Dogs should not be kept outdoors in winter for prolonged period of time. They can get cold just like people, and in some states, this is even illegal.
However, some breeds simply prefer to stay outside for hours.
If that's your dog, you still need to provide them with a shelter.
A winter dog house is designed specifically to let the dog hide away and keep them warm.
Unlike regular houses, a dog house for winter has several extra features:
- Its walls and floors are insulated to keep in the warmth
- Entrance is angled to prevent wind, snow and rain entering the house
- Optional: it may be raised or have extra bottom layer to keep away from cold ground
- Optional: it may have pre-installed house heater, or a self-heating pads on the floor
Below are some of the best dog house for winter choices we've tested and liked for use in cold months.
Winter Dangers for Dogs and Why You Need a Winter Dog House
Winter nights get be extremely cold in many areas of the world, and in a number of U.S. regions winter nights can be well below 30° F degrees. In a few unlucky areas, even the days can be freezing during the coldest months of winter.
An insulated dog house for winter will be designed to protect pets from the said low temperatures, snow, ice and wind, and prevent situations like this where a dog died from being cold.
While some breeds can sustain more cold than others, there is no dog breed that is completely immune to very cold temperatures. No matter the breed, if you plan on leaving them outside, they're going to need a dog house for winter to stay warm.
Do not be misled into thinking that thick coated dogs will be comfortable outside in cold temperatures. Some pet owners have assumed that, and this resulted in many dogs freezing to death (and owners charged with animal cruelty as a result).
When Is It too Cold for Dogs in Winter?
Evidence shows that while this mostly depends on the size of your dog and their coat fur thickness, as well as the dog's body fat levels and few other genetic factors, generally anything below 45° F degrees is too cold for dogs.
“…it is clinically accepted that indoor pets that are not acclimated to cold weather should not be left outside when the average daily temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.” – Dr. M.A. Crist, a clinical assistant professor (source).
No matter how big your dog is, or how thick their coat is, they still require a shelter, and preferably it's an insulated dog house for winter, that provides a warm and comfortable environment. The key part of a good winter dog house is insulation.
Dogs are at risk of hypothermia when their body temperature drops to an unusually low level. Hypothermia is a dangerous condition when the rate of a dog's heart and the blood flow speed goes down, oxygen consumption increases by 300%, making a dog susceptible to death.
While hypothermia in dogs is dangerous, frostbite can become an even bigger problem. This is because pet owners are too late to recognize frostbite in their dogs due to long coats. Consequences of that could be devastating, potentially leaving the dog crippled for the rest of their lives.
Regular Dog House vs. Insulated Dog House for Winter
You can also buy a house heater for your pup's regular home.
However, the main problem with regular pet houses when compared to insulated dog houses for winter is that they do not keep the warmth inside.
An insulated dog house for winter is designed in a specific way and using materials to protect dogs from elements and maintain temperature inside.
Here's what you want in your winter dog house:
- An offset doorway to protect from rain, snow and provide wind resistance;
- Full insulation using foam or other material to keep the inside warm;
- Good roof and entryway ventilation for proper airflow;
- Having microban materials prevent the growth of bacteria inside the house.
- (Optional) Dog house heater ready for easy heater installation.
Providing your pet with the best dog house for winter isn't just a nice thing to do; it is a must for any dog staying outdoors in low temperatures, especially overnight.
The Best Dog Houses for Winter
1Indigo Dog House with Microban
Our first choice is a very popular house among pet owners and a long-time bestseller on Amazon.
The Indigo Dog House is igloo-inspired and thus is dome-shaped.
It's built from structural foam incorporated with the Microban technology which deters the growth of microorganisms that cause odor and stain.
A small roof vent aids in the circulation of air.
- IGLOO DOG HOUSE: This heavy...
- DIMENSIONS: 43.8" x 34" x...
- LARGE DOG HOUSE: The raised...
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- Petmate: For over 50 years, we...
While it's a more expensive choice among the rest on this list, it's easily the best dog house for winter to keep your pet warm and safe.
On top of the insulation and bacteria-resistant materials, there is an extended doorway to provide cover from draft, rain, and snow.
The house measures at 51.5” x 39.3” x 30” and is designed for dogs less than 42” long from nose to rump and less than 31” tall.
