Choosing the Right Size Crate for Your Dog

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Choosing the Right Size Crate for Your Dog

March 22, 2024 14 min read

Choosing the correct size dog crate is crucial for your pet's comfort and safety. A well-suited crate serves as a secure den for your dog, where they can relax and feel at home. However, finding the perfect fit requires understanding sizing fundamentals, considering your dog's breed and growth, and selecting the right type of crate. This article will guide you through the process of choosing the perfect crate size for your furry friend, ensuring their happiness and well-being.

Key Takeaways

  • Proper crate sizing is essential for a dog's physical comfort and psychological well-being, with the ideal crate allowing the dog to stand, turn, and lie down.
  • Measure your dog's length from nose to tail and height from head to paws, then add a few inches to each measurement to ensure adequate space.
  • Choose a crate based on your dog's expected adult size, using dividers for puppies to adjust the space as they grow.
  • Consider the type of crate that suits your dog's personality and habits, such as heavy-duty crates for chewers or escape artists.
  • Avoid common mistakes like choosing a crate that's too large, which can undermine the sense of security, or ignoring durability for active dogs.

Understanding Crate Sizing Fundamentals

Understanding Crate Sizing Fundamentals

The Importance of Proper Sizing

Choosing the right size crate for your dog is a critical decision that impacts their well-being. A crate that is too small can lead to discomfort and stress, while a crate that is too large may not provide the security and coziness dogs instinctively seek. It's essential to find a balance that allows enough room for movement without sacrificing the sense of safety.

Crate training benefits dogs by providing a safe space for behavior management, housebreaking, and anxiety reduction. Proper introduction and balance with exercise and socialization are key for success.

To ensure you select the appropriate crate size, start by taking key measurements of your dog:

  • Height: Measure from the floor to the tallest point of their head or ears.
  • Length: Measure from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail.
  • Width: Measure across their widest point.

These dimensions are the foundation for comparing your dog's size to crate size charts, which will guide you in choosing a crate that fits just right.

Measuring Your Dog for a Crate

Accurately measuring your dog is a crucial step in finding the perfect crate size. Start by measuring the length from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail, and add a few inches to ensure they have room to move comfortably. For height, measure from the top of their head to the ground while they stand, adding a few inches for proper clearance.

When considering crate size, it's important to allow for enough space for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably, but not so much space that they feel insecure.

Here are the essential measurements to take:

  • Height: From the floor to the tallest point of their head or ears.
  • Length: From the tip of their nose to the base of their tail.
  • Width: Across the body at its widest point.

With these measurements, you can compare against crate size charts to find the ideal option. Remember, for puppies, select a crate size based on their expected adult size and use a divider to adjust the space as they grow.

Interpreting Dog Crate Size Charts

Once you have your dog's measurements, it's time to use a dog crate size chart to find the perfect fit. A crate that's too small can be uncomfortable, while one that's too large may not provide the security and coziness dogs instinctively seek. Crate size charts typically list the recommended crate size based on the dog's weight and measurements. Here's a simplified example:

Dog's Weight (lbs) Length (inches) Height (inches) Recommended Crate Size (inches)
Up to 25 Up to 24 Up to 20 24x18x20
26-40 25-30 21-24 30x19x21
41-70 31-40 25-28 36x23x25
71-90 41-48 29-32 42x28x30
Over 90 Over 48 Over 32 48x30x32.5

Remember, these are general guidelines and your dog's unique shape and size may require adjustments. For example, a particularly long-bodied dog like a Dachshund may need a different crate size than a taller dog of the same weight.

When considering a crate for puppies, look for models with divider panels. These allow the crate to grow with your pup and are beneficial for training.

Always ensure that the crate you choose allows your dog to stand up, sit down, lay down, stretch, and turn around comfortably. If you're still unsure about the right size, consult with a pet professional or refer to breed-specific recommendations.

Selecting a Crate Based on Dog Breed and Size

Selecting a Crate Based on Dog Breed and Size

Breed-Specific Crate Recommendations

When choosing a crate for your dog, it's essential to consider the breed's general size and characteristics. Breed-specific crate recommendations can serve as a helpful starting point for selecting the appropriate crate size. For instance, a small breed like a Chihuahua will require a much smaller crate compared to a large breed such as a German Shepherd. It's important to match the crate size not only to the breed but also to the individual dog's size and activity level.

