Are you starting the house training adventure with your new pup? Or just looking to upgrade your older dog’s current digs?
Whatever your reason for buying a new kennel, you’ve probably already discovered that there is not exactly a lack of options out there. In addition to the standard plastic airline crates and wire collapsible crates, now you have additional options ranging from multi-colored soft-sided carriers to kennels that resemble furniture.
To help you find your way through the overflowing dog crate market, we’ll look at the different types of kennels available and which situations and dogs each works best for. Then we’ll tell you our top 5 picks of the best dog crates to save you some time.
The Different Types of Dog Crates
Plastic Airline Crates
When you think of a dog crate, what comes to mind? For most people, the stereotypical dog crate is a box made of beige plastic with oblong air holes and a metal door.
While these crates are one of the most popular types, that doesn’t mean they have the best dog kennel design.
These types of crates can be hard to clean, often requiring you to take them apart to remove any really bad messes. They also occupy a lot of space when not in use and only break down to half their size for storage.
The hard sides and sturdy construction are exactly why this kennel is referred to as an airline crate. Of all the options on this list, this kennel will best protect your dog during travel.
This is also true of car rides, especially if your dog needs to ride in the bed of a truck. This is one reason these types of kennels are considered the best hunting dog kennels outside of custom metal kennel truck beds and trailers.
Collapsible Wire Crates
The second most common type of crate is the wire variety. These crates are typically made with interlocking, powder coated, metal wire.
These crates are available in every size from small to extra extra large and are one of the best options for giant breeds. If you are looking for a crate specifically for your giant dog, you may want to read this article.
One huge bonus of these crates is that they often can be folded flat for transport and storage, making them the best pet crate for owners who plan to remove the crate after their dog is fully potty trained. These crates, however, especially the larger ones, tend to be pretty heavy, even when folded flat.
If your dog tends to get bored and chew on the crate, wire kennels are a better choice because they reduce damage better than plastic. However, because they collapse, very determined dogs can often find their way out if left alone long enough.
Soft-sided crates are becoming more popular. These kennels are constructed out of a rigid frame made of plastic or metal encapsulated by cloth or mesh.
They usually also have a zippered door.
The downfalls of these types of crates are obvious. It doesn’t take an overly determined dog to chew, scratch, or push their way out of a soft crate.
These do not make the best dog crates for labs and other larger dogs with a history of destruction. And, because puppies are more prone to chewing, they also don’t make great dog kennels for house training.
However, if you have a more mature dog who is already crate trained and enjoys spending time in their kennel, soft crates are a great option. Especially if you are looking for a crate for a small dog.
They are lighter than plastic and wire crates, making them easier to move around, and they can be easily folded down for storage. If your dog is used to sleeping in a crate at night or while you’re gone, soft crates make an excellent travel option for your dog while the two of you are on vacation or camping.
These crates also come in a multitude of colors with fun options like storage pockets and handles for carrying around smaller dogs.
You’ll often come across these types of crates in fancy home magazines and on sites like Overstock. These elegant looking kennels are available in different materials and colors to match any home decor and can even be used as end tables and coffee tables.
Like the soft crates, these fancy kennels do not make the best crate for crate training. While some are made with metal components, many are wood and all are more easily damaged than traditional crates.
That combined with the hefty price tag really makes this more of a luxury item than something you want to lock a destructive puppy inside of.
They also tend to be limited in sizes available and would not be the best crate for great Danes or other large dogs.
But, also like the soft-sided crate, this item is a great choice if you already have a well-trained mature dog who enjoys spending time in their crate.
These beautiful kennels not only blend well into your home’s decor, but they can also save a lot of space by doubling as a table.
There are a number of crates out there that don’t fall into any of the above categories. Most of these are super heavy duty crates that are meant for working dogs or those with a history of destroying crates.
If you have a dog who frequently escapes or destroys kennels, you may be drawn to the heavy-duty metal crates that claim to be indestructible or inescapable.
These crates are often made with thick metal bars and reinforced locks and doors.