Make sure to measure your dog correctly and compare that with the dimensions of the size you’re buying. Sizing is critical when it comes to insulated dog houses for winter because a size much larger than what your dog needs would be a tad too breezy while a smaller size would be uncomfortable.
Your dog must be able to go in and be able to turn around without issues.
The slightly curved entry of this first best winter dog house provides some protection from precipitation and wind, but you’d need a tarp or flap door for heavy downpours or gusty winds.
From the feel of it, we expect this solidly-built shelter to last a long while.
Thus, if you’re buying it for a puppy, it might be a good idea to keep in mind how big they'll get in about 4 years.
Durable Waterproof Plastic Pet Dog House
The second best dog house for winter is the complete opposite in design – it's a wooden structure with three layers for perfect insulation.
First, you have timber (tongue and groove), followed by styrofoam, and then plywood boards.
While it doesn't have the bacteria-resistant Microban technology like the house listed above, the three-layer insulation is great not only for winter to keep dogs warm but also for summer to keep your pet cool.
- LARGE & STURDY HOUSE - The dog...
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As with any winter dog house, correct sizing is the key.
This winter dog house has a usable interior space for up to an 100lb dog, while the whole structure measures at 2ft 5.5″ (W) x 2ft 8.1″ (D) x 2ft 9″ (H).
One of our favorite features is the removable roof and floors, which makes this place very easy to clean.
Another useful aspect here that most other best dog houses for winter on this list do not have is the raised floor.
It provides about 2 inches of ground clearance, which is great for keeping moisture away, as well as keeping the house warm and dry in winter, and cool in summer.
In winter, the interior temperature gradually increases with your dog’s natural body temperature.
If you’re using a dog house heater, you won’t actually need it to work all the time because the house’s own insulation does its part, too.
3Outdoor Pet House
by K&H Pet Products
Here is something for small breeds only. This winter pet house is normally bought for cats, but it works perfectly well for puppies or small dogs.
K&H Manufacturing is well-known for designing great quality dog supplies and we've reviewed a number of their products in the past, all with a great experience.
- PROTECTION: Our cozy cat...
- WEATHER RESISTANT: Keep all...
- STAY WARM: The featured...
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This third best dog house for winter is made of 600-denier polyester fabric with vinyl waterproof backing.
Interior measures at 14” wide, 18” deep, and 16” high. It has a typical gable house shape with openings at the front and back.
The vent hole above the entryway adds to the airiness inside, while the eaves or extended roof protects from precipitation.
There are two versions of this winter pet house. If you have frigid winters in your area, then it is advisable that you buy the heated version. It comes with the Lectro-Soft heated pad and two door flaps to cover the openings.
The structure isn't as sturdy as the above two mentioned, so while you can use it outside it's preferable to keep it under some roof and on a dry surface.
The material, though waterproof and insulated, is very lightweight and will give in to strong winds and heavy downpour or snowfall.
You’d receive this winter dog house folded and flat, but it is very easy to set up. The house has Velcro, hook and loop fastening, and zipper to connect every part securely.
The assembled house would still be very light, fabric as it is, and could be easily knocked off by bigger pets, which may be an issue.
The weight of the pet heated pad inside this winter dog house would help to make this more stable, not to mention that it would also be softer and warmer.
4Deluxe Insulated Dog Palace with Floor Heater
by ASL Solutions
For very harsh winters, this house from ASL Solutions is a great alternative to the first two mentioned above.
The house has the EPS foam insulation on all panels, self-closing door, triangular peep-holes, and large interior space.
There is a 40-watt floor heater and fleece bed that comes with this dog house, which is essentially what makes it a very effective winter dog house but also an expensive choice.
- Insulated dog house that is...
- Up to 4" of real foam...
- Insulated outdoor dog house...
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Another good thing about this fourth best dog house for winter is that it insulates the inner space both from too much cold and too much heat.
The vents and heated floor are nifty additions.
You may also opt for the specially-designed solar-operated fan for optimum comfort and weather-adaptability.
It would possibly take 3 or 5 years before you’d notice that the ESP foam settles with time. It would cover less and less of the space it previously occupied and thus reduce the house’s ability to insulate.
At any rate, you’d have the heater to protect your pet from the cold, though it would have to work longer periods than it used to.
