The 6 Best Puppy Crates Recommended by Vets & Trainers
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When you’re bringing home a new puppy, “knowing you have a safe place for them whenever you need it is invaluable,” advises dog trainer and Superb Dog contributor Kevin Ryan. That’s why it’s vital to have one of the best puppy crates on hand for your fur baby’s arrival. For the best experience, the crate you choose should be comfortable, easy to clean, and sized properly for your pup.
According to Nicole Ellis, a dog trainer and Pet Lifestyle Expert with Rover, “the crate should be just big enough to stand up, turn around and lay down without hitting the top or sides of the crate.” This could mean buying a smaller crate for your puppy when they’re young and sizing up as they grow, but “to make things more convenient, it is best to get a crate large enough for your puppy to grow into an adult,” suggests Dr. Dwight Alleyne, a veterinarian and pet health expert at JustAnswer. However, if you opt for a larger crate, you’ll need one that can be adjusted to fit your puppy correctly. Dr. Alleyne recommends a crate with a divider, which “can be useful if you have a small puppy in a larger crate waiting to grow into it.” He explains that “the divider can prevent the puppy from having too much space which can interfere with their housebreaking training.” If you’re not sure how big your dog will get or what size of crate might make sense for their current size, some crate manufacturers provide suggestions, or you can consult a general size chart.
Crates are frequently made of strong metal wires or sturdy plastic, and you’ll have to think about which material makes the most sense for you and your puppy. If you want to use a divider, this is typically a feature you’ll only find in wire crates. Ellis suggests that “metal crates are often more durable and have more air flow,” while all three dog experts point out that these crates typically fold down when you need to store or transport them, an undeniably convenient feature. Ryan also mentions that “they also allow you to see the dog more easily from any angle in the room, and have a pan that slides out for easy cleaning.” Metal crates are a great option for many dogs, but you’ll want to make sure that your puppy doesn’t chew the wires on the crate, as Dr. Alleyne warns that this can damage their teeth.
On the other hand, Ellis explains that plastic crates “feel a bit more enclosed, which some dogs prefer and are more comfortable in” since it can create more of a den-like environment. These crates can also be lighter to transport and many are suitable for airplane flight, so they might be more convenient if you plan to travel with your dog. And while you typically can’t remove the bottom, the plastic should be fairly easy to wipe down. However, Ellis also mentions that “plastic crates often don't have as much air flow and for anxious dogs they have been known to chew out of these crates.”
Ultimately, both metal and plastic crates are viable options, but Dr. Alleyne advises that “if you are mainly planning to keep the crate set up in one place in the home then it would be best to get a metal crate.” For frequent travelers, however, he recommends a plastic option. If you like some of the features of both plastic and metal, it’s also possible to purchase a crate made of both materials to get a combination of features.
Whatever you choose, the crate will be your pet’s safe space and an invaluable training tool for years to come, so make sure you take the time to find the best option for you and your puppy, and outfit it with a cozy crate bed, waterproof crate mat, and/or blanket. “It's not unusual for your dog to dislike the crate on night one, but over time they should enjoy the space,” counsels Ellis. “Ultimately, having a crate-trained dog will not only drastically speed up potty training and help avoid separation anxiety, it can also help make groomers and vets a less stressful experience by giving your pet a safe den-like place to feel comfortable.”
From a heavy-duty wire crate that my own puppy loves to a plastic kennel that has Dr. Alleyne’s approval, here are the best crates for your puppy.
1. A Wire Crate With A Divider That’s An Editor Favorite
My 9-month-old rescue pup sleeps in this crate from MidWest Homes For Pets every night, and I have no complaints. I purchased the crate when he was super small, and because he was a rescue, I had no idea how big he would get — which meant it was an especially big deal that this crate comes with a divider, so it can adjust to his size as he grows.
The crate is made from thick, sturdy metal wires and has front and side doors for multiple access points. Each door latches securely in two places, but unlike some other crates I’ve used, it’s smooth and easy to latch or unlatch. The plastic pan on the bottom of the crate is removable for easy cleaning (though admittedly not very cozy, so I cover it with this cute Harry Barker bed that fits perfectly inside the crate). When my pup and I travel, I can easily fold the crate flat to fit in the car, then set it back up in about a minute once we reach our destination.
It’s clear I’m not the only one who’s had success with this crate, which has more than 5,000 Amazon reviews and an overall rating of 4.7 stars on the site. If this 36-inch crate is too small for your pup, it’s also available in a larger size.
