DIY: How to Build an Inexpensive Dog House from Scratch

A sturdy, functional and cosy dog house is a must for puppies that spend most of their time outside. Although there are countless variations and approaches, this project will focus on a classic, “old school” dog house design made of a single plywood sheet and some lumber for the frame and reinforcement.

Take measurements

The dimensions and measures used in this project are tailored for a small- to medium-sized dog, up to 50 pounds. In case you need a bigger shelter, check out this comprehensive dog house sizing guide, and adjust the measurements to fit your furry baby. All the main parts for this project can be cut from a single sheet of ¾ inch-thick exterior-grade plywood. Wood is still one of the best materials for dog houses because its natural insulating properties make them cooler in summer and warmer in winter. For the base you’ll need two 22 ½” and two 23” long 2×4 cedar boards, four 15” 2×2 fir corner framings, and four 13” 2×2 fir framings.

Outline the pieces

For the back and the front section, you need a rectangular shape with an isosceles triangle along the longer side, measuring 24×16” with 12” for the triangle height. The bottom measures 26×22 ½”, and you’ll need two 32×20” pieces for the roof, and two 26×16” for the sides. Cut the doorway 10 inches wide and 13 inches high, with a 3-inch lip at the bottom to cover the base and the bottom panel. Use an available round shape to help you draw the arched doorway top.

Assemble the base

Use a pressure-treated 2×4 board for the base frame that lifts the dog house floor a few inches above the ground. This clearance creates an insulating dead-air space underneath the floor. In combination with one of the water-repellent washable comfortable Snooza dog beds, such a floor configuration is guaranteed to keep your dog warm and dry even in the harshest weather. Assemble the base with the pieces on-edge, using 1 ¼” galvanized wood screws to fasten the pieces. Make sure you sink the screw heads below the surface.

Cut out the shapes

When cutting the roof panels, cut one long edge of each panel with the saw blade set at a 45-degree angle, which will ensure a tight fit at the roof peak. Make sure you unplug the saw before making any angle adjustments on the saw shoe. For cutting out the doorway, use a jigsaw with a plywood-cutting blade, taking care to support the cut-out piece as you go round to prevent it from tearing out. When you’re done, sand all the edges with medium-grit sandpaper.

Add the side pieces

After you cut the framing pieces from the 2x2s, assemble the sides by fastening one 15” vertical corner framing piece to each edge of the side panels. This way, you’re leaving a 1” gap between the bottom of the corner framing and the bottom edge of the side. Fasten the framing pieces into the framing using the same 1 ¼” galvanized wood screws. Set the side panel on the base fastening them with screws at every 4-5 inches. Put the back and front panel onto the assembly securing them along the vertical edges and the floor.

Secure the roof

Screw in the 13” roof framing pieces to the inside edges of the rooflines of the front and back panels, making sure they’re flush with the edges. Place the roof panels on the box taking care the joint of the roof peak is tight, and fasten the panels to the roof framing pieces. Once finished, you need to shingle the roof to make it resistant to the elements. Start by covering the entire roof with a single piece of 15 lb. asphalt-impregnated tar paper, stapling it to the plywood.

Lay the shingles

For a roof of this size, you’ll need about 12 3-tab asphalt shingles. The starter row of roofing shingles is installed upside down with tabs facing up so you can align them with the panel edges. Repeat on the other side and cover the peak in the same way, creasing the shingles to lay flat over the peak so they can protect the plywood edges from moisture. Continue laying the first row of shingles from the bottom up, this time with tabs facing down, offsetting the notches between the tabs as you go up. Use roofing nails to secure them into place. At the end, cap the roof ridge using single tabs – one third of a shingle cut along the splits.

Finishing touches

The dog house needs adequate ventilation, especially during the summer, so make a few holes in the back panel near the peak. Use a compact high-performance drill with a spade bit with spur cutters and make there evenly-spaced holes. Finally, stain or paint the house using a low-VOC exterior paint and allow the finish to dry completely before letting the dog inside.

Keep in mind that the house needs to fit your dog, but also that bigger is not automatically better since dogs prefer snug spaces in which they feel safe. More importantly, if you hit the right size, your pet will be able to heat it up with its natural body heat and stay comfortable in cold weather.