Dogs need crates, but they aren’t a one-size-fits-all product. For example, some containers are best for travel, and others are explicitly engineered for puppy training or hunting dogs. Besides that, large hounds, like the Boxer, and small lap dogs, like the Chihuahua, have different overall crate needs. The biggest dog breeds will have totally different crates needed again!
Some people may be ambivalent about crating dogs, mistakenly believing it’s abusive or cruel. But don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe — both emotionally and physically — when done correctly and humanely. Moreover, crating can be a critical part of training and housebreaking.
So today, we’re looking at the best dog crates in several categories. When testing, our review team considered five factors: price, value, style, function, and quality.
First Things First: Why Does My Dog Need a Crate?
We hear the question a lot: do all dogs need crates?
Yes, all dogs go to Heaven — and all dogs need crates! They give canines safe spaces to call their own and come in handy when traveling — abroad or around town! Plus, crate training is vet recommended and endorsed by the American Kennel Club.
Dogs Are Genetically Engineered for Crates
Before dogs became man’s best friend, wild canines sheltered in small dens. They used shallow holes, caves, and tunnels to groom, slumber, and care for their young. Dens provided protection from the elements and were only big enough for one adult dog to turn around and lie down comfortably. It was dangerous for wild canine shelters to be larger than necessary because the extra space meant predators could squeeze in.
Today’s crates and kennels offer the same protection. And sure, these days, Little Fluffy isn’t dodging lions, tigers, and bears — but a small, private place to call home is still welcome.
Dog Crate Materials
Exceptions exist, but the overwhelming majority of dog crates are plastic, wood, soft fabric, or steel.
- Plastic Dog Crates: These types almost always have a poly-blend plastic case with a steel door. Most are approved for air travel, but if you plan on flying your pup in a cargo hold, make sure the plastic is heavy-duty.
- Steel Dog Crates: There are two types of steel dog crates: run-of-the-mill wire crates and heavy-duty bar crates. They’re not great for traveling, and many airlines don’t allow them. However, wire crates usually fold to a convenient size, making them easy to store and move from home to home.
- Wood Dog Crates: Arguably, the most attractive dog crates are wood. These units frequently double as furniture and blend nicely into living room decors. For those with a healthy budget, a custom-made wood crate is a nice splurge.
- Soft Dog Crates: Soft dog crates are super for traveling. For example, if you’ve secured permission to bring a small pet as a carry-on flight companion, a soft crate — also known as a mobile bed — is a must. They’re also great for camping or a day out at the park. But caveat emptor: if your dog is a chewer, opt for another material — or make sure the fabric is heavy-duty.
Best Overall Dog Crate: Petmate’s Aspen Pet Traditional Kennel
- TRAVEL CARRIER: This kennel features sturdy plastic construction, 360-degree ventilation & a squeeze latch door for easy loading & unloading. It's 28 inches long & ideal for pets 20-30 lbs.
- SECURE & STRESS FREE: This carrier offers simple, no-tool construction for easy assembly & features a handle on top for carrying. A raised interior & secure tie-down holes provide a safe & comfortable travel experience.
- KENNELS & HOUSES: Crate & kennel training is vital for dog safety & comfort. We provide traditional travel carriers, wire training & exercise kennels, play pens, barn-style dog houses & more. 28 inch Interior Dimensions - 24.25 L x 18.25 W x 19.5 H inches. Dimensions - 28 L x 20 W x 20.5 H inches
- PETMATE: For over 50 years, we at Petmate are passionate about our dogs, cats & furry friends in general. Starting with the very first dog kennel, we've produced plenty of eco-friendly products that pets will love.
- JUST FOR PETS: Petmate makes a variety of pet products for dogs, cats, chickens & other small furry friends! Check out our brands such as Aspen Pet, Arm & Hammer, Booda, Chuckit!, Jackson Galaxy & more!
The Aspen comes in three sizes — 20″, 24″, and 28″ — and weighs about 12 pounds. It’s made of the strongest plastic, and the unit features a squeeze-latch door, which is in handy when trying to load and unload. For the fur baby’s comfort, the Aspen is engineered with 360-degree ventilation slots. And for your sanity, the unit’s easy assemblage means not having to fumble around with tools. Plus, the Aspen comes with a handle and doubles as a travel crate, making it a great value option.
The Aspen Pet Traditional Kennel is our pick for best overall dog crate for several reasons:
- Value: It’s under $100 yet durable and practical.
- Versatile: The Aspen works as both a home and travel crate.
- Easy: Not having to break out the toolbox is a bonus!
