Need a crate that provides extra protection when travelling? Or does your pet easily escape standard wire or plastic crates? If so, these give heavy duty dog crates could be the perfect solution.
Our #1 Pick
Highly durable and designed to withstand chewing
My top pick for a heavy duty dog crate is the ProSelect Empire. It's one of the toughest on the market, due to its steel frame and double door latches. If your dog is too strong for a wire crate, this is a great alternative.
Does your dog have a talent for escaping from his crate? If so, you're probably tired of coming home to a loose pooch and ripped up furniture - and I don't blame you!
With proper training, many dogs enjoy spending time in a crate (at least for short periods). Dogs instinctively seek the protection of a den and love having a place to retreat if they feel stressed or confused.
Unfortunately, not all dogs are accepting of being in a crate - particularly if they have separation anxiety or haven't been properly trained. Some dogs may even try to escape by attacking connectors, latches or bars.
For dogs that are relaxed in a crate, a standard wire or plastic design is usually fine. These are relatively weak and often have flimsy connectors and bolts, but if your dog doesn't try to escape then they do the job.
If you have a dog that chews or has separation anxiety, however, then cheaper crates can be easy to escape from. This is true for many dogs, but particularly if you have a strong breed, such as a pit bull, German shepherd or husky.
For this reason, some companies produce heavy duty dog crates. These metal dog crates aren't the prettiest on the market, but are designed to keep your pet safely inside and resist chewing.
Note: If your dog has separation anxiety it's important to take steps to solve the problem. Buying a stronger crate should only be a temporary solution.
Why Buy a Heavy Duty Crate?
There are two reasons to buy a heavy-duty crate: preventing a dog from escaping and providing better protection when travelling.
The first reason - confining an escape-prone pup - is the most common.
Dogs can be surprisingly creative when attempting to escape, so it doesn't take long for many pets to find a weak spot. A dog with severe separation anxiety might be particularly determined, but some pets may escape just for fun.
Some common ways a dog can escape include:
- Breaking Through Wire Walls. Some dogs simply bend the thin bars of standard crates and escape through the gap.
- Opening the Latch. The cleverest dogs may figure out how to unlock the latch. It can be entertaining to watch a dog's first few botched attempts at this, but don't be fooled - many dogs quickly learn the technique!
- Destroying Connectors. Regular wire crates have small connectors to hold the various panels together. A crate is only as strong as these connectors - a fact that some dogs seem to intuitively understand.
- Finding and Exploiting Other Weak Spots. A crate can have a variety of other weak spots - especially where there are joints or corners - so these are often targeted by dogs.
The good news is that the best heavy duty crates prevent these escape routes. They have stronger walls, unlockable latches and no weak spots.
The downside is these crates often look more like a prison cell than a comfortable home. If you have a strong dog with severe separation anxiety or need extra durability, however, this is a small price to pay.
Sturdy Crates for Travelling
It's also important to buy a heavy-duty crate for plane, boat or rail journeys. Cheap wire or fabric walls don't provide the protection your pup needs when on public transport - and many airlines and ferries won't accept them anyway.
Durable dog crates can also provide extra safety for car travel, although I recommend choosing one of the CPS-approved models on our list here.
Note: Just because a model is "heavy duty" doesn't mean it's suitable for air travel. If you're planning to use it on a flight, make sure you check the IATA regulations.
Important Features & How We Chose This List
The best heavy duty crates are specifically built to withstand a dog's escape attempts.
This doesn't mean all supposedly "escape proof" crates are worth buying though. Some are much stronger than others, with fewer weak spots and more effective latches (although no crate can guarantee to be 100% indestructible).
Here are some important features to look for when buying a heavy duty crate:
- Highly Durable Material. Look for a heavy duty crate made with steel or aluminum. Metal isn't guaranteed to stop a dog escaping, but it's a lot more effective than other options. Avoid plastic crates if your dog is a chewer - unless it's reinforced rotomolded plastic (such as the Gunner G1 series). And don't even think about a soft-sided crate!
- Big Enough for Your Pet. Heavy duty kennels can be expensive, so it's tempting to choose a smaller model to save money. Please, don't do this! Make sure your pet has plenty of room to relax - especially if he's going to be confined for long periods.
