Written by Ella White
Whether you have a new puppy, a rescue dog, or an older dog that has grown out of their old crate, there are many benefits to investing in a crate for your dog. But one of the most important considerations is understanding what size crate your dog needs, which will be dependent on how you intend to use it.
Here we’ll look at the different kinds of crates for dogs, and how to pick the right size crate for your dog breed.
Dog crates are a space where your pet can feel safe and secure in your home. It’s a place that’s truly theirs, where they can sleep, eat, play, and relax on their own. As they’re naturally den animals, dogs love the safe space that a cozy crate can offer them.
They help dogs settle into their new homes, can be a useful toilet and bedtime training tool, and they can also be used to carry your dog while traveling.
However, to keep their crate a relaxing sanctuary, it should never be used as a place of punishment. When your dog loves their crate they won’t mind being shut in while they sleep or for short times when they need to be kept out of the way. But using their crate for longer periods of confinement can lead to stress and destructive behavior.
Though dog crates should be cozy and den-like, it’s also important that your pet has enough room to stand up, turn, and lie down comfortably without feeling cramped.
For small puppies, the crate shouldn’t be so big that they can’t get across it to their dedicated toilet spot – though many dog owners choose to invest in one crate that their puppy can grow into rather than buying a second once they’ve grown to full size. You can also use dividers to create a smaller space within the large crate while your puppy needs less space.
To determine the size of crate you’ll need for your dog, measure them from nose to tail – or find out how large their breed is expected to grow. Then measure their height from the top of their head or ears, if they’re erect, to the ground.
The general recommendation is to add 2-4 inches to that length and height, depending on whether you have a small, medium, or large dog breed. Although for maximum comfort, even owners of smaller dogs might opt for an extra 4 inches of space.
To simplify the measuring process, or if you don’t yet have an adult dog to measure for a crate, you can use this rough guide to select the correct crate size for your pet.
Whatever size your dog is, there are different types of crates to suit different requirements. Depending on your dog and your lifestyle, you might find you need more than one crate.
The most popular kind of dog crate, wire crates are commonly found as a semi-permanent spot for dogs in the home. The wire sidings are sturdy and strong enough to withstand any chewing, and also allow your dog a full view of what’s going on around them.
If you travel often or need to move your dog’s crate around easily then a soft-sided crate is a good option. They’re often designed with zipper doors with mesh so your dog can still see out even when enclosed. They’re also good for anxious dogs with destructive tendencies, as they are soft enough that they won’t hurt themselves on the sides.
Many puppy parents like to start with a plastic crate, as they don’t damage the teeth of dogs that like to chew. They’re also easy to clean up during potty training, but they do stand out in a room and are easier for stronger dogs to gnaw through as they get older.
Travel crates are specifically designed for carrying dogs on planes, trains, and in cars. For this reason, they are smaller and easy to carry, and should not double up as their at-home crate. However, if you travel often with your dog you’ll find that a travel crate is a very useful addition to your packing list.
For those without much space – or those who don’t like the appearance of wire crates – owners of smaller dogs might prefer a design that fits into their furniture. Often doubling up as end tables or shelves, these smaller crates are brilliant space savers. Just be careful to put things down gently on them while your dog is napping inside!
As well as making your dog’s at-home crate look more attractive than an industrial wire cube, filling it out with cozy accessories makes it an even better place for your dog to spend their time.
Blankets, a bed or crate cushion, and other soft furnishings will mean that they can lie down in comfort and enjoy the true den-like feel of their crate. Make sure it’s always got plenty of toys and some food and water in there to keep them entertained while alone as well.
For hyperactive dogs, dogs with destructive tendencies, or those who just like to snuggle up at the side of their space, bumpers are a good idea to keep the walls and corners of the crate soft. Fitted cushions with waterproof linings are also advised for puppies during training. You can also get covers that will help the crate feel more enclosed.