Here's a simple guide to help you get started:

  • Toy Breeds: 18"-22" crates
  • Small Breeds: 24" crates
  • Medium Breeds: 30"-36" crates
  • Large Breeds: 42"-48" crates
  • Extra Large Breeds: 54" crates
Remember, the crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, but not so large that they can eliminate at one end and sleep at the other. This is crucial for maintaining proper hygiene and comfort.

Selecting the right dog bed involves matching size to breed, considering growth, understanding sleeping style, assessing space requirements, and prioritizing easy cleaning and maintenance. While the focus here is on crates, these considerations are similarly important when choosing a bed for your canine companion.

Adjusting Crate Size for Puppies

When bringing a puppy home, it's essential to think ahead about crate size. Choose a crate that will accommodate your puppy's expected adult size, and use a divider to adjust the space as they grow. This strategy not only saves you from purchasing multiple crates but also ensures a consistent training environment.

  • Start with a crate size that matches your puppy's projected adult dimensions.
  • Insert a divider panel to create a snug, secure area for your puppy.
  • As your puppy grows, incrementally move the divider to provide more space.
Remember, the goal is to provide a space that is cozy but not cramped, and roomy enough to prevent accidents. Regularly measure your puppy and adjust the crate size to maintain the perfect balance between comfort and security.

It's important to monitor your puppy's growth and adjust the divider panel accordingly to ensure they always have a suitable living space. A well-sized crate is a safe haven for your puppy, offering them a sense of security and aiding in successful crate training.

Accounting for Your Dog's Growth

When selecting a crate for your growing dog, it's crucial to think ahead. Choose a crate size that accommodates your dog's expected adult size to avoid the need for multiple upgrades. This foresight not only saves money but also provides a consistent space for your dog to identify as their own throughout their growth stages.


For puppies, using a crate with a divider panel is highly recommended. This allows you to adjust the space inside the crate as your puppy grows, ensuring it remains cozy and secure. Here's a simple guide on how to adjust the crate size over time:

  1. Start with the divider panel set to create a small, intimate space for your puppy.
  2. As your dog grows, gradually move the divider to provide more room.
  3. Regularly measure your dog and adjust the divider accordingly.
  4. Once your dog reaches adult size, remove the divider to grant full access to the crate.

Remember to measure your dog's length from nose to tail base and height from head to ground, adding a few inches for comfort. For puppies, consult breed-specific adult sizes to anticipate the right crate size.

Types of Crates and Their Sizing Implications

Types of Crates and Their Sizing Implications

Wire Crates Versus Plastic Carriers

When deciding between wire crates and plastic carriers, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons of each to determine which will best suit your dog's needs. Wire crates are well-ventilated and durable, offering a clear view of the surroundings, which can help reduce anxiety for some dogs. They typically come with a removable tray, making cleaning a breeze.

On the other hand, plastic carriers provide a more den-like atmosphere, which may be preferable for dogs requiring a more enclosed space. They are lightweight, portable, and often approved for airline travel. However, they lack the visibility and ventilation of wire crates and may not be suitable for dogs that need to see their environment to feel comfortable.

Both types of crates have their specific uses and benefits, and your choice should be informed by your dog's personality, habits, and the situations in which the crate will be used.

Here's a quick comparison:

  • Wire Crates: Great ventilation, visibility, and durability. Ideal for home use and for dogs that prefer not to feel too confined.
  • Plastic Carriers: Enclosed, cozy, and travel-friendly. Best for dogs that need a secure, den-like space and for airline travel.

Remember, the right crate is one that ensures your dog's safety, comfort, and well-being.

Soft-Sided Crates and Portability

Soft-sided crates, typically made from materials like nylon or canvas, are a popular choice for pet owners who frequently travel with their dogs. They are the lightest among all crate types, making them exceptionally easy to carry and maneuver during trips. Their collapsible design allows for quick setup and takedown, which is ideal for on-the-go situations.

However, there are trade-offs to consider. The durability of soft-sided crates may be compromised if your dog tends to chew or scratch. Cleaning these crates can also pose more of a challenge than with plastic or wire options. For those concerned with safety during travel, it's important to note that while soft-sided crates offer convenience, they may not provide the same level of protection as more rigid crates.

When selecting a soft-sided crate, consider your dog's behavior and the type of travel you'll be undertaking. It's crucial to balance portability with the safety and comfort of your pet.

