5 Things to Consider When Getting a Fence for Your Big Dog

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Everyone who has a big dog with tons of energy knows how hard it can be to contain your best friend. After all, many breeds of large dogs want to get in touch with their wild side and chase the neighborhood squirrels or bark at cars. If you have a big, strong, energetic dog, you’ll need a fence, and you’ll need to think carefully about the type of fence before adding it to your yard. The trick is to find a fence that satisfies your budget and your aesthetic desires while stopping your furry pal from going on the adventure of his doggy dreams. Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing the perfect big dog fence!

1. Big dogs need big fences…because they can jump!

A four foot high fence is unlikely to deter a Husky, Golden Retriever, or Labrador, so you should look for a fence with a height of five or even six feet. For most breeds, six feet should be sufficient. Some owners start adding extensions to make their fences higher and higher. However, if you do this, your dog will learn how to jump a little higher each time! Your best bet in this case is to tear down your old fence and install a new six foot fence rather than making additions. Height isn’t the only factor at play—a big dog is also a strong dog. High quality wood and vinyl or composite materials can resist charging and chewing better than cheaper, lower end materials.

Look how easy it is for this Husky to climb this chain link fence!

2. Make that fence impossible to climb

No matter how high your fence is, a clever dog will still try to get over it somehow. Even if he can’t actually jump it, he may be able to climb. When choosing a fence, it’s crucial to make sure the design of the fence itself is totally climb-proof. Chain link fences are a bad idea for climbers—they provide your dog with easy footholds! A solid panel fence, on the other hand, has a flat surface without anywhere for your dog to stick his paws.

3. Give your dog a little privacy (or, rather, give the squirrels on the other side privacy)

Once you have your climb-proof fence, make sure there’s nothing your dog can use to give himself a boost. Don’t place a planter or a birdbath or anything else your dog can climb onto alongside the fence.

Okay, your dog may not care about privacy at all, but a wooden or vinyl privacy fence is a great option for his (and your) peace of mind. Aside from their climb-proof nature, solid panel privacy fences are great because your dog cannot see what’s on the other side. If he can’t actually see squirrels and other dogs and people and everything else he loves to bark at, he’ll be a lot calmer. He won’t be visible to other dogs on their walks either, who may get distracted and start barking. 

Chain link fences drive dogs wild because they can look right through and see exactly what they’re missing! Privacy fences are also much more aesthetically appealing than chain link. Ultimately, choosing the best fence for your large dog depends on how your dog behaves and reacts to the outside world. So take some time to consider what will best suit your four legged companion before making a decision.

4. Think before getting an invisible fence

You may ask, what about invisible fences? Some owners may just want to put up an invisible or electric fence for their big dog and be done with it. If local laws prevent you from installing a high enough fence for your big dog, this may be your only option. However, it is possible that invisible fences worsen behavioral problems in dogs. Think about how you would feel if you got shocked every time you crossed an invisible line!
You ultimately have to decide on a method that is right for your dog, so weigh the pros and cons of invisible fences before getting one in place of a traditional fence.

5. Make your dog not WANT to escape!

A little girl with a big dog...and their fence that looks like it could use an update!

Dogs don’t usually like being restricted, whether it’s by a physical or invisible barrier. Boredom is a major factor that tempts dogs to try to escape your yard. If your dog requires a lot of exercise but isn’t being walked regularly, putting up an adequate fence will not be an easy fix to your problem. Maybe you’ll be able to prevent your dog from escaping, but your dog won’t be very happy—and an unhappy dog makes an unhappy owner. If you own a large breeding, working, or herding dog, exercise is not likely to be optional—these kinds of dogs simply don’t thrive when they are cooped up in a little yard.

A fence is necessary to keep your dog in your yard, but as a behavioral fix, it’s only a starting point. Creating a dog-friendly yard is one way to keep your dog entertained between the fence walls.

