Shelter has always been a basic human need, with not only caves but also trees among our earliest refuges.
If the trees part surprises you, it shouldn’t, since humans are descended from various hominids, the first of which lived full-time in trees. Living among the branches offered protection against wild animals that could not climb them. Caves did not provide that kind of protection but did provide better shelter against the elements.
Caves block rain a lot better than a tree, after all, and are rarely hit by lightning.
The first human-built shelters go back further in time than you probably think. It’s not tens of thousands of years ago. Rather, early humans were constructing temporary huts out of wood and stones just over 380,000 years ago.
Human-made cities took longer, not popping up until about 9,500 years ago in Mesopotamia, right around the time that humans also developed agriculture. One depended on the other — without growing crops, there would be no cities. Without cities to house the workers and direct the irrigation, there would be no crops.
Also, there would be nothing to protect the crops from theft or destruction, so cities were just shelters written on an enormous scale.
Humans had also domesticated dogs by that point, so they moved into our cities with us, although they still demonstrate instinctive sleeping behaviors developed when they were a wild species and yet which are still with us to today.
Have you ever wondered why many dogs circle around and then curl into a ball to sleep? This comes from the days when, at night, they would dig a shallow hole as a nest, then curled up in it in this way both to preserve body heat and protect their vulnerable internal organs from predators.
If your dog crawls under the covers, it may just be that they want to snuggle — or it’s an ancient memory of when pups would sleep in dark dens against the warmth of their mothers and litter-mates.
Despite a lot of dogs nowadays sharing homes with their humans, especially in wealthier countries, they still exhibit these same ancient habits. But so do we. Have you ever wondered why humans tend to have sleeping areas that are separate from the rest of the house, and cover themselves and the bed with so many sheets, blankets, and duvets or comforters?
But it’s not just sleeping which shows off ancient instincts. Dogs will protect their home from strangers or what they perceive as predators, and generally associate the place with protection and comfort.
Sleeping under a roof may ultimately be a little weird to their instincts, but most modern dogs deal with it just fine, and most humans will give their dogs a comfy bed to sleep in, without making a big fuss.
But, just as humans have many different kinds of shelters and living arrangements, we can wind up giving our dogs a similar range of options.
Even today, humans face an endless array of options for shelter, although not always by choice. There are people with no homes of their own of any sort but the first thing they seek is still shelter, whether it’s a cardboard lean-to in a vacant lot, a tent under an overpass, or a sympathetic friend’s couch.
For those fortunate enough to be able to pay rent somewhere, it always comes down to affordability, whether its six roommates sharing a ridiculously small studio in a major city, renters lucky enough to be long-term in rent-controlled apartments, or those who can rent larger and newer apartments until they breakthrough to home ownership.
Or there’s always the Ten Thousand, in Los Angeles, which recently started targeting TikTok influencers as tenants. It’s a skyscraper on the border between L.A. and Beverly Hills, named not just for the building’s address at 10000 Santa Monica Blvd., but also for its minimum monthly rent on its smallest studios. That’s right — $10K.
Some humans have this tendency to value someone not by what they do when they aren’t doing it to make money or who they are as a person, but rather by how much stuff they own and how expensive it is, and so the place where someone lives can be a source of judgement — good or bad — in some other people’s eyes.
Unfortunately, we let this spill over onto our dogs, which is where we start to run into some of the more ridiculous examples of dog houses.
Dog houses come in as wide a range of prices as human habitations, ranging from a few dollars to... a lot more. Let’s look at some examples in order of increasing cost.
You can find lots of free doghouse plans online that you can build yourselves, particularly if you like the “Snoopy” aesthetic. At the simplest, there are two-level models with an interior space below and an upper sundeck connected by an external ramp. There are some very interesting variations available out there, and they won’t break your budget.
Most pre-built dog houses are reasonably priced, in a range from $70 to around $400, depending upon material, features, and size. You can get dog houses made out of wood, metal, or plastic, and they can have features like double walls, insulation, doggie doors, windows, and rooftop decks.
If your dog prefers life on the go (without actually going anywhere), you can always get them their own retro style doggie camper for just $460.00, in blue, pink, or gray.
But if you want your dog to experience a bit more luxury, you can spend a lot more money. For example, a Mid-Century Modern originally available for a mere $2,400, featuring the clean lines, bold colors, and large windows typical of the style. The company appears to no longer be in business, but you can buy a digital version intended for a specific architectural program for only $2.00.
If your dog’s tastes are not quite as contemporary, then a southern mansion for $3,600 might be the ticket, where your dog can hang out in the portico sipping mint julep.
If that’s too southern for your dog, then try a colonial mansion, which is $6,000 and complete with front porch, upper balcony, and plenty of windows so your dog can keep an eye on things. The same company makes a range of custom-built dog houses, with prices going up to $35,000 or more.
If your dog is a prince or princess, then you can get them a fairytale castle for only $6,200. It features its own tall towers, has a crown on the front and, naturally, it comes in Princess Pink. Swarovski crystals for the crown are extra.
On the other hand, if they’re not royalty or want to escape the limelight, a simple country home in Victorian style will only set you back $9,000, and it offers a quaint design featuring a dormer roof, wood trim, Dutch doors and decorative shutters, all in a rustic style and pastel colors.
But don’t worry. You can spend more than that!
Breaking the Bank
Although no longer around, Doggie Mansions used to sell custom luxury dog houses, like a Key West style cottage at $10,500, but prices went up as high as $100,000. Still, that’s not the winner for most expensive doghouse ever.
That honor goes to a surgeon in the UK, who commissioned a custom (or bespoke) doghouse from that country’s top architect, Andy Ramus. With a staggering price tag of $417,000, it’s the most expensive doghouse ever built, but it’s packed with features, like temperature controlled beds, a sound system ($240,000 on its own), plasma TV, chilled and filtered water and dry food dispensers (both dog operated), self-cleaning bowls, “dog vision” cameras, and even a retina scanner, intended to keep strange dogs and cats out.
No, really. That’s exactly why the surgeon had that feature installed.
The two-bedroom palace also comes with a day lounge area, doggie spa, and outdoor play area with climbing ramp. It may seem extravagant, but it is home to two Great Danes — a breed that actually originated in Germany.
Also remember: This house was built in 2011, so that price adjusted for inflation is almost $500,000 today.
Of course, celebrities get in on the fancy doghouse game, too, but none of them have spent anywhere near as much as the still-current record holder.
Bark to reality
There really is no need to spend a small fortune in order to raise the woof on a new doghouse. Give the best you can give your dog, of course, but see what’s available in a barkitectural style you like, straight out of Better Bones and Gardens.
What a doghouse is really for is a place for your dog to find shade when it’s hot and warmth when it’s cool, as well as to provide a sense of security, since they’re usually protected on three sides and your fur-baby can monitor their territory in safety. Maybe it can include a private pawtio so your dog can indulge in some sunbathing.
Just make sure that the temperature inside stays comfortable, and provide plenty of fresh water, food optional if your dog doesn’t spend all day out there. Don’t forget to include a doggie bed or blanket inside for comfort, preferably ones that are washable.
But, again, you don’t have to spend thousands or even hundred of dollars to make sure that your dog has a doghouse they’ll enjoy. After all, to your dog, their real home is wherever you are.
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