Which is The Best German Shepherd Dog Crate? (2019)

Strong crates that are big enough for German Shepherds

Written By: Richard Cross | Last Updated:

Crate training has many benefits for German Shepherds – but it’s important to choose a secure and safe crate. Here are five of the best German Shepherd dog crates, along with tips for picking the right option for your GSD.

A guide to the best German Shepherd crates

Despite the “cage-like” appearance, many German Shepherds enjoy spending time in their crate – as long as you make it a positive and comfortable place.

It’s vital to choose the right crate for your German Shepherd though. GSDs are muscular dogs, so the crate must be secure and difficult to escape from. It should also have enough space for a Shep to stretch out and stand up. Many cheap crates don’t meet these requirements.

To help you choose the best German Shepherd crate for your pet, I’ve listed my five top picks below. But before we go any further, what should you look for in a GSD crate?

Our #1 Pick

Midwest Life Stages Folding Dog Crate

Strong wire crate for a great price

My top pick for a German Shepherd dog crate is the Midwest Life Stages – as long as your dog doesn’t suffer from separation anxiety. It’s a durable wire crate with two doors, folding design, and a divider that’s useful for a growing puppy.

What Makes a Great Crate for a German Shepherd?

Crates come in many sizes, materials, and price ranges. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of various crates before choosing, so here’s a quick overview for German Shepherd owners.

Type of Crate (Material)

Wire crates are the most common type, but they aren’t the only option. The most common types of crate are:

  • Plastic. These are usually a combination of plastic body and metal-framed door. They create an enclosed feel, which some dogs prefer, and are difficult to escape from. This makes them better suited to crating destructive dogs than wire alternatives. The solid walls reduce airflow, however, and prevent the crate being folded. Plastic crates also tend to be expensive.
  • Wire. Wire crates provide excellent ventilation, are easy to fold, cheap, and relatively tough. Wire also allows the dog a wider view – although you may want to cover the bars to create a “den.” While wire crates are relatively durable, an escape-prone or anxious dog may try to lever the bars open or push their head through the door. For this reason, I don’t recommend wire crates for German Shepherds with separation anxiety – but they are great for crate-trained and calm GSDs.
  • Soft-Sided. As the name suggests, these crates are made from fabric. They are much less durable, so I don’t recommend a soft dog crate for German Shepherds. Soft dog crates are also hard to clean.
  • Heavy-DutyHeavy-duty dog crates are expensive, but they are the best option for strong chewers or escape artists. They are similar to wire crates, but are built with strong metal bars that resist biting. Heavy-duty crates also provide more protection in a car crash.

The “right” type of crate depends on your dog’s temperament and requirements.

For most German Shepherds, a wire crate provides a good balance between space and durability. They are also relatively strong and available in large sizes.

If your dog is likely to attempt forcing his way out of the crate, however, then a plastic crate is probably the better option.

For escape artists or highly anxious dogs, a heavy duty crate is a more secure option. These crates aren’t a solution to separation anxiety though. Make sure you consult with a professional trainer to solve the underlying problem.

Choosing the Right Size Crate for a German Shepherd (Not Too Big, Not Too Small)

If you want your dog to feel comfortable in his crate, choosing the right size is essential.

The crate must be big enough for your pet to sit without crouching, turn around without hitting the walls, and lay down on his side without being cramped. As you can imagine, this means big German Shepherds require a large crate!

You don’t want a crate that’s too big though – especially when your dog is a puppy. A spacious crate may encourage your puppy to use one end of the crate as a toilet. Too much room can also ruin the “den” feel.

So, how much space do GSDs need?

In general, most German Shepherds require a crate that’s around 42″-48″ in length. Sheps vary in size, however, so here’s a quick guide to picking the right size for your pet.

Length

Measuring the length of a German Shepherd for a crate

Measure your dog in a standing position from the nose to the base of the tail. Then add 3″-5″ to provide extra space.

Height

Measuring the height of a German Shepherd for a crate

Measure from the floor to the top of your dog’s ears while he’s in a sitting position.