Because of their mass, most of these have wheels for moving the kennel around, but they are still difficult to transport, very bulky, and need to be taken apart to store.
But the most important thing to consider about these crates is that a dog who is that destructive when left in a crate is likely suffering from extreme anxiety or extreme boredom from being left too long on their own.
Keep in mind, to properly crate train, your dog needs to enjoy being in their kennel, according to Whole Dog Journal. If your dog is so destructive while in their crate that you need to resort to buying a reinforced kennel, then you may want to consider consulting a professional trainer first.
If, on the other hand, you are looking into this type of kennel because you have a Houdini dog who enjoys the challenge of getting out of tight spaces or you are waiting for your dog’s training to catch up and simply have no other options, then this type of kennel may be the only answer.
If you’re interested in learning more about heavy duty dog crates, check out our article.
Reviews of The Best Dog Crates
#1. Precision Pet by Petmate “ProValu” Two Door Wire Dog Crate with Precision Lock System, 6 Sizes
Our first choice on the list of the best pet crates is a wire style crate that provides the most useful features for the average dog owner. The Precision Pet ProValu Wire Crate combines durability and simplicity to bring you a reliable crate you can use for years.
Like all of the best wire dog crates, this one is made from coated wire durable enough to withstand even the most active chewers. Also like most other crates of this style, this kennel comes with a removable bottom pan for easy clean up just in case of accidents.
But what sets this apart from even the best metal dog crates is the two-door entry system.
This crate has a door on both the end and the side (top for the smallest size) to allow your dog plenty of space to move in and out of the crate when it is not being used to contain them. This is a really important feature for crate training your dog.
When crate training, you will need to entice your dog to go into the crate by themselves while reinforcing the idea that the crate is a safe and happy place for your pup to be, according to the Humane Society of the US. By leaving both crate doors open during this phase of the training, even the most nervous dog will feel more at ease and be more likely to go into the crate on their own.
Another great thing about this crate is it comes in six sizes, making it easier to find the exact right kennel for the size of your dog. And having the right sized crate is key for successful house training.
Another great reason to choose this crate? The affordable price.
#2. SportPet Designs Plastic Kennels Rolling Plastic Wire Door Travel Dog Crate
Second on our list is a plastic airline type kennel with a few key features that set it apart from your typical plastic crate. The SportPet Plastic Kennel is a more stylish and useful version of this old standby.
Like our first choice pick, this crate comes in six sizes to help you find the right fit for your pup. In fact, SportPet’s largest crate is a few inches larger than the Precision Pet’s largest, making this the best crate for golden retrievers, mastiffs, and other large dog breeds up to 140lbs.
With the exception of the smallest size, all crates come with wheels on the bottom, a unique feature that makes this a great travel dog crate. And, as with all plastic crates, the shape and structure of this crate make it ideal for dogs needing to travel by airplane.
These crates also come with attachable plastic bowls so your pet can travel comfortably with food and water at the ready.
These crates are less open than the wire type but are still well ventilated with wire openings on the door and smaller openings along the sides (the small size has plastic ventilation holes along the sides).
This kennel will cost you more than our first choice but is a must for your dog’s safety during airline travel and for use in the car.
#3. Petsfit Portable Pop Up Pet Cage, Dog Kennel, Cat Play Cube
Third on our list of the best-rated dog crates is a soft-sided kennel with a sleek look and simple design. The Petsfit Portable Pop Up kennel is a great choice for smaller dogs as well as vacations with the pooch.
Like most soft crates, this one is made of lightweight material that can be easily collapsed for storage and stowing during travel. The simple design makes this a versatile crate that can be used while camping, staying at a friend’s house, or as an attractive denning spot for a crate trained adult dog.
But don’t let the simple design mislead you to think this crate lacks features. In fact, what sets this apart from other soft crates are the ingenious extra features that make this kennel fun and useful.
There is a large strap on the back of the crate to allow you to secure it with a seatbelt during car travel. There are also velcro attachments on the mesh door panels to allow you to secure the doors in the up position in a way that is both useful and attractive.