When it becomes too hot and you don’t have a fan for this winter dog house, it’s good to know that there are panels that you can remove to let the breeze in.
5Pet Waterproof Plastic Outdoor Winter House
For something more affordable and still sturdy, the fifth best winter dog house on our list is constructed from durable molded plastic.
It has a simple design with a pitched roof, front opening, ample headroom, and large interior space.
Since this dog house from Confidence Pet is made of plastic, it is waterproof and easy to clean and maintain.
Choose from three sizes: the largest one has room for two Labradors. The opening measures 14.1” wide and 24.6” high, while the space inside measures 41.3” x 38” x 38.7”.
- WATERPROOF – Re-engineered...
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You may safely place this dog winter house in your yard or out on the patio. For really cold winters, a dog heating pad would be a necessary addition.
You may want to throw a blanket or tarp over the house since it has no door cover to keep the cold and precipitation out.
The front opening makes it easy for your dog to get in and out and let the breeze in during warmer weather.
This is one of the more sturdy best-insulated dog houses for winter but it does look cheap(er) than the first two options.
With plenty of space, and for a basic all-weather environment, at a reasonable price, this is still a very good choice.
The downside is that this plastic dog winter house needs little adjustments with every change in weather.
For instance, you’d need to add a heater and cover for cold or wet days, and you may need to relocate it to a more shaded spot in summer.
It has no windows and its only source of ventilation is the front opening, so be sure that your weather conditions will be compatible with that aspect.
6DH350 Dog House
This one has a lot in common with the Confidence plastic dog house mentioned above. It has the same compact, pitched roof design and durable plastic construction.
Assembly is easy, because parts click together and lock in place.
This dog house has a distinct edge over the Confidence brand because its roof can be removed without need to take everything apart. Its floor slopes and drains to a channel along the interior perimeter.
This pack includes a vinyl door to keep moisture away and personalized letters for your dog’s name.
- OUTDOOR DOG HOUSE: Attractive...
- DURABLE: Constructed from...
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The parts lock together so tight they’re like glued. That makes this sixth best dog house for winter leak-proof, but if you somehow find a leak, you would have to inspect where the parts meet and possibly disassemble and reassemble making sure everything fits to a T.
This part where you can quickly disassemble and assemble this fifth best dog house for winter makes it perfect for bringing along during trips or vacations.
Plastics generally degrade with constant UV exposure and become brittle in cold temperatures, but this dog house seems to tolerate extreme cold and warm temperatures really well, and many pet owners confirm the same after reading the reviews of this winter dog house.
To improve insulation from the cold, you’d need a heating pad or blanket.
If you’re anticipating rain or winter, you may raise the house because its floor is quite close to the ground.
A few inches of bricks or lumber would be fine.
This is a bit smaller than the Confidence dog house at its dimension of 33”x38.5”x32”, but it’s also very much cheaper.
7Outback Log Exterior Dog House
by Precision Pet
Surprisingly, it's rare to see a winter dog house to be made of wood, mostly because the good ones are usually too expensive (like the one in the second spot), and cheap ones aren't insulated at all.
For a wood house, this one is actually affordable.
This is a shed-type dog house with log-style cedar-stained wood paneling.
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- KENNELS & HOUSES: Crate &...
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This seventh best dog house for winter has a slanted asphalt roof and black-brown trim that keeps the rustic log-cabin look well put-together. Plastic feet keep the floor of this dog house off the ground.
A noticeable difference from other insulated dog houses for winter would be the location of the door which is off to one side instead of the usual centered placement.
Dog owners often prefer this because when it gets too cold, their pets could snuggle farther away from the door and have a wider wall to protect them from the elements.
The wood panels are treated for weather-proofing, but it’s still wood and quite thin actually. Moderate rains might not cause so much of a problem because water would glide off.
Snow would be a different matter, though, because it could accumulate and soak into the wood before dripping off.
This would weaken the panel and cause it to rot, which is the main drawback of this seventh best dog house for winter.
A coat of polyurethane varnish might be helpful in stretching the lifespan of the wood panels.
This winter pet house would be a good affordable choice year-round if your winters are friendlier.
The large size of Precision Pet's dog house measures 45.5”x33”x33” and is designed for pets 70-95 pounds in weight.
