Our Top Choices for the 6 Best Dog Crates

Updated: May 9, 2022

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Dogs need crates, but they aren’t a one-size-fits-all product. For example, some containers are best for travel, and others are explicitly engineered for puppy training or hunting dogs. Besides that, large hounds, like the Boxer, and small lap dogs, like the Chihuahua, have different overall crate needs. The biggest dog breeds will have totally different crates needed again!

Some people may be ambivalent about crating dogs, mistakenly believing it’s abusive or cruel. But don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe — both emotionally and physically — when done correctly and humanely. Moreover, crating can be a critical part of training and housebreaking.

So today, we’re looking at the best dog crates in several categories. When testing, our review team considered five factors: price, value, style, function, and quality.

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First Things First: Why Does My Dog Need a Crate?

We hear the question a lot: do all dogs need crates?

Yes, all dogs go to Heaven — and all dogs need crates! They give canines safe spaces to call their own and come in handy when traveling — abroad or around town! Plus, crate training is vet recommended and endorsed by the American Kennel Club.

Dogs Are Genetically Engineered for Crates

Before dogs became man’s best friend, wild canines sheltered in small dens. They used shallow holes, caves, and tunnels to groom, slumber, and care for their young. Dens provided protection from the elements and were only big enough for one adult dog to turn around and lie down comfortably. It was dangerous for wild canine shelters to be larger than necessary because the extra space meant predators could squeeze in.

Today’s crates and kennels offer the same protection. And sure, these days, Little Fluffy isn’t dodging lions, tigers, and bears — but a small, private place to call home is still welcome.

Dog Crate Materials

Exceptions exist, but the overwhelming majority of dog crates are plastic, wood, soft fabric, or steel.

  • Plastic Dog Crates: These types almost always have a poly-blend plastic case with a steel door. Most are approved for air travel, but if you plan on flying your pup in a cargo hold, make sure the plastic is heavy-duty.
  • Steel Dog Crates: There are two types of steel dog crates: run-of-the-mill wire crates and heavy-duty bar crates. They’re not great for traveling, and many airlines don’t allow them. However, wire crates usually fold to a convenient size, making them easy to store and move from home to home.
  • Wood Dog Crates: Arguably, the most attractive dog crates are wood. These units frequently double as furniture and blend nicely into living room decors. For those with a healthy budget, a custom-made wood crate is a nice splurge.
  • Soft Dog Crates: Soft dog crates are super for traveling. For example, if you’ve secured permission to bring a small pet as a carry-on flight companion, a soft crate — also known as a mobile bed — is a must. They’re also great for camping or a day out at the park. But caveat emptor: if your dog is a chewer, opt for another material — or make sure the fabric is heavy-duty.

Our Criteria for Best Dog Crate

Not only does our team at A-Z Animals love animals but we are all mostly pet owners, as well, so we know the struggle of raising a pet and choosing the best products for them. Some of us have small dogs, making smaller and collapsible crates that double as carriers more practical in day-to-day life. We large dog owners, however, have a more difficult task of choosing a crate to keep in our homes and transport with us. Personally, a simple wire cage is best for my large, rough collie, and it remains pretty barren save for multiple chew toys (that he cannot destroy). It is important to crate train either at a young age or as soon as possible to give your pup that extra secure space for them to nap in or retire to when overwhelmed by the outside world. Some dogs may thrive in a luxuriously padded and furnished crate, while some might have not-so-great habits of chewing items or overheating with too much padding. Ultimately, it’s up to the owner to know their dog’s habits and personality and to determine what is best for the crate environment.

#1 Best Overall: Petmate’s Aspen Pet Traditional Kennel

At the top of our list is the Aspen Pet Traditional Kennel for its inclusivity, durability, and practicality. The kennel comes in three sizes — 20″, 24″, and 28″ — and weighs about 12 pounds. It’s made of the strongest plastic featuring a squeeze-latch door, handy when trying to load and unload your pet. For your pal’s comfort, the Aspen is engineered with 360-degree ventilation slots. For your sanity, the unit’s easy assemblage means not having to fumble around with tools. Plus, the Aspen comes with a handle and doubles as a travel crate, making it a great value option.

