What is a Dog Bed?

Michael Pollick

A dog bed provides a comfortable sleeping area for a dog, much like a mattress or body pillow provides comfort and support for humans. A typical pet bed elevates the animal above the hard ground, supports essential joints, and provides a degree of warmth. Models run the gamut from simple foam-filled cushions to high-end sofas with heating and cooling elements. A bed may also be filled with cedar chips to discourage flea growth, while machine washable fabric covers make cleaning easier.

A pug on a wicker dog bed.
A pug on a wicker dog bed.

Manufacturers often use familiar furniture materials such as rattan, wicker, and plastic to create their products. A wicker or rattan dog bed is usually constructed as a low-profile oval or round basket with a custom-fitted cushion. Plastic models may use the oval or round design as well, but the plastic used must be chew-resistant with no sharp edges or flashing. High end models may actually use stainless steel, which is relatively easy to keep clean.

A typical pillow-like dog bed.
A typical pillow-like dog bed.

The cushions used in a pet bed should be made from washable fabrics resistant to scratching and chewing. Some use polyester fiber or foam as filler, which may provide more comfort to the dog but does not discourage flea growth. Others use a zippered outer shell filled with cedar chips to discourage fleas from laying eggs. These cushions can be refilled with clean cedar chips periodically, but might not be as comfortable as foam pillows.

Some models actually offer heating and cooling options. Some dog breeds do not function well in extreme heat, so a dog bed with a cooling element may provide relief. These beds usually have a refrigerated or frozen gel pad that can be placed inside the cushion of the bed, so this type is not recommended for puppies or dogs with habitual chewing issues. Heated beds may also use a heated gel pad or a form of electric blanket placed under the dog. Elderly dogs and those with joint disorders are especially vulnerable to the effects of cold air, so these warmers may be medically necessary.

A dog's sleeping habits are largely instinctual, which means a dog bed should duplicate the animal's natural habitat. The bed should be sized according to the animal's general proportions, and the dog should be able to stretch out completely without hanging over the side. It's best for the pet owner to keep the bed out of the line of human traffic and away from direct heating or cooling sources. Sleeping dogs should feel safe and not threatened. Because they are pack animals, dogs are naturally accustomed to sleeping in close quarters with others, so a single dog may benefit from a style of cushion called a cuddly. A cuddly dog cushion extends the sides to form a protective ring, which simulates the feel of other dogs sleeping in a protective pack arrangement.

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Discussion Comments


I have two Rhodesian Ridgebacks (2x100lb) and you just can't sensibly have a dog bed that they can stretch out fully on let alone two of them. We have big oval beds and they curl up in them or lie with their heads hanging out, sometimes lying upside down. They also have a leather sofa (ebay special for £17) which they can stretch on, but they prefer the plastic oval beds with my homemade denim cushions.


@Perdido – I know what you mean about big dog beds being hard to find. I have a growing Weimaraner, and the largest bed I could find was a bean bag dog bed, but I knew that would be a bad idea.

She had already destroyed several beds that had been filled with fluffy white material. She actually enjoyed ripping the cloth apart and pulling out all the stuffing.

I need to find some kind of pet bed that she can't destroy with her teeth. She seems determined and delighted to annihilate everything that I give her, though.


I was able to find some discount dog beds filled with cedar chips for only $30. These were large beds, so this was a bargain.

I had never used cedar beds before, but they did smell wonderful. I was happy to find that they eliminated some of my dog's odor, as well! She smelled like cedar after sleeping on it the first night.

The cool thing about these beds is that you can restuff them once they flatten out. You just unzip the cover and shove more chips inside. This freshens up the scent, too.


I bought some big dog beds for my large dogs. There weren't nearly as many kinds to choose from as there were for smaller dogs.

All of my dogs weigh between 50 and 80 pounds, so it was impossible to find beds that would fully accommodate their length when they are stretched out all the way. I settled for ones that would be large enough for them to curl up on without falling off the edges.


My sister got her dog a cuddly pink dog bed. She felt bad for him, because he had come from a large litter of puppies, so he had been used to sleeping in a big pile of dogs.

The cuddly made him feel more secure. He didn't seem to have as much anxiety once she gave it to him.


Latte31- I did not know that they made dog beds with memory foam.

I just wanted to add that washable dog beds are the best dog beds. They don’t retain odor and since they are cleaned often do not allow fleas and ticks to foster.


I just wanted to add that it is amazing the variety of dog beds available on the market.

They have designer dog beds with orthopedic features like memory foam which relieves pressure points and allows for a more comfortable sleep.

That is the same technology that is found in the Tempur-pedic mattresses. These dog beds can be found at a company called Dog Pedic Plus.

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