Click here to check out Petmate’s Aspen Pet Traditional Kennel
Best Crate for Large Dogs: Pet Gear’s “The Other Door” Crate
- 4 doors, including the large side door that opens up and out of the way like a garage door
- Insulated base is durable and does not crack in cold weather
- Color-coordinated plush bolster bed included for your pets comfort
- No tools needed to set up or fold down and includes storage bag for easy transport
- Rounded corners and no exposed steel edges protect you and your pet from sharp edges
For larger dogs, Pet Gear’s “The Other Door” Crate is a super option. Equipped with four doors — including one on top — and rounded corners, this unit is convenient and safe. It’s made of steel and comes with both a bolster bed and carrying case. You don’t need tools to set it up or fold it down, and it fits dogs up to 90 pounds. Moreover, it’s one of the strongest dog crates we tested.
The colored material and aerodynamic edges make “The Other Door” more stylish than other options, and it’s sturdy enough to store some grooming tools on top. If you need to move it, no problem — this large dog crate has wheels.
“The Other Door” large dog crate made our list because:
- Size: It’s roomy, measuring 42″ x 28″ x 28″.
- Style: It’s better-looking than the majority of big dog crates.
- Comfy: “The Other Door” comes with plush bedding.
Click here to check out Pet Gear’s “The Other Door” Crate
Best Crate for Small Dogs: Casual Home’s Wood Pet Crate
- Chew-resistant solid wood construction for pet-safe durability and longevity | Made in Thailand
- Product dimensions | Overall – 27.5” L x 20” W x 24” H | Internal – 24.25” L x 16.5” W x 21” H | Intended for smaller pets – Under 25 lbs. | Weight limit – 120 lbs. | No divider included
- End table design gives this pet crate a native feel that blends with light and easy assembly
- Lockable gate for your peace of mind with solid wood construction for increased durability and longevity
- End table style top provides an additional storage space | It is also easy to clean by wiping the crate with a damp cloth
Our pick for the best at-home crate for small dogs goes to Casual Home’s End Table. It’s part furniture and part pup crate. Unlike conventional side tables, which typically have a shelf or drawer, this end table features a door, 360-ventilation, and room for a doggy bed. The unit also ranks amongst the strongest options we tested.
We wouldn’t recommend Casual Home’s wood crate for larger dogs, but it’s a hit for smaller and medium-sized rascals. Also, be aware that depending on your budget, it may qualify as a splurge. On the other hand, for people living in smaller spaces with smaller dogs, the two-in-one aspect of Casual Home’s dog crate may render it a value purchase.
Some folks may consider this crate to be a kennel, but it made our list because it’s easily moved. It’s not conducive to vet visits, but it can be dragged from room to room — or rolled if you attach wheels.
This wood end table crate for small dogs made our list because:
- Style: It’s camouflaged furniture!
- Comfortable: There’s plenty of room for tiny dogs and cats. Add a blanket or pad, and your pup may not want to leave!
- Value: You get both a crate and a piece of furniture for the price of one. That’s great for any budget!
Click here to check out Casual Home’s Wood Pet Crate
Best Crate for Travel (Carry-On): Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier
- Mobile pet bed, in-cabin airplaine carrier and car seat, fits pets up to 17-1/2-pound
- Includes padded shoulder strap, machine washable Ultra Plush bedding and an instruction card
- Top and ends open for easy access to the pet, large zipper pockets on both sides
- Luggage grade nylon outside and Ultra Plush polyester inside
- Compresses from 22-inch long, 10-1/2-inch wide, 10-1/2-inch high down to 16-inch long, 10-1/2-inch wide, 8-inch high
Sleepypod landed on our test list as a vet recommended option. The slick-looking carrier fits pets up to 17.5 pounds and comes in a variety of colors. Since it can be zipped open from the top, getting your dog in and out is a lot easier than side-entry options.
The unit has a strap for over-the-shoulder carrying and a handle for toting. The strap is well padded for your comfort, and the pod is lined with comfy bedding for your pet’s comfort.
Designed for plane travel, the Sleepypod is soft and fits snugly under most airline seats — as is required for all carry-on pet paraphernalia.
What are the drawbacks? Admittedly, there are two. First, it’s not the most budget-friendly option. For its size, the Sleepypod qualifies as a splurge. Second, it only fits small dogs. But then again, large non-service dogs aren’t allowed in cabins anyway.
The Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier made our list as the best carry-on travel dog crate because:
- Quality: It’s made with heavy duty, luggage-grade nylon.
- Stylish: The half-moon shape and clean lines give it an ultra-sophisticated look.
- Function: The full-range zippers and cozy bedding are well considered details that enhance product functionality.