Again, add 3″-5″ to ensure your pet has plenty of space.

Weight

Some crates have sizes based on your dog’s weight. Make sure your dog fits into these weight guidelines, but don’t rely on weight alone to choose a crate size.

What About Puppy Sizes?

German Shepherd puppies grow quickly, so buying a crate based on your pet’s current size can be a costly mistake.

Instead, buy based on your dog’s likely adult size, then use a divider to adjust the internal dimensions as your GSD puppy grows.

Many wire crates include a divider. You may need to make your own if using a plastic or heavy duty crate though.

Other Features to Consider

Once you’ve chosen the right size and type of crate, here are a few other factors to consider:

  • Folding Design. Foldable crates are portable and easier to store. If you’re planning to move your crate around, a wire crate with folding design could be the best choice.
  • Number of Doors. Some wire crates have two doors. This gives you more options when placing the crate against a wall. Plastic crates typically only have a single door at one end.
  • Wire Gauge (For Metal Crates). The greater the wire gauge, the stronger the crate is likely to be. Some heavy duty crates, for example, have 20-gauge steel frames.
  • Removable Trays. Many wire or heavy duty crates have removable plastic/metal trays. These make cleaning much easier – although a rattling design can sometimes scare anxious dogs.
  • Crash Tested. Most crates are not crash-tested – even if they have tie-down holes for cars or trucks. If you want your German Shepherd to be as safe as possible when driving, choose a crash-tested crate.

Of course, price is also a consideration. Wire crates often provide the best value, although there are some excellent plastic crates for reasonable prices.

Tip: Looking for a harness or collar for your GSD? Check out my guide to the best German Shepherd harnesses and GSD collars. I’ve also written about the best crates for all breeds here.

Safety Tips for Crates

Crates can be a wonderful training tool – but only if used correctly. Here are some safety tips for crate training:

  • Always remove collars, harnesses and other clothing from your dog before he goes in a crate. These items could be a strangulation risk if caught on bars or latches.
  • Be wary about leaving soft items on-top of the crate. The dog may pull it through the bars.
  • Don’t expect your dog to instantly be comfortable in the crate. Start with a short duration and slowly build up the time. Make it a fun place by adding a soft crate mat (see my list here), toys and chews. Be patient.
  • It’s not fair for dogs to be left in crates for long periods, aside from sleeping at night.
  • Never use the crate as a punishment. It should always be a positive place where your dog feels safe and secure.
  • Try to place the crate in a low traffic area. Avoid putting it in direct sunlight, next to a heat source, on in a drafty location.

5 Best German Shepherd Dog Crates

Listed below are five of the best dog crates for German Shepherds. I’ve chosen several different types, so read each review carefully. The right option depends on your dog’s temperament, size, escape ability, and whether he’s likely to be destructive.

Midwest Life Stages

1. Midwest Life Stages Folding Dog Crate

The MidWest Life Stages is one of the best wire crates on the market – and a great choice for crate-trained German Shepherds.

While the Life Stages might look like an average crate, it’s my favourite wire option for big dog breeds. It’s an affordable option with two doors, a folding design, and a removable plastic pan at the bottom for easy cleaning.

Importantly, the Life Stages has a heavier duty gauge and tighter mesh than the popular MidWest iCrate. It’s also available in a range of sizes, including both 42″ and 48″ lengths. These sizes should be perfect for most German Shepherds, plus the package includes a divider panel if you need to limit space for a puppy.

I don’t recommend wire crates for muscular dogs with separation anxiety though. An anxious dog may push his head through the top of the door frame without breaking the latch, which could be a choking risk. Some dogs even try to pull apart bars, which can damage teeth. If your German Shepherd has a habit of destroying crates, go for a heavy duty option instead.

For a calm and crate trained German Shepherd, however, it’s an excellent choice.