Here are some pros and cons to keep in mind:

  • Pros:
    • Cozy & Secure
    • Highly Portable
    • Soft & Comfortable
  • Cons:
    • Poorer Ventilation
    • Can Retain Odors
    • May Not Withstand Heavy Chewing

Heavy-Duty and Furniture-Style Crate Options

When considering a heavy-duty crate, think about the unparalleled durability and security they offer. These crates are typically constructed from robust materials like metal, making them nearly escape-proof and ideal for dogs that are prone to destructive behavior or have high anxiety. However, their weight and size can make them less portable and significantly more expensive, with prices often starting in the $500s and can exceed $1000.

Furniture-style crates, on the other hand, offer a dual function. They can serve as a practical piece of furniture, such as a side table, while providing a cozy space for your dog. These crates come in various finishes and door materials, allowing them to blend seamlessly into your home decor. The choice between a clear acrylic door or a more durable metal door will depend on your dog's habits, such as whether they tend to paw at their crate door.

It's essential to balance the need for a secure and sturdy crate with the practicality of everyday use and integration into your living space. Consider the crate's placement and how it will complement your home when making your selection.

For those who prioritize safety during travel, especially at high speeds, an aluminum crate may be the best option. Its heavy-duty structure and lockable gate provide maximum protection. Remember that while heavy-duty crates are hard to move once in place, they offer peace of mind knowing that your dog is safe and secure.

Crate Training Tips for a Positive Experience

Crate Training Tips for a Positive Experience

Creating a Positive Association with the Crate

To ensure your dog views the crate as a safe and enjoyable space, start by placing the crate in an area where your dog spends a lot of time. Allow them to explore the crate on their own terms, and consider adding toys or treats to entice them inside. Patience is crucial during this initial phase.

Positive reinforcement is essential in crate training. Here are some steps to create a positive association:

  • Praise your dog when they enter the crate willingly.
  • Offer treats when they remain calm inside the crate.
  • Incorporate toys and favorite items to reinforce good behavior.
This approach not only encourages your dog to enter the crate but also helps them feel comfortable and secure, making the crate a pleasant part of their routine.

Remember, while dogs may not naturally enjoy being crated, with consistent positive reinforcement, they can learn to associate the crate with safety and comfort. Reward good behavior, and address any signs of anxiety or discomfort promptly to foster a positive crate experience.

Using Dividers for Growing Puppies

Dividers in dog crates are essential tools for managing the living space of growing puppies. By adjusting the divider as your puppy grows, you ensure the crate remains a comfortable and secure space. This not only saves you money by avoiding the purchase of multiple crates but also maintains a consistent environment for your puppy's development.

Dividers allow the crate to adapt to your puppy's size, providing just enough room for them to stand, turn around, and lie down without excess space that could lead to accidents.

It's important to regularly check and adjust the divider panel to match your dog's growth. Here's a simple guide to follow:

  • Initially, set the divider to create a snug but comfortable area for your puppy.
  • As your puppy grows, gradually move the divider to increase the living space.
  • Ensure each adjustment leaves enough room for your puppy to move comfortably without too much spare room.
  • Regularly clean the removable tray that comes with most dividers for hygiene purposes.

Remember, a well-sized crate with a properly adjusted divider can help facilitate effective crate training and provide a safe haven for your puppy.

Placement and Bedding for Comfort

Ensuring your dog's crate is a welcoming and comfortable environment is crucial for successful crate training. Place the crate in a quiet area of your home to help your dog feel secure and undisturbed. The bedding you choose can significantly affect your dog's comfort. Opt for a crate pad that offers support and is machine washable for easy maintenance. Avoid pads for dogs prone to shredding, as they contain stuffing that can be hazardous if ingested.

When selecting accessories for your dog's crate, consider both functionality and comfort. Crate covers can create a den-like atmosphere, which many dogs find reassuring. Additionally, crate bowls and feeders should be chosen with care; look for food-grade, dishwasher-safe options that can be easily attached to the crate.

Remember, the goal is to make the crate a positive space where your dog feels at ease. Consistent feeding and the use of proper tools, like a Groov Training Aid, can aid in this process. However, it's important to note that crates are not meant for continuous confinement. They should be used primarily for sleep, safety, and house training, with the latter being most effective when combined with positive reinforcement and a routine.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Crate

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Crate

Selecting a Crate That's Too Large

While it may seem generous to provide your dog with a spacious crate, an oversized crate defeats the purpose of creating a secure and cozy space for your dog. A crate that is too large allows your dog to separate their sleeping area from their bathroom area, which can hinder house training efforts and lead to unwanted behaviors.

A properly sized crate should offer just enough space for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, without excess room that could affect their sense of security.

