Gift giving is tough. It’s even more difficult when your significant other keeps their wish list locked down tighter than Fort Knox… which is odd considering I’m supposed to be getting this stuff for her… I guess that just means I should be more observant and in tune with my wife’s needs and wants and I’d naturally know what it is I could get her. This year was different though.
A Gift Worth Giving
Mrs. Lazy Guy wanted a wood lathe! And she got one. But on her actual birthday she had something else on her mind rather than turning wood. In a rare moment, we had the house and evening to ourselves. We had sent the kiddo away for her first ever sleepover earlier that day. Things were looking good. I asked the wife if she wanted to get dinner from her favorite local restaurant. She said yes. I said do you want to do something special tonight that we don’t normally get to do when the kid is home. She said yes… Oh boy.
So we ordered our food for carry out and headed to the Home Depot for supplies. What my wife really wanted for her birthday was to get some shop time with me and build her first woodworking project. And she crushed it.
Canine Mega Esophagus
This is Norbet. He’s a retired racing Greyhound that’s the furry family member of one of my wife’s friends. He’s also a patient of hers. When I call my wife “Mrs. Lazy Guy” it’s not entirely accurate. She’s actually “Dr. Mrs. Lazy Guy” and is a veterinarian. Yes, I gave up on trying to be a doctor years ago and decided it was easier just to marry one. But enough about my conquests in life and back to Norbet. He unfortunately has been battling with bone cancer and recently had one of his hind legs amputated.
During recovery they discovered that he also has a condition called Canine Mega Esophagus (Canine ME). The long and short of it is that it’s difficult for the dog to eat or drink in a normal 4 legged (or 3 legged) position. They have to be vertical in order for their food and sometimes water to travel down their esophagus. The muscles won’t allow it. Up until a few years ago, this was pretty much a death sentence for dogs. Owners would have to hold the dog upright (and food) and assist them with eating every meal. When you have a 85+ pound Greyhound that is pretty much the same size as the owner, that’s not really a long term option.
DIY Baily Chair For Dogs
Enter the Bailey Chair and the project my wife wanted to build. Named after the dog who the original chair was designed for (who went on to live a long and happy life) this little throne seats the dog upright and allows the dog (and owner) to comfortably make it through meal time. The problem is plans are not readily available for a DIY version. There are a few sites that sell their own models, but building plans are scarce, so in honor of Norbet, we are putting build plans up (for free!) below and on websites like Build Something and Ryobi Nation so they are easier to find and hopefully save a few more furry friends.
Tools and Supplies Needed
- Drill/Driver – Ryobi One+ Drill/ Driver Kit
- Jig Saw – Ryobi One+ Jig Saw
- Miter Saw (You can substitute a circular saw) – Ryobi One+One 10” Sliding Miter Saw
- Table Saw (You can substitute a circular saw) – RIDGID 10” Contractor’s Table Saw
- Pocket Hole Jig – Kreg K5 Master
- Router (optional for decorative round over edge) – Ryobi One+ Trim Router
- Speed Square
- ¾” sanded plywood (we used a full sheet 4×8 sheet since the dog is large)
- 1-1/4” pocket screws
- Wood Glue
*Please note, like a tailored suit, these chairs are custom built to fit each dog, so the measurements we used for Norbet (a giant Greyhound) won’t work for your Yorkie Poo. Because of Norbet’s weight loss we also added the padded sides and bottom for comfort, but that’s completely optional for the build.
Step 1: Measure Your Pooch
You need three measurements to get started:
- Measurement A – Shoulder Blade to Shoulder Blade. I’d call this the dog’s withers, but then they aren’t a horse so…
- Measurement B – Shoulder to Tush. You want to get the length of your dog of how high their shoulders will be when they are sitting in an upright position.
