Best Dog Beds Buyer's Guide
As many dog owners can attest, canines are capable of falling asleep just about anywhere. However, dogs — like humans — have unique sleep needs that often necessitate a warm, comfortable bedding surface. Dog beds also provide a personal space for the dog to feel safe, and many models minimize odor and the spread of fur throughout the house. They offer extra warmth during the fall and winter, as well, which can be especially beneficial for short-haired breeds that get cold easily.
A wide range of dog bed styles are available for sale through online and brick-and-mortar sellers. Some high-end models can cost hundreds of dollars, but budget-minded shoppers can usually find options for under $100. When choosing a bed for your dog, it’s important to take several factors into account, such as the dog’s size, breed, fur output, age, and medical history.
This guide will look at some of the most popular dog bed designs today, as well as some advantages of using a dog bed, buying considerations, and our picks for the top dog bed models for both large and small canines.
Dog Beds: Common Styles and Designs
Most dog beds feature two main components: the filling, or cushioning, and the outer cover.
Common filling materials include:
- Memory Foam: Sometimes sold under the name ‘orthopedic foam,’ memory foam softens when it comes into contact with the canine’s body heat. Memory foam filling may be shredded, or comprise a solid, single piece.
- Support Foam: Often a cheaper alternative to memory foam, support foam is a term that refers to standard polyfoam that does not soften with body heat. It may not be suitable for dogs with orthopedic issues, but is sufficient for most other canines. Support foam filling may be shredded or a one-piece layer in a convoluted (or egg-crate) shape.
- Polyfiber: Dog beds filled with polyfiber puffballs have a similar feel to bean bags. These beds conform and disperse around the dog’s figure for a more personalized fit — but they may not be supportive enough for heavier dogs.
- Cedar: Dog beds may be filled with cedar chips or shavings, along with polyfiber fill for extra cushioning. Cedar filling is considered less comfortable than other options, but the material naturally repels odor and fleas.
Because they tend to attract a fair amount of odor, dog beds almost always feature covers that are removable (usually zip-off) and machine washable. The following materials are frequently used to make dog bed covers:
- Cotton or organic cotton
- Faux suede
Regardless of the cover composition, the filling of a dog bed should never be machine washed unless the product tags explicitly say otherwise. Washing foams, polyfibers, and other filling materials can damage the bed beyond repair.
Dog beds may also come with bases or lining made from waterproof materials like polyester denier or nylon denier. This ensures the bed won’t soak through completely if the dog relieves themselves while using it. The term ‘denier’ refers to the thickness of the material’s fibers or threads, and is expressed as the weight (in grams) of a 9,000-meter strand of fiber or thread. For example, 600-denier nylon has a weight of 600 grams per 9,000 meters of that nylon’s fiber. However, some dog beds — typically cheaper models — forgo the waterproof base or lining altogether.
Several styles of dog beds are available, including some designed for certain sizes and/or breeds. These designs include:
- Pillow Bed: Also known as cushion beds, these dog beds have flat, even surfaces and are not raised on the sides. Most pillow dog beds rectangular and resemble mattresses, although circular and square-shaped models are also available.
- Orthopedic Bed: Orthopedic beds provide targeted support and pressure point relief for dogs with chronic joint pain. They are usually thicker and have extra cushioning to accommodate thinner dogs with more prominent bone structures, as well. And because elderly dogs are often susceptible to both joint pain and incontinence, orthopedic beds often have waterproof components.
- Donut/Bagel Bed: Circular donut or bagel beds have an elevated sidewall around the entire circumference. These beds can be beneficial for dogs that tend to get chilly, as the raised wall helps minimize drafts.
- Sofa Bed: As the name implies, these dog beds mimic the look of standard sofas with one or more cushioned surfaces, one or two raised arms, and an elevated back wall. They may come with pillows, as well.
- Burrowing Bed: Also known as nest beds, these pita-shaped models feature an opening on one side that allows the dog to crawl inside (or burrow) to keep warm. Many burrowing beds feature fleece lining inside the pocket for extra insulation.
- Heated Bed: Like orthopedic beds, heated beds are especially useful for dogs with joint pain; the warm surface can help alleviate pressure points that develop throughout their body. Heated beds require an electrical outlet. Most are customizable with multiple heating settings.
- Dog Cot: Some dog beds come equipped with plastic or metal legs that elevate the bed off of the ground (similar to a cot). They can be used outside, and the sleep surface protects the animals from warm or cold ground depending on the time of year. The sleeping surface is made from taut, stretchy materials like nylon. Because these beds are often used outside, the surface material is usually waterproof as well.
In terms of sizing, dog beds are specifically designed for canines of certain sizes and weights — although many models come in multiple sizes. Owners should take time to measure their dog in a sprawled-out position to determine the proper bed size. Otherwise the animal’s head, limbs, and other areas of the body may slide over the edges, which can cause pain and pressure points to develop.
General dog bed sizes are as follows; please note that some beds come in sizes that fall outside these ranges: