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The best bed for a giant dog: What essentials do you look for?

French bulldog in a bed sleeping advice © Shutterstock

A giant dog likes nothing more than to stretch out when it sleeps. The smaller dog, in contrast, prefers to curl up into a ball. We take a look at how to choose a bed that caters perfectly to your dog’s needs (as well as yours). One that is fit for purpose: for the age of the dog, for its size and sleeping style.

By Nick Whittle

There are so many beds on the market made for the many different sizes of dog. But which one is the best at keeping a dog comfortable? Which is great for keeping a dog cool in the summer and cosy in the winter? Read on to find out how to go about finding the best bed for a giant dog.  

Why buy a dog a bed? 

Generally speaking, we bring dogs into our homes these days for companionship. But remember, being with a dog is a two-way state of affairs: if we treat our four-legged friend well we get love and loyalty back. And treating a dog well - giant or tiny - isn’t just about making sure he has plenty of food and drink. It’s about giving him the sort of comforts we’d afford anyone living under the same roof. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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It is tempting to think that an animal (especially one with fur) does not need a bed, but it does. Furthermore, part of the responsibility of owning a dog is ensuring that your dog or cat enjoys a comfortable sleep. 

Below are just some of the reasons why you should provide your dog with a bed: 

  • To avoid the dog using your bed or a sofa as a bed
  • To keep him warm in the winter
  • To protect his skin from bugs and sharp surfaces 
  • To prevent his joints from becoming sore against a hard surface
  • To provide him with a place of his own

What size dog bed should you buy? 

One of the most important consideration is the size of the dog bed. When we talk about giant dogs we  mainly think of breeds such as the German Shepherd, Great Dane, Newfoundland and the Irish Wolf Hound. Dogs such as these should be provided with a bed in which they can stretch and comfortably move around.

Giant dogs need plenty of room, and are generally not content with a bed that has just enough space.

TIP: To gauge the ideal size of a bed for your dog, wait until he is asleep and then measure him from nose to tail. Add between 8 and 12 inches onto that length to determine the size of bed he will need.

What shape of bed should you buy for a giant dog? 

Pet beds come in lots of shapes and sizes. Medium-sized and small dogs like to curl up when they sleep; doing so makes them feel safe. In addition, smaller animals lose heat more quickly than larger animals, so when dogs curl into a ball it keeps their body temperature cosy. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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For large and giant dogs extra-large mattress-type pet beds are best. A flat and roomy bed allows your dog to stretch its long limbs and avoid cramps and sore joints.

In the winter, a flat bed with raised sides is a better defence against the cold; in summer, a cool, breathable mattress will ensure your dog stays cool. Thus a bed that has raised sides as an optional feature would be perfect.

Where should you put your dog’s bed? 

To look for a dog bed of the right size and shape is important, but so too should you consider where in your house the bed will go. Here are some pointers to choosing the best location for your dog’s bed: 

  • Somewhere cosy and safe 
  • Somewhere near to where you and your family spend most of your time
  • Close to a window, for a better natural light
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Where should you NOT put your dog’s bed? 

  • Somewhere draughty and cold, unprotected or outside
  • Busy traffic areas of the home 
  • Somewhere that is in the way of your everyday movement

Which orthopaedic bed is the best for giant dogs? 

To force your dog to sleep on the floor will not do. Giant dogs, large dogs and older dogs need their limbs supported when they lie down. If you don’t provide a suitable support your dog can become poorly very quickly, and problems associated with poor sleep will manifest. 

Arthritis and other bone disorders are seen of dogs that sleep on floors.

Writes pet care specialists Animal Awareness, “Sleeping on hard surfaces is hard on the joints of the skeleton especially in thin dogs in which bony prominences are likely to rub on hard surfaces." 

“Soft bedding will help support the bones and joints without causing discomfort and pain, making your animal more comfortable.”

What is a ‘memory foam’ pet bed? 

There are lots of different types of orthopaedic pet bed on the market these days. An extra-large orthopaedic memory foam bed is a popular choice of owners of large dogs. These types of bed contain foam which, when warm, aligns with the shape of the dog’s body.

Memory foam best supports the dog’s spine, limbs and hips. A bed made of this material will not only prevent the on-set of arthritic conditions but will also help dogs that suffer with arthritis to sleep more soundly. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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A memory foam mattress is designed to accommodate any position in which your dog lies. The material moulds and cradles by equal measure the entirety of the dog’s body.

Memory foam also absorbs motion. Most plush feather or foam dog beds will tend to change shape over time and eventually become distorted. But when your dog stretches itself on memory foam its movements are isolated. 

What is the best dog bed material?

The shape and size of a bed for your giant dog is not your only consideration. What it is made from should also be near the top of the list. 

Your dog may be allergic to certain materials, he may enjoy messy play outdoors or he may be a chewer. The best material of a dog bed should be durable, water-resistant and easily cleanable. 

The best giant dog bed for washing

One of your primary concerns should be how washable a dog bed is. Dogs are, by their very nature, messy animals. Most enjoy walks through water or mud, and all of them are messy eaters. Some dogs, especially older dogs, are also incontinent. All of that spells danger when it comes to being in contact with fabric around the house. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Most dog beds come with washable covers. The removable liner of a dog bed can easily be taken off and washed. A dog bed that does not have a washable cover should be avoided, so too one that cannot be machine washed. 

How often you should wash a dog bed is determined by one or more of the following: 

  • Messy activities
  • Your dog’s allergies or general state of health
  • Your allergies and those of members of your family
  • Your dog’s tendency to shed its fur

It is best practice in any case to wash your dog’s bed at least once a week. 

The best giant dog bed for chewing 

Some dogs are habitual chewers. In fact, it is normal of puppies and dogs to chew objects. 

Young dogs chew things because they are exploring the world around them; they also may chew to alleviate the pain of teething. Older dogs may be stuck with the chewing habit, but they may also be bored or anxious. No matter what the reason, we must live with the fact that dogs will chew, and chew whatever they see. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The best dog bed for any dog – giant or tiny – must therefore be durable, and be able to withstand a degree of chewing. Ideally, a bed made from a tough fabric will deter a dog from excessive chewing. 

To pick a dog bed which consists of replaceable parts would also be a good move, because fabric won’t last forever. 

Some dog beds consist of a mattress housed in a plastic base; the base of these is obviously very chew-resistant. But if you buy this type of bed you must ensure that a giant dog is still able to stretch its limbs adequately without resting on the plastic. 

TIP: If your dog’s chewing has got out of hand it would be worth discussing the matter with your vet. 

Conclusion: What are your next steps towards choosing the perfect bed for a giant dog? 

Ultimately, the most important aspect of choosing the best dog bed is to know your dog. Watch him sleep and observe his movements. Think about your dog’s style of sleep and his temperament, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is he a giant dog that enjoys stretching (some like to be curled up and ‘protected’)? 
  • Does he suffer with any allergies? 
  • Is he a habitual chewer?
  • Does he get cold when he sleeps? 
  • Is he a messy dog that will often traipse mud throughout the house? 
  • Does he suffer with arthritis, or does he belong to a breed that is prone to the condition (Labrador, Retriever, German Shepherd)?