- Measurement C – Shoulder to Front of Chest – Measure too small and you crush your dog, too big and your dog slides out the bottom…
Step 2: Back Support
Take Measurement A (shoulder to shoulder) and add 3”- 4” (depending on if you add a cushion) and Measurement B (shoulder to bottom) and add 4”- 6”. In our case, Norbet is 7 ½” (A) by 32” (B), so I ripped a piece of plywood down to 11” x 38”. On the bottom of one end (inside facing) we pre-drilled a pair of ¾” pocket holes.
On the top, we traced a round edge and used a jig saw to create the decorative rounded headboard. I HATE using jig saws, but we faired pretty well here. The real jig saw test will happen later.
Step 3: Side Supports
Using Measurement C (Shoulder to Chest) +2”- 3” (depending on if you add a cushion) and Measurement B (Shoulder to bottom) I cut (2) pieces of plywood for the side panels.
For Norbet, he’s 32” (B) by 11 ½” (C) so we cut both of our panels to 14” x 32”. Using your pocket hole jig, pre-drill a set of ¾” holes on the bottom edge and inside facing edge of both panels.
Step 4: Assemble The Frame
Using wood glue on the joint and 1-1/4” pocket screws, attach each side panel to the back panel. It’s personal preference as to whether you want the pocket holes outward or inward facing. We choose inward knowing the cushions would cover them up.
Make sure your edges are flush when attaching. Don’t worry about square-ness yet because the pocket screws will naturally tilt the material inward until we attach it in the next step.
Step 5: Add the Bass… err Base
The bigger the dog, the bigger the base you’re going to need. The last thing you want is for your poor dog to be locked into this device chowing away and topple over. So because of the size, we cut a panel of plywood to 16” by 24” adding about 4”- 6” to each side and about 1” of overhang in the front. To fancy it up, we took a palm router with a rounder over bit and ran it over the edge of three sides. It’s completely cosmetic.
We attached the back panel of the frame first to the base (flush with the back) using the pre-drilled ¾” pocket holes from earlier with wood glue and 1-1/4” pocket screws. Then with a speed square to check square-ness, we attached the side panels to the base as well. If you’re going to patch the pocket holes, now is a good time. I generally use DAP Wood Filler to generously fill the hole and let it dry for a few hours. Once dried, you can sand off the excess and paint it or stain it. They won’t be 100% invisible, but they won’t be blatant pocket holes. Or don’t fill them. No worries.
Step 6: Hold The Door
Measuring the width from side panel to side panel (in our case it was 11”) we cut a panel for the door. This is where it really depends on the shape and size of your dog. For bigger dogs, you need to leave a few inches below the door for their feet to hang out for little dogs you can just close it off completely.
As far as height, it all depends on the shape of your dog’s face. Since Norbet has a long pointy nose, we had to allow for him to sit upright and still have enough clearance to eat. Our panel ended up being 11” x 20”.
Step 7: Dinner Is Served
But wait, we need to add the tray! Using the bowl as a guide, we cut a piece of plywood to 14” (3” wider than the frame) by 12” to accommodate Norbet’s bowl. Once again, we used the jig saw to cut rounded edges for the front and then used the router with a round over bit to make it fancy. For the bowl insert we traced the outline of the bowl we would use (make sure it’s got a lip) and then drew another circle ¼” skinnier on the inside. Using a drill bit for a pilot hole, we then used the jig saw to cut out the circle. Did I mention my hatred of jig saws?
This actually went pretty well. If you go slow it’s really not that bad. We also used the round over bit and the router to soften the edge of the cut out. Once again completely optional. With the hole all cut out, we pre-drilled a set of ¾” pocket holes on the underside of the tray. We attached the bowl directly to the door with wood glue and 1-1/4” pocket screws. This is where you’ll understand the beauty of pocket screws. They make ridiculously strong joints. You won’t need any additional supports underneath.
If you want to add a finish, apply it now and then add your hardware once it’s complete. Dinner is served!
