How to Make a DIY Dog Bed for Large Dogs in 5 Easy Steps

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Let’s be honest, dog beds are expensive! It’s even worse when you have large dogs like us and the quality… let’s say, leaves a lot to be desired for what is effectively a piece of foam with a cover on it. 

If you’re looking for DIY dog bed ideas, you came to the right place. This one is easy to knock out in an afternoon, even if you’re admittedly bad at craft projects, like me.

Why you should make your own DIY dog bed

Significantly cheaper than buying one

Both of our dogs, Goomba and Prim, are about 80 lbs. For anything that’s even half-decent quality and large enough for them to lay flat on, the price generally starts at $80 and goes up from there, unless we find a bed on sale or from a clearance section. From our experience, $80-$150 seems to be the normal range. Yikes!

We can make a homemade DIY dog bed with minimal effort for about $35 (it’ll be cheaper if your dog is smaller). Our favorite part? You can choose the size and appearance of it! We made ours so that they would fit in our dogs’ crates and have a removable/washable cover. 

We wrote an entire article on how to save money when you have a dog. Check it out for more tips!

Customizable size or height

Bully breed laying on diy dog bed in crate

Being able to customize the size of a dog bed was the initial reason we created our own DIY dog beds. We (apparently) have odd-sized crates, which resulted in most of the more reasonably priced beds not being able to fit inside them.

Making a custom-sized bed was perfect in this situation. All you need is the dimensions of the smallest portion of the crate. This will allow the crate bed to sit flat, but still not slide around. Problem solved!

If you’re wondering why use crates for our pups, check out our guide on the benefits of crate training!

Selecting your own features

Example of features you can add to a homemade dog bed

One feature we highly value is removable/washable covers.  From couches to dog beds, most of the items you come across have removable covers available. If you’re like us, everything ends up covered in dog hair, slobber, or mud pretty quickly.

We highly recommend making the outer cover removable, even if you don’t intend to remove it often. It’s a simple modification that saves you a ton of grief. We’ll demonstrate a few different methods for making removable beds.

On another note, you can make your own DIY outdoor dog bed or a reversible dog bed just by using different fabrics. For example, our dog, Goomba, gets too hot quickly in the summer due to his activity level and brindle coat color. We made his bed have a slick, cooler fabric on one side and a fleece fabric on the other. If he gets too hot or we don’t feel like doing laundry yet, we just flip it over. If you want to have a bed more suited for outside, choose a fabric that is waterproof and easy to wipe down.

Creating your own DIY dog bed

How to Make a DIY Dog Bed for Large Dogs in 5 Easy Steps

Gathering supplies

There are only a few supplies you need to create your own DIY dog bed. Here’s a list and the approximate prices on Amazon (although you can find these items in a variety of places, specifically Walmart).

The correct mattress topper for your dog’s bed will vary with the size of the bed and your dog’s weight. For example, if you have a smaller dog, you can probably get away with 1 or 1.5 inches.  If your dog is larger, like Prim and Goomba, 3 inches is a much more reasonable place to start.

You can choose whatever you want the fabric. Fleece, cotton, or synthetic materials can all be utilized for what you think your dog will like. You can even use two different materials. You can make 2 DIY dog bed covers for the same bed so you can always have a clean one while the other is in the wash. Just remember to wash the fabric before you start measuring so you don’t end up with a cover that’s too small!

Fabric adhesive isn’t technically necessary, but since we wash our bed covers a lot, having the foam pieces stuck together saves us a lot of grief when putting the foam bed back into the cover. You could also permanently contain the foam with an inner cover that’s waterproof and not use any adhesive. We did that on one of our dog beds that ends up outside a lot, to keep it water resistant.

Creating the foam bed

Memory foam used as a DIY dog bed base

First, you have to choose the thickness of material that you want your bed’s height to be. For us, we chose 3 inches (2×1.5 inch sections of the mattress topper we wanted to use). This is important to do first because we’re trying to limit the amount of wasted material we end up with.

Next, decide on the size you want your dog’s bed to be. We wanted ours to be 28×40 inches. This size allows us to use the beds in their crates and they can lay flat and still be on the bed. We ended up with a fair bit of wasted foam due to the size we selected, but we were able to use the rest to make a small bed for our cat, Gigi.

Finally, cut the mattress topper into however many pieces you need. For us, it was 2 rectangles per dog bed. 

That’s it! Now we have our DIY dog bed and just need to make the cover for it.

We have a few extra options at this point depending on what you’re looking for. You can create an interior cover (typically not required). We recommend using the craft adhesive to stick the two foam pieces together if you plan to remove the cover for washing. When you’re trying to stuff the foam in the cover, it’s significantly easier if the two pieces don’t slide apart.

Creating the cover

The cover design is simple and can be sewn with a sewing machine or by hand. For a DIY dog bed with only one style of fabric used, we need to cut one long rectangular piece of fabric that is large enough to cover the top and bottom of the foam base when folded over the long side of the foam. We will need about 2 inches of spare fabric around the remaining three edges of the cover, because of the height of the double-stacked foam. If you only use one layer of foam, you won’t need as much spare fabric. 

Then, just like a pillowcase encloses a pillow on 3 of the 4 sides, our dog bed cover will have an opening on one short side. Place your fabric together, wrong-side-out, and pin it. Sew straight lines from the folded side of the fabric around one of the short sides and continue to stitch through the long side (leave one short side open). If you don’t like the unfinished edge of the fabric, you can fold it down and sew it like a hem. 

Dog bed covers that are easy to make

We have a few different options for the open end. You can always leave it open if you’ve had enough sewing for now. If you’re extra crafty, you can add a zipper to the side. Disclaimer: I’m not extra crafty and asked Sarah for help.

Alternatively, you can use an envelope-like design for the end which helps keep the cover in place over the bed without a zipper. There are online tutorials about how to craft an envelope pillowcase, but we like this one from The Crafting Nook!

With this simple rectangular design, our DIY dog beds can be used on the floor, our deck, the crates, or on our “window bed” (a platform we sit a bed on for optimal window viewing height). If you’re looking for how to make an elevated bed, check out our article on how to make a dog agility platform. It’s the same platform we use for our window bed!

Cleaning your dog bed

We love being able to clean our dogs’ beds! Just pull the cover off and toss it in the wash. We’ve been drying ours for years and they haven’t shrunk past what happened with the initial wash, but your mileage may vary depending on fabric choice. Prim loves the freshly laundered beds and tries to lay on them while we are reassembling them all the time!

Alternatives to making a bed

Alternatives to sewing a dog bed

If you aren’t into sewing or are too busy to take on any more projects, we want to provide some alternatives.

First, you can do the foam portion and simply wrap a blanket around the bed as a cover. We do this with a bed we use to let our pups easily look out a window.

If you’d rather just buy a bed, here are some options we have personally used and like the best. We’ll try to provide Chewy & Amazon links where possible as most of us have our own preferences on which we like better.

Conclusion

Bully breed laying on diy outdoor dog bed

Creating your own DIY dog bed doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult! We have made four that are in a variety of places in our house and even used the same process to create replacement foam for a store-bought dog bed.

We’d love to see your own DIY dog beds! Share your photos of your dog trying them out with us on Instagram by tagging @therulybully.

Have fun!

    Lincoln Schaefer

    Hi, I’m Lincoln!  I’m the owner & primary writer here at The Ruly Bully!  My wife and I have two dogs, Goomba & Prim, and a host of other critters in our home.  Feel free to send a message!  We love to hear your stories, too.

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