Click here to check out Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier
Best Soft Dog Crate: Petsfit Travel Pet Home Indoor/Outdoor Crate
- Petsfit dog travel crate is good for pets up to 23''H, odorless and safe,TWO doors and top entrance
- This travel dog crate is odorless and safe to protect your pet's health. TWO doors and top entrance can be rolled up, dimension: 36"LX 24"WX 23"H
- PATENTED screw-in frame design in order to hold the mesh in place, setting up in seconds without tools.
- Light weight and sturdy, foldable pet crate.THIS CRATE WORKS FINE FOR AN OPEN BED BUT BOTH GOOD IF YOU ARE TRYING TO USE AS A SECURE CRATE.
- Removable and washable soft pad gives your pet a comfortable,private place to sleep. Several mesh designs make it good ventilation,clips to secure the zippers.
Petsfit’s soft dog crate is versatile. For starters, the indoor-outdoor unit is large enough for most dogs. Secondly, it features two doors and a top opening, providing many ways to get your pup in and out. Plus, the two doors have roll-up shades.
Structurally, Petsfit’s soft pet crate is a steel frame covered with polyester mesh. You don’t need tools to put it together, and it easily folds down for travel.
We picked this model as the best soft dog crate because:
- Function: We liked the roll-up shades and top opening option.
- Budget: At under $100, it’s a lot of crate for the money.
- Comfort: It comes with a washable bed pad for baby!
Click here to check out Petsfit Travel Pet Home Indoor/Outdoor Crate
Best Crate for Puppy Training: MidWest iCrate Starter Kit
- ULTIMATE CONVENIENCE & PERFECT STARTER KIT FOR THE NEW DOG OWNER. Everything you need arrives in 1 carton so you can enjoy more time with your new family member
- SMALL DOG BREED KIT INCLUDES EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO GET STARTED: 1 fully equipped 2-door iCrate, 1 dog bed, 1 crate cover & 2 (10 Ounces) pet bowls that affix to the dog crate | Dog crate measures 24L x 18W x 19H inches when assembled
- STARTER KIT ideal for small dog breeds with adult weight up to 13 - 25 pounds
- DESIGNED TO FIT & USER FRIENDLY: Fleece pet bed & polyester crate cover fit your dog crate & are machine washable/dryer friendly; 2 inches Snap'y Fit inches dog bowls are designed to attach to the dog crate keeping food & water in one convenient location
- MIDWEST HOMES FOR PETS QUALITY GUARANTEE: Entire dog crate kit includes 1-Year Manufacturer's Warranty on all products
Training puppies is much easier with crates. Dangers await around every corner, and like human babies, puppies need supervision! “Doggie homes” provide a safe space to keep them sequestered when you’re busy and can’t supervise. Plus, puppies instinctively crave protected “dens” in which they can curl up and feel safe. Crates satisfy this urge. Also, since dogs prefer to keep their sleeping areas clean, crating helps puppies develop bladder muscles, making housebreaking much easier.
Our pick for the best puppy training crate is MidWest’s iCrate Starter Kit. It comes with a two-door steel iCrate, a dog bed, a crate cover, and two dog bowls that affix to one of the doors. Plus, it’s equipped with four roller wheels and easy on the floors.
MidWest’s iCrate puppy training crate fits pups up to 25 pounds and comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. It made our list because:
- All-in-One Value: With all the accompanying accouterment, this iCrate is a budget pleaser.
- Trust: The one-year warranty is a good-faith addition since most dogs only use their puppy crate for a year at most.
- Function: It’s easy to assemble.
Click here to check out MidWest iCrate Starter Kit
Last update on 2021-08-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The 6 Best Dog Crates: Reviewed for 2021 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What Is the Best Dog Crate To Buy?
The answer depends on multiple factors. Canines’ needs change over time, just like humans. Above, we’ve outlined our picks for the best dog crates in several categories.
What Kind of Crates Do Dogs Prefer?
Dogs have personalities and preferences. What works for Coco the toy poodle may be a nightmare for Sasha the Siberian husky. But generally speaking, all dog crates should have good ventilation and be roomy enough to snooze comfortably. And don’t forget the soft bedding! Think about it: would you enjoy sleeping with nothing between you and a steel, plastic, or wood floor?
Do Dogs Prefer Wire or Plastic Crates?
Some dogs prefer wire cages, and some love plastic ones. It depends on the dog, their size, their age, and the living or travel environment. When in doubt, go for the vet-recommended option.
What's the Difference Between a Dog Crate and a Dog Kennel?
In short, a dog crate is more portable than a kennel. The latter is typically a permanent structure; the former can easily be moved.
Is a Crate or Kennel Better?
Comparing crates and kennels is like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, they’re both pet products, but they serve slightly different purposes. Many folks with large dogs have both a kennel and a crate. People with smaller pups typically only need the latter.