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I never worry whether I’m doing the right thing by buying Maggie the chew toy that’s on sale or the discounted dog bone at the pet store.
She’d be fine with either one of them, but they also won’t affect her life that much.
Other decisions are much bigger, because they’ll be a vital part of your dog’s everyday life
Their crate is a great example of something they’ll depend on. It’s going to be their safe place to sleep and rest, so which crate you buy really matters.
Overwhelmed by the idea of picking out a new crate for your dog?
Read on to learn about which type of dog crate is best for your pooch, depending on where and how it’ll be used.
Basic Factors to Consider
You may be trying to decide on a crate because you’re about to bring your dog home from a shelter or breeder.
Maybe you’ve never bought a crate before.
I’ve been in those shoes, so I can relate to the worry of not knowing how to navigate the world of dog crates.
The good news is that there are a few basic factors to consider that will help you decide on any type of dog crate.
Your Dog’s Size
You’ll have to measure your dog in order to get a crate that’s the right size.
A crate that’s too small will keep them cramped and uncomfortable, which no dog should experience in their crate.
A crate that’s too large will be bad for potty training pups, who will go on one end and sleep at the other.
In order to get the right size, measure your dog carefully.
First, find the length of your dog and add two to four inches to the final number for their tail.
Their height is determined by measuring from the ground to the top of their head.
Dogs with naturally erect ears should get an extra two to three inches of space.
Then there’s the width.
Small breeds need at least two inches of space in addition to the width of their ribcage. Larger dogs need four inches.
Your Dog’s Growth
Is your dog still growing?
You may be bringing home a puppy, which will change the kind of crate you should look for.
The best crates for puppies are either small crates or larger ones that come with crate dividers.
Your puppy should be comfortable, but not have enough room to walk over and use the bathroom in a separate corner.
Dogs that are one to two years old have most likely reached their full size, so it’s okay to base their crate off of just their measurements.
Types of Crates
I’d only ever grown up with dogs that used metal crates, so it was a huge surprise for me to discover how many types of crates there actually are.
Here are a few facts about each kind that will help you narrow down what your dog needs.
Wire crates, or metal crates, are the most commonly used.
They’re durable and easy to buy with a crate divider so you crate train your puppy properly.
They can be used both outdoors and indoors, although they won’t offer any protection from bad weather or direct sunshine.
- Easy to clean
- Easy to check on your dog
- Won’t break when chewed
- Most come with a crate divider
Plastic crates come in all shapes and sizes.
They can be the kind of crate you see small dogs carried in at the vet, but they can also be designed as a mini home for your dog to use every day.
- Easy to clean
- Great ventilation
- Available for dogs of all sizes
If you Google soft crates, you’ll find a ton of different sizes and designs.
Or you can check out our article about soft crates!
They’re easy to use if your dog will travel with you a lot and can be matched to the interior design of your home.
- Machine washable for easy cleaning
- Come in many different designs and colors
- Include cute features like mesh windows and zippered doors
- Not the best choice for young puppies who still chew on everything
- May hold onto bathroom mess odors if not washed properly
- May rip during use
An indoor crate is something that my family’s dog would use while they’re out of the house or when she wants to nap.
They can be used to contain dogs that might destroy things when left alone, but they’re mostly left open as your dog’s private space.
If you’re interested in these types of crates, we’ve compiled a list of the best end table, furniture-style dog crates.
- Any crate can be an indoor crate
- Are made with a variety of materials
- Are great for household potty training
It’s so important for outdoor dogs to have their own crate.
It will keep them safe from changing weather, as well any animals that might stop by your backyard to see what’s going on.
Some are better than others so be sure to do your research to find the best one for your pooch.
- Designed specifically for hot or cold weather for maximum comfort
- May feature additions like extra insulation or ventilation
- Come in a huge variety of colors, designs, and sizes
- May be more challenging to initially construct
- Will have to be switched out seasonally
- Will have to be cleaned more often (mud, leaves, bugs, etc.)
If you’re planning on traveling often with your dog, it’s best to get them a crate designed for travel.
Whether you’ll both be in a car or on a plane, there’s a travel crate out there that will make traveling with your dog easier for everyone.
- Car crates have multiple exit options and seatbelt security straps
- Plane crates adhere to size regulations and may have wheels
- Some will come with an interior leash for extra mobile safety
- Aren’t designed for long term use
- May also rip, if the mesh or fabric is cheap material
- May make your dog cramped while waiting hours due to plane delays or traffic
Think Things Through
Where will your dog be when they use their crate and how long will they be using it for?
These questions, along with factors like your dog’s age and if they’re house trained, will help narrow down the list of crate options for you.
Thinking things through carefully before buying your crate is the best thing you can do for your dog, although there’s always the option to return it if the crate doesn’t work out.