There are many great sled dog house designs out there, some include insulation and less materials/labor.
We still have some of our original square style sled dog houses that are made from one sheet of plywood. Most of them had to be painted again or remodeled as the roof took a good beating from the dogs and weather. I also made the mistake of insulating those houses with 2″ pink foam which the dogs chewed up in less than a year. Lucky none of them got I’ll and I believe it was unnecessary. Straw is some the safest insulation you can find and yes it’s plenty warm enough for your Eurohounds, hound crosses, or short haired companions. In the dead of winter we clean out the old straw from the barrels and pack the houses full of fresh straw about every 2.5-3 weeks. When it’s colder than -20F at night the dogs get loaded in the dog trailer with all of them in there they heat it up to 70F. Yes they would be fine in their houses but it helps save on groceries during those cold couple of weeks in northern Minnesota. If you are concerned about it getting wet inside the barrel, just add some pine shavings to the dogs bedding.
Benefits over square style houses:
- low maintenance
- easy to clean
- less chewing and yearly repair
- no painting
- no rotting wood
- 100% wind/waterproof (barrel)
- a higher platform to roost, jump for exercise
- significant summertime shade
- lasts longer than the life of the dog
Building these sled dog houses takes about 45 minutes if you build one at a time. You can do it a little quicker if you have to build multiple houses by cutting all the lumber first.
If you use new treated lumber as we do, the cost is around ~$85 which does not include the price of the plastic barrel. You can do it at half that cost if you chose to stain or paint the houses or use recycled lumber.
There is no danger to dogs by chewing on treated lumber as it’s no longer treated with arsenic. My last litter of pups ate/chewed their entire whelping house up in just a couple of weeks. One would think they were little beavers 😉
Plans and Construction
- 1 – 55 gallon plastic barrel
- 2 – 8′ treated landscape timbers
- 3 – 8′ – treated 2″ X 4″
- 3 – 8′ – treated 1″ X 6″ Decking
- 7 – 8′ – treated 1″ X 6″
- 3.5″ or 3″ t-25 torx deck screws
- 2″ or 1 5/8″ t-25 torx deck screws
- 1 – 5 quart stainless steel bucket
- 1 – small stainless steel s-hook
- 1 – stainless steel 4″ X 5/16″ eye bolt
Step 1 – Make Initial Cuts
See diagram 1 (click on link to download .pdf). Set the chop saw at 37.5 degrees. All cuts MUST be at this angle. If they change it none of these measurements will work!
Do not cut chain guard sections yet.
Step 2 – Assemble A-Frames
See diagram 2. Start with A2 and screw it down flush with the top of the angled cut on A3 (landscape timber). Next, screw in A1, 17″ from top of A1 and top of A2.
Step 3 – Measure Barrel and Screw Barrel Supports In
Now is the time to make sure you are working on level ground if you’re not already.
Measure the length of the barrel and add 3.5″, trim or cut the Barrel Support – B1 sections (2) to this combined length.
Flip the assembled a-frame sections upside down, make sure A1 and A2 sections are on the inside of the a-frame and not facing out. Mark A1 in the center and make two marks 7″ left and right of the center mark. Screw down B1 to A1 on the outside edge of the mark. Then screw it to the other a-frame section.
Step 4 – Put Barrel in and Screw in Top Decking (T1)
Flip the assembled frameset right side up and put the barrel inside. Make sure it’s pressed down firmly and tight against the bottom supports B1. The top middle of the barrel should be flush with the top of the frameset or just underneath A2.
**tip. Cut the main barrel hole before putting it into the frameset.
Screw 3, 4′ sections of decking to the top making sure the frame doesn’t split. This will now hold everything together tight. Rock the house forward and back to make sure there is no play. It should be very stable.
**tip. make sure back side of the decking is flush with the outside edge of the a-frame A3. This leaves a bit of overhang in the front to help keep rain and snow out of the barrel hole.
On the inside of the barrel put 4 screws, 2 on each side, into B1 to hold the barrel from spinning.
Step 5 – Put Side Panels On (S1)
Start at the top and work your way down each side.
Step 6 – Screw on Chain Guard
See finished product photo below.
Use the extra 4′ section of decking to make the long side chain guard cuts by placing it on top of the house before trimming it. see video
**tip. the bottom should be flush with the S1 sections so that the dogs do not get their chain stuck on the corner.
Good luck, any questions feel free to send us an email!
The houses are very heavy and you need at least a good two wheeler/dolley and maybe a helper to move them around. I also like to level them if you have uneven ground. Dogs chew on everything and Chuck Gould (original designer) recommended painting it with used motor oil which doesn’t taste very good. The oil soaks into the wood if you don’t over do it so it’s not bad for the environment.
