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Guide to dog beds: The right dog bed for my dog

Dog bed, dog pillow or dog basket - how to find a species-appropriate sleeping place for your four-legged friend

The large selection of dog beds on the market may cause some uncertainty now and then. Where once there were either dog baskets or dog pillows, there are now almost infinite sleeping options from dog sleeping bags to dog tents, dog sofas and other dog furniture. Since dogs spend most of their lives - namely about two thirds and up to 20 hours a day - sleeping, the right dog bed plays an enormously important role. In the following, you will learn what you should look out for when buying a bed in order to find the ideal bed for your dog's individual needs.

1. The right shape and size

There are dog beds in the most different forms, variants and sizes. Whether round or square, with or without border. There are few disadvantages or advantages that speak against or in favour of a certain shape, because the choice should be limited to the preferences of your favourite. Every animal is different, although some sleeping habits can also be derived from the breed of dog. Over time, you will learn about your four-legged friend's sleeping habits so that you can find the ideal bed for your dog. Until then, it is important to observe and learn.

In general, dog beds can be divided into the following categories:

  • Round dog beds
  • Dog baskets with a border
  • Dog pillows
  • Dog blankets

Round dog beds

Round dog sofas, which are also called dog pouf or donut, are usually raised and cuddly soft. They are particularly suitable for dogs that like to curl up. They form a hollow in the middle, which automatically creates a pleasantly warming edge when sinking in. In general, especially small dogs with little undercoat like to curl up, but there are also larger sighthound breeds and border collies, which prefer to rest close to each other.

Dog beds and baskets with high borders

Suitable for all dogs that seek protection and like to lie down in corners. They can lay their head on the border and observe their surroundings. They are available worldwide in felt, woven basket, leather, imitation leather, cotton or plush; the outer material is then supplemented with soft cushions or mattresses, depending on the manufacturer. These dog baskets are suitable for almost all dogs, including Labradors, Poodles, Australian Sheppards, Pugs and Beagles, but care should be taken when choosing the size to ensure that the dog can still stretch out.

Dog pillows

XXL dogs such as Mastiffs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, St. Bernards, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Great Danes and Co. need space and, like all other dogs, the most comfortable possible lying surface. Depending on the weight of the dog, softer and firmer dog pillows are available, in which the dogs sink in more or less. These cushions are especially suitable for animals that are long and like to sleep on their back or side. There is no need for a border, but only a large, comfortable sleeping place. Here the rule of thumb of at least 20 centimetres of extra space to stretch out applies. Dog pillows are also available in more or less raised versions so that the dog can, if desired, have an optimal overview at all times.

Dog blankets

For some dogs, especially in autumn and winter, it is the biggest thing to be additionally covered on the dog bed. Cuddly dog blankets made of fleece, leashes or cotton offer security and warmth, so that your pet is comfortable even in the cold season. Blankets can also be used as an underlay for the sofa or car to keep animal hair and stains away from these surfaces. Your own dog blanket is also a practical and handy way of showing your dog where its berth is, using the familiar scent. So he can relax always and everywhere.

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2. Suitable outer materials for dog bed covers

While short-haired dogs love cuddly and fluffy materials like plush or wool, dogs with long coats often prefer smooth materials like cotton or even imitation leather. Dogs that are easily cold need soft materials, especially in the cold season, to cuddle up and keep warm. A dog bed should always also provide insulation from heat and cold. Nevertheless, it is highly recommended, especially for sensitive dogs that are prone to allergies, to use natural, untreated materials. For example, the growing market offers outer materials made of hemp or organic cotton, which are particularly well tolerated by even very sensitive dogs due to their natural fibres.

On the other hand, some dogs scratch and dig until they have found their optimal sleeping position, so it is advisable for owners of such four-legged pets to opt for particularly robust materials made of smooth plastics or for very durable outdoor fabrics. As the name suggests, these are also an advantage if your dog likes to spend a lot of time outdoors. By water-repellent qualities these outdoor fabrics are durable despite weather and give your dog the possibility to have his own comfortable berth in the garden or on the balcony. However, even dogs with thick fur that like to guard the property prefer a quiet place to sleep in the warm living room in winter.

When choosing the material, you should also make sure that the fabric is easy-care and the cover is removable. The material should be washable without problems, otherwise the dog bed can become a breeding ground for unwanted fleas and parasites.

After all these requirements have been met, you can let your personal taste and style decide.

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3. Which mattress for which dog?

Every dog bed should both fulfill its function and be comfortable. Some manufacturers of low-priced dog beds use inferior mattress fillings, which may appear very comfortable at first glance, but do not sufficiently support the sensitive dog's back and joints.

In the long run it is worth investing in a high-quality mattress consisting of different chambers, which will not sag even after years of use and at the same time protect the joints. In addition to mattresses made of foam, cold foam or latex, there are also micro-bead pillows and pads with a filling consisting of various flakes. It often helps to look at a dog bed before buying it in a specialist shop, to touch it and if possible even to let the dog lie down on it for a test. This is the easiest way to find out whether the upholstery meets your and your four-legged friend's requirements. For a good night's sleep, a dog mattress should be stable, sufficiently softly upholstered and quiet. Depending on the size and weight of the dog, mattresses with softer or firmer fillings are recommended.

