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  • Writer's pictureDunsmuir Hardware

How to Build & Paint a Doghouse

Some dogs are simply outdoor dogs, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need the comfort and shelter of their very own outside pad. If your dog prefers the outdoors, or you don’t always want to share your home, make a special place just for her by learning how to build and paint a simple doghouse.

Step 1. Have a Plan

Before putting a saw to wood, it helps to know what the dimensions of your doghouse will be. While most dogs can fit inside a one-size-fits-all house, you should take your dog’s size into account. While you obviously have to put a large dog like a Great Dane in a large-sized doghouse, the same sized-to-fit approach applies to a small dog like a Chihuahua or Jack Russell terrier. A small doghouse will be more comfortable and more appealing for a smaller dog. Your dog should have the room to sit, stand up, turn around and move freely inside. There also should be enough space for items such as bedding, food and water bowls, toys, etc.

Measure your dog with a measuring tape to determine height and length. You don’t have to have precise measurements—you just need a general idea of size to accommodate your dog. Having a door with dimensions close to your dog’s size is ideal to keep it warm when it’s cold, and it appeals to the dog as a cozy space.

When selecting a location, choose an area near a tree or another structure. The right location can provide shade relief from the sun during the hot season, and a bit of extra shelter from rain and snow, on colder days.

Step 2. Cut Pieces

You will need to cut the pieces to fit together to create your doghouse. There are many methods and materials you can use to construct it. This project will focus on using 2x2s, 2x4s, and a single 8’ by 4’ sheet of ¾" exterior plywood to create a medium-sized dog house. Dimensions may vary depending on the size of your dog.

Use a straightedge and framing square to mark on the plywood sheet the dimensions for each piece of the house. You’ll need pieces for the two sides, the front and the back, and the bottom and two pieces for the roof. In this example, the sides should be 26" long and 16" tall. The front and back should be 24" long and 16" tall with an additional 12" of the triangle on top (this will form the A-shape of the roof). To cut the triangle shape, start at 16" and draw a line at 45 degrees from each side, until they come together at a point. Cut along the lines.

The floor piece should be 26" by 22½". Measure out 32" long by 20" wide for each roof piece.

Place the sheet of plywood onto a set of sawhorses and make these cuts using a circular saw. Set them aside. You now need to cut pieces for the base and framing, to size. For the doghouse base, cut your 2x4s into four pieces: two at 22½" long and two at 23" long. Cut your 2x2 board into eight pieces for framing: four corner pieces (15") and four roof framing pieces (13").


Have someone hold the 2x2 and 2x4 pieces steady while you cut with a circular saw or secure it in place using a vise.


Wear safety goggles and follow all safety precautions when operating a circular saw. Consult your owner’s manual if you are not familiar with the tool.

Use non-treated wood, especially if your dog is an excessive chewer or licker.

Remember to cut an opening into your front panel to create a door — approximately 1’ wide and 1 ½’ tall, depending on your dog’s size. You can use something round and of similar dimensions to trace an outline of the top of the doorway, if you want a curved opening at the top. Use a straight edge and your pencil to sketch out each side of the door outline. Then use a jigsaw to make your cuts.

Step 3. Build the Base

Adding a base to your doghouse is important because it creates an air space between the ground and the doghouse floor, which helps insulate the doghouse. Build the base using the 2x4 pieces you cut in Step 2 by positioning them in a rectangle and attaching them together with galvanized wood screws in each end. Attach the floor panel to the base, drilling a wood screw into each corner.

Step 4. Attach Side, Front and Back Panels

Lay your side panels down and attach a 15" corner frame piece to each end of the panels, using wood screws and an electric screwdriver. Place each side panel onto the base and attach them with wood screws at intervals (every 4"). Do the same with the front and back panels, attaching them to each framing piece, as well as the base, with wood screws.

Step 5. Attach the Roof Panels

Attach the remaining 2x2 framing pieces on each side of the triangular point on the front and back panels. Use wood screws and an electric screwdriver. Lay one roof panel on a side of the house and attach it to the framing pieces with wood screws. Place the next panel on the other side, making sure that the two roof pieces are snug, making the roof peak tight. Attach this panel to the framing pieces with wood screws.

Step 6. Add a Shingled Roof

Cover the roof with roofing paper and staple it in place with a hammer stapler. Use a utility knife to trim the paper edges so that they are flush with the roof panel edges.

Lay the first row of shingles upside down along the bottom edge of the roof to create a flush edge. Attach them to the roof panel with roofing nails and a hammer.


When roofing your doghouse, remember to use short roofing nails to keep the tips from protruding inside and becoming a safety hazard for your pet.

Start the next row directly on top of the first row—this time, right-side up. Add rows until you’ve covered the entire panel. Then repeat the process from the beginning for the other side. Next, create ridge caps to cover the gap between each roof panel at the roof’s peak. Cut shingle tabs (the flap part of the shingle) off of spare shingles, using a utility knife. Nail these in place so they cover the roof’s peak. Be sure to overlap each ridge cap so water will not leak under.

Step 7. Paint the Doghouse

Painting your doghouse is one of those final touches to make the house look great and protect the wood from the elements. You can even paint the doghouse the same color as your house. When choosing colors, be sure to keep your regional climate in mind. In cold climates, darker colors will absorb heat from the sun and keep the doghouse warmer inside. Light colors are good for warm climates, as they reflect the sun and keep the inside of the house cooler.

Brush off any dirt or dust using a dry stiff scrub brush or broom. Apply True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Exterior Paint to all sides of the doghouse using a medium-sized paintbrush. Paint the bottom first and allow it to dry before painting the sides


Painting the bottom of the doghouse provides the wood with a layer of protection between it and the elements.

Let the first coat dry completely for the recommended amount of time on the package and then apply a second coat. Allow the last coat to dry for at least 24 hours before letting your dog spend time inside.

Step 8. Add Touches of Home

Personalize your dog’s new house by adding a nameplate for him and lining the floor of the doghouse with a scrap of carpet, a rug, or blankets to make it cozier. Don’t forget to toss in some favorite toys or treats, especially if your dog is hesitant about entering.


If your dog won’t be joining you inside during the cold winter months, consider using straw as bedding in the doghouse. Blankets and other fabric items can get wet and then freeze, becoming uncomfortable or even hazardous to your dog while he is trying to keep warm inside.

Good job! Man’s best friend now has his own custom abode outside.

Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

  • Measuring tape

  • Lumber (2x2, 2x4, plywood)

  • Framing square

  • Pencil

  • Sawhorses

  • Circular saw

  • Vise (optional)

  • Safety goggles

  • Jigsaw

  • Galvanized wood screws

  • Electric screwdriver

  • Roofing paper

  • Hammer stapler

  • Utility knife

  • Roofing nails

  • Hammer

  • Scrub brush or broom

  • EasyCare Ultra Premium Exterior Paint

  • Carpet, rug, or blanket

  • Pet toys

  • Pet treats

DUNSMUIR HARDWARE is a “turn-key” business opportunity. A buyer can step into an established and professionally managed business and take off with it. We are open from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm Monday to Saturday and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sundays. Come and see us we are at 5836 Dunsmuir Avenue Dunsmuir, California, or call (530) 235-4539.

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