Soft Dog Beds
One common type of dog bed is the soft, comfortable-looking type. The good thing about these beds is that they are fluffy and provide cushioning. There are some potential drawbacks. During summer months they can be too warm. Dogs may also mistake soft dog beds for toys and abuse them. So if you have a dog that tends to tear apart soft, fluffy objects, this bed may not be the best choice. Likewise if you live in a warmer area. If you are in a cool climate, though, and your dog will not chew up the bed, a soft dog bed may be ideal. A dog with joint issues may also find a soft bed more comfortable than a mat. A heated bed is another option for a dog with health problems (more on heated dog beds later).
Waterproof Outdoor Dog Beds
Outdoor beds for dogs usually take on the form of mats or pads. They do not provide much in the way of cushioning and may not look that exciting to you, but they can deal with a lot of wear and tear, and they are generally waterproof. For dogs that like to attack soft dog beds, these may provide a good alternative, since they can hold up to more damage (and provoke less in the first place). They do not absorb scent as easily, which will prompt less marking. They are more comfortable for dogs during warmer months. There are also indoor versions of these mats and pads which may not be waterproof or quite as durable, but may also be ideal for your pet.
Cool Dog Beds
If you have a long-furred dog or a dog with a thick coat, or you live in a warmer area, your dog may like a cool dog bed. These include cooling water beds for dogs and gel beds. Gel beds are easier to maintain, but often are not as effective as the water beds. Dogs occasionally may chew through these beds, causing leaks. Sometimes mold will grow beneath them (thus the need for regular maintenance).
Heated Dog Beds
The majority of dogs do not need these, but in an extra cold place, one could be helpful, especially with a short-furred dog. These beds can also help dogs which are old or have joint issues or other injuries. Beware of attached power cords to these beds, since they can be a hazard for your pet. There are alternatives that involve a heat pad you put in the microwave and then add to the bed. Some dogs may still try to chew on the heat pad, and the heat pad has another limitation, which is that it cools down after a couple of hours.
Think about your dog and consider these different options before your purchase a dog bed. How large or small is your dog? Does your dog have joint problems or other injuries which might benefit from a soft or warm bed? Would your dog be more comfortable on a mat or pad, even if it might look less cozy to you? How inclined is your dog toward chewing holes through his toys? Would he mistake his bed for a toy? Once you have answered these questions for yourself, you will have a starting point for purchasing a dog bed that is perfect for your pooch.