Published Aug 5, 2022 12:08 PM
Whether you have an outside dog, a pup that loves lounging in the yard, or a camping buddy, having a durable outdoor dog bed can help keep your dog safe and comfortable all year long. Since there are so many reasons to have a dog bed outdoors, the styles and designs vary dramatically. Like any piece of gear, for you or your canine companion, the intended use should be a primary consideration while shopping.
Since dogs are not characteristically known for being gentle with their beds and all seem to have nesting rituals of some kind, durability is another quality we focused on when writing this review. Luckily, I have three large breed dogs that truly put their beds to the test. Between weather, nesting, and even tug battles from time to time, I’ve learned what makes the best outdoor dog beds.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Outdoor Dog Bed
Investing in an outdoor dog bed not only keeps your dog comfortable outside but having an appropriate bed for the environment is one of the best ways to prevent insect bites and infections. Having a dog bed keeps full-time outdoor dogs off the ground, avoiding achy joints, hot spots, or prolonged exposure to parasites and bacteria. All dog beds are impacted by the effectiveness and cleanliness of the area, but having a suitable bed can improve your dog’s health and wellbeing outside.
The apparent intention is to have a dog bed that is durable enough and easy to keep clean when your pup uses it outside. Still, there are many considerations, and narrowing down the uses is essential. For instance, although all my dogs are inside dogs, they enjoy sitting in the yard and camping. Having an outdoor dog bed that works for everything would be nice, but investing in just camping mats and having permanent beds in the yard makes things easier.
Determining the uses helps you identify whether the materials are suitable, how portable the bed needs to be, and how easy it is to clean. The type of dog you have can also influence the best bed for their needs. Some beds, like elevated cots, work best for dogs in training or dogs that get hot quickly. Get to know your and your dog’s needs to help you find the best outdoor dog bed.
Durability and Materials
Since these dog beds are intended for outdoor use, the materials need to be durable, easy to clean, and (ideally) waterproof.
The bed’s durability reflects how well it holds up to the natural elements and the dog. Not all dogs chew their beds, but some may be more prone to do so. Investing in a platform or a rip-proof bed is helpful if you have a dog known for chewing and shredding beds. Be sure you meet your dog’s needs and address any anxiety driving destructive behavior.
Most dog owners use platform beds for outdoor use because they are much easier to keep clean. These cot-style beds are made with various materials, and we prefer those with metal frames as they last longer. Plastic platform beds are still a great option and tend to be more affordable. However, if they are left outside full-time, the plastic is prone to cracking and deteriorating faster than metal. The metal cots utilize a fabric for the bed portion, which is easy to replace if needed.
If you’re looking for a more traditional-style dog bed, they do make some that are waterproof for outdoor use. We still recommend these be kept under a shelter of some kind to increase longevity, but having a fully waterproof bed prevents mildew and mold from growing. These are more popular for use in a dog house or kennel setup or, depending on the style, as a part of the patio furniture setup.
Regardless of the bed materials, keeping the bed clean and safe for your dog to use is more accessible when the bed is elevated off the ground in some fashion.
While there are several design differences within the world of dog beds, the to primary categories are on-the-ground or off-the-ground beds.
On-the-ground beds are traditional-style dog beds that are a cushion or mat of some kind that sits directly on the floor or the ground.
Off-the-ground dog beds are a bed that has a platform elevating the bed in some way off of the floor or ground.
The styles within these bed designs will vary. As mentioned, elevated dog beds tend to fair better for outdoor use, but you can use on-the-ground dog beds outside in some situations with minimal issues.
Not all dogs are the same, so neither should their dog beds. Many dogs love elevated beds, but even if it is a fan favorite among many, that doesn’t mean that your dog will love it. Some dogs may be afraid of them, and you can work with them to condition them to be more comfortable. Having an alternative that helps them settle is ideal though.
