If you thought people had a mindboggling number of options to choose from when selecting a new bed, try shopping for dogs! Of course, considering dogs sleep an average of 12 to 14 hours a day (the lucky pups!), it stands to reason that having the perfect place to rest their furry heads—and legs, and backs—is of utmost importance.
That’s why we waded through the world of bolsters, pillows, caves, mats, cots, and even orthopedic beds, to determine which styles and brands appeal to the largest cross-section of canines. Overall, we (or should we say, our fur-kid) were especially drawn to the K&H Original Bolster Cot Elevated Dog Bed(available at Amazon for $51.99), which really delivers when it comes to versatility. It can be placed outside or inside. It’s made from breathable materials to keep dogs cool, but it’s equipped with cushiony bolsters for comfort and support. That’s equally appropriate for older, arthritic dogs or plucky, playful puppies. Unlike some of the other dog beds we reviewed, it really addresses the needs of pooches of all breeds, temperaments, and sizes.
That said, individual dogs are about as unique as snowflakes (our puppy reviewers recently proved that)—whether a larger breed or a toy puppy—so we wanted to find the right dog bed for your best friend.
These are the best dog beds we tested ranked, in order:
K&H Original Bolster Pet Cot Elevated Dog Bed
Best Friends by Sheri Orthocomfort Deep Dish Cuddler
PetFusion Ultimate Lounge with Solid Memory Foam
K&H Pet Products Self Warming Lounge Sleeper
Snoozer Cozy Cave
Frisco Sherpa Bolster Rectangular Dog Bed
Big Barker Pillow Top Orthopedic Dog Bed
MidWest Plush Bolster
Coolaroo Elevated Pet Bed
Furhaven Deluxe Mattress
Frisco Quilted Fleece
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Cots tend to have a specific, built-in audience, being great outdoor options for keeping canines cool while lounging in the sun. They’re also popular among the elderly pet set, or owners of pups with orthopedic issues, since they don’t need to heave themselves up and down from the floor. But the K and H Original Bolster Pet Cot Elevated Dog Bed expands its reach with a puffy, removable, wrap-around bolster, which adds neck and back support for dogs of all sorts, and adds serious smush-appeal, for animals that like to burrow and nest.
A mesh center helps circulate air, while a waterproof nylon cover presents an obstacle for enthusiastic chewers, and resists bacteria, mildew and mold. It can be easily assembled and taken apart without tools—a big plus when it comes to transporting, storing or cleaning the washing-machine safe cover and bolster—although the whole thing can also simply be wiped or hosed down. The bed includes skid-free rubber feet, which both assures its stability, and keeps it from scuffing up the floors in your house, comes in three sizes, and is rated to hold up to 150-pounds of pup. There’s even a line of replacement covers available, including cooling and self-warming varieties, as well as a pet canopy, all of which can fit on the same basic frame.
The K and H Self Warming Lounge Sleeper delivers lots of bang for your buck. In addition to being built from quality, eco-friendly, easy to clean materials—including a poly/cotton cover, micro-fleece liner, and filling made from recycled bottles—the pillow has a layer of metalized insulation, that radiates warmth generated from your pets’ own body heat. A non-slip fabric bottom provides extra, non-slip stability, and the bolster shape is a reliable winner amongst pups, giving them plenty of opportunities to cuddle up and nest.
Best Friends by Sheri OrthoComfort Deep Dish Cuddler
Burrowers and snugglers will love to cuddle up inside the Best Friends Deep Dish Cuddler; be they dogs, cats, or any animal weighing up to 25 pounds (or 35, if you choose the Jumbo version). High walls promote a sense of security and safety, and flexible, pillow-like contours adjust to your furry friend’s shape. That said, there’s just enough structure to provide orthopedic support, including elevated front and rear bolsters and a flat, waterproof bottom.
Since it’s light and non-ridged, you can take the Deep Dish on trips, in cars, stash it in a closet, or simply drag it to your pup’s preferred place inside the house. The pet-safe fiber stuffing presumably holds its shape up to three times longer than other fillers commonly found on the market, and the entire bed is machine washable. So while the cushy Sherpa cover is quick to collect fur, it’s pretty hassle-free to keep clean. It also comes in an array of colors, such as dark chocolate, teal, fuschia, and light gray lux, meaning your adorable little nugget can snooze away in style.
Available in small, large, extra-large and jumbo (the dimensions of which are 50x40x13), the PetFusion Ultimate Lounge has what it takes to be the go-to den for almost any dog. The couch-like shape has an open front, providing easy access for short or senior dogs, but also boasts squishy bolsters stuffed with recycled Poly-Fil the rest of the way around. Pups can rest their chins, bury their noses or support their backs from almost any angle. The base of the bed is comprised of a thick layer of memory foam (two inches on small, four inches on large and extra-large, six inches on jumbo), which is key in providing joint relief and orthopedic support. And the base has a waterproof liner, while the tear-resistant cover, made from breathable cotton and polyester twill (especially comfortable materials during warmer months) can be easily spot cleaned, or simply removed and thrown in the wash. The PetFusion is also rather attractive, as far as dog loungers go, so even the bulkiest version wouldn’t be out of place in a stylish house.
