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Published Jul. 13, 2021

Whether it’s a trip to the vet or a safe place for your dog to rest while you’re at work, a crate is among the must-have dog supplies for most pet owners. The best dog crate safely contains your dog with space for movement and has the strength to withstand anxiety behaviors or chewing. Everything from your dog’s size and personality to how and where you plan to use the crate will determine which model is right for you and your dog. Check out this list of the best dog crates the pet products market has to offer, including a heavy-duty dog crate for escape artists and a budget-friendly model if times are tight.

Factors to consider when shopping for the best dog crate

The secret to picking the best dog crate is getting the right size and knowing how you plan to use the crate. For example, a dog crate that will only be used at home has different requirements than one that’s needed for air travel. Take a moment to review how you intend for the crate to function in order to ensure you get one that meets your specific needs. 

What size crate do I need?

A dog should be able to stand, turn around, and sit in any crate. That requires approximately four to six inches of clearance in front, back, and at both sides of the dog. Take your dog’s measurements (tip of the nose to base of the tail, top of the ears to the floor when standing, and width of the chest) and add the necessary inches to get an idea of the best dog crate size. 

Dog kennels and dog crates are categorized by the crate’s length and the weight of the dog they’re designed to contain. For example, a 32-inch crate measures, as you might expect, 32-inches long and may hold dogs up to 40 pounds. Take both the dog’s size and weight into consideration. Larger crates are made of sturdier materials to hold heavier dogs. If you happen to have a hefty but short dog, you may need a larger crate than his measurements would indicate. In general, large and extra-large dog crates have extra reinforcement—thicker plastic or metal, multiple locks, dual handles—to safely contain and transport a large, active animal.

How and where will you use the crate?

Dog crates can be used to transport the dog in the car, on a plane, or contain them in the home. For car travel, a soft-sided or plastic crate works well because of its light weight. Soft dog crates are often collapsible, making them easy to store. If you need to carry the crate with the dog in it, plastic crates work better than soft models because the hard floor adds stability. 

If you don’t need to transport the crate, you can focus less on the crate’s weight and more on the durability. Collapsible metal dog crates work well because they’re able to withstand chewing but collapse for storage when not in use. Sturdier metal designs feature bars rather than wire and aren’t usually collapsible. Keep in mind crates used daily don’t need to be collapsible, and non-collapsible models offer extra stability and durability.

What’s your dog’s personality?

High-energy, anxious, or dogs who chew obsessively can take a heavy toll on a crate. Sometimes large dogs need a heavy-duty crate even though their personality is docile. 

Heavy-duty dog crates feature metal construction, reinforced edges, dual locks, and other extra security features. These crates withstand rambunctious dogs and provide a safe place for pups who become destructive in a contained space or when they’re away from their owners. or.

What material should the crate be made of?

Dog crates may be metal, plastic, wood, and/or durable fabric. Soft crates usually feature a plastic frame with a fabric shell. They’re lightweight and easy to store. However, they’re the least sturdy crate design. 

Wood crates offer an attractive alternative to plastic and metal, as they look more like dog crate furniture. However, wood doesn’t offer the same durability as the other two materials. It shouldn’t be used for anxious dogs or heavy chewers. 

Plastic offers better durability and less weight than wood. It’s a great option for a dog that needs something sturdy and lightweight. Some models also come apart for more compact storage. 

Metal resists chewing better than plastic or wood. However, the design of the crate can determine how sturdy it is. For example, some collapsible metal crates may withstand chewing, but their hinge design may not be as sturdy as a non-collapsible crate. Consequently, a collapsible metal crate may not work for a high-energy or anxious dog who digs or bangs against the sides of the crate trying to escape.

Can I fly with a dog crate?

If flying with a pet is in your future, check for TSA approval of the crate’s design. Also, check your preferred airline’s pet travel guidelines to make sure the crate will meet all of their specifications. Airlines are very specific about dog crate details and sizes, and the guidelines may vary from airline to airline. For example, the crate may need metal nuts and bolts, and the dog’s ears may not be allowed to touch the top of the crate. Rules vary according to domestic and international flights, as well.

Does the crate include any accessories?

Dog crates sometimes include a water and/or food bowl, storage pockets, and a cushion. These extras can be bought separately, but it’s nice to have them as soon as the crate arrives. Bowls that attach to the door or side of the crate are more stable during transport. Keep in mind that if the crate needs to fly, you have to have separate water and food bowls that attach to the door so that airline employees can give the dog more food or water without opening the door. In this case, a crate that includes these accessories saves time and money. 

Related: Sniff out fido’s favorite kibble from these best dry dog food brands

The best dog crates

Weed out the crate choices by knowing in advance how you will use the crate. Next, take into account your dog’s size and personality. These three factors will help you focus on the crate style and size that works best for your pet. Additional features like carrying handles and water bowls are nice, but not necessary. 

Best plastic dog crate: Aspen Pet Porter Travel Kennel

Aspen Pet Porter Travel Kennel

The Aspen meets most airlines’ requirements and comes in eight sizes, safely fitting young puppies and adult dogs. Petmate

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The Aspen Pet Porter Travel Kennel comes in eight sizes to fit puppies under 10 pounds. to adult dogs up to 90 pounds. Each size includes four ventilated sides and a metal door. A single-hand latch lets you reach in for the dog while opening the door. The top and bottom pieces attach via metal nuts and bolts. This dog kennel meets many airlines’ flight specifications, but you should check with your preferred carrier to make sure it meets all of their specific requirements. Aspen also offers several color choices, although every color isn’t available in every size.