Not everyone has a spacious yard or the ability to provide a large dog with ample exercise. That’s exactly why big dogs aren’t for everyone, but the right fence does go a long way in terms of keeping your dog safe and secure. Managing massive dogs can be a massive challenge, but for owners that are able to take that challenge, it’s worth the effort so you can keep your dog around for massive cuddles.

Got a small dog? Check out our post on finding the perfect fence for your little pup!

A fence for fido

How do you keep your big dog from getting out of your yard? Have you made any special modifications to your backyard fence? Leave a comment with your experiences and suggestions with other dog owners!


  • Fred Gerke says:

    Fence heights for labrador.

    • Fence Authority says:

      Hi, Fred! We’d suggest a five or six foot fence for your labrador. We’re here if you need anything. Let us know how you make out!

  • Derek Mcdoogle says:

    In your article, you stated that when choosing a fence, it’s crucial to make sure the design of the fence itself is totally climb-proof. My wife brought home a new dog for my birthday and then we realized that we don’t have a fence. I wonder which fencing material might be more durable and be able to keep a pet in the yard.

    • Fence Authority says:

      Hi, Derek! High quality wood and vinyl or composite materials can resist charging and chewing and a solid panel fence has a flat surface without anywhere for your dog to stick his paws. Thanks for reading and reaching out!

  • Jade Brunet says:

    I am happy to have found this information about finding the right fence for your big dog. It is good to know that one should invest in a fence that is impossible to climb. I did not realize that chain link fences were not the best choice for climbers. I have also heard that it is a good idea to learn about how to maintain the fence before installation.

  • Leviticus Bennett says:

    The tip I like most is your last one–make your dog not want to escape. I just bought my niece a puppy great dane. It looks just like scooby doo, but will probably grow up to be huge, so we’ll need a fence.

  • Dawn says:

    We have a LARGE Belgian Shepherd who just lays on the fence and squishes it enough to step over. We’re thinking about an electric fence but know that the invisible ones will not work. What about the “livestock” electric fences placed at the top of the existing fence which is 4′ high?

  • Deb W. says:

    I have a Bassett who likes to head butt my thin stockade fence in attempt to play with my neighbors 3 dogs. Two of the neighbors dogs are pits and one has acted out aggressively toward my dog as mine tries to break through to him. I’ve Been Told by my neighbor his dog is able to break vinyl fencing. I need a strong fence to keep them from seeing each other and unbreakable. I’m willing to pay more to get positive results. Any suggestions? I Also Have a daschund. Thanks!

    • Brett says:

      I have a Bassett as well, I just had (what I thought was a 4 foot panel fence. but its actually 3.5, its being addressed) installed and he climbs the support panels. Bassetts are climbers and have strong hind legs, 4 feet will stop the jumping but not the climb, even on a panel. YES DOGS BREAK VINYL. Most vinyl is only cemented at the bottom of the supports to keep it in place. It looks nice but it is weak. Please consider a 6 foot fence or 5 foot (hard to find, have the 6 foot panel cut at the bottom below the support at home depot) so you can still see your neighbors and talk over it.

  • Ellen F. Chadwick says:

    Very very interesting article. I have learnt many things form your article. Your blog become one of my favorite. I want to gather more knowledge regarding this. Please keep sharing…

    thanks alot!!

  • Judy says:

    I left my 35# mixed mutt (largely Terrier) with kennel. She got out and ran onto the highway and my precious Maggie is gone. Owner says she jumped 5′ fence….we don’t buy it. She’s not a jumper – ever- so well behaved, she won’t jump on me. Besides she’s stayed at kennel before. She is far from being hyper – just the opposite – very laid back. We have our theory as to how she got out, but that’s irrelevant. There’s nothing we can do about it now. Any thoughts about her jumping the fence (when she’s never tried it in the many times she’s been boarded)?

  • Alicia says:

    Any suggestions on what type and how high a fence for a Pitbull we want to keep OUT of our yard? New neighbors have a Pitbull they only chain outdoors and we have small children to keep safe. Any suggestions would be helpful. We have 400ft of backyard against their yard.

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