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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, provide tips on choosing the right crate for your pet, and share some recommended crates that may fit you and your pet’s lifestyle needs. 

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. 

6 Best Dog Crates for All Needs

Cute dog in a wire dog crate happy at home

With so many potential dog crate options to choose from, we took a crack at rounding up some picks to help streamline your search. 

All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Great Pet Care may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Best Metal or Wire Dog Crate

Our pick: MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate

MidWest iCrate Fold & Carry Double Door Collapsible Wire Dog Crates

MidWest Homes for Pets has become the nation’s largest pet crate builder. Their metal crate is a solid, sturdy option for pet parents looking for a wire crate that has the potential to last from puppyhood to adulthood. 

Highlights

  • Available across multiple sizes (from 18- to 48-inch in length), making it ideal for almost any sized dog
  • Dividers included with the crate make it suitable for pets across all life stages 
  • Includes a waterproof plastic pan to contain spills in case of accidents
  • Sturdy and strongly built, making it impossible for even the strongest chewers to break through
  • Available in both single- and double-door options

Things to Consider

  • Some reviewers noted that the latch is easy for their dogs to open—it slides straight across instead of curving in an L-shape at the end. If your pet is an escape artist, this may not be the right choice
  • Some reviewers found the edges of the crate to be sharp
  • The model is foldable, but metal crates are typically heavy and difficult to transport
  • Price varies by size and whether you choose a single-door or double-door style. Lowest price is $23.99 for an 18-inch, single-door option and about $100 for a 48-inch, double-door crate

Best Soft-Sided Crate for Dogs

Our pick: EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate

EliteField 3-Door Collapsible Soft-Sided Dog Crate

Available across multiple colors and sizes, EliteField’s three-door, soft-sided crate provides indoor and outdoor containment options for pets. The crate is lightweight and can be easily transported and stored, making this a good option for any families on the go. 

Highlights

  • Multiple doors, providing clean lines of sight inside
  • Lightweight, yet tough, creating a solution for indoor and outdoor housing needs
  • Easily transportable with handle and carrying straps
  • Comes with a 2-year warranty
  • Includes carrying bag and fleece “bed”

Things to Consider 

  • Expensive for a soft-sided crate, especially if you have a larger dog
  • Not ideal for chewers 
  • Some reviewers complained about the zippers being flimsy or getting stuck

Best Plastic Dog Crate

Our pick: Petmate Two Door Pet Kennel

Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog & Cat Kennel

Ideal for toy and small dogs, Petmate’s two door kennel provides a sturdy, steady transport solution for pet parents who bring their pup along for short car trips. 

Highlights

  • Strong material but light enough for manual transport
  • Durable steel top-loading door and front door with squeeze latch make it easy to get pet in and out
  • Ventilated on all sides for maximum airflow
  • Available in blue, pink and tan

Things to Consider

  • Medium measures 24 inches long and is suitable for small dogs up to 15-20 pounds; not designed for large dogs
  • May be difficult to clean inside given the dimensions of the crate, in the event accidents occur
  • Some reviewers noted that the vent holes are sharp around the edges
  • This pet carrier claims to meet most airline specifications, but many reviewers noted that top-opening carriers are not allowed in cargo

Best Airline-Approved Dog Crate

Our pick: Petmate Sky Kennel Carrier

Petmate Sky Dog & Cat Kennel

Petmate’s plastic carrier is expanded to multiple sizes and dimensions, making it easier to transport your pet on an airline than ever before. It features heavy duty, steel wire doors for added protection, as well as plenty of ventilation for maximum airflow and visibility.

Highlights

  • Approved for most airline travel specifications
  • Travel necessities like “live animal” stickers and clip-on bowls are included with purchase
  • Sturdy vaulted door provides extra security needed for air travel
  • Comes in six sizes and features a four-way vault door on larger models

Things to Consider

  • Ideal for travel, but not ideal for everyday housing needs
  • Like Petmate’s other plastic crate, the Sky Kennel may be difficult to clean on the inside in the event accidents occur
  • Some reviewers noted that the sizing charts provided by Petmate are misleading, so be cautious when selecting a size
  • You may need to modify the crate’s plastic nuts and bolts with metal ones for air travel

Best Furniture-Style Dog Crate

Our pick: Moderno Dog Crate by Bowsers Pet Products

Moderno Crate

Bowsers’ furniture-style dog crate provides a perfect solution for the pet parent looking to pair design needs with housing needs. The sturdily built wood crate (with a cabinetry-style finish) not only provides a great in-home house for your pet, but provides sleek style that blends seamlessly into the rest of your modern home aesthetic. 

Highlights

  • Available in grey or white oak
  • Sleek design with brushed stainless steel doors
  • Front and side-door opening
  • Built to last
  • Doubles as a piece of furniture 

Things to Consider

  • Heavy, making it difficult to move or transport once you’ve chosen a location for it
  • Wood material may not be good for pets who are known to chew or scratch
  • Starting price of $400+ for medium size is high for a crate, and the crate mat is sold separately
  • Features a simple lock closure, which is not ideal for escape artists
  • Expect additional shipping charges due to weight and size of crate

Best Collapsible Dog Crate

Our pick: Diggs Revol Dog Crate

Diggs Revol Dog Crate

This modern dog crate allows for maximum portability, making it an ideal choice for pet parents who don’t want to commit to a fixed location in the home or who want to bring it along for travel. The one-hand raising collapsing feature makes it easy to set up in less than a minute. It also has a convenient carrying handle and wheels. And unlike a traditional wire dog crate, the attractive Diggs Revol Dog Crate will blend in nicely with your decor.

Highlights

  • Available in multiple sizes, including for medium- and large-sized dogs
  • Includes puppy divider
  • Easy to set up, break down, and transport
  • Sleek style that provides clear pet sightlines and ventilation
  • Multiple doors, including a garage-style side door
  • Four colors to choose from: grey, ash, charcoal, and pine
  • Design inspired by baby industry quality standards

Things to Consider

  • Expect shipping delays for large size crate, and intermediate size is not currently available 
  • High price point (ranging from $375-$675, depending on size), especially if you want accessories like the Snooz crate pad or Groov crate training aid, which are sold separately