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Types of Dog Crates: Finding the Best for Your Pup

Happy dog cozy in crate
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From training to travel and life at home, dog crates provide a key utility for pet parents and their furry family members. But with so many dog crates available to choose from, figuring out which crate is right for your pet can be challenging. 

Here we look at a variety of different types of dog crates and provide tips on choosing the right crate for your pet. 

Types of Dog Crates

Happy dog in crate laying down very cozy

While they serve the same essential function, all dog crates are not the same. Here are just a few of the many different types of dog crates available on the market today, plus what distinguishes each:

  • Metal or wire crates for dogs
  • Soft-sided dog crates
  • Plastic dog crates
  • Airline-approved dog crates
  • Furniture-style dog crates
  • Collapsible dog crates

Metal or Wire Crates for Dogs

Metal or wire crates are the traditional structures that most pet parents envision when they think of a dog crate and are ideal for crate training. They’re built with entwined metal wires that contain your pet, but provide clear sight lines and airflow. They’re a sturdy and steadfast option, difficult to break or chew through. But they’re also bulky and can be relatively heavy, which makes them difficult to travel with. 

Soft-Sided Dog Crates

Soft-sided dog crates are built with soft-texture materials for their base and sides. These types of dog crates are preferred for their light weight and ability to be transported relatively easily, compared to traditional wire crates. They’re also preferred for the wide variety of formats in which they are available, ranging from traditional dens to chic carrying cases or backpacks. 

Plastic Dog Crates

Like the name implies, plastic dog crates are constructed with plastic. The biggest differentiator between plastic dog crates and their counterparts are that they’re designed for travel and mobility. They’re typically built to include a handle for easy carrying and transport. These crates are much more compact than other crate types.

Airline-Approved Dog Crates

Dog in an airline crate

Airline-approved dog crates may be available most typically as either plastic or metal wire crates but receive their own designation that makes it easier for shoppers to identify them. These crates must comply with standards outlined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). 

Furniture-Style Dog Crates

These types of dog crates blur the line between fashion and function, and are designed to both house your pet but also blend seamlessly into your home, like furniture. These crates might be fashioned out of wood or other sturdy materials, and are more decorative than other options. They’re not typically meant to be moved easily once they find a final resting spot in your home. 

Collapsible Dog Crates

Collapsible dog crates can sometimes be a combination of multiple materials, but their “pop-up” functionality makes these crates an excellent option for families that take their pets with them when they go to visit other homes. They’re easy to build up, break down, and take with you in your car.  

What Type of Dog Crate Is Best For My Dog?

Happy dog resting in crate

In determining what dog crate is right for your pet, it’s important to first know your dog’s measurements so that you buy the right sized crate, and not one that is too small or too big for them. Whatever your dog measures, you’ll want to buy a crate that is about 2-4 inches larger in length (from nose to tail base) and height (top of head to floor) than them so that they’re not too crammed in. Your dog should be able to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably inside the crate. That being said, you don’t want the crate to be too big, otherwise your dog might sleep in one spot and go to the bathroom in another. If you want your dog to grow along with their crate, we suggest finding one that includes a puppy divider.

Here is a quick guideline to dog crate sizes by breed size and crate length:  

  • Toy Dogs: 18- to 22-inch crate
  • Small Dog Breeds: 24- to 30-inch crate
  • Medium Sized Dog Breeds: 30- to 36-inch crate
  • Large Dog Breeds: 36- to 42-inch crate
  • Extra Large Dog Breeds & Giant Dog Breeds: 42- to 54-inch crate (or longer)
Soft shell dog crate for easy transport and happy dog in car

Beyond size, choosing the right type of dog crate really comes down to preference tied to your lifestyle and knowing your pet’s personality. Depending on your individual needs, you may want to have more than one crate on hand. Some factors to consider: 

  • Do you have an active puppy that you’re trying to crate train? You may want to consider a metal or wire dog crate (using the puppy dividers that come with it) so that your pup can’t chew through it. They’re also easier to clean in case of accidents. 
  • Do you have a sedentary dog whose most active days are behind them? Wooden or decorative furniture-style dog crates may be suitable, if you have the space for it in your home. 
  • Are you on the go with your family (and fur family) often? You may want to consider a collapsible dog crate or lightweight soft-sided dog crate that is easily transportable. 
  • And of course, if you’re traveling often, you’ll want to consider a plastic dog crate or airline-approved dog crate.