Your Guide to Dog Beds

Medically Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on February 12, 2024
9 min read

If your dog spends too much time on your sofa or in your favorite chair, or if you find your lovable friend climbing a little too close when it's time to hit the sack at night, it might be time to get that crafty canine of yours their own bed.

Research says you may sleep OK with a dog in the bed, but people sleep better with their dog off the bed and in the same room.

Sleeping -- a lot -- is a big part of a dog's life. On average, your pooch sleeps somewhere between 12 and 14 hours a day. If yours is a puppy, they may need 18-20 hours a day. A newborn puppy sleeps 90 percent of the day -- about 22 hours.

Dog beds, like dogs, come in all shapes and sizes. Finding a good one can be tricky. Dog beds, like dogs, are an awfully personal thing.

There are some things to consider when picking out a dog bed.

Where should the dog bed go?

Your dog's bed should be in a draft-free and warm place. Ideally, a nighttime bed location would be in a quiet room, so they can sleep soundly. You might want to put another bed in a room you are in frequently together so that your friend can be close to you as they nap or relax.

Dogs sleep for around 12-14 hours per day. That’s a lot of time for anyone to spend in one spot! The best way to find a durable, comfortable bed for your furry family member is simply to watch their behavior. Do they switch sleep positions frequently? Do they curl up in a cozy ball or love to luxuriously sprawl?

Choosing a bed is about much more than the obvious things like choosing a fabric and size. To get a bed your dog will be happy and comfortable with in the long term, think of your dog’s specific needs, age, and what you know they like and are comfortable in. You may even want to consider a chilling dog pad, not necessarily a bed. This can be a really good option for pets in warm and hot climates, especially certain breeds like bulldogs.

The basic types of dog beds include: 

Orthopedic beds. Made from memory foam, these beds support the achy joints and bones of senior dogs, and sometimes have bolsters along the sides to support your dog's head and provide stability. Orthopedic dog beds work well for active dogs. Your dog doesn't need to be old to benefit from one.

Elevated beds. Popular with extreme chewers, these beds are often made from the most durable materials. They usually have a metal frame with an elevated sleeping area made of canvas or other woven fabric. The elevated bed is also a good choice for dogs with heavy coats or who tend to overheat. The space between your pup and the floor will keep things nice and cool.

Heated dog beds. Heated dog beds can be good for some dogs on cold nights, especially ones without big fur coats and older dogs who deal with things like hip dysplasia, arthritis, or joint or circulation issues. Be sure to find one with a cord that's resistant to a chewy dog. If your dog struggles to stand up, remember to watch to prevent overheating on this type of bed. Don't use a heated blanket made for humans for your dog's bed. The temperature will be too high. 

Waterproof dog beds. If your dog is not fully house trained or incontinent (can't control their pee or poop), a waterproof bed may be a good option. Be sure to find one with secure and sturdy closures, with a cover that's easy to clean, and without noisy waterproofing material.

Washable dog beds. The easiest way to get a washable dog bed is to buy one -- usually made of a foam core -- with a removable cover that you can toss into the wash. Even without a removable cover, you can still clean and wash your dog's bed. First, thoroughly vacuum the surface of the bed, and then machine wash the entire bed (If possible) in hot water -- at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Other tips for keeping your dog's bed clean:

  • Sprinkle with baking soda before vacuuming.
  • Place it in direct sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes weekly to kill germs.
  • Spot clean after accidents with a pet stain treatment.
  • Place potty-training pads under the bed cover to pull urine away from the foam core. 

The shape of your dog's bed can matter too. Consider:

Mattress pad beds. These beds are a popular choice because the rectangular shape means your buddy can move around and change positions. They’re also easy to move and store. 

Doughnut beds. These circular beds are soft and cozy for dogs who just love to cuddle. They also work for multiple small dogs or puppies who like to sleep in a pile. The covers are usually made with soft, furry material, so don’t forget to make sure it’s durable before you go all in. 

Cave/tent beds. These beds can be great for nervous pups or dogs that get cold easily. They help retain warmth and give protection to a dog who values privacy. 

After you decide to buy a dog bed, the next step is to measure your dog from head to tail. This will make sure that you don't get a bed that's too small for your buddy.

A dog bed should be big enough so that your pet can lie down in a natural position. Sure, when they're balled up the bed might seem fine. But what if your canine companion wants to stretch out?

If you have a large breed, your dog will need a bed that's comfortable, gives plenty of support, and will accommodate your dog's frame. It's especially important to protect your large breed dog's joints from the hard floor. An elevated or hammock bed is a good choice for large breeds.

Many dogs chew. Young dogs may do it to ease the pain of teething. Older dogs may do it to clean their teeth and keep their jaws strong. Or maybe your dog's just hungry, stressed, or bored.

