design the roof is often hinged allowing quick and easy access to the interior which can be important if the dog owner has a pet that is going to have puppies.
Another feature with this type of design is it allows easy cleaning of the interior and easy access if you have a dog that needs medical attention.
The custom or unique design options – This category is large because it can take on almost any design look.
There are luxurious options where budget is not a factor and take on the look of high end luxury properties, complete with shutters, flower boxes and much more.
At the same time there are doghouses made out of spare tires, so it is only a matter of imagination and creative thinking, or the lack of it.
Browse this in depth article to learn about dog houses 101 6 design options for dog houses.
What components are important and why
Having the floor elevated and what it means for your dog – Ideally you want the doghouse raised off the ground or have adjustable legs.
If the dog house is elevated off the ground you no longer run the risk of the floor decaying because it is not in contact with the soil.
Also it will provide air flow under the house which can be beneficial during the hot summer months and from being in contact with frozen ground in the winter.
An offset door or protected entry way and what it means for your dog – The benefit of having the door offset is it will allow your dog to get out of the direct wind.
This is very important during the winter or when there is driving rain with wind, the offset door with some type of vinyl flap or solid door is ideal.
The roof design and what it means for your dog - Another important feature in a gable style home is a vented roof that is if the house is the normal size.
If the roof line is six feet off the ground or more like some luxury houses then it may not apply.
If it is a gable design ideally it would offer an adequate over hang to allow the rain water to run off without getting into or up against the dog house.
If the roof is a sloped or slanted design it would be beneficial if it were hinged for easy access.
The thickness of the walls and what it means for your dog – How thick the walls are will determine the insulating value, the strength and durability and the longevity of the doghouse.
If the walls are made of thin softwood and you own a hundred pound plus dog in short time it is going to come apart.
Most extra large dogs don’t just lie down softly it is often with a heavy thud.
Understanding the different types of wood ideal for construction
Cedar – Not all cedar is created equal, so when deciding on a cedar dog house one of the best options is the western red cedar.
Western red cedar is the most preferred wood by builders for building projects that are going to be subjected to weather.
It will stand up to the elements and is naturally resistant to mold, mildew and insects.
That is why you will find a lot of outdoor decking is made of red cedar.
Plywood – This option is fairly inexpensive however the ideal solution is a marine grade plywood, it is very durable and if painted will last for a very long time.
Marine grade plywood will cost more than entry level plywood but for the long term will be well worth the additional investment.
Softwood like pine, firwood – Most of these woods are a much cheaper option and will work well if you reside in a mild year round climate.
If properly maintained with stain or paint will last very well, it is important to stress if you own an extra large breed dog their sheer size may wreak havoc on the softwoods.
Especially if the softwood is thin.
Composite material – This option is often a blend of wood and composite material which can be very durable and provide shelter for your dog for a very long time.
The one downside is the composite style dog houses can be expensive if they are made using the premium materials.
Like some of the other woods there is a good, better and best grade of the composite materials.
This is where the adage you get what you pay for comes into focus.
The plastic dog house option – This is supposed to be about wood but we must mention the plastic material option as well.
Like most of the woods that have different grades of good, better and best, so does plastic.
Dog houses that are designed using plastic are usually constructed with a unique blend because if the plastic gives off a toxic fume it can be deadly for your dog.
Another consideration is if you own a dog that likes to chew everything in sight the plastic option may not be the best choice.
Browse this article to learn more about the wooden dog house 13 types of wood you can use.
The importance of the correct size
The importance of this topic can’t be stressed enough, getting the right size house is critical not only for your dogs comfort but also this is a mistake that can be costly.
If you purchase a dog house online and select the wrong size you will more than likely be responsible for return shipping cost.
Most reputable websites will have some type of guidance for helping you select the right size, or email, phone to contact for assistance.
If you are on the fence about which size to get it is wise to error to the larger size, you can always place a mat or blankets inside to add comfort.
Think of it this way, would you be comfortable with a mattress where your feet hanging over the end?
If you are getting ready to invest in a new dog house and need some guidelines browse our article A Guide For Choosing The Right Size Dog House.
The different add on options that may be available
As mentioned above most dog houses are straight forward, roof, walls, a door and floor.
However there may be add on options available if they are not already included with the house:
The insulation option: If the dog house you are investing doesn’t include insulation then there may be an add on option.
This can be very important if you reside in a climate that has extreme temperature swings throughout the year.
However like your current home the R value of the insulation is just as important, the higher the value the more insulated your dog will be.
When we think of insulation it is often referred to keeping our homes warmer during the cold winter months, but insulation also helps keep a home cooler during the hot summer months as well.
The solid door option: Most dog houses are not going to have a door, or else may include a vinyl flap door.
There may however be an upgraded option that would include a solid locking door; it would of course increase the price.
The heating cooling option – Yes you read that right there are heating and cooling options available for many dog houses.
Not all dog houses will qualify for this option because the size of the house is important because like your regular home there is a BTU rating to consider.
Dog houses that do qualify will be far more efficient if they have an insulation package in addition to the heating cooling control unit.
With this configuration you have put together a dwelling that will provide the absolute best comfort for your pet year round.
Final thoughts and putting it all together
So there you have it, we have examined the anatomy of the dog house and broken down the various components that make up the most common dog houses.
Plus we covered why some are important and add value for your dog.
Hopefully this information is helpful to you, especially if you are bringing home a dog for the first time.
What you may need for your dog will be determined by your climate, your dog breed, your budget and finally your personal taste.
Given the right dog house you can make it an attractive addition to your backyard décor and in some cases even match the look of your current home.
No two situations will be alike so there is not a rubber stamp solution for all scenarios, but with some due diligence and guidance you will be able to secure a comfortable and safe home for your dog.
That is after all the main goal.
Some thoughts on investing in a dog house online
If you purchase a dog house online most houses will arrive in panels (usually 7) and with basic tools you can assemble in thirty minutes or less.
There are other houses that may require your mad DIY skills to assemble but you should not worry because there will be excellent instructions.
When in doubt rather than damage something hire a handyman to assemble it for you, it is better to spend a few extra dollars rather than ruin the new dog house!