Gravestone VS Headstone: Choosing the Right Pet Memorial

There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between a gravestone and a headstone, and I decided to write a helpful post to make it clearer.

A gravestone (also called a grave marker or a foot stone) is a stone that sits flat on the ground, typically on top of a grave. A headstone is an upright stone that typically sits at the head of a grave.

Many pet owners select a memorial style based on where they intend on placing it to honour their lost pet. There’s a lot to consider when choosing a location to showcase your pet’s memorial.

Choosing a Gravestone or a Headstone

Choosing a Gravestone

If you bury your pet’s ashes in your backyard, then the most common type of memorial would be a gravestone (or a footstone as we call them on this website.)

This memorial would sit flat on the ground directly on top of the grave. This serves as a reference point so you can know exactly where your pet’s ashes are buried.

Benefits of Choosing a Gravestone

  • Different sizes to choose from. Our gravestones (or foot stones) that we sell here at Furever Memorials come in three different sizes; small, medium and large. The headstone on the other hand only comes in one size. So if you prefer a smaller memorial, then a gravestone would be a better option.
  • Lighter and easier to move. Our gravestones (or foot stones) weigh less than a headstone because they don’t include a base. For example, our Pet Paw Memorial weighs ~13lbs for the small, ~19lbs for the medium and ~23lbs for the large. If you compare that to a headstone at ~37lbs for the Pet Diamond Memorial, it makes it a lot easier to move around.

Drawbacks of Choosing a Gravestone

  • Can sink into the ground. Because our gravestones (or foot stones) are made of 100% natural granite, the weight has a tendency of pushing the memorial into the ground. This can happen when there is a lot of rain in the spring or fall.
  • Dirt and water can accumulate. Because the stone lays flat on the ground, it’s easier for water and dirt to accumulate on top of the gravestone (or footstone.) This is especially true if the stone sinks below soil level and water has no place to escape. We always recommend yearly maintenance and to keep the top of the stone above soil level.
  • Grass clippings can stick to the stone. Lawn mowers clippings tend to stick to the top of the stone, especially when the stone is wet. It only takes a few seconds to clean, but it is something to consider if you’re planning on placing your pet’s headstone in a grass area.

When You Should Choose a Gravestone

Overall, if you don’t mind doing a little bit of maintenance every few years, then the gravestone (or foot stone) is a great option to serve as a memorial for your lost pet.

Choosing a Headstone

If your pet is buried in a pet cemetery or in your backyard, then the most common type of memorial would be a headstone (or a mini-upright memorial as we call them on this website).

This memorial would sit at the head of the grave so that when you visit and look down at the front of the memorial, you are also facing your pet’s final resting place.

Benefits of Choosing a Headstone

  • Easier to clean and maintain. Because the memorial is sitting upright, rain water runs down and doesn’t accumulate. Which means that dirt, moss and grass clippings from mowing the lawn are less likely to stick to the memorial.
  • Ability to see the memorial all year-round. One of the biggest advantages of a headstone is that it sits above the ground, so you are still able to see the memorial in the fall when there are a lot of leaves or in the winter when there is snow. The base of the memorial is approximately 2″ off the ground, so if there’s a big snow storm then it would still get covered.

Drawbacks of Choosing a Headstone

  • Easier to damage. Although our headstones (or mini-upright memorials) are made of high quality granite and made to withstand the harshest of weather conditions; all sides are polished (like a countertop) and there’s a higher chance of accidentally hitting and damaging and/or chipping the stone. For example, hitting it with the lawn mower or with a shovel.
  • Heavier to move. Our headstones (or mini-upright memorials) are typically bigger and heavier than gravestones (or foot stones.) This is mainly due to the memorial sitting on top of a base, which adds an extra ~10lbs to the total weight of the memorial.
  • The seam may need to be re-glued. As you may have noticed, our headstones (or mini-upright memorials) come in two pieces, the base and the memorial. These two pieces are held together using industrial strength granite epoxy. Although very unlikely, it is possible that in 10 or 15 years the seam will need to be re-glued. It’s a very simple process and can guide you through it if the need arises.

When You Should Choose a Headstone

Overall, if you don’t mind being a little extra careful, then the headstone (or mini-upright memorial) is a beautiful option to serve as a memorial for your lost pet.

Choosing a Boulder

If you want a decorative memorial to honour your pet, then the most common type of memorial would be a boulder (or a garden stone as we call them on this website.)

This memorial would typically serve as a centerpiece inside a garden dedicated to the memory of a pet. The flowers and plants growing around the memorial really gives it a beautiful setting and provides a sense of calm and peace to anyone who visits.

Benefits of Choosing a Boulder

  • The best of both worlds. Most pet owners like how a boulder (or a garden stone) sits upright above ground level, but isn’t polished all the way around so there is less chances of the granite stone getting damaged or chipped.
  • Looks great inside a garden. The biggest appeal of a boulder (or a garden stone) is how beautiful it looks inside a garden. It just compliments it very well. It’s also very easy to read the inscription even if there are flowers around the memorial.

Drawbacks of Choosing a Boulder

  • Weighs a lot more. The biggest drawback to choosing a boulder (or garden stone) is just how much it weighs. For example, the Pet Rustic Memorial weighs ~45lbs for the medium and ~55lbs for the large. It’s much heavier to move around, and costs a lot more to ship.
  • Shapes are slightly different. Because all of our boulders (or garden stones) are hand-made from natural granite, there is the possibility of small variations in the shape of the memorial. This is not something we’ve had any complaints about, but it is something to be mindful of.

When You Should Choose a Boulder

Overall, if you don’t mind having to move a heavier memorial, then the boulder (or garden stone) is a great option to serve as a memorial for your lost pet.

Where to Showcase a Pet Memorial

Once you’ve decided what kind of memorial you want, whether it be a gravestone, headstone or boulder, the next logical question is where are you going to showcase it?

Most of our clients choose one of the four following locations.

  • On your pet’s final resting place. Most pet memorials are typically placed on or at the head of where a pet’s body or ashes are buried.
  • On their pet’s favourite spot in the backyard. Typically a place that their pet loved, is meaningful to them and reminds them of their lost pet.
  • In the garden. This a great place as you’ll get to visit your pet whenever the flowers need to be watered on hot summer days.
  • Near the entrance of your home. You’ll be able to see your pet’s memorial every time you leave the house and when you come home.

Related Questions

Can a pet memorials be kept outside year-round? Yes. Our pet memorials are made of high quality 100% natural granite that will never fade, crack or chip and are made to stay outside year-round. In fact, they are the same quality you’d expect to find in a cemetery for a human.

How much does a pet memorials cost? You can expect a custom engraved granite pet memorial like the ones displayed on this page to cost between $125 to $235 Canadian Dollars. The range depends on the type and size of memorial you would like, as well as a small $30 photo editing fee if you wish to have a photo of your pet engraved.

Where can I order a pet memorials? Visit this page to order any of our pet memorials currently in stock. It’s a long page but worth the read as you’ll get to learn about and see our entire engraving process from A to Z.

Conclusion

With all of that said, there is no “right” or “wrong”. You can choose any memorial that you like or feels like truly honours your pet in a meaningful way. You can put it anywhere you feel like would be a good place to remember your pet.

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