Indestructible dog bed

When it comes to beds, though, chewing can be destructive. What's more, it can be dangerous if one of the pieces they swallow ends up stuck in their stomach or intestines.

If you have a chewer, fabric beds filled with foam pieces or other cushioning might not be the best choice. Beds built with PVC pipe or aluminum and covered with a canvas-like fabric may be a better option for the "gnawy" dogs out there. Sadly, some dogs just can't have beds unless they are supervised. If your dog  insists on chewing its bed, it may be time to up their exercise and play time and invest in some stimulating toys. 

The best advice on what material to choose for your dog's bed probably comes from watching your pet. Do they have achy joints or hip dysplasia? Are they old or young? Do they have lots of fur or not much? How does your dog like to sleep, normally? Does your pup chew everything in sight?

Fluffier beds may be the pick for younger or smaller dogs. Plush beds can keep a smaller, less-fluffy dog warm.

Pooches who are prone to overheating or have hot spots will benefit from a bed made with cooling fabric. 

Remember to consider ease of cleaning, too. Your dog's bed will need it sooner or later. Any bed you choose should have a durable, machine-washable cover.

Dog bed memory foam

Beds with memory foam may be a good choice for an older dog with achy joints. Memory foam can vary in quality, so make sure to pick a bed that's at least 2 inches thick, preferably more. Beds made with single pieces of memory foam keep their shape better.

Orthopedic beds made of memory foam can help older dogs who have problems climbing or getting around.

Tips for co-sleeping with your dog

Keep your dog clean. Giving your friend regular baths with veterinary-approved products will wash away fleas, ticks, and germs that may hitch a ride when your dog's outdoors.

Wash your sheets frequently. Your dog's hair and dander can settle into your bedding, triggering asthma and allergy symptoms. Aim to wash your bed linens every week.

Consider an air filter. If your asthma and allergies are triggered by your dog's dander or other allergens, a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter can remove about 99% of irritants in your bedroom.

Carve out separate sleep space. Allowing your dog to sleep too close can restrict your movement in bed. Give them another part of the bed to sleep on (or buy a bigger bed).

Adjust your bedtime. If you're a night owl and your dog wakes up nightly to go potty at 3 a.m., try to go to sleep earlier so you can get a full night's rest.

Adopt regular habits. You'll both get better rest if you stick to a consistent nightly routine and rules.

Benefits of co-sleeping with your dog

Pets make us happy, lowering stress and elevating our mood. This is also true when they sleep with us. They're warm bed companions on a cold night. Sleeping with your dog can also give you a sense of security. Light sleepers, they're quick to alert when something's not quite right.

Risks of co-sleeping with your dog

As much as you love your furry friend, sleeping with your dog may not be a good idea if:

  • Your dog's an active sleeper whose movements in bed tend to wake you often or they're highly reactive when awakened suddenly.
  • You have asthma and allergies triggered by your dog's dander.
  • Your dog is prone to having fleas, whose bites can be very itchy, or ticks, which carry the risk of diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
  • You or your dog are sick.

If your dog has fleas or ticks and insists on sleeping with you -- or you with them -- make sure to visit your veterinarian, who can put your furry friend on a reliable flea and tick control program.


It can be tempting to go for a bargain bed, but you’ll end up spending more if it falls apart after the first wash. Some cheaper beds stuffed with loose polyester are hard to refill after cleaning the cover. Get a bed with a case that’s easy to remove and throw in the washer. You’ll be doing it more times than you think. 


Expect to spend $35-$150 on a quality dog bed, or more depending on the design. Think of it as an investment into your pup’s long-term comfort, sense of security, and sense of home. The right bed will have them eating out of your hand in no time.

Dog steps for bed

Dog steps help dogs with arthritis, mobility problems, or short legs (think Basset hounds and dachshunds) climb up to a bed or sofa. If your dog is able to walk up stairs, dog steps should work for them. The height of the steps should be similar to household stairs, have a depth of about 10 to 12 inches, and a nonslip surface. Be sure to check the manufacturer's weight limit for the steps.

Dog ramp for bed

Dog ramps are good if your dog is unable to climb stairs or isn't used to stairs. Be sure the ramp has a gentle slope and is high enough to reach your bed. Ramps take up more space than stairs, so if you're short on space, consider a folding ramp. A ramp should also have a nonslip surface. 

Whether you're using a ramp or stairs, you may have to teach your dog to use them.

Keeping your best friend comfortable in a nice bed is just part of being a good pet parent. Remember, beds are important for more than sleep. They can become a "safe" place for a dog with fear or noise aversion issues. And try not to disturb your dog when they're sleeping in their bed. They deserve a good night's rest too.