Step 8: Adding Cushions (Optional)
Because of how skinny Norbet had gotten and how bony he is, we decided it would be best if we added some cushions to make chow time a little more comfortable. Had either of us made custom upholstery before? Nope. Plus furniture cushions and fabric are expensive. So I had an idea… It’s summer clearance time at our local stores so we bought two outdoor love seat cushions for super cheap. Using underlayment (thin plywood) as backing, we cut out a panel for the bottom, three sides of the chair, then we cut up the padding inside love seat cushions to the same size as the panels.
We attached the cushioning with spray adhesive to each panel and then wrapped each piece with outdoor fabric. A few staples later to hold the fabric in place and we had four cushions. We attached them directly to the chair with ¾” wood screws creating a baffle/gusset effect on each cushion.
Bailey Chairs For Everyone!
That’s it! This is an extremely easy build that only took us a few hours one night to assemble. The design lends itself to a ton of personalization so bling it out! This is a special chair for a special dog, it’s as good looking as you want to make it. Even if you don’t have a dog, this is a great project if you check with your local SPCA or adoption center to see if they have any dogs in need of a Bailey chair. Having an easy way to feed them will significantly increase the chance for these dogs to find a forever home.
*Unfortunately, prior to this post going up, Norbet who inspired this post only got a chance to use his Bailey Chair a few times before he passed away. If you would like to make a donation in Norbet’s name you can visit www.JamesRiverGreyhounds.org and click the donate button at the top of the page.
If you have any questions about this build please feel free to reach out in our contact section and if you happen to build one yourself, absolutely send a picture so we can share on Social Media!
~ Lazy Guy
Thank you for publishing this! Our dog has mega-esophagus and we will be building him a chair this weekend.
Great! I’m happy to hear you found it! Send me a pic of your build and I’ll put it on my social channels to keep spreading the word about M.E.
So glad I found this post. My sisters dog is one year post amputation (front limb) due to osteosarcoma. This week she was diagnosed with Megaesophagus and we are looking to build her a Bailey chair. We know we have many challenges ahead but thanks to your instructions this build isn’t one of them.
Hi Kelly, I’m glad you found the post! Let me know if you have any questions for the build and absolutely send me a pic with it all set up and I’ll post it on my social channels. It’s a great way to spread the word!
This post was so helpful! My foster dog was diagnosed with ME and we are building her a chair this week from your guide!
Great to hear! Let me know if you have any questions!
It’s been a tough couple of months for our dog disco and a final diagnosis of mesaosephagus was a struggle but with love and attention and his new bailey chair, he seems to be on the mend. Finding your DIY plans were a god send. Thanks you so much.
I’m so happy you found this! That’s great to hear about Disco!
Thank you so much for posting this. I will be building one for my girl Presley!
Awesome to hear! Absolutely send me a pic when you finish!
Thank you for posting this. I’m a member of OZR Great Dane rescue here in Florida and we just got a 6lb 8 week old neglected megaE puppy in and she desperately needs one of these chairs asap. Thanks to your easy to follow plans I’m building her one today. I’ve already got an idea on how to make a second adjustable one for her as she hopefully grows. Thanks again for this post. You’re the best!
Oh, man, you’re definitely going to need a big one in the end! Send me pics when you finish your build!
All done except the cushions are being sewn. Your plans were so easy to follow. Thanks again!!
How do I send pics?
I will attempt to make this. I was donated a German Shepard Pup to train to become my service animal. The breeder wasn’t truthful about anything. Took him to the vet and after test discovered this issue. It really angers me due to this person talked a good game and set all these rules. Every time he would start training he got sick so we pulled him to recover a day or 2. Im most angry that this lady thought so little of another humans quality of life. I believe I can have the lumber yard pre-cut the lumber for… Read more »
Thank you for the clear directions. I built this in July. It gave me another couple of months with my dog. Unfortunately, I had to put him down today. These last few months were a blessing. Thank you.
Robert I’m so sorry to hear that, but I’m glad you got to extend your time with him. If you have a picture of him in his chair I’d be happy to share on my channels to help spread awareness.
