There are a ton of dog beds on the market, but only a handful of manufacturers make dog beds for large dogs. Big dogs require beds that provide much more space, support and loft than small dogs do, so you’ll have to be careful to select one that suits your big canine’s needs.
We’ll try to help you below, by explaining the things you'll want in a large dog bed and analyzing the differences between the different types of beds available.
We’ll also recommend five of the best dog beds for large dogs that will help keep your canine happy and comfortable. Finally, we'll explain the best ways to care for your new bed and protect your investment.
Many dogs are content to sleep on the floor or couch, but this isn’t an ideal scenario. In fact, it can lead to a number of problems:
But above all else, the most compelling reason to give your big dog a big bed is that he’ll enjoy it! A high-quality dog bed will provide your pet with his very own sleeping place, that provides great comfort and allows him to get a good night’s sleep.
While pet beds differ in innumerable ways, most fall into one of three basic categories. We include beds from two of these categories among our recommendations, but we ignore one of the types completely – and, as you’ll soon see, for good reason.
Historically, pet beds were little more than a cloth sack, which was stuffed with cotton, polyester or some other type of fiber. And although they’ve largely been replaced by the two types of pet beds detailed below, they are still available through retail channels. They’re generally quite affordable, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Unfortunately, these types of beds are almost completely inappropriate for large or giant dogs. The filling material used in their construction rarely provides enough support for a big dog’s body, and it will also tend to clump up around the edges, forcing your dog to lay in the non-cushioned center after a short time.
These types of beds may work well for a Chihuahua or Jack Russell Terrier, but they are a poor choice for your Labrador retriever, German shepherd or Dalmatian. Instead, you’ll need to use one of the two bed types available.
Memory foam is a product originally developed by NASA that conforms to your dog’s body. It softens when warmed by your dog’s body, which provides a remarkably comfortable and supportive laying surface. This is especially important for large breed dogs, whose legs, hips and back require plenty of support to prevent them from digging into the floor below.
Memory foam beds also avoid the clumping problems that plague traditional, fiber-filled beds. Some memory foam beds may be a bit warm, causing dogs to move to the kitchen floor during the summer, but a few manufacturers use gel-infused memory foam, which helps to keep your dog’s body cooler.
In practice, memory foam beds are usually the best choice for large and giant breeds, outside of a few very specific circumstances.
Elevated cots typically feature a metal or plastic frame and a fabric laying surface, which is situated several inches above the ground. This design accomplishes two things: It keeps your dog cooler by allowing air to flow beneath the laying surface, and it prevents your dog’s hips, knees or back from directly contacting the ground.
Given this design, elevated cots are often a great choice for owners and dogs living in warm places. They don’t provide the type of cradle-like support that memory foam beds do, but they still provide more support than fiber-filled beds do. This means they’ll still be pretty gentle on your dog’s joints.
Cot-style beds are also quite light, and most are easy to disassemble and transport. This makes them a great choice for owners who travel with their pets. A few elevated, cot-style pet beds are even waterproof, which means you can use them outdoors too.
Once you determine the type of bed your dog needs, you’ll want to start comparing the various features provided by different manufacturers and models. Some of the most important features to look for when choosing your pet’s bed include:
While there are exceptions, most high-quality dog beds are manufactured in the United States or Western Europe. This doesn’t mean you can’t get a good bed made in southeast Asia, but they’re typically of poorer quality than their American or European counterparts are.
Dog beds get dirty over time, and they’ll become coated in dirt, debris, hair, saliva and urine with use. To keep them clean and ensure that they don’t develop objectionable odors, you’ll want to select a dog bed with a removable cover that you can machine wash and dry.
Large dogs are heavy dogs, which means they need quite a bit of foam to keep their bodies up off the floor. Typically, you’ll want to avoid beds that don’t provide a foam layer that is at least 4 inches thick. However, your dog will appreciate a 6- or 7-inch-thick foam layer even more.
Even the best designed and constructed dog beds will occasionally suffer from manufacturing defects or one-off problems. Fortunately, most of the best options on the market come with an extended manufacturer’s warranty. Most such warranties last for 12 to 24 months, but a few beds come with extremely long warranties, which last for 10 years or more.
Because your big dog will have big and strong claws, you’ll want to be sure to select a dog bed that has a very durable cover. Typically, the most durable bed covers are made from canvas or denim, but there are also microsuede covers that are designed to withstand your dog’s claws.
The following five dog beds are among the best options available for big dogs. Just be sure to select the one that best suits your dog’s specific needs to ensure the best value for your dog-bed dollar.
It is specifically engineered to suit the needs of big breeds, and the manufacturer even cautions that it is too firm for small dogs.
User Reviews: The Big Barker Orthopedic Pet Bed received better reviews than any other bed available, and most owners rave about its quality. It appears durable, yet comfortable, and most dogs love the attached bolster/headrest. Additionally, several owners were happy that the beds were so spacious.
Bottom Line: All discussions surrounding big dog beds should begin and end with the Big Barker. Simply put, it is the best dog bed for large dogs on the market and one of the few that comes in large enough sizes for Great Danes, mastiffs and other giant breeds. The only downside to the bed is its relatively expensive price tag. However, it still provides unmatched value and deserves strong consideration from all owners who can afford it.
The bed is not specifically designed for large dogs, but it is available in sizes large enough to accommodate most big breeds.
