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Do Dogs Prefer Hard or Soft Beds? How To Choose The Ideal Bed

Last Updated: February 6, 2024

Dogs spend a lot of time sleeping, and finding the perfect bed is essential for their comfort and health. But there’s always been an ongoing debate about whether hard or soft beds are better for your furry friend.

While some owners believe that a hard bed provides more support and prevents joint problems, others argue that soft beds are more comfortable and help dogs relax.

So, what is the answer?

Dogs’ bed preferences vary based on age, breed, and health. Younger, healthier dogs may enjoy soft beds for comfort, while older dogs or those with joint issues might prefer firmer beds for support. Ultimately, individual preference plays a significant role.

There are different studies and opinions supporting both sides of this discussion. The answer is not straightforward, as different factors come into play when choosing the right bed for your dog.

Age, size, and health conditions may affect their preference for hard or soft beds.

We will explore the great debate of hard vs. soft beds and try to understand which bed type dogs prefer.

A dog resting on a soft bed

Do Dogs Prefer To Sleep On Hard Or Soft Surfaces?

We all know the importance of a good dog bed for our best friend to get a good night’s sleep.

As a dog owner, I’ve often wondered whether my dog prefers to sleep on a hard or soft surface. 

“I’ve tried both types of beds over the years, and it seems like my dog has a different preference depending on her mood, how tired she is, or if she needs to cool down” – World of Dogz

Some days, she curls up on the soft sofa and falls asleep in seconds, while others, she stretches out on the hard floor and snoozes for hours.

Many factors come into play regarding a dog’s bed preference. 

For instance, a younger dog may prefer a softer bed as it provides more cushioning for their developing bones and joints. On the other hand, an older dog may prefer a harder surface as it provides more support for its aging body. 

Additionally, a dog’s breed, size, and weight can influence their bed preference, with larger dogs often preferring firmer surfaces to prevent sinking in and becoming uncomfortable. 

It’s fascinating how each dog has unique tastes, and finding the right bed for them can make a difference in their sleep quality and overall well-being.

Vizsla on a Soft Dog Bed sleeping contently.

Do Dogs Prefer Flat Beds?

From my experience, dogs seem to prefer flat beds as they provide a firm surface that supports their body evenly. 

My dog, for instance, seems to enjoy sleeping on her flat bed as she can stretch out comfortably without sinking in too much, which could put pressure on her joints. And as she already has arthritis, I certainly don’t want to aggravate her condition.

Flat beds are a popular choice for many dogs, especially those that suffer from joint problems or arthritis. They provide more support and keep their body aligned, reducing the risk of developing pain or discomfort. 

However, choosing the right size and firmness level for your dog is essential, as a bed that is too small or soft can have the opposite effect and cause more harm than good. 

It’s worth noting that some dogs may prefer beds with a slight incline, which can also provide more support and reduce snoring or breathing difficulties.

A dog sleeping on a flat bed.

Pros And Cons Of Hard Beds For Dogs

As a dog owner, I’ve tried different beds for my furry friend, including hard beds. Here are some pros and cons of hard beds for dogs that I’ve observed:


  • Support: Hard beds provide more support for a dog’s body, especially its joints and spine. This is particularly important for older dogs or those with joint problems, as it can help alleviate pain and discomfort.
  • Durability: Hard beds tend to be more durable and resistant to wear and tear, which can be a plus if you have an active dog that loves to chew or scratch its bed.
  • Easy to clean: Hard beds are often easy to clean and maintain; simply wipe them down with a damp cloth or hose them off outside.


  • Comfort: Some dogs may find hard beds uncomfortable, especially if they are used to sleeping on soft surfaces. Dogs that sleep on their stomach may also find it challenging to get comfortable on a hard bed.
  • Temperature: Hard beds can get cold in the winter, which may not be ideal for dogs that are sensitive to the cold. Additionally, some hard beds can retain heat in the summer, which may not be comfortable for dogs in warmer climates.
  • Price: Hard beds are more expensive than soft beds, which can be a disadvantage if you’re on a tight budget.

Pros And Cons Of Soft Beds For Dogs

Here are some pros and cons of soft beds for dogs that I’ve seen:


  • Comfort: Soft beds are often more comfortable for dogs, especially if they like to sleep on their side or stomach. They can also provide a sense of security and comfort, which can help anxious dogs relax.
  • Warmth: Soft beds are often warmer and cozier than hard beds, which can be a plus for dogs sensitive to the cold. Additionally, some soft beds, such as those with heating elements or plush covers, are designed to provide extra warmth.
  • Price: Soft beds are less expensive than hard beds, which can be a pro if you’re on a budget.


