How to Choose the Type and Size of Dog Crate

Choosing A Crate

November 15, 2018

How to Choose the Type and Size of Dog Crate

Dog crates are extremely versatile and are useful in many situations, so when choosing the size of a dog crate, you may want to consider how and where you will be using it as well as considering the size of your dog. Remember, a crate is not a punishment to your pet. It is his safe place and, with training, it will become somewhere he will happily go to rest, sleep, and relax.

Choosing the right size

When choosing a crate some people think that larger is better. However, dogs don’t view the space in this way. In the wild, the den is a snug enclosed area that offers safety and comfort. Lucky for you, your dog retains this instinct.

In order to give him someplace where he feels secure and comfortable the crate should be long enough for him to lie down in without having to curl up and tall enough for him to sit and stand without touching the roof. With these two dimensions in mind, standard crate designs will generally ensure that it is wide enough for him to comfortably turn around in.

How to Measure

For width and length, have your dog stand in front of you and measure the distance from his nose to the base of his tail. Add a couple of inches and this is the length of cage he will be comfortable in. For height, first check to see if your dog is taller when standing or sitting, and in his tallest pose measure from the floor to the top of his head. Add a couple of inches and you now have the height you need.

If the new addition to your household is a puppy, or still growing, then you will need to look up the breed standard to estimate his adult size, the American Kennel Club website is an excellent resource for this. Your puppy will grow quickly with small breeds reaching their full size within a year, medium-size breeds taking up to 18 months and larger breeds up to 3 years. Instead of buying a new crate every few months, choose a crate that is suitable for his adult size and buy a divider (some crates come with a divider) that can be used to adjust the space in the crate as he grows.

Which type of crate should I choose?

Some breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and Jack Russells can be chewing machines. A puppy of any breed that is teething can find that soft-shelled crates are just delicious. Well-constructed wire or plastic crates are the preferred choice for many standard dog owners.

Dog sitting next to crate in living room.

In the Home


Generally designed for medium to large dogs they are intended to be permanently placed in one location. They tend to be more visually appealing and some can even be used as items of furniture. Plan where you intend to put it as these can take up more space than you may initially think. Also, make a note whether you want the door of the crate to be at one end or on the side.


These are sturdy and can quickly be folded into a flat pack. This is useful if you regularly move the crate around the house. They are easy to clean and many soft dog beds are sold in sizes to match the standard-size crates. Some models of wire crates have two doors so the crate can be placed either sideways or lengthwise in a convenient place.

In the Car

Crates are very handy to have in the car. They keep not only the pet safe, but they also will keep your car cleaner. Do remember to check that the crate will fit into your vehicle!


Sturdy, easy to clean, and can be easily folded flat if you need extra space. A heavier option, they can offer a measure of protection for your dog if you were to be in an accident.


Light, robust, easy to clean, and convenient for small and medium size breeds. Their solid construction gives more privacy than a wire crate, but they have less air circulation.


Flexible, very light, and easy to move with a wide range of attractive designs. Not as easy to clean as other types.

Dog sitting outside of crate.


There may be times in an outdoor setting when it’s not suitable to let your dog wander free. It may be at a picnic, a barbecue, or visiting friends or family who don’t have a dog-friendly space. In these situations a crate allows your dog to be with you and part of the social occasion.

If you find yourself frequently using your crate outdoors, then portable pens offer more space and freedom for your dog and can be a good alternative.