The roof is screwed together, but it would have offered more function if it were hinged.
That would make cleaning and changing the bedding much easier.
Nevertheless, design concept and visual appeal are relatively good, especially considering the price.
8DH250 Dog House
Here is winter house for dogs that is made from synthetic resin molded into durable panels that snap together to form this leak-proof dog house.
Like the Suncast house mentioned above, it has a crowned floor, meaning the center is very slightly raised sloping downward to the edges.
Thus, water or any liquid will drain to the sides and onto the channel that runs along the inner perimeter. The floor dimension is 27”x35” and height is 29.5”. This dog house is designed for a 70-lb dog.
- Outdoor dog house: attractive...
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For its combined price, simplicity, functionality, clean look, and durability, we had to include it on our list of best dog houses for winter.
Like the bigger DH350 version, nothing comes close to its price considering size and make.
The Suncast DH250 Dog House is fuss-free, easy to assemble, resistant to moisture, and its roof panel snaps on and off very easily.
This makes cleaning fairly easy.
This provides a little degree of insulation because it is compact and sealed from three sides, but you can’t expect this to completely insulate your pet from freezing cold.
It also comes with a vinyl door flap that could keep drizzle and slight rain at bay, but you’d need more than that for storms.
You may also want to slightly elevate this because the floor is almost ground level.
A good height would also make the built-in drainage work more efficiently.
This winter dog house is lightweight and is easy to transport or relocate.
9Outdoor Dog House
At the ninth spot of best-insulated dog houses for winter is this one with the porch design that may be pretty irresistible.
Its roof extends farther away from the doorway, thus providing it with ample cover to keep rain from dripping inside. The roof is also hinged so it doesn't need to be detached when you prepare to clean the floor or check on the heater.
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This ninth best dog house for winter has some other unique features that were very appealing to us: adjustable feet, waterproof asphalt roofing, porch for warmer weather, inner quarter for cooler weather, and windows for added ventilation. The walls are made of kiln-dried cedar. Obviously, all of that makes it a more expensive choice on this list.
Unfortunately, it is available in only one size, 33” x 25” x 23”. The room is 16.5”x18”x16”, and that tells you that this is for smaller dogs only. This design deserves different sizes, or at least one bigger size. With a bigger dog, you’d need stronger flooring too. The floor in the Petsfit Dog House is made of slats spaced a bit apart, and they work fine for the small breeds this house is designed for but may be an issue with large dogs. The gaps provide additional ventilation, which is good for summer, but not so much for winter.
Insulation isn't its strongest feature. For winter, you’d need something to cover the window with, plus a heating pad, and blankets to cover the airy flooring. Hinged roof is a good feature because your back will definitely appreciate the easy-lift opening – it saved us a lot of backbreaking chores and crawling to get daily tasks done. This is a well-made, well-designed dog house, but a bit on the expensive side and not suitable for truly cold winters.
10Cozy Cottage Durable Plastic Dog House
by Pet Zone
Pet Zone winter dog house may look like the usual compact plastic houses you keep seeing, but it features something different -it's double walled. In a way, it’s similar to Dog Palace mentioned further up on our list of best dog house for winter, but this one is not filled with foam or any insulating material, which is why it's cheaper and ranked lower. Its double walls provide some degree of insulation, but not comparable to Dog Palace’s heat-intensifying quality. The roof can be removed to make cleaning easy. This dog house is made of durable plastic for dogs weighing up to 75 pounds.
- Pop up design for easy...
- Double wall insulation to keep...
- Made of durable materials
- Easy to clean
Setting up this compact winter dog house is quite easy. The walls, roof and floor come as single molded plastic panels that click in place without need for tools. Clicking together five panels is a no-brainer, nothing could possibly be simpler. It's also very lightweight, which is good for being portable, but that means it's not very sturdy and pretty cheap-looking. You may also find fault with it when your dog tries to turn it over or the storm blows it away, thus it's not suitable for harsh winters and strong winds.
There are holes for ground anchors, so you may want to get those if ordering this final option of best dog house for winter on our list. The description says that this is designed for dogs not more than 75 pounds, but take note that the interior dimensions of this dog house is 23”W x 28”D x 20.25”H. It would be more important to consider your dog’s girth, length, and height. Your dog must not only fit inside, it must also be able to turn around.