Why We Recommend It: The MidWest Life Stages is an excellent wire crate that's a good choice for calm German Shepherds. It features a double door design, removable tray, and a stronger gauge mesh than MidWest's iLife crate.
  • Type: Wire
  • Doors: 2
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Strong wire crate
  • Great price
  • Double doors
  • Includes a divider
  • Removable tray
  • Not as tough as plastic or heavy duty crates
  • May not be safe for anxious German Shepherds
PetMate Ultra Vari

2. Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel

If you think a plastic crate is a better option for your Shep, then the Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel is my to pick. It’s a durable crate with plenty of ventilation and a strong door – plus it’s available in larger sizes than many plastic alternatives.

The Petmate Ultra Vari is designed for travelling, but the large size means it’s suitable for home use too. It features a wire mesh door, along with lots of ventilation and a durable plastic body.

While the Ultra Vari isn’t escape proof, it’s more secure than a wire crate. The largest size is also suitable for big German Shepherds, due to its 48″ x 32″ x 35″ dimensions.

Keep in mind that these are the external dimensions though the internal space is reduced due to the design of the crate – so it’s not as spacious as a wire crate of the same size.

There are a few other drawbacks. It’s quite fiddly to put together, especially compared to simple wire crates. It’s also harder to use a separator and more expensive than some of the other options on this list.

If wire crates aren’t strong enough to hold your German Shepherd, however, the Petmate Ultra Vari is an option to consider.

Why We Recommend It: The Petmate Ultra Vari is my top pick for a plastic German Shepherd dog crate. It's a strong and secure product with vents to improve circulation, plus the largest size should be big enough for most GSDs.
  • Type: Plastic
  • Doors: 1
  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Strong and durable
  • Built-in vents
  • Better option for escape-prone pets than a wire crate
  • More expensive than a wire crate
  • More difficult to clean
  • Not as escape-proof as a heavy-duty crate
ProSelect Empire

3. ProSelect Empire Heavy Duty Dog Crate

The ProSelect Empire is a heavy duty dog crate that’s designed to make escaping almost impossible. It’s built with a strong stainless steel frame and is highly secure, so it’s a great choice for German Shepherds who have a habit of escaping.

With its 20-gauge steel frame and reinforcing 0.5″ steel tubes, the ProSelect is far stronger than any wire crate on the market. The crate has four lockable castors to make moving it less of a challenge, but these can be removed if you want extra stability.

It’s also built with a floor grate rather than a solid platform. This allows liquid to flow into the removable tray, rather than sitting on a flat surface.

The grate isn’t as comfortable to lay on as other crate designs though. You can always cover it with bedding, but destructive dogs are likely to tear it apart. It’s also extremely heavy. This isn’t a criticism – I expect heavy duty crates to weigh more than the average crate – but is something to keep in mind.

Despite these issues, the Empire is one of the best crates for preventing escapees. It’s not cheap though!

Tip: If you need a rugged dog crate pad, I’ve written about the toughest options here.

Why We Recommend It: If you need more strength than a wire or plastic crate can provide, the ProSelect Empire is one of the strongest options on the market. It's expensive, but one of the best dog crates for preventing escapes.
  • Type: Heavy Duty
  • Doors: 1
  • Price Range: $$$$$
  • Ultra tough 20-gauge steel cage
  • Removable tray
  • Lockable castor wheels
  • Very expensive
  • Heavy
  • Largest size may not be big enough for some German Shepherds
AmazonBasics Dog Crate

4. AmazonBasics Double Door Dog Crate

The AmazonBasics Two Door Dog Crate is a great choice for calm German Shepherds who don’t suffer from separation anxiety. It’s a simple crate that’s not as strong as some of the others on this list, but is relatively durable and provides excellent value for money.

With two doors, dual slide-bolts for added security, folding design, and a removable pan, the AmazonBasics has everything you want from an affordable wire crate.

It even includes a divider to reduce space while your puppy is growing. And, like most wire crates, it’s easy to assemble.

There aren’t too many drawbacks to this crate. It doesn’t have the thickest gauge wires, so it’s probably not the best choice for escape-prone dogs, although this is true for most wire crates.

