How To Choose A Dog Bed: A Comprehensive Guide


Does your dog share your bed? We’re not judging; we invite our dogs up, too. Still, he needs his own place to sleep, and not just at night: he’ll spend about 12 to 14 hours or more of every 24 sleeping. He really does sleep half the day, and there are some excellent reasons he should do it in his own dog bed, at least sometimes:

  • The right bed gives him a sense of comfort and security.
  • He needs a place that’s his alone.
  • His bed reduces the amount of hair and dirt that ends up on your furniture—something potentially important to family members with allergies.

Occasionally he prefers the floor, but other times he wants something more forgiving than your hardwoods or even carpets. Before you buy your trusted companion his very own dog bed, consider the variables.


I. What Size Dog Bed Should I Get?

Start with his weight, using these general guidelines:

  • Small - For dogs up to 40 lbs.
  • Medium - For dogs up to 60 lbs.
  • Large - For dogs up to 120 lbs.
  • Extra Large - For dogs 120 lbs. and up

Measure him, too: his dimensions will indicate the surface area he needs. While he’s sleeping start at the tip of his nose and measure all the way to his rump, and from the crown of his head to his pads. Alternately, obtain these same measurements while he is standing. If he sleeps in a ball, measure his diameter side to side, and top to bottom. And if he is a back sleeper, measure from the crown of his head to the tip of his tail.

There may be other factors to consider: the size of your living space, for example, or buying a traditional dog bed for your car, where a smaller bed will suffice for shorter periods. But as a general rule of thumb, use your dog’s weight and dimensions as the most reliable parameters for choosing the best size bed for him. And when in doubt, size up.


II. Dog Bed Shapes

  • Round Dog Beds - Does your dog walk around in a tight circle before she finally plops down into a ball? You’ll want to choose a round shaped dog bed for her.
  • Rectangular Dog Beds - Alternately, choose a rectangular shape dog bed for her if she sprawls on one side with her legs poking straight out from her ribs, or if she sleeps flipped over on her back. And choose a rectangular bed when she shows signs of ageing; curling up may no longer be comfortable to her.

If your dog curls up AND sprawls out, choose a rectangular pillow-style bed. Or treat her to both a round and a rectangular dog bed—sometimes it’s good to have choices.


III. What’s In A Dog Bed?

You can’t judge a book by its cover, nor a dog bed. Dog beds come with a variety of fill materials to meet the specific needs of every dog.

  • Chambered, Spun-Polyester Fill - Soft and cozy; this indulgent, hypoallergenic material is appropriate for most dogs without special needs. Our high lofting polyester fill is also available with cedar, not recommended for hunting dogs because it interferes with their ability to scent.
  • Memory Foam - Memory Foam is not just for dogs with orthopedic problems, but it is best for them: a dog who requires extra support for any reason will benefit from a memory foam dog bed. It also helps maintain his temperature, keeping him from overheating. And a memory foam dog bed is as comfortable for our canine companions our own memory foam bedding is for us.
  • Polystyrene Pellets + Cedar - Available with or without cedar, this type of fill is indicated for a dog without joint or pain issues, one who likes to “dig in” before settling down. Polystyrene beads are warming and shape-conforming. And cedar chips smell great while repelling insects. Note: polystyrene fill is not recommended for chewers, nor is cedar for hunting dogs because it interferes with their ability to scent.


IV. Design

We’re talking architecture here: your dog may have a preference, although it’s probably less about curb appeal to her than it is about functionality and comfort. Again, let her habits influence your decision. Does she need the security of walls around her, or does she let it all hang out? Maybe a compromise is in order: an open design with a bolster that offers support and doubles as a chin prop, in much the same way as the arm of your sofa. Orvis has options:

  • Pillow Style The Orvis Dog’s Nest® is a perfect example of this basic open bed design, available in round or rectangular shapes. It’s a great choice for most dogs and will work in just about any space.
  • Bolster - The Deep Dish is a dog bed with a bolster, or pillow roll, on three sides: choose this style for comfort and security, and to give her a convenient place to rest her head. And the open-on-one-side design allows your dog easy access to her bed. Be advised that a bolster dog bed can cover more floor space than other types of beds, so measure and plan carefully when you buy.
  • Wraparound - Perfect for your cuddler, this bed is enclosed on all sides and gives your security-seeking dog the 360º reassurance she needs for comfortable sleep.

While your dog may not care one lick about the looks of her bed, you probably do. You’ll find a wide variety of dog bed covers in our collection of beds, all made to zip off and throw into the wash for easy care and maintenance. And they look beautiful with any home décor.


V. Special Needs

Choose a special dog bed for extraordinary circumstances:

  • ToughChew® Dog Beds - Your problem chewer will be disappointed to learn he can’t rip this one to shreds. We make our ToughChew® dog beds using a ripstop weave that may allow a puncture from a tooth but prevents the fabric from tearing under even the toughest abuse. The bed will continue to function and look good for the life of your dog; it’s available in both pillow and deep dish designs, in various cover colors and patterns appropriate for any room in your home.
  • Outdoor Dog Beds - It’s the perfect solution for pool deck or patio: the poly blend cover is treated to repel water, and an interior hydrophobic-mesh channeled liner allows water to drain quickly. Its cover is removable and washable and comes in a variety of pretty designs for your outdoor space.


VI. Beyond Dog Beds

Do you travel with your dog? We do: explore our complete line of products made to make a dog’s life (and your own) easier on the road. From backseat protectors to car gates, pet ramps to folding travel crates and more, we’ve got you covered. You’ll also find replacement dog bed liners and covers, toys, treats, clothing, grooming products, feeding and training aids, and useful tools for the mudroom and beyond.

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