Best soft dog crate: Amazon Basics Premium Folding Portable Soft Dog Crate

Amazon Basics Premium Folding Portable Soft Dog Crate

Zippered pockets, a removable bed, and a collapsible design offer a compact way to carry pets. Amazon Basics

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The Amazon Basics Premium Folding Portable Soft Dog Crate comes in five sizes and colors to fit a wide range of dogs. Four ventilated mesh panels keep dogs cool and comfortable. It also offers two entry points—top and front. The bottom is sturdy enough to carry smaller breeds with either the carrying handle or shoulder strap. The PVC frame and polyester fabric collapse flat for easy storage when it’s not in use. This model includes a few extras, including two zippered pockets to store treats or toys and a fleece dog bed that fits inside the crate.

Best heavy-duty dog crate: Impact Stationary Dog Crate

Impact Stationary Dog Crate

A reinforced aluminum frame safely holds big dogs—and escape artists. Impact

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The Impact Stationary Dog Crate offers premium construction and materials to keep chewers, high-anxiety dogs, and big, strong breeds safe. An aluminum frame withstands digging or chewing, and it also cuts down on weight. This heavy-duty dog crate features four-sided ventilation and a metal door with a military-grade metal latch. The reinforced corners are designed for stability when stacking two crates of the same size. It also offers two carrying handles and airline rails on the side for easier handling when your pup is out of your sight. This crate is pricey, but it offers safety for canine Houdinis and powerful dogs other crates can’t hold. 

Best dog crate for the living room: Fable Crate

Fable Crate

Bent wood and an acrylic or metal door come together in a crate that complements the modern home. Fable Pets

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The Fable Crate falls in the dog crate furniture category. It’s designed to contain dogs at home in a bent wood/metal or acrylic combo. The bent wood leaves no corner seams, with the top and bottom pieces held together by a wood slat on the crate’s interior. Square ventilation holes on every side keep air circulating. This wood dog crate comes in two models: a white metal gate or a clear acrylic one that slides into the crate when opened. Fable suggests acrylic for dogs that like to see what’s going on and metal for dogs who prefer a private escape. The door latches closed with a bungee cord bottom closure. The only downside is it’s not designed for travel.

Best dog crate for road trip training: Diggs Revol Dog Crate

Diggs Revol Dog Crate

With travel-ready features, this pick allows you to tote along your furry friend on just about any adventure. Diggs

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If you want to train your puppy as you travel, a compact and foldable dog crate can allow you easy transport for less hassle. This dog travel crate comes in two sizes, small and medium, and features wheels, a collapsible design, and an easy-carry handle help get you situated quickly. In addition, baby industry building standards help to prevent pinched paws or any other injuries. Made of durable materials including high-grade aluminum, steel mesh wire, and reinforced plastic, you can be sure this crate will last for many years to come even as you pack the truck tight. It also includes a removable tray at the base of the crate, allowing you to easily clean it after use.

Best dog crate on budget: MidWest Homes for Pets Dog Crate

MidWest Homes for Pets Dog Crate

Affordability, sturdiness, a wide range of sizes, and two designs give pet owners on a budget plenty of options to keep their dog safely confined. MidWest Homes for Pets

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The MidWest Homes for Pets Dog Crate is actually a dog crate with a divider. Each crate includes a divider panel to shrink the usable space or expand it as needed. The design includes sliding-bolt latches, excellent ventilation, and durable construction that resists chewing. This metal dog crate comes in seven sizes and double or single-door designs. The bottom of the crate consists of a sturdy plastic tray, and this kennel has ABS plastic handles for easy transport. Every size also includes rollers to reposition the crate without scratching delicate floors. Finally, the crate collapses for easy storage and reassembles without the use of tools.

FAQs

Q:

Do dogs like big crates?

Dogs are usually more comfortable in a crate that caters to their size. A large dog crate may provide too much room for a small breed. The dog can end up feeling exposed and unprotected rather than cozy and safe. However, the crate should allow the dog to stand without its ears touching the top of the crate. Dogs should have room to lay down and turn around without restriction. To get the right size crate, measure your dog when standing from the top of his ears to the floor, from the tip of the nose to the tail’s base, and across the chest. He’ll need four to six inches of clearance from front to back, side to side, and to the top of the crate.

Q:

Are wire or plastic crates better?

Wire or plastic may be better under certain circumstances. Wire crates provide more ventilation and leave the dog open to the environment. Some dogs love that. They’re confined, yet still part of the action. Plastic crates have a more enclosed space but still have four-sided ventilation. This gives the dog a place to escape from what’s going on outside of the crate. Plastic crates are designed for travel, though they can be used at home, too. They’re lightweight and sometimes include top-carrying handles. Both plastic and wire should resist chewing, but both can succumb to a determined chewer or anxious dog.

Q:

What should I look for in a dog crate?

First and foremost, the best dog crate needs to be the right size. Measure your dog and leave four to six inches of clearance in all directions. From there, look for a crate that will fit its purpose. Do you need this crate to take the dog to the vet or a trip to the park? In that case, a collapsible soft-sided crate will probably work. Are you going to fly? Make sure the crate is TSA-approved and meets the specific airline’s pet travel guidelines. Do you need a crate for confinement at home? Collapsible, wire crates work well in this case. They’re inexpensive, lightweight, and come in many sizes. If your dog gets separation anxiety, you may need something a bit sturdier, like a heavy-duty dog crate with reinforced edges and metal construction. 

Related: Best Dog Play Pens

The final word on shopping for the best dog crate

Dog crates keep your dog safe and secure when being out in the open could be a danger to him (or your home). The best dog crate will be large enough so your dog can comfortably stand, lay down, and turn around. Collapsible dog crates provide easy storage, and wood dog crates offer a dog crate furniture solution. Other owners may need an indestructible dog crate for a large breed with a talent for escaping. Rest assured there are crates made for dogs of all sizes and personalities in designs for travel, home use, or an occasional visit to the vet.

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