What to Look For When Purchasing a Dog Bed

Chances are that at least one member of your family has vastly different sleeping habits to yours – while you might prefer curling up with a bolster pillow and feather-soft duvet, others might not be able to doze off unless they’re spread-eagled under a single thin blanket on a firm mattress. It only stands to reason, then, that this logic applies to the four-legged members of our families too.

sleeping puppy

Depending on your dog’s breed, size, age and most certainly his or her personality, your puppers will have distinct sleeping preferences that need to be considered and understood when looking for the right dog bed for them. It’s as much a business of picking a style that complements our furniture and looks Etsy-worthy as choosing the right material and size, and if this is your first time going on a dog bed hunt, or your previous attempts haven’t yielded satisfactory results, here are a couple of tips to keep in mind to make your efforts fruitful.

Bed type

Before sitting yourself down with your laptop to scour online stores or driving off to the nearest pet shop, spend a couple of days observing your dog’s sleeping habits. Do they tend to doze off on your couch, hogging all the sitting space, or have you found them curled up inside your closet one too many times? Do they like to get under the covers with you with their head lolling against your pillows, or kick back on a cool tile floor? Their predominant sleeping habits help determine the type of dog bed or mattress that’ll work best for them.

sleeping dog

If your puppy is the anxious type, and shows a weakness for tucking him- or herself under your couch cushions or other enclosed spaces, a bolstered mattress, with a cushioned seat and raised sides, might be the right choice. The enclosed design helps your puppy feel more secure, pillowy bolster sides perfect for canine buddies who like to prop their heads against something soft when snoozing. These beds also work for dogs who like to sleep curled up, be it from an instinctive urge to protect themselves or to stay warm.

Bolstered dog beds or dog loungers can often be oval or donut-shaped – these are the perfect choices for dogs who like to circle around in their sleeping space before settling in and curling themselves to sleep.

For sprawlers, in other words dogs who like to stretch themselves out and lounge as they sleep, often on their tummies or their sides, a mat (for outdoor spaces or dogs who like to sleep on hard floors) or a mattress works better. If your dog is elderly, or suffers from arthritis or stiff joints, you can pick an orthopedic option structured to give his or her joints and body the right support. Largish bolster-sided options are available for sprawlers who like being covered or surrounded when they’re sleeping too.


It’s absolutely critical to get the right sized bed for your dog so they have enough space to stretch out, curl up or toss around – after all, if you’ve ever tried nodding off in a stiff, cramped airplane seat, a tiny couch or your childhood bed with your legs dangling off the ends, you know how uncomfortable it can be to sleep in too small a space. From French bulldogs to German Shepherds, make sure you measure your furry friend before going out to get a snooze-pad for them, adding a couple of extra inches for extra measure when it comes to dogs who like to stretch and sprawl about when sleeping. For anxious dogs who like to cuddle in with their favorite blanket or chew toy, you’ll want one that will still comfortably fit your dog as they curl up, allowing them to feel safe enough to doze off restfully.


Of course, dog bed materials need to be durable and reusable, so look out for options which make the clean-up and maintenance job easier for you. Beds with outer covers that can be removed and tossed in the wash, or waterproof mats (better used outdoors and in kennels) which can be hosed down, are a must. On the endurance front, denim is considered the best fabric choice – it’s resilient enough to last plenty of wear and tear, especially if your dog has digging and chewing tendencies which might shred softer material like fleece into bits, while still being soft and comfortable. If your dog is allergy-prone, on the other hand, a synthetic, hypoallergenic material might be better.

What the mattress or dog bed comes stuffed with is of equal importance. If you have an older dog, who may be afflicted with arthritis or hip dysplasia, a reinforced foam mattress is better at giving them the adequate support and relief. Some mattresses come filled with memory foam, in fact, to adapt to the way your dogs prefer to sleep and intuitively molding to their bodies’ contours to provide the right support.

sleeping dog

Most dog beds come with either polyfill or foam, or a combination of both – what you pick again depends partly on how your dog likes to sleep. If he or she prefers harder or firmer surfaces, a foam padded mattress is a good option, while an affinity for softer, cushiony sleeping spaces calls for polyfill, often baffled or stitched to keep the material from bunching up inside the bed.

Depending on your puppy’s breed, you might even want to consider a raised dog bed with a mesh interior – an elevated bed keeps pressure off the joints of dogs like German Shepherds, while long or dense-haired puppies need more air circulation to keep cool, and sleeping on mattresses which don’t allow air movement might stifle or overheat them. Speaking of which –

Temperature factors

How hot or cold it tends to get where you live plays a pretty vital role in your choice of dog bed. Dogs tend to overheat quickly, their average body temperatures higher than humans, and it’s important to keep them in temperature regulated environments. As mentioned in the previous section, raised mesh bedding might be helpful for long-haired dogs sleeping both indoors or outdoors to keep them cool. Other types come with water- or gel-based bedding to help keep your puppy cool.

On the other hand, if the weather leans toward the cooler end of the spectrum, and/or your puppy is likely to benefit from staying warm – for instance if the breed isn’t characterized by a lot of insulating body fat or thick fur coats, or if your dog is elderly and chillier temperatures are likely to worsen their stiff or sore joints and muscles – a heated bed is an ideal alternative. Heated beds are essentially electric blanket alternatives for dogs, and need to be used with caution so as not to risk accidentally hurting or harming them.

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