Crate training is a great way to teach your dog desirable behaviors and avoid common bad habits. With hundreds of crates on the market, however, it's difficult to know which to choose. In this article, we've listed five of the best dog crates to help you make the right choice for your pet.
The Bottom Line...
If you're looking for a strong crate with a folding design, the MidWest Homes Ultima Pro is my top pick. It's one of the best dog crates on the market, due to its thick bars and close spacing. It also has rubber feet, a no-leak tray and two doors (each with two dog-proof latches). While it's not cheap, the Ultima Pro is a fantastic crate that'll likely last your dog's entire lifetime.
If there's one thing nearly all dog trainers agree on, it's that a crate is a near-essential tool for training most dogs. Crates make housetraining easier, reduce the chance of bad habits and provide a comforting space for your pet.
The problem is that there are a variety of crates available. The most common are wire or plastic crates, but you can also buy soft-walled or even furniture-style crates. Crates also range in size, price and appearance.
In this article, we've compared a number of dog crates to find the five best options. We've also provided a guide to choosing the best dog crate for your pet, as the right option depends on his personality and your requirements.
Before we get to the best crates though, what makes a crate important in the first place?
Why Buy a Dog Crate?
Many dog owners resist using a crate. This is often because they feel it's cruel or unfair on their pet. Considering crates often look like miniature prisons, it's not difficult to see why!
There are a number of benefits to crate training though. These include:
- Faster Housetraining. Dogs don't like to soil their crate, so you can use it to teach control. It's also useful when you need to leave your dog alone before being fully housetrained.
- Protect Your Furniture. Some dogs, especially when they are a puppy, have a habit of chewing household items. This is often the result of either boredom or separation anxiety. If you're worried about your dog's behavior, a crate can protect your furniture while preventing bad habits from developing.
- Easier Travel. Once your dog adjusts to being in his crate, you can use it as a "mobile home." As long as you bring the crate, your dog is likely to adjust much faster to his new surroundings.
- Avoid Dangerous Objects and Food. The average house contains almost-endless potential dangers for a dog. Of course, you should dog-proof your home - but a crate can keep your puppy safe when you can't watch him.
- Safely Confine Your Dog. There are occasions where it's inconvenient for your dog to be loose. This is often because you have guests - especially if young children are around. A crate provides a safe and comforting place for your dog to spend some time. It also means you won't need to lock him away on his own, such as in the garden or upstairs. If you want to give your dog more room, a dog gate can also be a useful alternative.
For these reasons, most dog owners should attempt to crate train their dog - especially when you first bring home your puppy. It won't work for every dog, but most quickly adapt to it.
Crate training isn't just great for owners though. There are plenty of benefits for dogs too.
Dogs instinctively want a "den" - and the enclosed nature of a crate can make them feel secure. While crates might look like a prison, they can actually be a comforting place for your pet. This is especially important when your dog feels anxious, unwell or stressed.
The key is to make the crate your dog's sanctuary where he feels completely safe. This means leaving him alone when he's in the crate (ask children to do this too) and making sure it's comfortable. You should also never use the crate as a punishment - you want your dog to enjoy being inside.
Crates can also make your dog feel part of the family when they need to be confined. Even when you can't interact with the dog, just being near you can reduce loneliness and make the dog feel safer.
Crate training is an excellent tool - but not all dogs are suitable. Dogs with separation anxiety, for example, shouldn't be crated as this can cause distress and escape attempts. In fact, any signs of anxiety in the crate may mean the dog needs extra training before being left alone. Your puppy should also have enough bladder and bowel control for the length of time he's going to be crated.
How to Choose a Crate
If you've decided your dog could benefit from a crate, the next step is to choose the right one. While there are plenty of solid crates on the market, the most important thing is to buy one that meets your dog's requirements. Some of the most important considerations include:
- Material. There are three main materials used for making crates: wire, plastic and soft. Plastic crates are the easiest to clean - but they don't collapse. Wire crates can often fold up and have plenty of ventilation, but you'll probably need a towel to make it feel more enclosed for your pet. Soft-sided crates are the least durable (and aren't suitable for chewers), but they are often easy to wash and lightweight for travel. There are also furniture-style crates, which are built to look like tables or cabinets. These aren't portable and shouldn't be used with energetic dogs or those who are likely to chew - but for calm pets they are a more attractive option.