There is a storage pocket on one end of the crate for extra items you would like to keep with your dog. It also has a handle for easy transport once the kennel is folded up.
One downside of this kennel is the lack of ventilation. There are only mesh openings on one end and one side, making this not the best kennel choice for hot climates or for dogs who are likely to overheat.
This kennel is more expensive than a wire type but more affordable than our second choice pick.
#4. Internet’s Best Wood & Wire Dog Crate with Cushion
Fourth on our list of the best crates for dogs was included specifically for owners of adult dogs who have already gone through the crate training process but still use a crate for sleeping or occasional confinement. The Internet’s Best furniture crate is elegant and useful for any owner who sees their dog’s crate as an eyesore.
With its real-wood look MDF and wire openings, this crate is one of the best indoor dog crates for the discerning owner. It comes in either espresso or white finish.
The look puts this crate on par with the best furniture crates on the market, but what pushes this one step ahead is the double door entry system. It has the standard swing door on the end, but also a double door on the side that opens the width of the crate.
As furniture style crates are more often used to provide the dog with a comfy place to lounge rather than a place of confinement, the double door system allows easier access for the dog as well as more comfortable lounging, especially for taller dogs who enjoy spreading out.
The door configuration also allows you as the owner more options in how you integrate this piece into your set-up. The flat top means this crate doubles as a table.
As you can imagine, this is one of the more expensive crate choices on our list but well worth it if you are looking for an elegant sleeping space for your dog that blends well with your home’s decor.
#5. Guardian Gear ProSelect Empire Dog Cage
Last on our list is a specialty crate meant for owners in unique situations. The Guardian ProSelect crate is a heavy-duty crate that is meant to be both chew and escape proof.
If your dog sees destroying crates as a fun pastime or frequently escapes their normal kennel, this might be the right choice for you. But always keep in mind, if your dog reacts to kenneling with extreme anxiety, no new kennel will fix that problem and you should contact a professional trainer for help.
We have also published an article on the best dog crates for separation anxiety, you can find it here.
This crate is made from 20 gauge steel that is chew proof and won’t bend, even with excessive force. The doors are reinforced with two thick, metal push locks to keep your Houdini dog in.
The floor has an attached metal grate that prevents escape even if the bottom pan is removed. While this doesn’t provide the most comfortable place for your dog to rest, using a thin bed or blanket on top will help.
This kennel comes in two sizes and is suitable for large breeds.
As you can imagine, these crates are heavy. Luckily they do come with removable casters to allow you to roll the cage into position or keep it mobile as needed.
With all that extra reinforcement, this crate is easily the most expensive on our list. But if your dog tears through crates like they’re paper, this kennel will probably end up saving you money in the long run.
What Is the Best Dog Crate?
After searching through the best dog crate reviews and considering the many features that make a crate useful to the average dog owner, we have chosen the Precision Pet Wire Crate as the best dog crate. With dependable features like a chew proof wire frame, dual door entry, and six size options, this crate is a great choice for the average pup.
Whether you’re in need of a crate just for potty training or for keeping your dog safely confined even in adulthood, this wire crate is perfect for you. And best of all, when you are done with it or just need to make some extra space, this crate collapses down for easy storage.
Looking for a crate that’s tough enough to withstand your power chewer or something for easy travel? We’ve included options for those on our list as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Summed Up: The Best Dog Crates
|Name||Precision Pet Wire Crate||SportPet Plastic Crate||Petsfit Play Cube||Internet’s Best Wood and Wire Crate||Guardian Gear ProSelect Cage|
|Best Features||Chew proof, collapsible, double door, available in 6 sizes||Airline approved, sturdy, wheels for easy transport||Collapsable, lightweight, seat belt attachment||Elegant look, double wide side door, available in 2 colors||Chew and escape proof, reinforced locks, wheels|
|Best For||Crate and potty training, general adult use||Crate and potty training, general adult use, airline travel||General adult use, travel||General adult use||Crate and potty training, extreme chewers and escape artists|