Do y’all sell these? If so what’s the cost?
Hey Linda! Unfortunately no I’m not selling, but you can take these plans to anyone with basic tools to have it made for you. Material cost is around $50.
Thank you so much for these free bailey chair instructions! Our French Bulldog, Dweezil, was just dx’d with ME. I was shocked at the price for buying one. This makes it possible. We are ready to face this head on for our little buddy ❤️?
So happy to hear that! Exactly why my why and I decided to put plans out. You’re going to go through enough, the last thing you want to do is spend a few hundred extra plus have to wait several weeks for it. Please share your build when you finish!
Thank you so much for these plans. Our dog has just been diagnosed today and this will be tomorrow’s project. It’s really kind of you to share these plans.
Great! I’m so happy to hear you found the plans! Let me know if you have any questions!
Thank you so much for posting this. I have a 4 month old German Shepherd, and he was just diagnosed. I was distraught because I can’t really afford a 400+ dollar adjustable chair for now and when he gets bigger. I made the chair and it is drying now! So he will be able to use it tomorrow! This project is literally saving lives, and I am so grateful that you shared this.
So great to hear! That’s exactly why we published it! Best of luck to your GSD!
What did you use for the latch? I’m looking at elbow catches but yours looks much nicer
I actually used a window latch but I don’t recommend it. A bigger dog can actually pop that catch with slight shifting.
Hello Adam, My ex-wife Donna and I were the owners of the original dog Bailey that this chair was named after, and I was the one who designed and built the first chair for him. After a few modifications to the first chair, we settled on the final chair design (white in color with the grey side wings) which I built and that is pictured on the internet with Bailey sitting in it. Over the years, I built a variety of chairs for people to help with their dogs, and we found that it was a cost effective tool to… Read more »
Joseph, I’m absolutely honored to hear from you. It’s a truly special thing you designed that helps so many pets and families. If there are any additional links to information I can add in the original post that you think would be appropriate, I’d love to add them.
Hi Adam. I dont have any additional links, but I do know there is a Mega E support/info group on Yahoo that is very helpful. Your wife may also want to check it out. I go online and look at MegaE posts a few times a year to see all the dogs who have been helped by this idea, and that’s how I noticed your post. And I actually built a chair about 18 months ago for a lady near me with a German Shepard that had MegaE. A few things we learned with Bailey was that the chair needs… Read more »
This was a great write up and helped me a ton in putting together a chair! The only thing I’m having trouble with is finding outdoor cushions. My hardware stores seem to be in a different season now. Any other suggestions on where to find something like that?
Thanks! Really you can use any fabric you want and get stuffing and load it up, then staple it to a backer board and mount that to the chair. No sewing required. It’s probably under $15 for all of it at a super store.
Just completed our Bailey chair! Thank you for the build information and your detailed directions and information on how to measure your dog to make a good fit.
Samson our German Shepard is eating his first meal in it as I type this!
That’s great to hear! We are absolutely glad we could help!
Thanks for the instructions 🙂
can you please help me understand measurement C shoulder to chest 🙂
It’s for depth of the box. So measuring from their side, the width from their back to the widest part of their rib cage. And just remember when they’re sitting up, they’ll expand a little. You want them in their snug enough that they don’t slide out, but also loose enough that that it doesn’t hinder breathing or eating.
Thank you very much for making this available. We are building one this weekend for our 6 month old German Shepherd, Little Bit. Appreciate you!!
Great to hear! Good luck!
Thanks for design! Built one over weekend and wife decorated.
Final decorated chair and dog approved.
Excellent! And chowing down! Always great to see!
Can you build me one for my grand puppy she is 6 week old German Shepard. Just diagnosed so so sorry to hear about your orbit😢
Hi Teresa! Thanks for reaching out, unfortunately, I’m not able to take orders for building Bailey Chairs. But I published these plans so anyone with basic power tools should be able to make one for you. There are websites that strictly build and sell Bailey Chairs, but realize the cost will reflect materials, labor and shipping. So it’s much more affordable to have someone local to you follow my plans. You also might want to consider waiting until your GSD gets a little bigger before building one because you’ll have to build a new one every few weeks as the… Read more »
Norbit sorry for the misspelling
How do you attach the tray to the chair
The tray attaches to the front panel using pocket holes on the underside.
