All-Weather Doghouse

Build it over the weekend!

This year my wife and I finally reached the limits of our tolerance for Labrador retriever hair on the kitchen floor. Our Lab, Woody, has been relocated permanently outdoors.


Because humans are susceptible to cold weather, we are inclined to worry about dogs in the cold. However, hot weather is a greater danger to dogs than cold weather. By hanging a kennel shade and keeping cool water in constant supply, we keep Woody well protected from summer's heat.

Nevertheless, even a Lab needs some protection from a Midwestern winter, so I decided to build Woody an insulated doghouse. As a former engineer, I have the requisite design and drafting skills to conceptualize a terrific domicile for a dog. There's just one problem: when it comes to actual construction, my skills do not extend beyond paper airplanes.

Fortunately (for me), I had a recently unemployed neighbor who can build or fix anything. This fellow is the ultimate handyman, and he had some time on his hands.We put our skills together to produce this all-weather doghouse over the weekend for less than $125 in material costs. (I paid the neighbor for his time, but you can eliminate the labor costs if you're handy yourself.)

This doghouse stays dry in a pelting rain, ventilated on a summer day, and warm enough for a dog on a subzero night. And Woody loves it.

Look carefully at the photographs that accompany this article, and you'll be a long way toward building this doghouse. Basically it's a series of plywood-and-insulation "sandwiches" built into a box, with a sloped roof that is hinged on the back. Hinging the roof allows for easy cleaning and bedding replacement; additionally, the roof can be propped slightly ajar in summer to ventilate.

The floor, roof, and walls each consist of two plywood panels separated by 2x2 framing, with hard foam insulation cut to shape and inserted into the recesses of the frame. Dimensions of the plywood panels are as follows:

Floor: Both panels are 29 ¼ " x 41 ¼"

Roof: Both panels are 36" x 48"

Front: Outside panel is 30" x 42"; inside panel is 27 ½" x 37 ½". You'll need to cut a door opening as shown in the photographs. This door is 12" x 18".

Back: Outside panel is 24" x 42"; inside panel is 22" x 37 ½"

Sides: Side panels are trapezoids, in order to achieve slope on the roof for drainage.Outside panels are 29 ¾" wide, with height varying from 24" to 30" across the top edge. Inside panels are also 29 ¾" wide, with height varying from 22" to 27 ½" across the top edge.

After cutting the plywood panels, assembly is basically a 7-step process as follows (again, refer to photos): Make the complete floor "sandwich" first, and attach four treated 2x4 "feet."

Screw the outside panels for the Front and Back into the sides of the floor framing, flush with the bottom edge of the floor. Screw the outside panels for the Sides into the sides of the floor framing, flush with the bottom edge of the floor.

Complete the "sandwiches" on both Sides, using 2x2 framing, foam insulation, and the inside panels. Screw the bottom framing members of each sandwich into the floor. Complete the "sandwiches" on Front and Back, using 2x2 framing, foam insulation, and the inside panels. Screw the bottom framing members of each sandwich into the floor, and the vertical framing members into the sides to increase strength.

Affix a 2x4, on edge, along the floor to hold the partition to act as a retaining wall for bedding. Put another 2x4 along the top. Then cut a plywood partition and screw it to both 2x4s. (See photos of doghouse interior.)

Make the roof "sandwich" and attach it to the doghouse with hinges as shown. Trim the corners and doorway with 1x2 trim, attached with galvanized nails. After assembly, prime and paint the doghouse with a good exterior primer/paint system. If there are any noticeable gaps in your construction, caulk them before priming.

The finished doghouse interior has a sleeping chamber and an entry foyer to block the wind. Although Woody weighs only 63 pounds (slight for a male Lab), he stands 23 ½ inches tall at the shoulder and is long-bodied.

When designing doghouses, it is the height and length of the dog that matters, and not the weight. I've seen 85-pound Labs that took up less space than Woody, and they weren't fat. This doghouse should fit all but the most gargantuan gun dogs.

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