Whether you're a new puppy parent or a seasoned dog owner, dog crates are a must-have element for keeping your dog (and house) healthy and happy. However, you'll find some naysayers who relate a "crate" to a "cage." They do not believe a crate is safe nor healthy for dogs. So, your next question will most likely be…
Are dog crates safe for my dog?
According to many vets and experts, such as those at the American Kennel Club, crate training is excellent for your dog for a multitude of reasons. A common belief is that dogs evolved from den animals, and instinctively seek out enclosed spaces to feel safe and secure. Dog crates provide both a sense of safety and security. Additionally, crate training offers a safe and smart way to housebreak puppies who are just coming into the household.
What are the other benefits of dog crates?
- Bedding down in a crate can provide comfort to dogs during stressful times, such as storms or evacuations.
- They provide a safe way to transport your dog, whether by car or plane.
- Gives dogs a comforting spot to rest while you are at work (be sure to leave the door open so trained dogs can come and go.
- Keep dogs in place after surgery or during times of sickness or healing.
- Offers a safe place to keep puppies contained during training, and while you are away at work (experts recommend crating no more than 8 hours a day.
- Helps with rescue dogs to provide a safe spot of their own until they get acclimated to their new home surroundings.
So now that you have the facts about the benefits of dog crates for you and your pet, you can move forward with your research before buying. Below we answer the most frequently asked questions consumers have when shopping for a dog crate.
What are the best types of dog crates? What do they cost?
Typically, best for small to medium size dogs, plastic dog crates are made of strong, supportive plastic with a front-swinging door. They have multiple openings large enough for the dog to see out and get oxygen, but not so they can get out. These crates are often lighter weight than other crate options. This allows them to be easily moved with the dog inside. Plastic crates are ideal for traveling or transporting a dog to the vet.
Cost: This is often one of the most affordable crates to fit most budgets.
- Soft-Sided Fabric Dog Crates
Best suited to smaller dogs, soft-sided crates are lightweight, portable, foldable, and easily stored. They are made of fabric supported by a metal frame. This type of crate's price is often lower than other options. The downside to soft-sided crates is they can be easily chewed through, are difficult to clean and don't last near as long as different types.
Cost: Tends to be the most affordable dog crate option.
Wire dog crates come in a wide variety of sizes to accommodate most dogs. They often come in folding designs to make them convenient for storage. The bottom of the crate is usually a solid metal tray to allow more comfort for the dog and allow waste to be contained. They give the dog an unrestricted view from all sides. The downside - they don't provide as much comfort for the dog as a wooden or plastic crate. Also, metal crates are not as convenient as plastic ones for transporting.
Cost: The price point for wire crates depends upon the size and gauge of metal used.
Made for the strongest and most clever dogs, heavy-duty dog crates are often made of thick steel tubing and fitted with sturdy door latches and hinges. Additionally, they'll be welded at stress points to strengthen the cage further. Due to their heaviness, heavy-duty dog crate will be fitted with wheels or casters.
Cost: The downside to this crate type is that it is higher priced than other models due to its heavy construction.
- Furniture or Fashion Dog Crates
For those looking for a more stylish and space-saving option for crating your dog at home, the furniture dog crate will be the best choice. Often made of wood, metal, or both, these crates come in the form of end tables, console tables, hall tables, corner cabinets, and more. They are made in all décor styles from traditional to minimalist. The upside to a designer crate for dogs is they have dual use and save a lot of space, whether in the apartment or house, but they are not transportation-friendly.
Cost: The prices for fashion crates run comparable to non-crate furniture, so style, design, and quality will lead the price point for each.
How do I choose a crate to fit my dog?
Obviously, you must measure your dog, so you buy a dog crate suited to your dog's size. This will ensure they are optimally comfortable and secure in their crate at home and during transport. Your pet should have enough room to be able to stand up, turn around, and comfortably lie down, and not much more room than this. Be sure you know their weight as well; this can be obtained from your vet's office.
To determine the height: Measure your dog from the ground to the top of its head, including your pet’s ears if they stand up, to get the approximate height of the crate you will need.
To determine length and width: Measure your dog from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail. Once you have this measurement ready, add about 2-4 inches, depending on your dog’s breed, for a rough estimate of the ideal crate length. The same rule applies for determining the crate’s width.
- Dogs between 1-25 pounds, such as Chihuahuas, Yorkies, Pugs, and Dachshunds usually need an extra-small crate, eg. 24L X 18W x 21H.
- Medium-size breeds, weighing between 26 and 40 pounds, usually do well in 30L x 21W x 24H crates.
- Large breeds between 41 and 70 pounds need considerably bigger crates, eg. 36L x 23W x 25H.
- German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and Border Collies might need even more space, up to 42L x 28W x 31H.
- Crate sizes for extremely large breeds such as Mastiffs, Great Danes, Newfoundlands or Saint Bernards can easily reach 46L x 30W x 33H.
These are just general recommendations though. Always measure your dog!
Best Tips for Choosing a Dog Crate for Your Dog
- According to experts, dog crates are safe and healthy for your dog.
- Dog crates are ideal for training new puppies in the home.
- Dogs can stay in crates up 8 hours safely.
- Plastic and soft-sided dog crates are great for transporting smaller dogs in the car.
- For skittish rescue dogs, a fabric or more enclosed plastic crate will provide comfort and security.
- Large wire and heavy-duty crates are best for larger dogs or those more unruly ones.
- Fashion crates provide space-saving benefits and a stylish alternative to regular dog crates.
- Be sure to find out your dog's weight before starting to shop.
- Measure your dog for height and length to ensure you purchase a crate to fit your dog perfectly.