I’m Sarah Zorn, and I’ve reviewed dog products, developed pet-friendly recipes, and written animal rescue stories for outlets like Rachael Ray Every Day and Animal Fair magazine for almost 10 years. Which means that my 9-year-old hound mix, Rowdy, is truly living his best life, as official house recipe taster and product tester. Like most adoring pet parents, I’ve always made sure to purchase him top of the line beds, although his go-to favorite remains our own.
We tested the beds on small and large dogs of various ages and breeds, to help determine overall favorites. Over the course of several days, we set out the beds and observed which the dogs were drawn to, how comfortable they looked in them, how long they remained in them, and if they held their shape throughout prolonged usage. We evaluated if the advertised size of each bed was accurate in reality, if purported special features and accessories were actually useful, as well as the quality/durability of every bed’s build. Finally, we assessed how portable and storable they were, how easy it was to wash the beds or clean fur off with a brush, and if they held on to any bad smells after long periods of time.
What You Should Know About Dog Beds
There are hundreds of recognized breeds of dogs, as well as a literally countless variety of mixes. So it’s no wonder so many different types of dog beds exist, to cater to different needs. These are the most popular dog beds to choose from:
Mats: Mostly used to line crates and carriers, these are thin, inexpensive and no-frills, generally made from a thin piece of foam or filler covered with cotton, fleece or polyester. Their selling point is portability.
Mattresses: Significantly thicker than mats, with much more orthopedic support (as they’re often made with egg or memory foam), these can also be placed inside crates, or used as a standalone bed. They also frequently feature waterproof, removable covers that can be placed in the wash.
Pillows: Essentially that—these beds are big floor pillows that your dog can sink into. Since they are, by definition, unstructured, they’re definitely best for pups that like to burrow into couch cushions and don’t require orthopedic support.
Bolsters: Does your dog tend to prop his chin on top of things when resting? He’d likely appreciate a bolster bed, which comes with raised, padded edges. Not only do bolsters support the neck, they create a snug cushion around the body. This tends to appeal to a dog’s natural nesting instinct, and their inborn desire to sleep tucked against (or on top of) their brothers and sisters.
Cots: Raised off the ground and made with breathable, durable materials, cots are great for outdoor use, and serve to keep a dog cool. They’re also ideal for pups with joint issues, because they can access their bed without having to bend off of or onto the floor. And while they’re not often a go-to for the owners of small dogs, it should be noted that small fluffy dogs often get overheated (especially when they’re given small, fluffy beds), making cooling cots well worth your consideration.
But no matter what kind of bed you buy, you should always keep these factors in mind:
Size: Dogs enjoy being closely contained, but you still want to give them the opportunity to sprawl. Check dimensions to make sure you’re selecting the right size for your canine, as small, medium, large, and even jumbo can differ wildly among brands.
Materials: Make sure the fabrics are durable and, of course, pet-friendly—so you don’t need to constantly replace the beds, especially if your dogs tend to be destructive. And if you have older dogs, ones with joint issues, or just want to provide your furry companion with especially comfy accommodations, you’ll want to look for options made from orthopedic foam (which assists circulation and offers joint and muscle support) or that have a memory foam base, which molds to dogs bodies, and springs right back after long-term use. You’ll also want to make sure beds are waterproof for easy cleanup, and able to be placed in the washing machine, or at least have a removable cover that can be.
Other Dog Beds We Tested
Snoozer Cozy Cave
Dogs are natural burrowers, as most owners have doubtlessly observed when their dog is anxious or afraid, sick, or just plain sleepy, and eager to be tightly ensconced. Snoozer’s clever Cozy Cave directly addresses this instinct, with a tent-like top that pups can hide and nestle under, lined with nubby Sherpa that retains heat in the winter and keeps cool in the summer. Cedar poly filling plumps out the cushy base, and a poly-cotton cover can be removed, and machine washed. The bed is reasonably light, so it can be transported with ease, although the domed top can make it more difficult to store. Its structure is maintained with a thin plastic rod, which can potentially bend over time, calling into question its long-term durability.
You can’t go wrong with a basic bolster like the Frisco Sherpa Bolster Rectangular Dog Bed, which offers comfort, security, and full-body support. And while it lacks the bells and whistles of K and H’s dog beds, Frisco’s classic Sherpa-covered cuddler is still a quality choice. Granted, it’s not padded with memory foam. But small to medium-sized dogs with minimal orthopedic issues can log some serious smush-time against the downy polyester fiber filling and rest their heads against the surrounding bolster (one lowered side provides entry) padded with a chenille jacquard cover. Being lightweight and all of one piece, it’s also no-muss no-fuss when it comes to moving, storing and cleaning—just hoist it up and put the whole thing in the wash.