- Sizing. It's vital to choose the right size crate for your pet. The dimensions should allow your dog to stand up with a natural head position. There should also be enough space to turn around and lie down while stretched out. Bigger isn't always better though - if a puppy or non-housetrained dog has too much space, he might decide to soil in one corner and sleep in the other. You can solve this with a partition or divider though, so it's usually best to get a crate that's too big rather than too small.
- Transportation. Most wire dog crates can collapse, which makes them easy to travel with. The best crates for dogs should be smooth when folding and easy to put back up. Plastic kennels usually aren't collapsible - although most have a carry handle.
- Durability. Dog crates need to be strong. They are often bashed around when travelling, so you don't want the wire to bend or plastic to crack. Some dogs are also surprisingly good at escaping, so it needs to have strong hinges and escape-proof door latches.
- Easy to Clean. Crates may need to be cleaned regularly - especially if your dog is still being housetrained. Even if he's fully housetrained, there can always be accidents. For this reason, look for a crate that's easy to clean. In a wire crate, the tray should be simple to remove.
- Additional Features. Aside from the material, size and transportation features, there are a few other things to look for in a crate. Having two doors, for example, can be convenient if you're not sure where the crate is going to be placed. You can also buy crates with floor protection, "leak proof" bottom pans and escape-proof doors.
While the right dog crate depends on your personal requirements, I prefer wire crates for my dogs. I like being able to fold them up to take to a friend's house or dog sitters. They are also easy to partition and provide more ventilation.
Make sure you add a comfortable dog crate pad to your crate. The bottoms of crates are much too cold and hard for a dog to comfortably sleep on.
Note: While many dog crates have travel features, they are not necessarily the same as dog carriers. For this reason, we have a separate page for the best dog carriers.
WARNING: Most crates aren't suitable for car travel. Wire crates, in particular, are not designed to withstand a crash and can cause serious injury. Many crates can even increase the chances of injury for you and your dog. For travelling with your dog in a car, take a look at our page of the best in-car harnesses or best travel dog crates. The Center for Pet Safety also has a list of certified products, including crates.
5 Best Dog Crate Reviews
Listed below are my five top picks for a great dog crate. Each has different features, so make sure you read the reviews to find the right one for your pet.
1. Midwest Homes Ultima Pro Dog Crate
My top pick for a wire dog crate is the MidWest Ultima Pro. It's a two-door crate that's durable and has a foldable design, so it's great for travel. If you want a crate that's going to last years without needing to be replaced, this is the one to get.
What makes the Ultima Pro stand out from other wire crates though? Firstly, the crate is made with thick wire and relatively small gaps between bars. This makes it very strong - which is important for travel or if your dog is an escape artist! The bottom pan is also tough and durable, so it's unlikely to be damaged or pushed to the side by your pet's claws.
Another great feature is the double-door design. Having two doors is much more convenient than a single entry - especially if you're going to be moving it around. Each door has two latches, which are designed to be easy for humans to open but difficult for dogs. These, combined with the thin bar spacing, mean it's almost impossible for even the cleverest dog to escape.
One downside to the Ultima Pro is that it's relatively heavy. It's hard to complain about this, as the extra weight is due to the thick and durable wire. But if you're looking for a lightweight option then it's probably not the best choice.
There are five sizes available, ranging from 24" up to 48". The Ultima also comes with a divider panel, which is great if you want a crate for your puppy to grow into. Other features include roller feet, which protect the floor, and a "leak-proof" tray.
Quick Summary: If you want a durable dog crate that's built to last, then the MidWest Ultima Pro is a great option. Aside from its durability, MidWest seems to have thought of everything with this model - including rounding the corners for extra safety and adding rubber feet to protect your floor. That's why it's an easy choice for my top dog crate recommendation.
- Type: Wire
- Folding Design: Yes
- Sizes Available: 24", 30", 36", 42", 48"
- Price Range: $$$
- Highly durable with thick bars and a strong tray
- Two doors and "escape-proof" latches
- Rubber feet to protect floor
2. Aspenpet Pet Porter
If you're looking for a heavy duty plastic dog crate, the Aspenpet Pet Porter is a great choice. It's a tough and durable crate that has rounded edges for safety, an airline-approved design and wire door. So if you need a strong den for your dog but don't want a wire crate, this is probably the best option.