Heavy dogs

Heavy XXL dogs such as Ridgebacks, Labradors or Great Danes need a mattress filling that is as strong as possible in order to relieve the joints and thus prevent joint problems. This also applies to smaller, very muscular dog breeds such as French bulldogs, as well as to dogs with overweight. Robust mattresses with intensive padding are recommended; if the models are too soft, these four-legged friends may otherwise find it difficult to get up.

Light dogs

So that even the youngest children can sink in, the mattresses for chihuahuas, dachshunds, Maltese and Co. can be softer and less firmly filled. These dogs do not feel comfortable on mattresses that are too firm, because they need a certain weight to give way to the pet lying on them. For optimal comfort and healthy lying, it is necessary that the dog bed is still stable. Mattresses with chamber systems are a good solution here, which retain their shape for many years.

Old dogs

It is also important for older pets to take into account their special needs. While the favourite's movements become slower and slower and more cumbersome, older pets need a dog bed that makes it easy to lie down and get up again. The mattress for well-aged dogs should therefore be as weightless and close to the ground as possible; at the same time, the filling should not be too soft. This also applies to pregnant bitches, as the growing offspring can restrict their freedom of movement.

Dogs with joint problems or arthritis

There is a large selection of so-called orthopaedic dog beds or health beds both online and in specialist shops. Especially important for dogs with joint problems or arthritis is the relief of joints when lying down as well as the prevention of pressure points. This is made possible by dog beds with thick mattresses, which are manufactured to a high standard of quality and offer a strong filling. Another option are foam mattresses with memory foam. It is also helpful if the mattress is divided into individually quilted chambers, as the dog bed cannot lie through this way.

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4. Which dog breeds sleep in which dog bed?

Allein nach der Rasse des Hundes lässt es sich nicht auf das optimale Hundebett für Ihren Vierbeiner schließen. Es ist jedoch durchaus möglich, generelle Empfehlungen für Hunde mit langem oder kurzem Fell auszusprechen, ebenso für bestimmte Größen. Dennoch bleibt jeder Hund ein Einzelexemplar mit eigenen Wünschen und Schlafvorlieben, sodass es auch innerhalb der gleichen Rasse zu Unterscheidungen kommen kann.

The breed of the dog alone does not tell you the optimum dog bed for your four-legged friend. However, it is possible to make general recommendations for dogs with long or short fur, as well as for certain sizes. Nevertheless, each dog remains a unique specimen with its own wishes and sleeping preferences, which means that there may be differences even within the same breed. As already mentioned in the points "Correct shape and size", "Suitable outer material for the cover" and "Which mattress for which dog", there are different types of dogs that have different sleeping habits. For example, round dog beds with a soft mattress are particularly suitable for light dogs that like to curl up. These include Italian wind chimes, Chihuahuas, Bolonka Zwetna, Maltese, Jack Russell Terrier and dachshunds. Dog baskets with a high rim are especially suitable for those dogs that seek protection and rest in corners. They are undisturbed there and feel safe, which is especially important for puppies. With a flatter rim, on the other hand, the head can be laid down comfortably so that the surroundings can be observed at all times. Typical guard dogs such as shepherds or border collies find this particularly pleasant for dozing. St. Bernard dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Great Danes, Wolfhounds and other large dog breeds, on the other hand, need space and an adequately padded mattress. A firm dog pillow is ideal for these dogs.

5. Dog tents and dog sleeping bags - what for?

Certain dog breeds like it dark and narrow due to evolution. For example, dachshunds were originally bred to help with the badger hunt. Since the badger's burrow is dark and cave-like, modern dachshunds and dogs related to the breed also feel very comfortable in this environment. These animals therefore still like to bury themselves under blankets or make themselves comfortable in small dog dens and dog sleeping bags. This type of product is also a popular option for dogs with little undercoat or small, fast freezing quadrupeds such as smaller greyhound breeds or similar.

Since other dogs, on the other hand, want to be as present as possible at all times, it is important to consider, depending on the dog, whether the four-legged friend is more suitable for an open bed or a more sheltered version.

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6. Where is the best place to place the dog bed at home?

For the dog, his humans belong to the pack, so the dog bed should be placed in such a way that the four-legged friend can participate in family life even when sleeping. It should have a fixed place where the pet can relax and retreat - the dog bed should be an undisturbed resting area without constant observation, despite being close to the pack.

The sleeping place should also be neither too close to the window nor too close to the heating. Too close contact with the heater could lead to drying of the mucous membranes while draught causes tension and discomfort. For optimal relaxation, the lying surface should also never be directed towards the entrance door. Although the four-legged friends wish to have a good overview of the room, especially watchful four-legged friends often cannot rest sufficiently if the door is in the field of vision at the same time. In his opinion, this is what they should ultimately look out for.