- Properly Ventilated. The strongest dog crates have metal sheet walls rather than bars. It's vital for these to have plenty of ventilation holes to keep your pup comfortable. A lack of ventilation can also allow bacteria and mold to grow inside.
- Hidden or Inaccessible Latches. Clever dogs can quickly learn how to unlock simple mechanisms. This is why many heavy duty crates are built with more complicated locks that are inaccessible from the inside.
- Convenient for You. Despite their functional appearance, heavy duty dog crates don't need to be inconvenient to use. Some features you may want to look for include a removable tray for clearing up accidents, automatically locking doors and wheels.
The obvious downside to buying heavy-duty crates is the cost.
While a cheap wire crate can cost as little as $30, heavy-duty models can be $300 or more. This is due to the expensive steel or aluminum frames and near-indestructible design. Spending this much might seem excessive, but they are worth the money if they keep your dog safe and secure.
Heavy duty crates can also be heavy. This is why some come with wheels or pop-up handles, but be aware that crates with bars are difficult to move. Aluminum sheet walls are often lighter and more portable.
5 Best Heavy Duty & Escape Proof Crates
Listed below are five of the best heavy-duty dog cages on the market at the moment. These crates are highly-durable and built to prevent even strong dogs from escaping. There's no such thing as a truly indestructible dog crate, but I believe these models are amongst the strongest available.
Scroll down for more information and mini-reviews of each of our top picks.
1. ProSelect Empire
One of the most durable crates on the market is the ProSelect Empire. It has a similar "cage" design to the LUCKUP (also on this list) and is built with with reinforced 20-gauge steel. This makes it a great choice for chewers.
The ProSelect Empire is designed specifically for dogs that have a habit of destroying their crates. It's highly durable and can withstand chewing, while the double door latches prevent your dog from unlocking from the inside.
A useful feature is the steel pull-out tray. This, combined with the grated floor, means it's easy to clean accidents and ensures your dog doesn't sit in his mess. ProSelect has also included caster wheels, although these can be removed if you don't plan on moving it.
While no crate is 100% escape-proof, the ProSelect Empire is a match for even strong chewers and the bars are close to unbreakable. Whether you've got a pit bull, husky, boxer or any other strong chewer, the Empire should be able to withstand their attacks.
The build quality is high, so there are no obvious weak points. I have read reports that some dogs may be able to access the welds, but for a non-sheet walled crate it's one of the most durable on the market. ProSelect hasn't included a top door, which I think is a wise decision.
As you would expect from such a solid crate, the ProSelect Empire is heavy. I don't recommend it for travel, but the wheels make it easier to move around the home or for cleaning. It's also more expensive than the LUCKUP - although I think it's the stronger option for chewers.
Note: There are two sizes available (Medium and Large). Make sure you choose an option that provides plenty of space for your dog.
Why We Recommend It: The ProSelect Empire is a brilliant crate for dogs that have a habit of escaping. It's highly durable, provides plenty of ventilation, and can withstand almost any dog's chewing. It's not cheap, but is worth the money for destructive dogs or those with severe separation anxiety.
- Material: Steel
- Size: Medium - 33.75" x 23.5" x 24.5" (WxDxH), Large - 40.75" x 28.15" x 31.75" (WxDxH)
- Price Range: $$$
- One of the most durable crates
- Four wheels (removable)
- Pull-out tray for easier cleaning
2. Zinger Winger Professional 4000
Steel bars can prevent most dogs from escaping, but for the ultimate escape-proof crate you should look metal sheet walls with lots of ventilation. The Zinger Winger Professional 4000 is a great example.
The 4000 is built with aircraft-grade aluminum, which is why it's virtually impossible for dogs to escape. The aluminum is also much lighter than the steel bars found on other heavy duty crates, so it's easier to move around the home.
The door has a stainless steel slam latch that can be locked for extra security. There are also plenty of ventilation holes to keep your pup cool and comfortable.
A minor downside is that it takes longer to put together than some of the other crates on this list. There are a lot of screws, so make sure you allocate at least 30-minutes for assembly.
On a side note, the Professional 4000 has a reversible door, so you can switch it from left to right hand opening depending on what you need.
If your dog can escape even steel-barred crates such as the ProSelect Empire, the Zinger Winger Professional 4000 might be your only option. It's very expensive though, so if you're not sure you need the extra durability it may be worth trying one of the cheaper options first.