Older dogs significantly benefit from on-the-ground dog beds, so they do not need to step as far up or down to use the bed. The firmness of the bed also matters. It’s important to note that you want a bed that will continue supporting their joints while not being as hard as the ground. Beds that are too soft will also be challenging to use since they sink into them, and plushy, soft beds will not be as supportive as firmer foam options.
Even though we want our dogs to be comfortable, don’t be offended when they choose the ground instead. They are dogs, after all.
Why It Made The Cut: Cots or elevated beds are our preferred choice for outdoor dog beds. The Coolaroo Elevated Pet Bed is the perfect combination of affordability, durability, and comfort for inside or outside the house.
- Materials: High density polyethylene, Alloy Steel, Fabric
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL
- Waterproof: Yes
- Mold and mildew resistant
- Fabric free of harmful chemicals
- Breathable, durable mesh fabric
- Easy to clean
- Affordable price
- Not suited for dogs over 100lbs
The Coolaroo Elevated Pet Bed is a favorite among many dog owners because of its affordable price, durability, and ease of use. These beds are cot-style platforms that allow your dog to sit off the ground. Since it uses a durable mesh material, more airflow is allowed to move under the bed, helping your dog stay cool. Even though the mesh isn’t padded, the fabric flexibility relieves pressure off joints to eliminate the risk of hot spots.
The alloy steel frame is powder-coated to protect it from the elements, and the entire bed is easy to keep clean. Since the materials are waterproof, you can either wipe the bed down with a damp rag or hose it off when needed.
These beds are available in four sizes and are suitable for many dog breeds and sizes. Unfortunately, the largest size can only hold up to 100lbs, so giant breed dogs may not be able to use this bed. The good news is that this bed style is easy to find at most pet stores and even at Costco. We recommend getting the steel framed elevated beds since they tend to last longer, are easier to maintain, and are more portable.
Best Water Resistant
Why It Made The Cut: The Furhaven Traditional Dog Bed utilizes a water-resistant material, making this a great on-the-ground choice for indoor and outdoor use.
- Materials: water-resistant coated polyester canvas
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
- Waterproof: water-resistant
- Three foam options
- Removable cover for cleaning
- Accessible and comfortable for dogs of all ages
- Additional waterproofing liner available
- Not suitable for dogs that chew or shred beds
- Not fully waterproof
The Furhaven Traditional Dog Bed is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. The water-resistant cover makes cleaning easy and not a big deal if it gets wet. They sell an additional waterproofing insert that further protects the foam, and we recommend adding that if this is kept outside at all times.
There are a few foam padding options for the traditional dog bed design, and they are not all created equal in terms of durability. The orthopedic foam doesn’t hold up quite as well as their other options and may not be the best option for outdoor use or dogs that nest/dig at their beds.
The cover of this bed is what sells it. The interior foam is supportive, and most dogs enjoy it, but the cover is easy to clean and replaceable if needed. The price is suitable for the quality of the product you receive, but not all of the bed covers or foam are the same to be sure you invest in one that fits your needs.
Best with Canopy
Why It Made The Cut: The SUPERJARE Outdoor Dog Bed is an elevated bed with the bonus of having a canopy to provide your pup with some much-needed shade on warm weather days.
- Materials: Alloy steel with 1680D Oxford fabric
- Sizes: L, XL
- Waterproof: water resistant
- Durable materials
- Easy to set up and move
- Can be used with or without a canopy
- Breathable cot materials
- Canopy does not protect from rain
When your dog needs some extra shade, try the SUPERJARE Outdoor Dog Bed. Although it is preferable to have the bed under a shelter or shade cloth of some kind, having an elevated bed with a canopy is excellent for at-home use and use on the road in the included carrying bag. When a campsite or beach doesn’t have enough shade, this provides your dog with a safe and comfortable place to lay down and settle.
The canopy on this bed only provides the dog shade and will not protect them from rain. The bed can get wet, as it is water resistant, but to improve the longevity of the materials, keeping it out of rain and snow is ideal.
Your dog can also use the elevated bed without the canopy, making it a versatile option. Unlike other elevated beds, this one also has a middle support beam to improve the support and to help the materials last longer. With or without the canopy, the bed is easy to put together and does not require any tools.