The Pet Porter is made with heavy-duty plastic. It feels solid and is suitable even for dogs that try to escape - although the ventilation may be a weak spot (more on that in a minute). There are plenty of ventilation holes in the side of the crate, while the wire door also helps prevent overheating. The door is secured with a "squeeze" latch, so it shouldn't be possible for your dog to escape (especially with the thin grid bars).
Other features of the Pet Porter include an easy-to-assemble design, tie-down holes for greater strength during travel and a floor "moat" to keep your dog dry if he has an accident.
Something to keep in mind is that most airlines require metal bolts. While Aspenpet claims the Pet Porter is airline approved, it only comes with plastic wing nuts, so you'll probably need to replace these with metal. You may also need to add ventilation holes at the back, as airlines usually require ventilation on all four sides.
There are some issues with the construction of the Pet Porter though. While it's easy to put together, some of the bolts don't fit as easily as I'd like. Heavy chewers might also see the ventilation slots as a target - and they are certainly the weak spot of the crate (although they are also essential). For these reasons, I don't recommend this crate for heavy chewers.
Quick Summary: For most dogs, the Pet Porter is an excellent option and one of the top-rated dog crates. It's made from tough plastic, is great for travel and has an "escape-proof" door latch. I don't recommend it for heavy chewers though, as the vent slots are likely to be too tempting.
- Type: Plastic
- Folding Design: No
- Sizes Available (Max Weight): Up to 15lbs, 15-20lbs, 25-30 lbs, 30-50lbs, 50-70lbs, 70-90lbs, 90-125lbs
- Price Range: $$$
- High-quality and durable plastic
- Escape-proof door latch
- Airline approved (although you'll need to make some modifications)
- Bolts don't always align exactly, which can make assembly more difficult than it should be
- Not suitable for heavy chewers
3. MidWest Life Stages Dog Crate
If you liked the look of the MidWest Ultima but don't want to spend that much on a dog crate, then the Life Stages from the same company is a great alternative. It's another wire crate with a folding design - and it comes with many of the same features for a lower price.
The Life Stages is made from durable steel bars. It has a closely-spaced wire mesh, which means it's stronger than many alternatives. It's also easy to fold and comes with attachable plastic handles.
What's the difference between the Life Stages and Ultima though? The biggest is that the mesh, while thicker than most crates, is thinner than the Life Stages. There are also fewer cross bars. This means it's not quite as strong - so if your dog is an escape artist the Ultima is probably the better option. For most dogs, the Life Stages is strong enough though.
Unlike the Ultima, the Life Stages is available in both one or two door versions. As the two-door option is only slightly more expensive, I recommend getting it as the extra door can often be convenient. Each door has two slide-bolt locks, so you can keep your dog secure without worrying that he's going to escape.
The Life Stages is available in six sizes - including a 22" that's slightly smaller than the Ultima. It also comes with a leak-proof pan, rubber feet and a divider. Considering the cheap price, it's an excellent alternative if the Ultima is outside your budget.
Quick Summary: The MidWest Life Stages isn't quite as durable as the Ultima by the same company, as it has thinner bars and fewer cross bars. Even so, it's still a highly durable crate that's great for most dogs - plus it's much less expensive.
- Type: Wire
- Folding Design: Yes
- Sizes Available: 22", 24", 30", 36", 42", 48"
- Price Range: $$
- Strong and durable wire crate
- One or two door options
- Less expensive than the Ultima (although prices can fluctuate)
- Thinner bars and fewer crossbars than the Ultima
4. Crown Pet Products Wood Crate Table
If you have a calm dog that doesn't have a habit of attacking his crate, then a luxury furniture-style crate could be a great choice. One of my favorites is the Crown Pet Wooden End Table, which features a stylish hardwood design and plenty of ventilation. It's not the most durable crate and it isn't suitable for travel, but for providing a home for your pet that doesn't ruin your living room's design it's a great choice.
The crate is made from a durable hardwood with a teak-like appearance. It's available in two colors - mahogany and "espresso" - and features a stained finish.
An important feature of any crate is a waterproof bottom, as even housetrained dogs can have accidents. For this reason, the floor is made from coated MDF for easy clean-up. The coating also prevents liquids being absorbed, which can stop nasty smells seeping into the wood.
One of the things I like about this crate is that it provides lots of ventilation. Furniture crates can sometimes be too enclosed, as designers favor aesthetics over comfort for the dog. This isn't the case here - and the vents also provide easy vision for your dog.
