[updated March 2020]
With so many options available for dog crates, it’s hard to decide which is the best for you and your dog. From wire crates, plastic crates, soft-sided crates, to super heavy-duty crates for dogs with separation anxiety, the choices are endless.
As a foster dog mom, I have my personal favorite dog crates. But it’s important to find the best crate that works for your own dog and your lifestyle.
If you are wondering why you should crate train your dog, head over to our article about How and Why Crate Train Your Dog.
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There are 3 basic dog crate styles. Every dog is different and may prefer one style over another. So if you choose a metal crate and your dog doesn’t do well in it, try a plastic crate.
The metal crate is my favorite; it looks less obtrusive in my home and I can easily fold it up when I don’t need it anymore; which is convenient since we have foster dogs. Metal crates have come along way since I first purchased one for our dogs in the 1990’s. They use to be clumsy and hard to put together. But today, you will find them easy to fold and store when not in use.
The metal dog crate is perfect for training dogs that do not like enclosed spaces. There are different levels of metal crates, some being very lightweight, and if you have a strong breed dog, he could escape the crate if he wanted to.
If you have an escape artist for a dog, you may want to consider a heavy duty-crate.
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The plastic crate comes in a close second place for me. In fact, I have a medium sized plastic crate I use for many of our foster dogs. The enclosed feeling of the plastic crate creates more of a den feel, which some dogs prefer. The downside is when you want to put away the crate, it’s large and clumsy to find a spot to store it. The plastic crate could work better if you have a dog that attempts to escape the metal crate.
Soft crates are nice for small dogs when you need something when traveling. But the fabric is not secure, and many puppies and dogs can and will chew through the fabric. I do not recommend using the fabric crate for everyday use, as they just aren’t realistically secure.
Yes, size definitely matters in the case of the dog crate. You may want to get the largest crate available so your dog has room to walk around in it, but that would be a huge mistake.
Your dog should have just enough room to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably. Too much space will allow your puppy to have a portion to go potty and a portion to sleep… this will defeat the purpose of using it as a potty training tool.
If you are adopting a puppy, then consider a crate that has an adjustable divider. This will allow you to purchase one crate and adjust as your puppy grows. In this case, you need to estimate how big your puppy will be as an adult and choose the size accordingly.
To select the best size crate for your dog measure the length of your dog from nose to tail. Add approximately 2″ for smaller breeds and 4″ for larger breeds. This is the length of the crate you should order.
Crate training keeps a puppy safe from dangers around the home, helps potty train a puppy much quicker, and will save you from cleaning up messes all day long. The crate will create a safe place for your puppy to go when he starts to feel overwhelmed or tired and wants to be left alone. Using the crate when you can not keep a close eye on your puppy, will also prevent your puppy from chewing up your furniture, shoes, etc.
MidWest Homes Dog Crate Double Door Folding Metal Dog Crate.
Pros: Great price, lightweight, foldable, double doors, divider to grow with your puppy.
Cons: Because it’s lightweight, it will not withstand escape artists.
Petmate Compass Plastic Pets Kennel with Chrome Door
Pros: Great price, creates a den-like feeling for puppies.
Cons: No way to divide, so you’ll need to buy multiple sizes as your puppy grows. Heavy and no easy way to store it.
MidWest iCrate Starter Kit
Pros: Available in varies sizes, as small as 22 inches. Includes everything you will need for your small dog to be comfortable. Great price, lightweight, foldable, comes with a cover to help your dog feel safe. Available in 3 colors.
Cons: Kit does not allow you to choose the bedding.
AmazonBasics Two-Door Top-Load Pet Carrier Kennel
Pros: Door opens from the front and top. Plastic style creates a safety den-like environment.
Cons: Bulky and no easy way to store it.
Paws & Pals Dog Crate Double-Door Folding Metal Wire
Pros: Made from heavy duty solid steel, this is heavier than the Midwest models they may be too flimsy for larger rambunctious dogs. Sizes available up to 48″.
Cons: Still has the plastic tray like other brands.
Ultima Pro Extra-Strong Double Door Folding Metal Dog Crate
Pros: Heavy duty, thicker design. Has double door.
Cons: More expensive.
Dogs with severe separation anxiety can destroy a standard wire or plastic crate. I recommend working on the separation anxiety to help your dog. We dog-sat for a foster dog that could not be crated. Since he was not my foster I did not have the opportunity to work with him, but I do know he finally found a family that could help him.
These crates are extremely heavy-duty, great for dogs with separation anxiety:
SMONTER Heavy Duty Dog Crate
Pros: Escape Proof Design
Cons: Expensive, and it’s heavy!
Haige Heavy Duty Dog Crate
Pros: Extremely durable with a 100% chew through guarantee!
Cons: Expensive, and it’s heavy!
Any of the dog crates listed on here can be used in the car and traveling. If you will be traveling by plane, then see the list below for airline travel.
EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft-Sided Dog Crate
Pros: We use this crate for agility classes. It’s light-weight and easy to carry and fold. Available in several sizes and colors.
Cons: It’s not chew proof, so if you have a chewer, opt for a wire crate.
Petego Jet Set Pet Carrier with Forma Frame
Pros: Can be fixed to your car seat with included straps plus it’s airline-approved pet carrier. So you can use it for all your travel plans.
Cons: The large is still pretty small at 21×9″.
Airlines do have special regulations for traveling with your pets. These kennels are said to be approved, but always double check with your airline to confirm there are no new regulations you should be aware of.
Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Pet Carrier
Pros: Wire framed, light weight, 3 sizes and multiple color options. Airline approved.
Cons: Not as open/airy as I prefer.
Petmate Sky Kennel Pet Carrier
Pros: Heavy duty and safe for airline travel.
Cons: Buys have reported sizing chart is not accurate, so double check before purchasing.
Mats are not necessary, but if you want to add comfort for your dog these two options are my favorites. Just be aware if your dog or puppy likes to chew, you may not want to put anything inside the crate that could cause a choking hazard. And old blanket is a great alternative too.
BarkBox Memory Foam Platform Dog Bed
Pros: Orthopedic Joint Relief, Machine Washable
Cons: More expensive than simple dog beds.
MidWest Bolster Pet Bed
Pros: Machine Wash & Dry. Available in several sizes and colors.
Cons: Not very supportive.
P.S. Now that you know which dog crate to order, Learn the 3 Easy Steps to Crate Train Your Puppy or Adult Dog.
P.S.S. Please leave a comment below and let me know which crate your dog likes the best! I love hearing every dog’s perspective on which is the best crate for them.
Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.