The Aspen Pet Traditional Kennel is our pick for best overall dog crate for several reasons:

  • Value: It’s under $100 yet durable and practical.
  • Versatile: The Aspen works as both a home and travel crate.
  • Easy: Not having to break out the toolbox is a bonus!
Best Overall
Aspen Pet Traditional Dog & Cat Kennel, Gray/Black

•Sturdy, versatile dog crate

•Doubles as travel carrier

•Multiple sizes for different breeds

•Easy assembly

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Best for Large Dogs: Pet Gear “The Other Door” Crate

For larger dogs, Pet Gear’s “The Other Door” Crate is our number one option. Equipped with four doors — including one on top — and rounded corners, this unit is convenient and safe. It’s made of steel and comes with both a bolster bed and carrying case. You don’t need tools to set it up or fold it down, and it fits dogs up to 90 pounds. Moreover, it’s one of the strongest dog crates we tested.

The colored material and aerodynamic edges make “The Other Door” more stylish than other options, and it’s sturdy enough to store some grooming tools on top. If you need to move it, no problem — this large dog crate has wheels.

“The Other Door” large dog crate made our list because:

  • Size: It’s roomy, measuring 42″ x 28″ x 28″.
  • Style: It’s better-looking than the majority of big dog crates.
  • Comfy: “The Other Door” comes with plush bedding.
Best Crate for Large Dogs
Pet Gear Wire Dog Crate & Fleece Pad

•Steel wire crate edged with a bumper

•Fleece mat included for comfort

•Stylish, roomy, functional, portable

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Best for Small Dogs: Casual Home’s Wood Pet Crate

Our pick for the best at-home crate for small dogs goes to Casual Home’s End Table. It’s part furniture and part pup crate. Unlike conventional side tables, which typically have a shelf or drawer, this end table features a door, 360-ventilation, and room for a doggy bed. The unit also ranks amongst the strongest options we tested.

We wouldn’t recommend Casual Home’s wood crate for larger dogs, but it’s a hit for smaller and medium-sized rascals. Also, be aware that depending on your budget, it may qualify as a splurge. On the other hand, for people living in smaller spaces with smaller dogs, the two-in-one aspect of Casual Home’s dog crate may render it a value purchase.

Some folks may consider this crate to be a kennel, but it made our list because it’s easily moved. It’s not conducive to vet visits, but it can be dragged from room to room — or rolled if you attach wheels.

This wood end table crate for small dogs made our list because:

  • Style: It’s camouflaged furniture!
  • Comfortable: There’s plenty of room for tiny dogs and cats. Add a blanket or pad, and your pup may not want to leave!
  • Value: You get both a crate and a piece of furniture for the price of one. That’s great for any budget!
Best Crate for Small Dogs
Casual Home Furniture Style Dog Crate

•Blends in with your home's aesthetic

•Easily accessed, part of the decor in home

•Multiple sizes and color options

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Best for Travel (Carry-On): Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier

Sleepypod landed on our test list as a vet recommended option. The slick-looking carrier fits pets up to 17.5 pounds and comes in a variety of colors. Since it can be zipped open from the top, getting your dog in and out is a lot easier than side-entry options.

The unit has a strap for over-the-shoulder carrying and a handle for toting. The strap is well padded for your comfort, and the pod is lined with comfy bedding for your pet’s comfort.

Designed for plane travel, the Sleepypod is soft and fits snugly under most airline seats — as is required for all carry-on pet paraphernalia.

What are the drawbacks? Admittedly, there are two. First, it’s not the most budget-friendly option. For its size, the Sleepypod qualifies as a splurge. Second, it only fits small dogs. But then again, large non-service dogs aren’t allowed in cabins anyway.

The Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier made our list as the best carry-on travel dog crate because:

  • Quality: It’s made with heavy duty, luggage-grade nylon.
  • Stylish: The half-moon shape and clean lines give it an ultra-sophisticated look.
  • Function: The full-range zippers and cozy bedding are well considered details that enhance product functionality.
Best Travel (Carry-On)
Sleepypod Air in-Cabin Pet Carrier

•Lightweight carrier best for traveling with small dogs

•Sits well in airline seats

•Comfortable bedding within for a relaxed trip

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Best Soft Dog Crate: Petsfit Travel Pet Home Indoor/Outdoor Crate

Petsfit’s soft dog crate is versatile and functional, making it our favorite choice of soft dog crate. For starters, the indoor-outdoor unit is large enough for most dogs. Secondly, it features two doors and a top opening, providing many ways to get your pup in and out. Plus, the two doors have roll-up shades.

Structurally, Petsfit’s soft pet crate is a steel frame covered with polyester mesh. You don’t need tools to put it together, and it easily folds down for travel.