Best for Camping
Why It Made The Cut: The Kurgo Waterproof Dog Bed is a portable dog bed suitable for any camping endeavor, road trip, or even a beach day.
- Materials: microtomic ripstop material with a waterproof Rufftex non-slip bottom
- Sizes: M, L
- Waterproof: water resistant top with a waterproof bottom
- Easy to transport and carry
- Durable materials
- Lifetime warranty with repair/replace option
- Easy to clean
- Not suitable for dogs that chew or shred
- Top fabric could be more durable
The Kurgo Waterproof Dog Bed is among the most convenient and functional camping dog bed options available. The no-slip bottom is waterproof, and the top is water resistant. Even though the top material of the bed isn’t fully waterproof, it dries quickly if it does get wet. These beds are great for any form of travel with your dog.
It rolls up small and has an easy carry handle that you can attach to a bag or carry independently. This bed can do the trick even if you want a simple mat on a patio. It isn’t as soft and supportive as more robust foam options, but its portability makes it an excellent bed for travel, camping, or a way to make a car crate more comfortable on a road trip.
The small pocket on the front of the bed isn’t very practical for storing any items, but if you have an anxious pup, you can put some small things that smell like home in there to ease their worry. Although Kurgo has a lifetime warranty and will honor repairs/replacements, our primary complaint is that the top material could be more durable. If your dog doesn’t chew or dig too aggressively, the bed will hold up fine, but things like rocks, sticks, or fire embers may compromise the materials.
Why It Made The Cut: The K&H Pet Products Outdoor Heated Bed is excellent for dogs that spend time outdoors year-round and need a warm, comfortable place to sleep.
- Materials: Vinyl, fleece, orthopedic foam
- Sizes: S, M, L
- Waterproof: Yes
- The heating system exceeds USA/CA electrical safety standards
- Thermostatically heated
- Washable cover
- Steel-wrapped cord for safety
- Test it before use and periodically to ensure it still functions
- Not intended for extreme temperatures
The K&H Pet Products Outdoor Heated Bed is a great option for cats and dogs. Whether you want a warm place for the pup to lay while you work in the garage or need something extra to keep them warm in the kennel, this is an effective and easy solution.
It isn’t as robust or supportive as other traditional dog beds so older dogs may want more padding. The heating mechanism is intended to be pressure activated but should be tested periodically to ensure it works.
As a warning, these should not be used to keep a pet warm in extreme temperatures. They can supplement a heated dog house or garage, but they will not produce enough heat to ensure your pet stays safe. K&H also makes other heated outdoor dog bed options if this one does not fit your needs.
Best Cooling Mat
Why It Made The Cut: The Coleman Cooling Mat requires no water or prep and remains at least 10 degrees cooler than room temperature.
- Materials: N/A
- Sizes: S, L
- Waterproof: Yes
- Easy to clean
- Cools without the use of water
- More affordable than other similar mats
- Folds up easy for travel
- Not puncture resistant
- Sizes are kind of small
While this is not an outdoor dog bed, it is something that many dogs would appreciate indoors, outdoors, or during travel, especially during summer. The Coleman Cooling Mat utilizes a nontoxic gel that keeps the mat 5-10 degrees cooler than room temperature. It can be put in the fridge to be extra cool on hot days, but it works independently.
It gets dirty quickly, but the materials wipe clean with a wet cloth with no issue. If your dog digs, nests, or has long nails, you risk puncturing the materials, and this mat isn’t a good solution for you. Use this in their crate or on top of their existing dog beds. Be aware that if left out in the sun or in a hot car, it will become very hot to the touch.
Be aware of which size you are buying and what the dimensions are. They do not have many sizes available, and they run small regardless. When storing these mats, it is best to keep them fully open to prevent the gel from settling or clumping.