Why We Recommend It: The AmazonBasics Dog Crate is a wire option that's available for an excellent price. It's not the most durable on the market, but for calm German Shepherds it's a decent choice.
  • Type: Wire
  • Doors: 2
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Affordable price
  • Range of size options
  • Two doors
  • Foldable
  • Includes a divider
  • Not the strongest wire crate
  • Not suitable for highly anxious or escape-prone dogs
Gunner G1 Large

5. Gunner G1 Large (Best Car Crate for German Shepherds)

With its double-walled rotomolded design and strong door, the Gunner G1 is one of the strongest dog crates on the market. If you need a crate for a car or truck, I think it’s the best option for German Shepherds.

The Gunner G1 is available in several sizes, but most German Shepherds require the “Large.” This comes with in-line wheels, along with a reinforced door, drainage system and tie-down pins for vehicles. The Gunner G1 also includes a key lock latch for added security and windows for circulation.

In short, the G1 is one of the most durable crates – and gives your dog a better chance in a collision than almost any other option.

The biggest drawback is the price, as the G1 Large is one of the most expensive crates on the market. If you want to buy Gunner’s extras, such as the fan kit, all-weather kit or performance pad, the total price could reach $1000.

It’s also not suitable for use as an indoor crate. The interior of the “Large” option is only 33.25″ in length, which is too short for a German Shepherd.

If you’re serious about your German Shepherd’s car safety, however, the fact that the G1 has been certified by the CPS makes it my top pick.

Why We Recommend It: The Gunner G1 Large is the only German Shepherd crate I recommend for car travel. It's an ultra-durable crate that's been crash-tested by the CPS, so it gives your dog a better chance during a collision. It's also virtually escape proof and has built-in tie-down pins.
  • Type: Heavy Duty
  • Doors: 1
  • Price Range: $$$$$
  • Seriously strong crate
  • Crash tested by the CPS
  • Large version comes with in-line wheels
  • Very expensive
  • Heavy
  • Relatively small interior means it's not suitable for holding a German Shepherd for long periods

Why Crate Train Your GSD?

We’ve talked about how to choose a German Shepherd crate – but why should you use one? And do dogs really like them? Here are some of the advantages:

  • Security. Many dogs feel safer in a den. They like to be enclosed, as this allows them to relax. It’s also important that all dogs have a private space where they can be alone. Of course, this only works if the dog is taught to love the crate through positive reinforcement training.
  • Safety. Puppies (and some adult dogs) can quickly get into trouble when left alone. Crate training is a great way to keep your GSD confined and relaxed when you can’t supervise.
  • House Training. One of the biggest advantages of crate training is that it teaches bladder and bowel control. Dogs naturally hate soiling their “den,” so keeping your puppy confined for short periods can be a huge asset when potty training.
  • Teaching to Settle. Crate training also teaches a dog to settle down and relax whenever they are in the crate. This can be particularly useful when you have friends or family over.

Summary and Our Top Pick

Choosing a German Shepherd dog crate isn’t always easy. With hundreds of crates on the market, including a variety of types and sizes, it can be hard to pick the best dog crate for your pet.

Here are my top picks for various situations:

  • For German Shepherds who are crate trained and happy to spend time in a crate, my top pick is the excellent Midwest Life Stage Wire Crate. It’s a relatively strong crate that’s foldable, has two doors, and is available in large sizes. I don’t recommend wire crates for dogs with separation anxiety though.
  • If your dog is likely to attack the bars of a wire crate, the Petmate Ultra Vari Plastic Kennel is a solid alternative. It’s not completely escape proof, but is strong, durable and difficult for even strong dogs to chew through.
  • Escape artists may need something stronger than either of these options. My top recommendation for a heavy duty German Shepherd crate is the ProSelect Empire. It’s made with 20-gauge steel and is highly secure.

I hope this article has helped you choose the best German Shepherd dog crate for your Shep. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments section below.

About The Author: Richard Cross

Richard is a journalist who specialises in dog behavior. He's written hundreds of articles and books related to dogs, including for the Continental Kennel Club, Dog Fest (the UK's biggest dog festival) and various veterinary surgeries. When he's not spending time with Jess and Rudy (his beloved Labrador and Golden Retrievers), he enjoys reading, hiking and watching sports.