When considering crate size, also think about the logistics of moving and placing the crate in your home and vehicle. A crate that's too large may not fit in smaller cars and can be cumbersome to transport. Here's a quick checklist to ensure you're choosing the right size:

  • Measure your dog accurately from nose to tail base.
  • Compare your dog's measurements to crate size charts.
  • Consider the crate's weight and portability.
  • Ensure the crate fits in your vehicle and living space.

Remember, the goal is to create a positive environment that reinforces good habits and provides a safe haven for your dog.

Ignoring Your Dog's Personality and Habits

When selecting a crate for your dog, it's crucial to consider more than just the physical fit. Your dog's personality and habits play a significant role in finding a suitable crate. For instance, a dog that tends to chew on objects would be better off with a durable, chew-resistant crate rather than a soft-sided one. Similarly, a dog that prefers open spaces may feel more comfortable in a wire crate that offers better visibility and airflow.

It's not just about ensuring they can comfortably stand and turn around; it's about catering to their individual needs and preferences.

Understanding your dog's behavior is essential in choosing the right crate. Here's a quick checklist to help you consider your dog's personality when crate shopping:

  • Assess if your dog enjoys solitude or prefers being where the action is.
  • Consider your dog's chewing habits and select a crate material accordingly.
  • Think about your dog's reaction to confinement; some may require more time to acclimate.
  • Observe if your dog has any anxiety triggers that could be exacerbated by certain crate types.

Forgetting to Consider Crate Durability

When selecting a crate for your dog, durability should be a top priority. A durable crate ensures the safety and longevity of your dog's home-away-from-home. It's essential to choose a crate that can withstand the rigors of use, especially if your dog is active or has a tendency to chew.

Heavy-duty crates, often made of metal, offer the highest level of durability. They are designed to be escape-proof and can endure significant force without damage. However, they come with a higher price tag and less portability. For instance, a well-known brand like Impact offers crates that start in the $500s and can exceed $1000.

On the other hand, crates with less structural integrity may not hold up well over time, especially under stress. In lab tests, some heavy-duty crates didn't budge or show signs of wear even when subjected to 45 pounds of force or the impact of sandbags. This is a testament to their robust construction and the peace of mind they can provide.

Remember, the right crate is not just about size or style; it's about choosing a quality that matches your dog's needs and your lifestyle. Consider the potential for long-term maintenance and cleaning, as some crates may require special tools like a handheld vacuum to reach into nooks and crannies.


In conclusion, selecting the right size crate for your dog is a critical decision that can significantly affect their comfort and well-being. A crate that is too small can cause stress and discomfort, while one that is too large may not provide the security and coziness dogs naturally seek. Remember to measure your dog accurately and consult a crate size chart to ensure a good fit. Consider your dog's personality and growth, especially if you're choosing a crate for a puppy. With the right crate, you can create a positive and safe environment for your furry friend to enjoy their own space. Armed with the knowledge from this article, you're now ready to find that perfect crate to suit your dog's needs and make them feel right at home.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find the right size crate for my dog?

Measure your dog's height (top of head to front paws) and length (nose to tail) while they are standing on all four paws. Then add 2 to 4 inches to each measurement for proper clearance. Ensure your dog can stand, sit, lay down, stretch, and turn around comfortably without too much extra space.

What if my dog is still a puppy?

Choose a crate size based on the expected adult size of your puppy's breed and use a divider panel to adjust the space as they grow. This allows the crate to be the perfect size during each stage of growth.

Should I consider my dog's personality when selecting a crate?

Yes, if your dog is a chewer or an escape artist, a heavy-duty crate may be necessary. For calmer dogs who like cozy spaces, a wooden crate could be suitable. Always ensure the crate type matches your dog's behavior and needs.

What are the sizing implications of different types of crates?

Wire crates and plastic carriers offer different levels of visibility and airflow. Soft-sided crates are more portable but may not be suitable for larger or more active dogs. Furniture-style crates can blend with home decor but consider the material and sturdiness.

How can I make crate training a positive experience for my dog?

Create a positive association with the crate by placing it in a safe location, using treats and praise, and ensuring it's comfortable with appropriate bedding. Use dividers for puppies and avoid placing the crate in isolated areas.

What are common mistakes to avoid when choosing a crate?

Avoid selecting a crate that's too large as it may lead to your dog using a corner as a bathroom. Don't ignore your dog's personality and habits, and remember to consider the durability and quality of the crate's material.


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