How We Made Our Picks
Luckily, I had some help choosing the best outdoor dog beds from my canine companions Ash, Tundra, and Leo. All three are large breed dogs that spend a considerable amount of time outdoors but also enjoy a comfy place to rest.
Since there are many reasons to have an outdoor dog bed, we tested beds with a focus on their durability and comfort for the dogs. For the camping-specific bed, portability, water resistance, and dry time were primary factors.
Other considerations made while choosing dog beds include:
- Longevity: Paired with durability, the bed’s longevity is important, especially for outdoor use with dogs. We looked at how well it holds up with extended sunlight, dogs that nest, and used in wet weather conditions. Since none of my dogs shred beds, we cannot speak on the durability of any of the beds regarding shredding and chewing. However, we did consider how repairable beds are and if parts could easily be replaced.
- Cost: It is common to have multiple beds, even for one dog, but things can get out of hand in a multidog household. Having a bed that is equally affordable while still being able to hold up to the test of time and use is important.
- Versatility: A dog bed that can be used in a kennel, yard, and out camping is a great option. It can sometimes be easiest to have different beds for different activities, but if the bed can be used in several settings, that was a selling point.
Other influences such as personal experience with products, company-specific research, and verified customer testimonials were also considered.
How much do outdoor dog beds cost?
How much outdoor dog beds costs vary according to style, materials, and size. The larger the dog, the more you should plan to pay for an outdoor dog bed. Popular cot style or elevated dog beds range in price from $25-100+, and much of the price depends on the materials used, features like having an awning or not, and the bed size. Other traditional beds may be cheaper but harder to keep clean unless they utilize a waterproof material.
What is the most durable material for a dog bed?
The most durable material for a dog bed is often cited as canvas. Other materials used in “bite-proof” dog beds include condura or PVC. Elevated dog beds made from plastic materials are less durable than those made from metal and a durable cot fabric. The sun exposure, cleanliness, and interactions the dogs have with the bed can all impact the durability of the bed.
Why do dogs destroy their beds?
Why dogs destroy their beds varies from breed and history of the dog. Many things can impact and influence the behaviors your dog performs. Shredding, chewing, and tearing are all natural behaviors for dogs. Sometimes dogs need appropriate outlets for them to do these things, or they will find outlets to fulfill this need to alleviate boredom. Another common reason dogs destroy beds is anxiety or stress. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety or isn’t properly crate trained, they may resort to destroying things like their beds.
Do dogs prefer hard or soft beds?
Whether your dog likes soft or firm beds will depend on their personal preferences, biological needs, and age. Most dogs will benefit from a slightly firmer bed to support their joints, but many dogs appreciate a soft surface to sleep on. Older dogs or dogs with mobility issues may struggle with soft, plushy beds that they sink into because they are harder to get out of once they have settled. Dogs that get hot easily also may not like soft beds and prefer hard beds because it is easier to regulate their body temperature. It may take some trial and error to determine the type of bed your dog prefers.
What is the best way to wash an outdoor dog bed?
The best way to wash an outdoor dog bed depends on the type of bed you have. For cot-style beds, you can likely hose them off and let them dry if they use a hard plastic top or a mesh material. Other cots may have a piece of fabric you can remove and wash. Most traditional dog beds need to be washed by hand in a large tub, while others can be put in a washing machine. When buying a dog bed, the company should provide care instructions, so you know the most effective way to wash the bed.
How can I make my own outdoor dog bed?
You can make an outdoor dog bed from materials ranging from PVC to make a cot frame or old pallets to build a platform. How you design the bed and what you make the bed from will depend on if the bed is outside and exposed to the elements, is in a dog house, or under another shelter. If the bed is covered, you can sew a cover for foam or even use a rectangle-shaped sleeping bag to fold it up as a cushion on a platform or a cot.
The best outdoor dog bed for your lifestyle and your canine companion can only be determined by you and your dog’s needs. We included various dog bed options here to give you a place to start your search. There are so many great options available, but we encourage you to invest in a bed that your dog not only enjoys but one that could last them their entire life and the many adventures you have together.