An issue with this crate is that it's only available in two sizes. This is understandable, as it's more difficult to manufacture than wire or plastic models, but means it may not be suitable for your pet. It's also very expensive and isn't suitable for destructive dogs or escape artists. The latch, in particular, could break if a strong dog was determined to get out.
Despite these drawbacks, it's a great option if you want a crate that blends in with your existing furniture. Unlike most furniture-style crates, the Crown Pet is made with high-quality materials and is well-constructed. So if you need an end table that doubles as a cozy crate, it's my top pick.
Quick Summary: The Crown Pet Wooden End Table is a stylish furniture-style crate. It's not cheap, and I don't recommend it for dogs that aren't fully house trained, escape artists or pets that can be destructive. For calm dogs that enjoy being in a crate, however, it's one of the most attractive crates on the market.
- Type: Furniture
- Folding Design: No
- Sizes Available (DxWxH): 29.7" x 21" x 24.2", 39.6" x 27.2" x 27.3"
- Price Range: $$$$$
- Looks like a regular piece of furniture
- Available with two finishes
- Easy to put together
- Not durable enough to withstand chewing or scratching - so it's only suitable for calm dogs
5. AmazonBasics Double Door Crate
If both the MidWest crates are out of your price range, then the AmazonBasics is an excellent alternative. It's not as durable and the bars are thinner, but for the money is provides excellent value and is suitable for most dogs.
Like most wire dog crates, the AmazonBasics features a folding design that's convenient for travel. There are also two doors, with each locking via a slide-bolt to prevent your dog escaping.
A divider is included with the crate. This is great for sectioning off part of the interior while your dog is still growing - which is especially important during house training.
There are six sizes available, ranging from 22" to 48". This means the AmazonBasics is suitable for most breeds. If your dog is a heavy chewer or an escape artist, you'll probably want to go for the more expensive MidWest Ultima or Life Stages. But for relatively calm dogs, the AmazonBasics provides great value.
Quick Summary: The AmazonBasics is a simple wire crate, but it provides great value for money. It's not as strong as the MidWest crates on this list, but it'll stop all but the most determined canine friends from escaping. It's also easy to fold - although the lack of rubber feet means it's more likely to damage your floor.
- Type: Wire
- Folding Design: Yes
- Sizes Available: 22", 24", 30", 36", 42", 48"
- Price Range: $$
- Strong design
- Great price
- Includes a divider
- No rubber feet
- Not as strong as the MidWest options
Bonus Tip: Which is the Best Dog Crate Brand?
There are plenty of great dog crates, but which company provides the best range of crates?
In my opinion, MidWest are the best crate brand. Aside from getting two of the top five spots on this list, they also make the wildly popular iCrate and solid Ovation crate. While I prefer the Life Stages and Ultima Pro, as they have thicker bars for extra durability, you can't go far wrong with any MidWest dog crate.
Bonus Tip #2: Which is the Best Dog Crate for Large Dogs?
Most of the best crates come in a variety of sizes, so they are suitable for a range of breeds. Large dogs don't just need more space though - they often need a more durable crate to withstand chewing from strong jaws.
For this reason, the Midwest Homes Ultima Pro is probably the best large dog crate. The wire design provides plenty of ventilation, which is important for large breeds with thick fur. The heavy-duty bars can prevent strong dogs from escaping, while the biggest size of 48" is large enough for most breeds. It also has rubber feet - which protects your floors even when your heavy pup is moving around!
You may also want to read my guide to the best dog crates for German Shepherds, which has more recommendations for large dogs.
Bonus Tip #3: What About Dogs That Escape From Crates?
While most dogs are happy to spend time in a crate if they have been properly trained, some make a habit of escaping. If this sounds like your dog, check out our page of the best heavy-duty dog crates.
Crate training your dog can be a great way to reinforce good behaviors, prevent bad habits and provide a space for your dog to feel secure. It's important to buy a high-quality crate, however, as the worst options are weak and potentially dangerous.
My top pick for a dog crate is the MidWest Ultima Pro. It's a sturdy wire crate with thick bars, narrow spacing and rubber feet to protect your floors. If you're looking for a plastic crate, the Aspenpet Pet Porter is a great choice.
Do you have any questions about choosing the best dog crate? Or do you think I've missed a model that should be on this list? Let me know!