We picked this model as the best soft dog crate because:

  • Function: We liked the roll-up shades and top opening option.
  • Budget: At under $100, it’s a lot of crate for the money.
  • Comfort: It comes with a washable bed pad for baby!
Best Soft Dog Crate
Petsfit Travel Collapsible Soft Dog Crate

•Versatile, soft dog crate

•Collapsible, good for indoors or outdoors

•Multi-door with shades

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Best for Puppy Training: MidWest iCrate Starter Kit

Crate training dogs early on in life is key, so we have chosen the MidWest iCrate Starter Kit as the best one for starting your pup out. Dangers await around every corner, and like human babies, puppies need supervision! “Doggie homes” provide a safe space to keep them sequestered when you’re busy and can’t supervise. Plus, puppies instinctively crave protected “dens” in which they can curl up and feel safe. Crates satisfy this urge. Also, since dogs prefer to keep their sleeping areas clean, crating helps puppies develop bladder muscles, making housebreaking much easier.

Our pick for the best puppy training crate is MidWest’s iCrate Starter Kit. It comes with a two-door steel iCrate, a dog bed, a crate cover, and two dog bowls that affix to one of the doors. Plus, it’s equipped with four roller wheels and easy on the floors.

MidWest’s iCrate puppy training crate fits pups up to 25 pounds and comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. It made our list because:

  • All-in-One Value: With all the accompanying accouterment, this iCrate is a budget pleaser.
  • Trust: The one-year warranty is a good-faith addition since most dogs only use their puppy crate for a year at most.
  • Function: It’s easy to assemble.
Best for Crate Training
MidWest iCrate Dog Crate Kit

•Budget-friendly crate kit

•Crate, cover, bowl holders, pad, rolling wheels included

•Multiple sizes for puppies to large dogs

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Most Affordable: MidWest Homes iCrate Dog Crate

Looking for a basic dog crate for your furry friend to have their own space? The MidWest iCrate is the perfect, rudimentary crate for beginners or for owners looking for something sweet and simple. Openings on the front and side of the crate allow easy access for your dog to go in/out of the crate and give owners options for placement of the crate itself. Slide-bolt latches provide a safe, sturdy way of enclosing pets within the crate while the carefully crated Paw Block bottom provides a stable, secure place for your pets to hangout while in their space. The crate is easily broken down for transportation or storage, making it easy to travel with or put away when necessary.

The MidWest iCrate is perfect for all stages of life, whether your dog is in potty training, younger years, or an older dog looking for solice, the iCrate allows effortless clean up and rearrangement. Coming in several sizes and door options, iCrate fits various breeds and temperaments. The basic nature of the crate’s structure allows personalization of the crate to fit your individual dog’s needs – whether that be an additional mat, crate cover, divider, and toys!

Most Affordable
MidWest iCrate Double Door Collapsible Wire Dog Crate

•Basic collapsing crate with double entrance

•No mess, paw-safe pan bottom

•Easily stored/transported

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Best Dog Crate Reviews Summary

After reading through our top choices for dog crates, the decision is up to you and heavily dependent on your pup’s personality, breed, size, and age. Below we have summarized our ranking of dog crates.

Best OverallPetmate’s Aspen Pet Traditional Kennel
Best for Large DogsPet Gear’s “The Other Door” Crate
Best for Small DogsCasual Home’s Wood Pet Crate
Best for TravelSleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier
Best Soft CratePetsfit Travel Pet Home Indoor/Outdoor Crate
Best Puppy TrainingMidWest iCrate Starter Kit
Most Affordable MidWest Homes iCrate Dog Crate

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About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Our Top Choices for the 6 Best Dog Crates FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What Is the Best Dog Crate To Buy?

The answer depends on multiple factors. Canines’ needs change over time, just like humans. Above, we’ve outlined our picks for the best dog crates in several categories.

What Kind of Crates Do Dogs Prefer?

Dogs have personalities and preferences. What works for Coco the toy poodle may be a nightmare for Sasha the Siberian husky. But generally speaking, all dog crates should have good ventilation and be roomy enough to snooze comfortably. And don’t forget the soft bedding! Think about it: would you enjoy sleeping with nothing between you and a steel, plastic, or wood floor?

Do Dogs Prefer Wire or Plastic Crates?

Some dogs prefer wire cages, and some love plastic ones. It depends on the dog, their size, their age, and the living or travel environment. When in doubt, go for the vet-recommended option.

What's the Difference Between a Dog Crate and a Dog Kennel?

In short, a dog crate is more portable than a kennel. The latter is typically a permanent structure; the former can easily be moved.

Is a Crate or Kennel Better?

Comparing crates and kennels is like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, they’re both pet products, but they serve slightly different purposes. Many folks with large dogs have both a kennel and a crate. People with smaller pups typically only need the latter.

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