Along with lots more food and industrial-strength nail clippers, big dogs like Mastiffs, German shepherds, and Saint Bernards need big beds. But it’s not only about size. Because big dogs weigh more, they need beds that are supportive and firm enough to cushion their joints and pressure points and keep them from sinking into the floor. Since they’re stronger than smaller dogs, they also need beds that are durable enough to withstand powerful digging and chewing. And because they make bigger messes, whether it’s drool, intense shedding, or a potty-training fail, their beds need to be easy to clean. Stephanie Seger, who owns of two mastiffs named Sulley and Junior and whose blog bigdogmom.com is a resource for other large dog owners, says, “Both of my boys are over 200 pounds, so their bed has to withstand the pressure of two giant bodies and stand up to the daily abuse of them jumping on and off while playing.” We asked Seger and five other big dog owners, dog trainers, and veterinarians to weigh in on the best dog beds for big dogs.
Dr. Shelly Zacharias, veterinarian and vice president of medical affairs for Gallant, says that the most important thing for large dogs is the thickness of their bed. “Thin bedding, even if it’s made of orthopedic foam, is not helpful to the joints if your pet can easily sink down and feel the hard floor beneath him,” says Zacharias.
Seger has tried a ton of beds made for big dogs over the years, including one filled with cedar chips and down feathers. But after watching them all give out after a matter of months, she switched to Big Barker orthopedic foam beds for both of her dogs. “I’ve had two of these beds for nearly ten years,” Seger says. “They’re covered with an easy-to-remove zip cover for frequent cleaning and they still look new and feel just as supportive as the day I bought them.” Though Big Barker beds are on the pricey side, Seger hasn’t had to replace them in years and considers them an investment in her dogs’ orthopedic health.
In addition to Seger’s recommendation, this same bed got top marks from Erin Askeland, a certified dog behaviorist and training manager at Camp Bow Wow, and Devin Stagg of Pupford, a company specializing in dog training and healthy dog food, in our more general roundup of the best dog beds. Askeland loves that it’s firm and durable but also notes that the side bolster is great for big dogs who like to sprawl and rest their head. Stagg is the owner of two large Labradors and says he chooses Big Barker beds because of their machine-washable covers. “Stains and spills can ruin the integrity of a dog bed, so even if your dog is potty-trained, make sure you buy a bed with a cover you can remove and clean,” he says.
If spending nearly $300 on a dog bed makes you wince, Dr. Jamie Richardson, chief of staff at Small Door Veterinary, says “my all-around favorite dog bed for medium to extra-large dogs is the Pet Fusion.” Richardson uses this bed at home for her Labrador who’s getting on in age, and she recommends it to clients and friends because it’s well-priced, constructed of thick memory foam for superior orthopedic comfort, has a generous bolster for those dogs that like their head being propped up on a pillow, and has a waterproof machine-washable cover so it’s virtually accident-proof. Zacharias agrees that bolsters on a bed are great for big dogs who like to rest their forearms over something cushy for comfort, and says that it also gives them something for their back to lie against to feel safe.
“Unlike humans, dogs chew on their beds (and may ingest parts of them). They also lick their beds and bring their treats or bones to their bed to eat,” says Russell Hartstein, a certified dog behaviorist and CEO of Fun Paw Care. Because of this, Hartstein’s first concern in choosing a bed is its materials. Hartstein says he often recommends Naturo Pet natural, organic orthopedic dog beds because they use sustainable coco-latex made from coconut husks. Like the Big Barker and the Pet Fusion beds, they also have removable covers you can throw in the washing machine.
For owners of dogs who will chew through anything — leather slippers, wooden clogs, and even the baseboards in your house — Zacharias recommends this bed from Orvis. It was was designed, tested, and redesigned to be chew-proof. If your pet manages to destroy it, Orvis will give you your money back. “Any bedding or material that is ingested by your dog poses a very dangerous threat as a foreign body in the digestive tract,” Zacharias says. Richardson is also a fan of Orvis beds because they offer more stylish options and last a long time. Plus, the entire bed is machine washable.
Over the course of our conversations with vets, trainers, and dog owners, we heard many glowing recommendations for elevated cot-style beds. They are particularly popular for large dogs that run hot and dogs that live in warm climates. Of the many cot-style brands on the market, Kuranda and K9 Ballistics (which we include in our general dog bed roundup) got the most mentions. Seger keeps an aluminum-frame Kuranda bed outside her home in Scottsdale, Arizona. “This bed has sat in the sun for almost 11 years, and it looks like it did the day we bought it,” she says. She likes that it keeps her dogs up off of the concrete patio, minimizing pressure on their joints and providing much-needed orthopedic support. Plus, she says, it’s easy to spray off with a hose and lightweight enough to move around as needed. Zacharias also mentioned Kuranda beds: “No matter how thick or fluffy the bed, if it is laying on the ground it can still feel hard on the joints over time.” For her own dogs, Zacharias lays an orthopedic foam bed on top of the raised platform. You can do that, too, or buy Kuranda’s machine washable padded fleece cover for a little more comfort.
For a cheaper option, you can follow Hartstein’s lead and get the AmazonBasics elevated dog bed. “My German shepherd loves it,” he says. The bed is cleanable and breathable, and when the mesh part wears out, you can replace just it without having to buy a new steel frame.
If you don’t live in a hot place and are looking for something cozy and supportive for your pup, two of the dog owners we spoke to recommend this faux-sheepskin memory-foam bed. “Our dog Pablo loves sheepskin, so we tried out a washable version we found on Amazon and it’s been a huge hit,” says New York–based designer Gabriela Gargano of Grisoro Designs. Strategist senior editor Casey Lewis has the same bed for her Labrador named Bear and agrees that its being washable is a game-changer. “It’s extremely resilient,” she says.
Hartstein likes to offer his dog and the dogs he works with a lot of different choices so they can move throughout the house depending on their mood. This is particularly important if you want to discourage them from taking over your couch or bed. Hartstein even has an option for camping or taking his dog with him to restaurants. He likes this roll-up bed from Ruffwear because it’s easy to pack on a trip and is made with recycled stuffing. It’s also water-resistant on top and waterproof on bottom to keep your dog dry on wet ground.
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