Animal lovers want the best for their pets, so many believe it’s unkind to put their pooch in a shelter that resembles a cage. For that reason, they may resist using a crate, but in fact, the opposite is true: Dogs seek the privacy and security of a den-like environment where they can retreat and feel protected. The right crate can provide exactly that kind of safe space.
Crates have other purposes, such as when house-training a puppy. Dogs don’t like to go potty where they sleep, so using a crate at bedtime can help avoid accidents. Some crates are conducive to traveling, which can make trips to the vet much easier. Keep reading to learn about the factors and features to consider when shopping, and see why the following models are among the best dog crates available for your four-legged friend.
- BEST OVERALL: New World Folding Metal Dog Crate
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: MidWest Homes for Pets Dog Crate
- BEST FOR SMALL DOGS: EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate
- BEST FOR PUPPIES: MidWest Homes for Pets Ovation Folding Dog Crate
- BEST WOOD: Casual Home Wooden Pet Crate
- BEST PLASTIC: Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel
- BEST WITH COVER: MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate Starter Kit
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: LUCKUP Heavy Duty Dog Crate Strong Metal Kennel
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Dog Crate
When shopping for the best dog crate, think about where the crate will sit in your home, your dog’s size and temperament, and the enclosure’s construction. Some people incorporate the crate into their home’s decor, while others use it only in areas where appearances don’t matter. The dog’s size is a factor: Your furry friend needs a crate that’s big enough for him to stretch out, but not so big that he doesn’t feel safe. Your pup’s temperament and personality count, too: Is he the nervous type, on the stubborn side, or a bit of an escape artist? Material and design are important as well, so keep the features below in mind to choose the best crate for your canine companion.
Dog crates are commonly constructed of metal, plastic, fabric, and wood, and each material has its pros and cons. Wired metal crates are versatile, because they typically have dividers that section off areas, allowing it to change in size as the pup grows. Clever canines might be able to escape from a wired crate by manipulating the latch, sneaking out under the grate, or simply pushing the door hard enough. If a wire crate is on the shopping list, look for a heavy-duty model with strong metal and double locks designed to outwit Houdini dogs as well as nonstop chewers.
Approved for airline travel, plastic crates are lightweight and have a handle at the top for easy transport. Plastic crates are difficult for dogs to escape from, but they can be challenging to clean. Suitable for smaller dogs, fabric crates (aka soft crates) are also good for travel. Stylish wooden crates may be attractive enough to keep in your home’s living areas.
Design and Style
Crate doors are designed for the comfort of pets and the convenience of their owners. A single-door crate typically is narrow and deep, while larger, wider crates may have one door in front and another on the side. Double-door crates have a barn-like door on the side, so owners can leave the double door open for their pooch to come and go as he pleases. A garage-style door lies flat and out of the way on top of the crate. Some crates also have a door on top, allowing access to the pup while he’s inside.
To keep the dog secure, crates use zipper closures, latches, slide-bolt latches, squeezable latches, or solid metal locks. Some crates also come with two locks per door.
Metal wire crates have slide-out plastic pans on the bottom to keep paws off the wire and messes off the floor. Pan stops hold it in place. The owner simply unhooks the stops and slides out the pan for cleaning. Soft crates may include fleece bottom panels or mats to keep the dog cozy.
To protect floors from scratches, look for a crate with a rounded bottom or locking casters. Note that wooden crates are heavy and less likely to move around, so there is less chance of scratching the floors.
For aesthetic appeal, creative pet parents often find interesting ways to accommodate their furry friends’ gear into the living space (check out the fun upgrades here). To keep your dog crate in, say, the family room, consider arranging furniture around it as camouflage. Some wooden and wood-and-wire crates with handsome hinges have the appeal of quality carpentry.
Size is key to your dog’s comfort. If the crate is too small, obviously, the canine will feel cramped. Too big and your pup might not feel very secure, or he might “do his business” in one corner and sleep in the other.
To find the right size, measure the length and height of your pup while he’s standing on all fours, from the tip of his nose to the base (not the end) of his tail, and add 2 to 4 inches. This measurement equals the ideal crate length for your dog. Next, while your dog is sitting, measure from the floor to the top of his head and add 2 to 4 inches for the height. The width will be in proportion to these two measurements, so don’t worry about it.
Also ensure that the crate can hold the weight of the dog, especially if it will be used for travel. If purchasing one crate to use as a puppy grows, verify the weight capacity of the crate compared to the expected weight of the dog once fully grown.
Our Top Picks
The following dog crates take into consideration all these factors and features. These models are among the best dog crates in their categories.
This New World Folding Metal Dog Crate is a reliable all-around choice for dogs between 26 to 40 pounds. It includes a divider so it can be sized appropriately for a puppy as he grows. The crate includes a removable plastic pan in the bottom to protect your pup’s feet and catch messes. Simply undo the stops and slide out the pan for easy cleaning.