Helpful Amazon review: “This thing was easy to assemble and has held together superbly. The latches seem to be very durable as well and our puppy has never gotten out, even when he was little and pounded on the doors when he was getting used to it (sad Mama--but for the record, now he loves it and doesn't spend alot of time locked up in it). I also [love] that it has a second door so we can move it anywhere in the house without worrying about access.It was really nice that it came with an extra ‘life stages’ panel so that when he was a puppy we could block off most of the cage. The panel can be installed in any part of the cage since it just hooks on to the exterior bars. Although the panel was a bit tricky to move each time, so we just did it twice and then opened up the whole cage when we knew our puppy wouldn't soil inside the crate.”
2. A Trainer-Approved Crate With A Divider
This crate from Diggs might not look like a typical puppy crate, but the combination of reinforced plastic, steel mesh wire, and sturdy aluminum is a total winner. Ellis uses the Diggs crate with the puppies she trains, and wholeheartedly recommends it. “It folds flat and has wheels, making it easy to maneuver around the house or bring on trips,” she explains, “and it comes with a divider that has pre sectioned slots to insert into, so you can change the size of the space as your dog grows.” In addition to the divider, it also has a removable tray so it’s easy to clean if your dog has any accidents, which is super helpful in an everyday puppy crate. According to Diggs, the crate is also designed according to (human) baby industry standards, so you can rest assured that your fur baby will be safe and sound.
With generously sized wire mesh panels, the crate has plenty of airflow, and it has doors on the front and side. The side door slides up like a garage door when you want your pup to have free access to their cozy space. A top hatch lets you interact with your pup and offer treats without opening the door. Finally, while the crate is super functional, it’s also less of an eyesore than most. As Ellis puts it, “It's also nice looking, in my opinion, which is always a benefit too.”
Choose between two different colors (gray and charcoal), and sizes Small (with internal dimensions of 25 by by 17 by 19 inches, length by width by height) and Medium (with internal dimensions of 31 by 20 by 22 inches, length by width by height).
Helpful Amazon review: “This is the best crate I’ve ever owned. It is stylish, great quality & easy to use. I love the ease of collapsing & the multiple ways to enter the crate. Having an available puppy divider is a bonus. I can’t say enough about how pleased I am with the crate.”
3. A Veterinarian-Recommended Plastic Crate
If you’re in search of a plastic crate, Dr. Alleyne recommends this one from Petmate. “Petmate plastic crates are great for puppies because they are very portable and you can take the top off which allows the bottom half of the crate to serve as a bed,” he explains. With a steel door and top hatch, both of which latch firmly, the plastic crate is super secure. The sides have lots of ventilation holes, but since they still have fewer gaps than a wire crate, it should still have that den-like feel. The crate has a handle on top to make it easy to carry during travel, and is designed to comply with airline cargo requirements, though you’ll need to confirm with your specific airline before you bring it on a plane.
The crate measures about 24 inches long and 15 inches high, and Petmate recommends it for dogs weighing between 10 and 20 pounds. It doesn’t have a divider, though, so it won’t grow with your pet — which means that essentially this should be purchased to fit your puppy at their current size. If they get bigger, you can always upgrade them to a larger crate.
Helpful Amazon review: “This is a wonderful and sturdy kennel at a great price! We used it to kennel our puppy whom we were potty- and crate-training then. It cleans up nicely and does not leave odor. Since our pup was super-energetic, I could say that this kennel saved our sanity. Today, our pup is a well-behaved, completely potty-trained 1-year-old companion who has since graduated to having full access to our living space. We have since switched to using a much larger metal kennel to house our dog at night. But it was worth every penny to have this kennel when he was little since he really enjoyed the den-like coziness that the kennel provided.”
4. A Fan-Favorite Crate That’s Budget-Friendly
Amazon users adore this wire crate from MidWest Homes For Pets, which has more than 100,000 reviews on the site and an overall rating of 4.7 stars. For a super reasonable price, it comes in a wide range of sizes and styles so you can choose the one that’s right for your puppy. There are seven different sizes from 18 inches to 48 inches long (most of which come with a divider), in one or two-door styles. The 24-inch single door style even comes in pink, if you’re not a fan of the standard black. The crate has one slide latch on each door and a plastic pan on the bottom that’s easy to clean in the case of an accident. The whole thing folds flat for easy storage or transport.