User Reviews: The reviews for the PetFusion Ultimate Dog Lounge were overwhelmingly positive. Most owners thought the beds looked great and were easy to take care of, while dogs seem to find them very comfortable. However, a few owners were concerned that it was not as durable as they’d hoped it would be, and the cover was a bit thin.
Bottom Line: The PetFusion Ultimate Dog Lounge is clearly a premium product, which provides great support for your dog. It is easy to keep clean and wash, and the XXL dog bed size should be large enough for German shepherds, Newfoundlands and other, similarly sized breeds. It is a bit pricey, but that’s to be expected of such a high-quality product.
Additionally, because it is waterproof, you can use this bed indoors or outdoors, and you can even bring it with you on vacations, as it is easy to disassemble and transport.
User Reviews: The majority of owners who tried the K&H Pet Bed were pleased with their purchase. Several praised the bed’s light weight and reasonable price tag, and many dogs seemed to find the laying surface cool and comfortable. However, a number of owners did complain that the mesh material was not very durable.
Bottom Line: If you want a waterproof, portable bed for your large breed dog, you should carefully consider the K&H Pet Bed. The elevated design will help take pressure off your dog’s joints, and it will also keep him a bit cooler, making it a great choice for those living in warm climates. The durability complaints expressed by some owners are troubling, but these types of problems can probably be eliminated by tossing a blanket over the bed.
It doesn’t feature an elevated design, bolsters or any other of the bells-and-whistles that are often included in other pet beds at this range, but few competing products are made with the same level of craftsmanship or feature comparable materials.
User Reviews: Most owners appeared to love the Dogbed4less Memory Foam Bed. Many praised the bed’s foam core, which provided a supportive, yet soft laying surface, which appeared to suit dogs of advanced age or those suffering from joint problems quite well. The bed’s covers also received plenty of praise, with most owners reporting that they were very durable.
Bottom Line: The Dogbed4less Orthopedic Dog Bed is one of the best large dog beds available and it should suit your large breed canine well. It is roughly comparable to the PetFusion Ultimate Dog Lounge, in terms of price and overall quality. You’ll just have to decide whether you want a bed that has bolsters or one that has some of the best foam cores and covers around.
But just because it is affordable doesn’t mean you’ll have to compromise on quality, as the FurHaven Dog Bed still provides the type of comfort most owners want for their pet.
User Reviews: Most owners loved the FurHaven Dog Bed and found that it still provided a comfortable laying surface for their pet, despite being priced very reasonably. The machine-washable cover also received quite a bit of praise, as owners reported it was easy to take off, wash and put back on. A few owners noted that it was not as supportive as they’d have liked, but this was the only common complaint.
Bottom Line: Obviously, the FurHaven Dog Bed isn’t in the same league with the PetFusion Lounge, Dogbed4less Bed or the Big Barker, but you can get it for a fraction of the cost of these other beds. It would be better with a denser core and we’d prefer if it came in slightly larger sizes, but it is a viable option for those who want an affordable bed for a large dog.
All five of the dog beds detailed above are well-made products, which should suit your large breed dog well. However, some will work better in some circumstances than in others. Accordingly, you’ll want to be sure to select the best bed for your dog, lifestyle, budget and needs.
Ask yourself the following questions to help ensure you end up with the best choice:
Most pet owners will be able to determine the best bed for their needs by consulting the chart below.
If you want:
Then you should pick:
The biggest, thickest and most luxurious bed available
The Big Barker
A premium bed with a thick bolster
PetFusion Ultimate Dog Lounge
A premium bed for dogs with joint problems
Dogbed4less Orthopedic Memory Foam Bed
An affordable bed, for travel or outdoor use
K&H Pet Products Elevated Pet Bed
A budget-friendly bed that’s still well made
FurHaven Ultra Plush/Velvet Orthopedic Dog Bed
It is very important to make sure you get a bed that is large enough to accommodate your big dog, otherwise, he’ll be forced to hang off the edges, which will reduce the support and comfort he deserves. Also, if you plan on putting the bed in a crate or fitting it into a tight space, you’ll also have to avoid buying a bed that is too large.
Determining the minimum size bed your dog requires a bit of homework. There is no quick-and-easy formula for figuring out the best bed size, so you’ll be best served by sneaking up on your dog while he’s sleeping comfortably and measuring the amount of space he takes up with a tape measure. It’s also a good idea to add a few inches to these results for a little wiggle room.
But while the former issue is a bit tricky to solve, the latter issue is fairly easy to address: Simply measure the space available and make sure you select a bed with smaller dimensions. This primarily relates to the length and width, but the height of the bed may be important in some cases too.
Dogs have varying builds, so it is difficult to provide generic recommendations, but typically speaking:
Many of the best dog beds for large dogs are relatively expensive items, and you’ll want to be sure it lasts for as long as possible and continues looking as good as it did when you first purchased it. And while some degree of wear and tear is unavoidable, you can maximize a bed’s lifespan by simply caring for it properly.
You’ll always want to follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer, but try to incorporate these tips and tricks whenever possible (assuming that they do not contradict the manufacturer’s guidelines):
Have you found a large dog bed that works best for your canine? Tell us all about it. Let us know what model and size you chose, as well as your experiences with it. Has it held up to your dog’s claws? Does it provide the kind of support your dog needs? Is it easy to keep clean?
Let us know in the comments below.
Product photos courtesy of Amazon.com.
Other photo credits:
OakleyOriginals via Visualhunt.com
Christianmadden via Visualhunt.com