Thank you for the directions. I followed your instructions today and built a chair for someone in our rescue (Georgia Doberman Rescue) that has a Doberman with mega esophagus. We may have to do modifications after delivery and first use but I will definitely share pictures and notes if we had to make changes.
Thank you again for help saving lives.
Glad you found the plans and great to hear! Definitely feel free to share any pics or updates!
Thank you for sharing this design. Hopefully I can get one built. My Shandy will appreciate not being lifted into a basket anymore. Not to mention that i have shoulder issues and can barely lift her.
Hi Lazy Guy, First, thanks for putting these instructions out there for everyone to see and use. My wife and I just bought a GSD puppy and after one week, we found out that she has ME. Taking her back to the breeder was never a consideration, so after getting back from the vet yesterday with the diagnosis, I found your web site and built a slightly modified version of your chair with scraps I had around the house. Since I didn’t have a pocket hole jig, used slightly different joinery. I attached the back to the base with L-brackets,… Read more »
Hey Brian! Glad you found the plans for a build guide and hope everything is going well with the new GSD!
Thanks so much for the helpful directions! I used these (slightly modified) to build a chair for a little dog that came into our shelter. He also has mobility issues and can’t quite use his legs properly so I had to add some additional support for his front legs. The measurement guidelines were great – at his first “fitting” it worked perfectly!
The build looks great! Glad we were able to help!
Hello I was dogsittng for my daughter while she went on her honeymoon her small dog Malloy was given this diagnosis of M.E. I really had never heard of it before. After researching it and learning ways to help I decided to look up and purchase a Bailey chair. Thankfully I come across your diy project for a Bailey chair because I cannot afford to purchase one online, however we have the tools to make one just need to measure Malloy aka “Mr. M”, and buy materials. I can’t wait to make this for my granddog.
Great to hear you found the plans. Best of luck with the grand dog!
Hello Mr. Adam, I am a Life Scout from Troop 30 and am planning on building 6 adjustable Bailey’s chairs for different dog shelters in my area. I had a question about the measurements for dogs with MegaE. The dog shelters might use the chair for dogs of different widths and I am planning to make my chair height adjustable only so is there a certain width that can fit most dogs. I have asked a company that mass produces Bailey’s chairs for their average measurements but still feel like it might be a bit too narrow. My measurements are… Read more »
Hey thanks for reaching out! Awesome that you’re making some for your local shelter. My wife the veterinarian says that you would be better off making several different sizes since shelters would have a wide range of dogs. Although, ME is more common in bigger dogs. For the ones we made, they were for greyhounds which are huge dogs, but also really skinny. But you can probably use similar measurements if you think there will be quite a few German Shepherd dogs. I’d make the back panel and front door a little wider, to say 15″ and the 14″ panels… Read more »
thank you so much we have a lab puppy who is so thin from m.e
and this will be so helpful!
do you have any suggestions on what to feed them?
Hi, I am so very happy to have found your blog. My older lab cross just got diagnosed with it after a terrible and frightening bout of aspiration pneumonia. We just got her put of emergency care and were looking for how to make a Bailey chair and came across your plans. Our only issue is that she has mobility problems in her back legs due to disc degeneration. Would you have any tips on modification to help with supporting herself. I’m afraid her weight will crush her legs as she isn’t capable of squatting very well anymore. She just… Read more »
Thanks so much for these plans – we got the diagnosis on Friday and by Saturday, we had version 1.0 done – Sunday saw v.2.0 upgrades completed – including a water feeding bottle on the back! You guys are litterally life-savers. Thank you!!!!
Oh great! We’re so happy to help!