Does your dog spend most of his days (and some nights) outside? Once the weather turns cold, you’ll want to invest in a plan for a winter dog house to keep your pooch warm during cold weather. Our Boulder and Westminster veterinarians share how to choose the best dog house for cold weather.

What makes a good cold-weather dog house?

Regular outdoor kennels are fine in milder months, but in the winter, when moisture, rain, and snow can infiltrate your dog's enclosure and expose them to excessive cold, you should not rely on them to keep your dog safe. Here are some things to think about for dog houses in cold climates:

The Dog’s Size

Despite their smaller size, small dogs require a lot more heat because they lack the body fat and thick coat that larger dogs have. Owners should be aware that larger dogs might not have thick coats as well, depending on the breed. A warm blanket or coat lined with fur could be the difference.

The general rule is that a dog house should typically be at least 25 percent longer and wider than the dog. Do they have enough space to easily turn around?

How to Build a Dog House for Cold Weather


Insulated and sealed tightly with thick walls to keep the elements out, dog houses provide protection from winter weather. Bedding that encourages heat retention and insulation on the floor are also important for protecting against lower temperatures outside the walls.

Also make sure that it’s elevated above the ground and resistant to moisture, which can be harsh on building materials.


What is the house's durability? Similar to your own home, you might need to check on it frequently to make sure moisture hasn't seeped into any places it shouldn't and that the outside and inside are in good condition.


In order to keep the cold out and your dog warm inside, look for thick walls made of premium flooring and materials. Like any other product, some dog houses are made of better materials and have better designs for cold weather than others to provide greater protection from the worst winter weather. For optimal comfort, you might also want to provide a heating pad.

High-Quality, Closable Door

The best dog houses have doors that provide protection against chilly air drafts for your pet. Be sure the door, whether it comes with the house or you make a thick flap or curtain, will shield your dog from the coldest winds; if not, he will be open to the cold air getting inside his home.

No matter which dog house you choose, you’ll still want to monitor your pup closely during the year’s coldest days, and clean their house regularly.

Wondering how much time your dog can safely spend outside in the winter, or need specific advice? Our Boulder and Westminster vets have experience with a number of dog breeds. Contact us today.