A heavy-duty slide bolt latches securely keep the pooch inside, while rounded corners help prevent accidental injuries. The crate assembles easily without tools and folds down flat for storage. This model comes in different sizes for dogs weighing between 11 to 110 pounds.
A comfortable crate for a small (up to 6-pound) dog needn’t cost a lot. This well-priced metal wire crate from MidWest Homes for Pets includes a divider panel to adjust the space as the pup grows. The single-door crate has a slide-bolt latch to lock the dog inside securely. Patented rounded side clips hold the crate together so there are no sharp edges inside.
A plastic pan on the bottom prevents spills or accidents from making their way to the floor. Roller feet on the bottom help protect the floor from scrapes. The crate assembles easily with no tools required, folds flat for storage, and includes a carrying handle for transport.
This crate from EliteField features a sturdy steel tube frame surrounded by durable 600D fabric and hex mesh to create a secure, well-ventilated environment for dogs. Crate the canine via one of three separate zippered doors on the top, side, or front. A removable bottom panel of plush fleece adds to the pet’s comfort.
The crate offers 1 extra inch in width and 3 extra inches in height than most other 24-inch crates, so the pooch can stretch out. It comes in 16 color combos and has two accessory pockets, one at the top and one on the side. Use the handle and adjustable padded shoulder straps for travel. The crate folds flat easily and includes a storage bag.
Most dogs reach full size between 12 to 18 months old, so puppy owners may want to consider this Ovation crate with divider panels to help manage his growth spurts. The crate has one door in front and a garage-style door on the side that lies flat on the top. After the dog is fully trained, owners can leave the garage door open so the dog can come and go.
The crate comes with a leak-proof plastic pan, a carrying handle, and rubber feet to protect floors. Simple, tool-less setup takes only seconds, and the crate disassembles just as quickly and lies flat for storage. The crate is available in different sizes.
Constructed of solid wood with slats for ventilation, the top of this Casual Home model can hold 150 pounds, while the interior houses up to a 40-pound pooch. (It’s also available in other sizes and five different colors, including espresso and walnut.)
The gate has a latch that locks securely to help provide peace of mind. The design affords the dog an excellent view to the outside, and owners can see in as well. Easy to assemble and with all of the hardware provided, the crate weighs 40.5 pounds and cleans with a damp cloth if needed.
Made with heavy-duty recycled plastic, this Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel meets most airline cargo specifications. A wired door, two wired side vents, and a back panel with perforated vents provide ventilation and a view. It includes four tie-down strap holes for zip-tie installations, which strap the crate down and lock it in place, so it won’t move during transport. The front door has a squeeze latch for quick access to the pet.
Weighing 25 pounds, the crate suits medium-size dogs that weigh between 20 to 30 pounds. Three larger versions of the crate, which hold dogs as hefty as 90 pounds, are available as well.
Transitioning a new puppy or adult dog into the household takes love, patience, and supplies. This MidWest Homes for Pets kit provides essential gear, including a metal wire crate, two stainless steel bowls, a fleece bed, and a polyester crate cover. Covering the crate helps many dogs adjust to a change in their environment and also is helpful for dogs that bark at everything they see.
The crate comes with a divider for puppy training, a leak-proof plastic pan, a detachable carrying handle, and rubber floor protectors. The locks are slide-bolt door latches, and the food and water bowls are designed to hang securely on the side of the crate. Setup is simple (no tools required), and the crate folds flat for storage. Rated for medium- to large-size dogs weighing between 41 to 70 pounds, this crate is available in five other sizes as well.
Though many dogs enjoy the den-like comfort a crate can provide, some are true escape artists. The LUCKUP kennel has two solid metal locks with safety buckles on the door that should outsmart even the cleverest canine. The rust-proof steel bars have a nontoxic coating.
The bottom of the crate boasts strong, thick bars instead of thin wires, so paws won’t catch. Casters at the bottom’s exterior allow the crate to move without harming flooring, and the casters can be locked in place for stability. The plastic tray under the kennel keeps food and messes off the floor and slides for easy cleaning.
FAQs About Dog Crates
For more information about dog crates, consider these answers to some common queries. If any other questions arise, contact the manufacturer.
Q. Is a dog crate really necessary?
That depends on the dog and the owner. Most dogs like to have a place where they can have privacy and feel secure when they get anxious. Many owners find that using a crate helps when house-training a new puppy.
Q. What size crate do I need for my dog?
When standing in the crate, your dog should have several inches above the top of his head and around all sides, and he should be able to turn around in the crate with ease. While the dog is standing, measure him from nose tip to tail base and add 2 to 4 inches for optimal crate length. While your pooch is sitting, measure from the floor to the top of his head and add 2 to 4 inches for the height of the crate. The width is in proportion to these two measurements, so don’t worry about measuring it.
Q. How do I cover a dog crate?
You can purchase a crate that comes with a cover, such as the MidWest iCrate Starter Kit Dog Crate and Cover, or simply cover your crate with a blanket or sheet.