  • Durability: Soft beds can be less durable than hard beds, especially if they are made of lower-quality materials. They can also be more prone to damage from chewing or scratching.
  • Hygiene: Soft beds can be more challenging to clean and maintain than hard beds, as they can retain odors, hair, and bacteria. This can be a problem if you have a dog prone to accidents or skin issues.
  • Support: Soft beds may not provide as much support for a dog’s body as hard beds, which can be a con for dogs with joint problems or needing extra support. Some soft beds can also sink in too much, putting pressure on a dog’s joints and causing discomfort.
A cute Dachshund in a soft bed.

The Link Between A Dog’s Size And Weight And Their Bed Preference

Larger dogs prefer beds with more support and firmness, as they must distribute their weight evenly to avoid joint problems. On the other hand, smaller dogs may prefer softer beds that provide more cushioning and warmth.

“There is definitely a link between a dog’s size and weight and its bed preference.” – World of Dogz

For instance, larger dogs are likelier to prefer orthopedic beds that provide extra support and keep their bodies aligned. 

These beds are often made of memory foam or other supportive materials that can withstand weight and pressure. 

On the other hand, smaller dogs may prefer softer beds that allow them to burrow and nestle comfortably. 

Also, smaller dogs, such as chihuahuas, may benefit from heated or insulated beds, as they are more prone to feeling cold due to their size.

It’s essential to consider your dog’s size and weight when choosing a bed, as it can affect their comfort and health in the long run.

The Impact Of Age On A Dog’s Bed Preference

I’ve noticed that my furry friend’s bed preferences have changed as she ages. As a puppy, she preferred softer beds that provided more cushioning and warmth. 

However, as she’s aged, she’s become more particular about her beds and prefers ones that provide more support and keep her joints aligned.

A dog’s age can impact its bed preference as it may develop joint problems, arthritis, or other health issues affecting mobility and comfort. 

For these reasons, older dogs may prefer orthopedic beds that provide extra support and alleviate pain and discomfort. 

Senior dogs may also benefit from heated or insulated beds, as they are more susceptible to feeling cold. 

It’s essential to consider your dog’s age when choosing a bed, as it can affect their sleep quality and overall well-being.

Are There Beds For Dogs With Medical Conditions?

I’ve always been curious whether there are beds specifically designed for dogs with medical conditions or even to help prevent certain conditions in the first place. 

I was pleased to learn that there are indeed many beds on the market tailored to meet the needs of dogs with arthritis, joint problems, and other medical issues. 

These beds often provide extra support and cushioning to alleviate pain and discomfort; some even come with heating or cooling features to help regulate body temperature.

One notable example is the Big Barker Bed, which was tested in a clinical study by the University of Pennsylvania. 

Note: Clicking the above link(s) will take you to Amazon or an online store where we have an affiliate relationship. If you make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The study found that the Big Barker bed reduced joint pain and stiffness, improved joint function and gait, and improved nighttime restfulness in large dogs with arthritis. 

Investing in a high-quality bed designed for your dog’s medical condition can significantly improve its comfort and quality of life. 

When I learned my German Shepherd developed spinal arthritis, this was the first thing I invested in.

Check her out on her Big Barker Sofa Bed in the photo below. Looks like it’s squirrel patrol again!

A German Shepherd resting on a Big Barker Orthopedic Bed.
My arthritic dog on her hard orthopedic Big Barker bed

Pro tip! Consult your veterinarian to determine which type of bed would best suit your dog’s medical needs.

What To Look For When Buying A Bed For A Dog

When looking for a dog bed, there are a few things that you should always keep in mind. 

  • The size and weight of your dog. This can influence the type of bed that will provide the most support and comfort. 
  • Your dog’s sleep habits. Does your dog like to stretch out or curl up? This can affect the size and shape of the bed that would be most suitable.
  • The bed’s materials and construction. Look for beds that are made of durable, high-quality materials that can withstand your dog’s weight and pressure. 
  • Consider the bed’s firmness level. Depending on their age, size, and health conditions, some dogs may need extra support or cushioning. 
  • Low maintenance and easy to clean. Some dogs can be messy and prone to accidents. 

Overall, it’s essential to choose a bed tailored to your dog’s specific needs and preferences, as this can ensure that they get the restful and rejuvenating sleep needed to stay healthy and happy.

A small dog sleeping on a flat bed.


Are Hard Beds Better For Dogs With Joint Problems?

Hard beds can provide more support for dogs with joint problems and help alleviate pain and discomfort. Orthopedic beds of memory foam or other supportive materials can be especially beneficial.

However, choosing the right firmness level and size is essential to ensure that the bed provides enough support without putting additional pressure on the joints.

Are Orthopedic Beds Considered Hard Or Soft Beds?

Orthopedic beds are considered hard as they provide more support and firmness to alleviate joint problems and promote better sleep. They are often made of memory foam or other supportive materials that can withstand a dog’s weight and pressure. 

However, not all orthopedic beds are the same, and some may have a slightly softer surface while still providing ample support. Choosing the right orthopedic bed for your dog’s needs and preferences is essential.

Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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