Why We Recommend It: The Zinger Winger Professional 4000 is probably the toughest and most durable crate I've reviewed. I wouldn't call any crate 100% inescapable, but the aircraft-grade aluminum and stainless steel slam latches mean the 4000 is a match for almost any dog. It's also lightweight (compared to other heavy duty models) and has lots of ventilation - the only downside is the price.
- Material: Aircraft-Grade Aluminum
- Size: 24"W x 28"H x 36"L
- Price Range: $$$$$$
- One of the strongest on the market
- Slam latch with lock
- Lots of ventilation
- Fiddly assembly and very expensive
3. Grain Valley Collapsible Crate
Another heavy-duty crate with sheet walls is the Grain Valley Crate. It has a more industrial appearance than the Zinger Winger, but is available in three sizes and has a collapsible design.
The Grain Valley Aluminum Crate is built with heavy-duty walls, crush-proof corners and stainless steel latches. The latches are self-locking, so you don't need to worry about accidentally leaving it open.
These features combine to create a crate that's close to escape-proof. I'm sure it's possible for the strongest dogs to get out somehow, but it's hard to see a weakness when crating the vast majority of pets.
It also has a collapsible design, which makes it much easier to transport than the other options on this list. If you're looking for a strong crate for travelling, then the Grain Valley could be an excellent option.
Like the Zinger Winger, the Grain Valley has slots for Airline Rails and spring-loaded handles. The manufacturer has even included welded cross-bars for extra stability and strength.
The main drawback of this model is the price. It's cheaper than the Zinger Winger, but is still one of the most expensive dog crates on the market. On the upside, it's lighter than you would expect and is easy to assemble.
Why We Recommend It: The Grain Valley is an excellent crate that's relatively light, collapsible and highly durable. If you need a crate for travelling that's more portable than most heavy-duty models, it's an option to consider.
- Material: Heavy Duty Aluminum
- Size: Medium - 30" x 19" x 22" (WxDxH), Large - 35" x 25" x 29" (WxDxH), Extra Large - 41" x 25" x 29" (WxDxH)
- Price Range: $$$$$$
- Collapsible design for extra portability
- Easy to assemble
- IATA compliance if airline rails are attached
- Very expensive
4. Gunner Kennels G1 Intermediate
The Gunner Kennels G1 is a durable and heavy-duty crate made with dual-layer rotomolded plastic. It's designed specifically for travel and is one of the few crates to be certified with a "5 Star Crash Test Rating" from the Center for Pet Safety.
I want to point out upfront that this crate is not the strongest if your dog is a chewer or escape artist. Some dogs will be able to chew the window vents and it's too small for confining a dog for long periods.
Instead, this is a crate designed to protect your pet when travelling. It has a wide base for stability, rubber feet to prevent slipping in a car, and strong tie-down pins to keep your pet safe. The Intermediate version is also crash tested, which isn't the case for many car crates.
Gunner Kennels has released some impressive statistics about the G1. During testing, it has been shown to withstand being shot by a 12-gauge shotgun, dropped off a 200 foot cliff and hit with a force of up to 4000lbs.
As I've mentioned, a crate is only as strong as its weakest component, which is why Gunner has included a custom-welded reinforced aluminum door. This is locked by a stainless steel piano hinge lock and two backup latches, to keep your dog safely inside.
In other words, this is a truly heavy duty crate that's built to last. You can also view a short video of the G1 undergoing the CPS's crash test below:
Aside from its undoubted durability, the Gunner has several vents on each side, elevated feet, stainless steel hardware, and Kayak-grade handles. There's also a drainage plug to make cleaning the bottom of the crate more convenient, although there's not a removable tray.
The biggest downside to the G1 Intermediate is the price. This is an expensive crate that costs more than 10 times a standard wire model. I think it's worth the money if you want a safe crate for car journeys though.
Another drawback is that it's not the best for home use. While it's listed as suitable for dogs up to 75lbs, this is for car journeys when having space to bang around during a crash isn't a good thing. If you're going to use it as a crate for long periods, make sure you choose a bigger version than you think you'll need (there are Small, Intermediate, Medium and Large options).
