Choosing the right crate for your dog is an important factor in successfully crate training your puppy. By having the right crate on hand when your puppy comes home, you’ll be able to give them a safe space where they can wind down, while giving you peace of mind that they are safe while you’re not watching them. Check out our guide on crate training.
There are 5 considerations to account for when you’re getting your first crate. There are a lot of options to choose from, and if you're overwhelmed, all you need to know is you can’t go wrong by starting out with a properly sized wired crate (with a divider). It’s the classic and most widely used crate type so why not start there? Once your puppy is a bit older, you can upgrade to other types if needed.
Top 5 considerations when choosing a crate:
Size is the most important factor when choosing a crate. An oversized crate can make your puppy feel unsafe, while an undersized one can physically hurt them. You’ll want to buy a crate for what you estimate will be their full grown size and use a divider as they are growing to give them more room as needed. You should be able to estimate their full adult size by either getting weight and height information from your breeder, or by looking at size estimates for your breed online.
Tip: Buying a crate that is sized for your adult dog and using a divider has several advantages. Other than time and financial savings, you don't run the risk of having to retrain your dog for each crate.
You can use a crate size guide like the one below by Vibrant Life to determine the appropriate size to buy. It shows you how to correctly measure the length and height of your dog so you can choose the right sized crate. The important thing is to measure your dog while they are standing. Your dog must be able to stand and comfortably turn around in their crate, but they don’t have to be able to sit (dogs are taller when they sit than when they stand). Also, note how the diagram measures the length in a slanted position, from the nose to the tail. This will result in a longer length than a straight length measurement, so make sure you measure it slanted as shown.
Once you have their measurements, simply add 4 inches to both the height and length and match up the numbers to the chart below. Always size up rather than down since you can always use a divider if needed.
There are two questions to ask yourself here. Is your dog likely to escape if left in a soft crate that they can easily chew through? If yes, will they try to chew through a wired crate and end up hurting their teeth and nails? An extremely anxious dog should not be left alone for extended periods of time, and when they are in the early stages of crate training you’ll want to be there while they are in their crate to make sure they don’t hurt themselves trying to break free.
Whether you should cover your crate or not will be dictated by what your dog prefers. Some dogs prefer to have a full view of everything around them, while others feel safer in a covered crate where they can only see out one side. We recommend starting out with an uncovered crate, and getting a cover if you think your dog would feel more secure with one. Covers are lightweight, so you don’t have to worry about blocking your puppy’s air flow.
This comes down to weight and collapsibility. The most transportable crates are lightweight soft dog crates. These are not typically used as a dog’s every day crate as they are not very sturdy and can get worn easily. The upside is some can even double as car seats and/or hand carriers if you’re frequently on the road.
Crates are not necessarily “pretty”. They likely don’t match your home décor and if this is an important consideration for you there are several furniture style crates you can use. These are less functional, as they don’t allow you to use dividers and can’t be transported easily. Furniture crates are usually made out of wood and function as end tables so most people have them in their living rooms and/or bedrooms. We don't recommend a furniture style crate to start with a puppy because they are likely to chew through the wood and accidents would be very difficult to clean.
This is your starting point. We recommend starting with a wired dog crate unless you need special considerations like easy transport. This option comes with a divider and has two doors so you can position it both ways for your puppy.
We love a soft dog crate for travel - especially road trips. This is a good choice as it comes in different sizes and colors so you can choose the one that best matches your puppy’s personality and size! The downside is these don’t come with dividers and are easy to chew through so if you have a chewer on your hands, be warned. We don’t recommend having a soft dog crate as your puppy’s first and only crate - these are not very easy to clean and even the best pupper will have an accident at some point.
Furniture crates are usually made of wood, so definitely watch out if your dog is a chewer. These typically double as end tables and are a style friendly option. If you want a furniture crate, we recommend holding off until your puppy has finished teething so they don’t destroy the wood.
If you want something nicer than a wire crate and you’re not a fan of the traditional furniture crates that come in dark wooden colors, there are several companies that offer modern, style-forward crate options. Fable Pets and Diggs are popular choices, and also offer financing options:
Assuming your crate comes with a divider, the only other extra you might want is a crate tray. This is a removable tray that slides out from the bottom of the crate so you can clean it as needed. Most wired crates come with this as a feature so it can slide out directly from the crate, rather than having to put in a tray yourself through the door (don’t try that, it’s messy!). This makes it much easier to clean and you'll be thankful for it.