Buying the perfect dog bed for your canine best friend requires taking several important factors into account: size, age, sleeping style, design preference (yours and your dog’s), and whether or not they tend to chew things or bring a lot of mud into the house. Like picking a human mattress, you’ll want to consider what makes your pup most comfortable at nap-time as well as at night. Dr. Lisa Lippman, lead New York Veterinarian at Fuzzy Pet Health, put things into perspective. “Dogs can sleep [for] up to 80 percent of the day, so choosing where they spend all that time is no small decision.”
Before you start shopping, ask yourself: Is my dog a sprawler or a burrower? Do they run hot or need some extra warming up? Are they in need of extra joint support? The more you know about your dog’s sleep needs, the easier it will be to find the right dog bed. And because there are so many to choose from, we talked to dog experts, from a famous dog influencer to a dog acupuncturist, about what makes a dog bed great and which ones they recommend and have bought for their own pups.
The best memory foam dog beds
Of all the dog beds mentioned by our experts — from vets to dog trainers to Yena Kim, founder and owner of Menswear Dog , whose Shiba Inu Bodhi has tested more beds than she can count — the Casper Dog Bed got the most recommendations. “We tried a lot of dog beds and currently use a Casper,” says Kim. “It’s got a memory foam base so Bodhi feels rested with full soft support. I also made him a few small velvet cushions so he can toss them around with his nose to find the perfect sleep sitch.” Kim recognizes that not all dogs are the same and advises focusing on your pet’s unique needs. “All dogs have different needs, so focus on what’s unique about yours. If your dog has special ailments like joint pain or arthritis, opt for orthopedic beds that will help ease their pain on a daily basis. You’ll know [you’ve] made the right choice on a dog bed when you hand your dog a treat and he takes it to his bed to take his time enjoying it.”
Dr. Rachel Barrack, a veterinarian and the founder of Animal Acupuncture in NYC, says it’s important to weigh and measure your dog before anything else. “Measure from nose to tail. You want a bed that allows them to spread out.” Barrack stresses the importance of observing your dog’s sleep preferences and finding a bed to match. For example, dogs that like to lean against something will love a bolster bed. “Also take into consideration your dog’s age; older dogs typically have arthritis of varying magnitudes and do better on specially formulated beds such as those with memory foam. A good night’s sleep is important to reduce discomfort.” Lastly, Barrack “always recommend beds made of washable materials.”
Devin Stagg of Pupford, a dog training and health food company, advises prioritizing a bed with a cover you can remove. “Make sure whatever bed you buy either has a removable cover or a waterproof cover, preferably both. Even if your dog is potty trained, stains and spills can ruin the integrity of a dog bed.” His preferred dog bed (for his two Labs) is this 7-inch-thick foam mattress from Big Barker.
Most dogs will appreciate a bolster bed, and according to Dr. Barrack’s clients, this is a big dog crowd pleaser. “Another fan favorite for larger dogs (who are [among my] clients) is the Petlo Large Orthopedic Pet Bed, which is made of memory foam, is water resistant, and can be machine washed.”
“Not all dog beds are created equal and, as with most things, you get what you pay for. This is especially true of memory foam and orthopedic beds. These beds vary in quality, with some memory foam losing its cushion relatively quickly and others staying firm for years.” says Dr. Lippman “It’s also important to get the size right: in general bigger is always better. Just like humans, dogs should be able to fully stretch out. For large and giant-sized dog breeds, I love Orvis. They have a range of massive beds, with quality memory foam to comfortably keep their bodies from touching the floor — perfect for the big guys.”
The best (and most stylish) non-memory foam mattress-style dog beds
“Fuzzy beds with high sides tend to be good choices for smaller dogs who like to cuddle up and may have problems staying warm.” says Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinarian who serves on the Pet Life Today advisory board. “But large and giant-breed dogs often like to sprawl, so they may prefer a bed without sides but with lots of padding to prevent them from sinking to the hard floor.”
According to Kimberly Freeman, a dog trainer and canine lifestyle expert in London, “The most common misconception is that dog beds have to be ugly. They really don’t. Many pet designers are now make beautiful dog beds that are not only built to last, but are also aesthetically pleasing.” This indigo-dyed shibori dog bed is designed to fit seamlessly into your home.
For the truly design-minded dog owner, there is no match for this Dusen Dusen terrazzo-inspired dog mattress.
The best cave, donut, deep-dish, and napper dog beds
Jessica Gore, CPDT-KA (a certified professional animal behaviorist) in Los Angeles recommends a shag donut-shaped bed for dogs who sleep curled up in a ball and need some support as well as some extra warmth. “I just love, love, love the Luxury Shag Donut Cuddler from Best Friends by Sheri. It’s great for warm snuggling and cuddling and provides just enough support and security for smaller body types. Every nugget is sure to take to this donut, which is machine washable and dryer safe.”
Here’s another cozy bed from the same brand, but with an even deeper donut shape. “Comfort is key when getting a good night’s sleep. If you expect your pup to use their bed, it should be comfortable for them.” Gore also stresses that your dog’s bed should be able to stand up to a lot of wear. “Expect your dog’s bed to get USED. There may be circling, digging, scratching, dragging, and lots of repeat plopping which can cause [significant] wear and tear in […] no time.”
Gore notes that many small dogs like the security of dome and cave-style beds. “Try matching your pup’s bed with their own personal pup style when choosing a cozy bed for them. Toy-sized dogs may like to hide, or have an added sense of security when bedding down sans owner. Nandog Pet Gear has some suitable micro-beds and ultracute dome options.”
For older dogs, soft beds that will be easy on their joints are key. Dr. Barrack told us what she uses at home for her own dog: “I have a 4.5 pound, 11-year-old Chihuahua named Eloise (aka Lil Weezy). She sometimes likes to snuggle in bed with me but also has stairs to access her own dog bed at anytime. She currently sleeps on a Jax & Bones-brand pet bed. I selected this because it is a soft, fluffy bed that will be gentle on her older joints. Plus, it’s available in a small size for my little pup, is machine washable, and comes in colors that work with my home.”
The best cooling cot-style dog bed
“Some large dogs may prefer a cooler place to plop, like a Bernese Mountain Dog, so a giant fluffy bed may not be ideal,” says Gore. “K9 Ballistics Dog Beds offer durable dog beds for the larger or heavier types. Their cots are also a cooler option that provide dogs with support and are easy to clean.”
The best travel dog bed that’s waterproof
Dr. Coates recommends buying multiple beds for your dog. “Most dogs need more than one bed. Dogs want to be where their people are, so unless you’re willing to cart a bed around the house, make sure there are several in the areas where you spend most of your time and where you expect your dog to spend the night.” This travel bed is like a sleeping bag for your dog: waterproof, lightweight, and warm.
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