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
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:
Supported Weight (est.)
17W” or shorter
23L” or shorter
Up to 10 lbs.
18W” to 19W”
24L” to 29L”
Up to 25 lbs.
20W” to 22W”
30L” to 35L”
Up to 45 lbs.
23W” to 27W”
36L” to 41L”
Up to 75 lbs.
28W” to 29W”
42L” to 47L”
Up to 90 lbs.
30W” or longer
48L” or longer
Up to 120 lbs.
Important Considerations for Dog Bed Shoppers
Next, let’s look at some factors to keep in mind when shopping for a new dog bed. These considerations include the following:
What is your dog bed shopping budget? Some dog beds designed for larger breeds may cost up to $400, but most models sold today are available for $150 or less.
How tall is the dog? Dog height is important in determining the bed size, since it measures how much surface area the animal covers when lying on its side.
How much does the dog weigh? Heavier dogs require more cushioning in order to feel comfortable while sleeping on a bed. Thinner dogs may require more cushioning as well, since their bones are usually more prominent and sleeping on thin surfaces can cause pressure points to develop.
What is the dog’s breed? A dog’s size will depend on its breed. Large dog breeds, such as great Danes, mastiffs, and Newfoundlands, may measure 30 inches or more in height and weigh more than 100 pounds. Smaller dogs, such as Chihuahuas and dachshunds, typically measure 10 inches or less in height, and weigh 25 pounds or less.
How much fur does your dog have? For breeds with substantial fur that shed a lot (such as akitas and Alaskan malamutes), a bed that can be easily cleaned is usually the most suitable option. Dogs with little fur may become cold more easily, and a burrowing or heated bed may be best.
How old is the dog? Older dogs tend to sleep more, and may require a more durable bed that won’t deteriorate too quickly. Elderly dogs are more susceptible to joint pain, and may feel more comfortable on orthopedic beds that offer pressure relief. Additionally, old dogs are often prone to incontinence — and a bed with a waterproof base or lining may be necessary.
How big is the room where you plan to keep the dog bed? It’s important to measure all available floor space in the room where you plan to keep the dog bed to determine the proper size.
Does your dog sleep outside? For dogs that prefer to sleep outdoors, a raised cot bed is often the best option. These models have raised legs that keep dogs off of the hot ground during the summer, and off of cold or frozen ground during the winter. Very few non-cot dog beds without legs are designed for outdoor use, and will deteriorate quickly with regular exposure to the elements.
Does your dog get anxious or scared easily? Certain types of dog beds, such as nest and burrowing models, offer a safe space for anxious dogs, as well as those who become frightened in certain conditions (such as darkened rooms).
Does the dog bed contain certified foam? To ensure your dog isn’t exposed to harmful materials, you should only buy beds made with CertiPUR-US(R) certified foam. This certification indicates the material doesn’t contain harmful substances like mercury, heavy metal, or toxic fire retardants. This is not an issue for dog beds that do not contain foam, but shoppers should still double-check to make sure the bed is free from harmful materials and substances.
Best Beds for Larger Dogs: Brands and Models
Next, let’s explore the best dog beds as voted by canine owners. The first table features our picks for the top five beds designed for larger dogs — although some models are also available in smaller sizes, as well. All satisfaction ratings are generated using authentic owner reviews and experiences.