While the MidWest iCrate model looks almost identical to the MidWest Lifestages one that my puppy uses, there are actually some significant differences that could be deciding factors for you. According to MidWest Pet Products, the LifeStages crates are slightly stronger and heavier than the iCrate. The LifeStages crates also have bars that are closer together, which might be appealing when you’re shopping for a small puppy. Some of the iCrate models might also be a little narrower and lower in height than the LifeStages ones, so take a good look at your crate’s listed dimensions before you buy. That said, the iCrate is often a bit cheaper, and it also has more size options being sold on Amazon at this time, which might be important buying considerations for you.
Helpful Amazon review: “Excellent product!! Great size, very durable. Love that it came with 2 doors (front & side) . This helps when you are deciding where you are going to put it in your home. Ordered mine with a divider so my puppy can grow into it. I love that this is an option. The thought of having to buy multiple crates because large puppies grow SO FAST would be terrible. I would highly recommend. VERY easy to assemble (there really isn't much assembly - it's just a matter of unfolding the crate) and shipping was VERY quick.”
5. A Popular Plastic Crate For Large & Small Puppies
If you want a plastic crate for your puppy but don’t need it to open from the top, this crate from Petmate (the brand Dr. Alleyne recommends) has a 4.5-star overall rating on Amazon after more than 6,000 reviews. Plus, it comes in eight different sizes that cover dogs weighing up to 90 pounds. The heavy-duty plastic crate features a carrying handle if you buy one of the sizes for dogs weighing 30 pounds or less.
The crate has ventilation on three sides, including the wire mesh door on the front, and shuts with a latch you should be able to operate with one hand. Designed to be portable for travel, the crate is meant to comply with most airline cargo requirements, though you should always check with your specific airline to be sure.
Choose between a handful of different colors, depending on the size you choose.
Helpful Amazon review: “Easy assemble and take apart if need be. Solid, sturdy and reliable. Made the perfect safe haven for a new puppy! And can be used when fully grown also. Also has secure tie down spots installed for mobility in a truck, etc. Totally happy with the purchase, and so is the puppy!”
6. A Highly Reviewed Wire Crate Kit
It’s only natural that you’d want to trick out your puppy’s crate with everything they need to feel comfortable. That’s why this starter kit from MidWest Homes For Pets has a crate cover and bed — plus a food and water bowl that attach to the doors of the included iCrate wire crate. None of these items are strictly necessary, but if you decide they’re right for your puppy, they might be nice to get in one handy package. More than 9,000 Amazon reviewers chose to nab this crate kit, and since it has an overall rating of 4.8 stars, it’s safe to say most approve.
The metal crate has double doors and a divider panel, and it comes in six sizes ranging from 22 inches to 48 inches in length. It has a plastic pan on the bottom that’s easy to remove for cleaning, and the whole crate can be folded up for transport or storage. The machine-washable polyester crate cover is designed specifically to slip over the top of the crate, and you can choose to cover the entire crate or lift any of the cover’s sides out of the way for some light. Ryan is an advocate for covering your puppy’s wire crate, explaining that “this keeps visual distractions to a minimum and lets your puppy focus on sleeping and not bothering you every time their attention is drawn to something moving in the room (like you walking by).” Another option for covering a puppy crate is to simply use a blanket.
As for bedding, Ellis advises that “beds should be added to a crate, unless your dog is destructive and destroys them.” This crate comes with a cushioned, fleece-covered bed that fits perfectly in the crate but can also be used on its own. Like the crate cover, it’s machine washable.
The set also includes a food and water bowl, which can attach to the wire crate so they won’t tip over. Both Ellis and Ryan suggest that it might be helpful to feed your puppy in their crate, but caution against leaving food and water inside beyond mealtimes. Dr. Alleyne adds some nuance to this assessment. “If you have a younger puppy, they should have access to water at all times,” he advises. “Small breed puppies such as Chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers can be prone to low blood sugar so it would be a good idea to keep food in a crate. With larger breed dogs it would depend on how long they are going to be in the crate for. In most cases as part of the training process you will want them to get use to a feeding schedule so ideally you don't want to have food in the crate.” Luckily, if you decide not to use the food and water bowl, you can easily remove them.
Helpful Amazon review: “This is a great kennel. I love the bowls that stick to the side as it makes it easy to feed our puppy in his crate. Our little guy loves the bed and I love the cover that comes with it so I can make it dark for him at nap times. I have had to wash the bed several times and it’s held up decently well. I do expect I’ll have to replace it at some point but I think it will last a good while.”