A-Frame Dog House Design Saves Dogs Life
We heard a very loud crash around 7:30pm on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017. A very large poplar tree came down in the kennel due to the high winds we were having over a period of 36 hours. I feared for the worst in the kennel as I scrambled for a headlamp to head out and check on the dogs and the house. Grace was okay and outside of her house in her circle thank goodness we moved her into the kennel run with her sister Joan for the night. Here are some photos of the damage.
As you can see the sturdy frame absorbed the impact as well as the plastic barrel. If she was in a standard plywood house or just a barrel I’m afraid it may have been much worse! Thank goodness she’s okay.
One Sheet of Plywood Design
Another very popular easy do it yourself design is the dog house made from a few 2″ X 4″ ‘s, 2″ X 6″ ‘s, one 8′ X 4’ – 1/4″ sheet of plywood, torx screws and paint. We have some houses in the yard that are 6 years old and have held up well. The only mods and improvements I’ve made to the houses is adding a 3/4″ treated plywood roof with 2″ X 4″ ‘s to hold it on vs the standard 2″ X 2″ most mushers use. The dogs jump up on the roof quite a bit and tend to knock it off from time to time. The improved design provides weight, durability, and holds it on much better. We also use 2″ X 6″ ‘s for the doors it adds a little more protection from the elements and prevents male dogs from peeing into the house.
- Be consistent in the plywood cuts allowing 1/8″ for the circular saw blade
- Use construction adhesive to strengthen the assembly
- Use clamps to help hold thing together prior to screwing
- Use a square
- Work on level ground
- Use caulk on the inside edges for weather proofing
- 1 – 4′ X 8′ – 1/4″ Sheet of Plywood
- 2 – 8′ – Treated 2″ X 4″ ‘s
- 2 – 8′ – construction 2″ X 4″ ‘s
- 1 – 8′ – construction 2″ X 6″ – you only need 4′ so you will have extra for another house
- 1 – 8′ – 2″ X 2″
- 2″ t-25 torx deck screws
- 3.5″ t-25 torx deck screws
Step 1 – Make Initial Cuts
Cut the 8′ treated 2″ X 4″ ‘s in half so you have 4 – 4’ 2″ X 4″ legs. These will need to be trimmed again based upon your desired house height, 28-30″ is recommended.
Cut the plywood, see diagram 3 for measurements.
Cut the roof top 2″ X 4″ ‘s.
- 2 -39″ long
- 2 – 23″ long
- Save extra for the door if you chose to not use the 2″ X 6″ ‘s for the door
Cut the inside bottom support 2″ X 2″ ‘s.
- 2 – 18.5″ long
- 2 – 27.5″ long
Cut the door frame.
- 2 – 11″ long
- 2 – 14″ long
Step 2 – Attach Leg 2″ X 4″ ‘s
Screw in the cut 28-30″, 4′ legs, 2 on the front sheet and 2 on the back sheet, offset to the inside by 1/4″ to allow for the sides to attach. Note the bottom sheet cutouts so you place them properly.
Now you have a box with no top and no bottom and 4 legs. Use a square to keep everything neat and tight while you are screwing it together.
Step 4 – Frame the Bottom
Flip the house bottom side up and screw in the 27.5″ – 2″ X 2″ ‘s allowing 1/4″ from the bottom for the bottom sheet to sit flush. Same with the 18.5″ – 2″ X 2″ bottom supports.
Screw in the bottom sheet.
Step 5 – Frame the Roof
Allow a tiny bit of space so you can easily get the roof on and off. Screw the 39″ – 2″ X 4″ ‘s on first then test the spacing by putting it on the house. It should go on easy with little or no friction. If it’s too tight now is the time to adjust the placement. Screw in the 23″ – 2″ X 4″ ‘s to the top and test again. Screw the 2″ X 4″ ‘s to each other at the end.
Screw the 11″ and 14″ door frame together. Cut out the 11″ X 11″ door noting the placement of the leg allow at least 4.5 inches from the side. Screw the door frame to the front from the inside of the dog house.
I would suggest two good coats of paint and high traffic deck paint on the roof. Three coats of a good polyurethane on the inside will also extend the life of your doghouse.
Puppy Whelping House Design
This design is basically the same concept as the 1 sheet of plywood design with the addition of supported 2″ X 2″‘s across the inner top for side plywood support. I also like to use 3/4″ plywood for the floor and roof as some pups are big chewers. Depending on the height you want it off the ground you can extend the legs a little bit. I prefer to have it low so the little explorers at 2.5-3 weeks can find their way back in.