A frequent “best in show” among beds specifically designed with older dogs and long breeds in mind, the Big Barker Pillow Top Orthopedic Dog Bed aims to address and prevent orthopedic issues. Available in large, extra-large and giant (coming in at a whopping 60x48x7), they’re crafted by master furniture makers, not mass-produced in factories, and are constructed from the highest quality American orthopedic foam. The Big Barkers come with a 10-year warranty, along with the promise that the 100 percent microfiber covers can be washed 1,000 times, without shrinking by more than fractions of a millimeter, and that the foam will retain 90 percent of its original shape, even after a decade of use. But while we’d never put a price on our dog’s health and happiness, the price tag is enough to give anyone pause—think around $240 for the large, and up to $400 for the giant.
While a bit too flat to qualify as a true bolster, the MidWest Plush Bolster is definitely a cut-above just a mat. Slightly raised edges provide a small lip for head-resting, and the extra thick and silky plush material is cozier than your average nubby fleece. While you probably wouldn’t want to use it as a standalone bed, the generous range of dimensions (from 18 to 54 inches), and extreme portability and storability makes it ideal for lining crates, taking on car trips or vacations, or even using it as an extra layer for your dog’s existing bed.
One of the leaders on the cot-style pet bed market, the Coolaroo Elevated Pet Bed is definitely great to have on hand during warmer months, being elevated off the ground (which allows for airflow) and made from UV-treated material that doesn’t hold heat. It’s also a good choice for dogs with joint issues, since it releases pressure on the knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders, and enables them to get on and off the bed with ease. Owners of chewers should consider the Coolaroo as well since it’s composed of a steel frame lined with sturdy polyethylene fabric, which is also designed to withstand all weather conditions and is resistant to mold, mildew, mites, and fleas. That said, dogs that like to nest may straight up reject the bed, and the canvas-esque fabric isn’t quite as conducive to extended nap sessions. Although you can certainly bring it inside, it’s definitely ideal as an outside option, and unlike K and H’s Bolster Cot, can’t be put together or taken apart without tools.
FurHaven Orthopedic Foam Ultra Plush Deluxe Mattress Bed
While our own dog happily sleeps on mattress-style bed(s), he turned his little nose up at the Furhaven Deluxe Mattress. As did our other four-legged volunteer testers—only stepping on it begrudgingly, with treats and prodding, and then quickly running off again, in search of other nests. As we said, dogs are true individuals and are absolutely subject to moods and specific likes and dislikes, so we'd hate to reject this bed out of hand. From a human perspective, it’s affordable (we’ve spent over $200 on mattress-style options, while the Furhaven averages $39.99), and comes in a wide range of colors and sizes, from small to jumbo. It can be ordered padded with either orthopedic or memory foam, the basic, step-on design is good for older or disabled pets, and the cover is removable and machine washable. Why isn’t this a top scorer then? We did find it less generously padded than the mattress beds we have at home. But more importantly, our large assembly of testers has spoken, and we must respect their bark.
Our dog loved nibbling at the fleece of the Frisco Quilted Fleece, but that was about it. That said, mats are mostly meant for lining crates, and their portability and affordability heighten the appeal for people rather than pets. So we hardly expected our test dogs to favor it over more luxurious options. The Frisco does come in a good range of sizes, though, from 18 to 54-inches, and even has a little loop—so after machine washing, you can allow it to drip dry (although it’s also dryer safe). The factors that really pushed it down on our list, however, are that it only comes in white—not a preferred shade with long term dog use—and if you’re going to go the mat route, the MidWest is considerably cuddlier.
The Majestic Pillow is an amorphous mattress that proved to be a headache for our collection of test people (it’s unwieldy to drag around, hard to find an unobtrusive space for, and exceedingly tricky to clean fur off of with a brush) as well as their pets. It didn’t conform to their shape in a satisfactory way, and dogs with mobility and orthopedic issues would find it difficult (and potentially unsafe) to maneuver on and off it. Pluses for this dog bed are that it’s made from environmentally friendly and hypoallergenic materials, you can run the whole thing in the wash, and it comes in lots of patterns and colors—although only two sizes; the larger of which is 46 inches. And it’s not even a tremendous value, being the fifth most expensive out of the 12 dog beds we tested.
Sarah Zorn is a food writer, cookbook author, and product tester for Reviewed, Wirecutter and the Food Network. She regularly contributes to outlets such as Saveur, Esquire, and Civil Eats, and has very much passed her food obsessions down, as her beloved rescue hound, Rowdy, regularly deglazes his kibble bowl.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.