At the beginning, when the dog has just moved in with you, experts also recommend placing a dog bed in the bedroom for the four-legged addition to the family. This is a particularly quick way to build up a bond; it also gives dog owners the opportunity to recognise when it's time for a night-time walk, especially with puppies or animals that are not house-trained, through restless behaviour.

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7. Dog beds for the car and on the go

Not all dogs are friends of driving and travelling. However, to make sure that they are as comfortable as possible, there are various options for making travel as pleasant as possible, depending on the size of the dog. When driving a car with four-legged friends, please always make sure that the dog is carefully strapped in the vehicle to get all passengers from A to B as safely as possible. It is also an advantage to always have a berth for your dog outside the car. Finally, travel beds also have the function that the dog has its own well known place in restaurant, hotel and Co. and therefore also has a gun retreat in foreign places.

Dog carriers

Whether in the car, on the train, in the restaurant or on longer trips - small dogs like to retreat in dog bags, because these are not only a practical dog bed, but thanks to their owners they even carry the tired little legs when it takes longer. In addition, they offer protection due to the high edge and provide a darkened resting place for sleeping. They are available in many places softly lined and padded, with or without a leash belt. When choosing a dog bag, it is especially important that the dog has enough space around it, because only then can your pet choose different positions. Dog bags with removable cushions are particularly practical and easy to clean. It is also advisable to use padded, high-quality handles, as otherwise the bag can cut into the body depending on the weight and thus become uncomfortable for the owner. If you plan to fly with your small quadruped, you should make sure that you have a suitable flight bag. With the so-called flight carriers it is important to pay attention to the exact size specifications of the respective airline (in most cases these are 55x 40 x 23 cm), since only in this way the carrying on board can be guaranteed. The transport of dogs in the passenger area is possible with most airlines up to 8 kg total weight including bag, so depending on the weight of the dog you should also pay attention to a light luggage. It is probably self-explanatory that there should be sufficient openings for ventilation and various zippers on the product make it easier to insert the dog.

Dog beds for the trunk

If dog mats and dog blankets are not enough for you to lie down in the boot, you should think about a handy and light dog bed. Dog pillows with handles can be a suitable solution here. It is important to consider whether the dog bed should always "ride along" in the car, or only be placed in the boot when needed. If a dog travels with you every day, a comfortable and high-quality dog bed including a well-manufactured mattress should be available to avoid muscle tension and joint problems. It should also be washable and easy to clean, as otherwise the paws could stain the cover after a walk in the rain. Here too, outdoor fabrics are a practical matter.

Foldable dog beds for travelling

Also in the hotel, while eating out or at friends' houses, the four-legged friends need their own retreat for restful sleep. This berth should take up little space for transport and still offer the cosy comfort that the dog is used to from home. There are also softly lined dog mats and dog ice beds that come with comfortable upholstery and at the same time are practical and can be folded or rolled up and stowed away in just a few steps. They hardly take up any space. Here too, there are now a wide range of options, from natural materials for the lining to water-repellent structures for the ideal sleeping place outdoors. The dog is thus protected from wetness from below, for example a damp meadow on a trip to the park.

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8. Cleaning dog beds

As domesticated as most dogs are, they still remain animals that like to romp here and there through the mud and want to roll around extensively. But if the loved ones go to their dog bed directly afterwards, it can lead to unpleasant side effects such as wetness and stubborn stains. It is helpful if the cover of the dog bed can be easily removed and washed without any problems.

Even without direct contact with dirt you should pay attention to the care instructions of the dog bed when buying. A low-maintenance dog bed is essential, because if regular washing is not done, your pet's bed can quickly become a breeding ground for germs and parasites. Experts therefore recommend washing dog beds about once a month to avoid this. A washing cycle at 30 degrees in the washing machine should suffice. However, please do not use perfumed detergents or fabric softeners, as their odours can be very unpleasant for the extremely sensitive dog nose.

It is particularly convenient to have replacement covers for the dog bed during the washing process. Very few covers are suitable for the tumble dryer; so that your dog can use its retreat continuously and does not have to wait until the cover is dry again, replacement covers are more than helpful. If a replacement cover is out of the question for you, you should ensure that the outer fabric is quick-drying when choosing a dog bed. Using the dog bed without a cover is not recommended.

In addition to the cover, the mattresses of some manufacturers can also be washed. This is useful, for example, if your quadruped suffers from incontinence and the mattress regularly comes into contact with urine. Depending on the thickness of the mattress, the outside temperature as well as the humidity, it can take several hours to days until the mattress is completely dry again, both inside and out. However, please make absolutely sure that this is the case before you cover the mattress again and that the mattress no longer has any damp spots - not even in the mattress core. Otherwise unpleasant odours and harmful mould can quickly develop. In summer the sun can greatly accelerate the drying process, in winter a place at the heater is highly recommended. The mattress should be turned over regularly to ensure that the mattress is dry throughout.