The quest for the perfect dog bed
Fed up with not being able to find a dog bed that was comfortable, and still looked good after a few month’s use, let alone a few years, we decided to design and manufacture our own. Ali is a veterinary surgeon, and Chris and I are gear obsessives, so we had an idea of what was required. None of us realised how involved the journey was going to be…
When not out and about, our dogs tend to spend many hours a day in their beds, where they certainly appreciate being comfortable. If this wasn’t reason enough, like us, they also suffer from arthritis and the general effects of aging. Certain breeds, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, are predisposed to early onset joint problems, but Ali’s research found that 30% of all adult dogs, will be affected at some point during their lives.
All dogs would, therefore, benefit from a mattress that is comfortable, supports the body, and avoids pressure points. This is an ideal application for memory foam, although we quickly discovered that unless this is of the correct density, and bonded to a firmer base, the dog simply sinks through to the floor negating any benefit.
Comfort and support take priority
After extensive testing, and industry consultation, we decided to develop our own mattress. The denser the foam, the more resistant it is to loss of hardness, and the more resistant it is to stress. Hardness is a measure of how firm the foam feels; it is measured by how many newtons of pressure are required to compress the foam to 40% of its original size.
The top half of our mattress is memory foam, with a density of 50kg m3, and a hardness of 55N. The lower half of our mattress is upholstery grade foam that has a density of 28kg m3 and a hardness of 150N. The resulting laminated mattress is optimised for dog-sized occupants; it is comfortable, moulds to the body, and also protects the dog from sinking all the way through.
Next came the sleeping surface; where the prime concerns are comfort and practicality. Wool fleece is amazing stuff, unrivalled by any of the many synthetic alternatives we tested. It has excellent thermal properties, being cool in the summer, and warm in the winter. It also quickly wicks moisture away from the body. Wool is hypoallergic which is of course beneficial to dogs with sensitive skin. Finally, due to the keratin content, which breaks down bacteria – it is self-cleaning. Most of the time a quick hoover or shake outside is all that is required; however, should it be required, the topper can be removed and machine washed at 30 degrees centigrade.
A bed designed for dogs
Now to the design of the bed; the sides are scaled to the size of the intended occupants. This ensures they provide support, and are the correct height and width, to provide a comfortable place to rest the head. The front is scalloped to allow for easy entry and exit for less agile dogs. The sides are made from foam with a density of 24kg/m3, and hardness of 90N, to ensure the bed continues to hold its shape over the years. This makes our beds far more durable when compared to fibre filled alternatives, which tend to lose their shape and deteriorate over time.
Built to last
The covers have a huge impact on the aesthetics and our goal here was to be attractive but not at the expense of practicality. We tested dozens of alternatives, but once again, wool proved to be a winner. We chose gorgeous tweeds from two of the most prestigious mills in the United Kingdom. The most hardwearing of which is the Ettrick tweed, with a weight of 640gms per linear metre, and 100,000+ rubs on the Martindale abrasion test. No bed is chew proof if the dog is determined enough but our beds are tough. Like the topper, the covers are removable, and machine washable. The base of our beds is water resistant PU coated polymer. It is waterproof to prevent moisture being drawn up into the bed from damp surface, and so tough they use it on body armour.
Made in Britain
Finally, after many iterations, we had our prototypes just right. Now we just needed to find a factory that would make them to our high standards. We knew from the outset that we wanted to make our beds in Great Britain from British materials. We approached a number of reputable manufacturers and asked three to make some samples.
There was one clear winner, who is now producing our fantastic beds, we hope you like them.
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