Why We Recommend It: If you need a strong crate that's designed for car travel, the Gunner G1 Intermediate is a brilliant option. It's specifically built to keep your pet safe in a car and is one of the few crates to be crash-test certified by the CPS. It's not the best option for chewers or for keeping your pet in for long periods though.
- Material: Double Rotomolded Plastic
- Dog Weight Range: Up to 75lbs
- Price Range: $$$$$
- Crash-tested certified by the CPS
- Incredibly strong rotomolded plastic
- High-quality door and latch
- Not the best option for a home crate or chewers
5. LUCKUP Metal Crate
If you're looking for an indoor heavy duty crate that's tougher than the average wire kennel, the LUCKUP provides excellent value for money. It's the cheapest option on this list, yet is built with a steel frame that's durable while providing plenty of ventilation.
The LUCKUP crate has several convenience features, including lockable wheels and a three-door design. The two slide-out plastic trays also make cleaning the crate much easier. A bonus is that it's easy to assemble and can be folded down when not in use.
In terms of price, the LUCKUP is considerably cheaper than the sheet-wall crates on this list. It's still much more expensive than a wire crate, but provides a good balance between durability and price. There are two size and two color options available.
I also like the lock design. The main door has three latches that require a slide and pull to open, which even clever dogs will have a hard time working out.
The reason this crate doesn't rank as highly as the Empire is that it's not quite as escape-proof. I think the top door might be a weak point, so you may want to use a zip tie to stop it opening if you don't plan on using it. The most determined and strongest chewers may be able to attack the bars though - so for these dogs look for sheet-walled crates instead.
Why We Recommend It: If your dog escapes from standard wire or plastic crates, the LUCKUP could be the solution. It's built with highly durable steel, has three metal latches on the main door, and comes with two trays to make cleaning easier. It's probably not quite as strong as the Zinger Winger or Grain Valley, but can keep most dogs contained and provides great value.
- Material: Steel
- Size: Medium - 37.5" x 25.5" x 32" (WxDxH),Large - 41.5" x 30.5" x 37" (WxDxH)
- Price Range: $$
- Built with strong steel bars
- Plenty of ventilation
- Lockable wheels and removable trays
- Top door may be a weak point
Other Tips for Preventing Escapees
If your dog has severe separation anxiety, a stronger crate should only be a temporary solution. It's not fair for the dog to experience this level of anxiety every time he's left alone, so you should take steps to improve the situation - preferably with the help of a vet and qualified dog behaviorist.
With that said, if your dog is destructive when on his own, then an escape-proof crate could be an essential purchase in the short-term - and not just to protect your furniture, walls and doors. A dog that's distressed and attacking objects in the home is likely to get hurt, so a strong crate can keep him safe.
Of course, you also need to monitor your dog's behavior in a heavy duty crate. Is he becoming more panicky because he can't escape? Is he showing signs of distress such as excessive licking or even self-biting? If so, you should consult a vet immediately.
Here are some other tips for preventing your dog escaping from a crate:
- Provide Plenty of Regular Exercise. If a dog has had a long walk before he's put in a crate, he's much more likely to go to sleep - especially if this is part of a routine. This is even more important when you're trying to crate train as it's vital to create the right habits.
- Don't Make a Fuss When Leaving or Returning. If your dog gets anxious on his own, making a big deal out of leaving and returning could make things worse. Instead, try to ignore your dog for a few minutes when you get home and leave without saying goodbye.
- Find Out How Your Dog is Escaping. It's not uncommon for an owner to have no idea how a dog is escaping from a crate. If you're not sure where the weak point of your crate is, try using a webcam or even a pet camera to find out. It's much easier to reinforce a weak spot when you know exactly how the dog is getting out.
- Reinforce Weak Spots with Metal Connectors. Sometimes dogs force apart the sides of crates to escape. If this is how your dog is getting loose, consider buying additional metal connectors to reinforce the seams.
Does your dog have a habit of escaping from his crate? If so, a heavy duty dog crate could be the best way to keep him safe and secure. These creates are built with strong materials that are close to indestructible, so are much more effective at withstanding a dog's escape attempts.
For most dogs, my top recommendation is the ProSelect Empire. It's a highly durable crate with great ventilation, removable steel tray and strong locks.
I hope this article has helped you choose the best heavy duty crate for your pet. If you have any questions or feedback, 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.