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Best Materials for Building a Dog House: 5 Great Options

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

dog house

It’s possible to use almost any material to build a doghouse, but every material has its unique positive aspects and particular limitations. The material you decide to use should be as insulating as possible, easy to work with, affordable, and strong. It will also depend largely on the doghouse location and the climate in your specific area. The best materials will be specific to your particular needs and building site, as well as the needs of your canine friend.

Extra costs can quickly add up if you need to have extra insulation or waterproofing if you need to build foundations of some kind, and if you have experience working with the chosen material yourself or need to contract it out to someone else — materials like metal and concrete can be difficult to work with sans experience.

There are several well-known and trusted materials used for doghouses that have stood the test of time, but even they have their unique problems. We’ve put together this list of commonly used doghouse materials to help you choose the right type for your unique situation.

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Requirements for A Good Dog House

Before we get started on materials, there are basic requirements that any doghouse needs to include.

  • Protection from the elements. This goes without saying, but your doghouse should keep your pooch warm and insulated from the cold, and cool and temperate when it’s hot.
  • Security and comfort. Your doghouse needs to be a haven for your pooch, a place where they can go to feel comfortable and safe.
  • Size. The size of your doghouse needs to be custom-built for your dog. A house that is too big or small will likely put your pooch off from wanting to spend time inside.
  • Placement. The doghouse needs to be situated in a place that is close to your home, that will not be too exposed to the elements, and where the ground will stay mostly dry.

Most dog houses will be built from a combination of two or more of the following materials:

The 5 Best Materials for Dog Houses

1. Plastic

Plastic Dog House

Plastic is a highly versatile material that can be found in a wide variety of thicknesses and colors. Plastic is light and easy to work with and can be quickly cut to size according to your needs. One great benefit of opting for a plastic doghouse is that you can build one for low cost, if not free. There are large plastic storage tubs available for low prices, and these can quickly and easily be repurposed to use for a dog kennel. These round tubs can be cut vertically and used on their side, and square tubs can be simply used upside-down with a hole cut out for a door. Plastic is a great material for roofing too, as it is not prone to leaking or rotting.

The main downside of using plastic is insulation. The material itself is not well-insulating, even when thick. This means building from plastic will require the extra work of adding insulation if made for outdoor use. If you are using the doghouse indoors, insulation is not necessary. Plastic can also be flimsy and is not ideal for use with large dogs that can break or bend it easily.

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to work with
  • Not prone to rotting or breaking down
  • Not a great insulator
  • Can be flimsy and easy to break

2. Concrete

dog on cement
Credit: Prakorn_Aomoil, Shutterstock

If you want to build a sturdy and permanent doghouse, concrete is a great option. It is a highly versatile and strong building material and will outlast most other materials. It may be slightly overkill for use in a doghouse, although it’s ideal if you own multiple pooches that you need to house outdoors.

Concrete can be difficult to work with if you don’t have prior experience, so you may need to hire some help. It is also an expensive material compared to wood or plastic and takes time to mix, pour, and set. Concrete is fairly well insulating, depending on the thickness of your walls, but the floor will get bitterly cold in winter months, so you’ll need to add extra bedding or raised flooring.

  • Strong and sturdy
  • Weatherproof
  • Long-lasting
  • Expensive
  • Difficult to work with
  • Time-consuming
  • You’ll need to add floor insulation

3. Fiberglass

Credit: allgoo, Shutterstock

Fiberglass is a material that is typically used for roofing but can be repurposed for use in siding too. It usually comes in corrugated sheets that easily slot together, so you can build a doghouse in a couple of hours with this material. It is also commonly found secondhand, so it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Fiberglass is fairly well insulated, especially when used for roofing, so you likely won’t need to add any extra insulation unless you live in cold climates.

Fiberglass may be easy to manipulate, but cutting it into the required lengths may pose a challenge. It can be messy, and you’ll want to wear a mask and eye protection while cutting. The cutting process can also leave jagged edges that will need to be smoothed out, so it’s a good idea to try and make use of the materials in the lengths they come.

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to work with as roofing
  • Fairly well insulating
  • Not easy to cut

4. Bricks or stone

Building a red brick or stone doghouse for your pooch will not only look great but will also provide a sturdy, well-insulated, and weatherproof home. This is a permanent option, though, and you’ll need to build in some kind of flooring for insulation. This choice of doghouse material can be expensive, but red bricks can often be obtained relatively cheaply secondhand. Stone can be found free and has a great-looking aesthetic.

You’ll need to purchase concrete for laying the bricks and have the knowledge and experience of bricklaying or hire help. Building from brick is time-consuming and stone even more so.

  • Looks great
  • Strong and sturdy
  • Weatherproof
  • Well-insulated
  • Expensive
  • Extra materials required
  • Can be a challenge without experience

5. Wood

diy dog house
Credit: pryzmat, Shutterstock

Wood is the go-to option for building doghouses, and for good reason. We highly recommend using mostly wood to build a doghouse, as it is inexpensive, easily cut and manipulated, lightweight and it looks great too. Wood can be painted or varnished to protect it from sun and rain, and you don’t need a ton of experience or expertise to work with it. Wood can be bought in infinite lengths and thicknesses, making customization a breeze. A wooden doghouse is also impermanent and thus easy to move when needed. You can also buy particleboard or chipboard, which is made from compressed wood chips. This should ideally be used as a form of insulation, though, as it will weather quickly when exposed to the elements.

The major downside to wood is rotting. You’ll need to periodically treat the doghouse to prevent weathering, and even then, it will eventually fall victim to mother nature. Depending on the thickness of wood you use, wood doghouses can be drafty, but good construction will largely prevent this.

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to work with
  • Impermanent and easy to move
  • Doesn’t require extra skill or experience to work with
  • Prone to rotting
  • Not perfectly insulating

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The best materials for a doghouse depend largely on your unique situation. You may have some of the above materials already laying around, or you may have more experience using one or the other or none at all. Whatever the case may be, your doghouse will most likely be a combination of several materials. Dog houses can be bought pre-made in a variety of materials too.

The main material you choose will depend on your specific needs. While we recommend wood as the best material, others may be better for your situation. Hopefully, this list will help you decide on the best doghouse material to suit you and your pooch.

Featured Image: Kichigin, Shutterstock

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