How big should your dog crate be? Size matters!

How big should your dog crate be? Size matters!

When you read any crate training guide the first tip you will have is choosing the best dog crate size for your dog. Which I totally agree with since this is the most important step in your crate training program for your puppy.

So what makes the size of the dog crate so important that if you don’t get it right you can’t go through with the crate training?!

The easy answer is if your dog is not comfortable in his crate he will not be cooperative with the crate training.

The core idea of the crate training is to make the crate the perfect home for your dog to sleep and rest. So it will be reasonable for your dog to show resistance to being in the crate if the dog crate size is too small for him to stand, lay down and turn around.

Your next response to this will logically be; why don’t I just get the biggest crate I can put my hands on and give my dog plenty of space?

Well, it’s not that simple if the dog crate is too big it won’t work well with your crate training either.

This, of course, leads you to our next question.

What size should your dog crate be?

Not too big not too small! but how big should it be?

The dog crate size will entirely depend on the size of your dog. If you have a Chihuahua you’ll need a small crate probably one of the smallest. But if you have some huge dog you will have to get yourself a big crate. I would suggest “midwest homes for pets” they have the best crates and they have ones that can fit even the mighty Great-dane like this crate.

The idea is for the dog to be able to stand in it without directly touching the top of it. He also has to have enough room to fit him in all his length; so he doesn’t have to twist his neck to fit. And of course wide enough for him to turn around comfortably not just backing up.

The dog needs the crate to feel cozy enough to rest but also intimate so he can feel safe. The crate is the dog’s den so just like a regular den in nature, it’s a perfect fit.

If you are using bedding and a blanket in the crate you should take that into consideration. although it’s not recommended.

The dog’s perspective on space is quite different than ours so don’t choose a crate that is too big so you feel better about yourself.

This will lead us to our next question on the matter, because, a too-small crate for your dog will make him feel uncomfortable; But how is a crate that is too big for your dog is a bad thing for crate training.

Can a dog crate be too big?

Yes, a dog crate can be too big for the dog, and yes that is a bad thing for crate training.

Now, here is why; dogs especially puppies that are not potty trained yet or too young to control their bladder will make a potting area in the crate if it’s big enough.

When the dog crate size is too big for him he will make a den within the den using one corner to rest and the other for potting.

Young puppies often need to eliminate every few hours and will not hold it if they have enough room in the crate.

This will make the potting training take longer and so will the crate training. And this is also valid for older dogs, it’s not a puppy problem.

Dogs are fairly clean animals, meaning they will not eliminate where they sleep; However, if you confine them and give them enough space they will use it rather than wait for you to walk them out.

So just keep it simple your dog won’t feel better because the crate is larger, it has absolutely no impact.

Your dog will need time outside of the crate, of course, to play exercise and relax but he will enjoy his time in the crate if it’s a perfect size.

To have detailed information about how to make your dog love his crate you can read this explicit crate training guide.

How big should a dog crate be for sleeping?

The dog’s sleeping crate size is exactly the same as a regular crate, furthermore, you probably won’t need a sleeping crate and day crate.

There is nothing wrong with having two crates for your dog if it is more convenient for your house decor or you just can’t keep moving it around. You can check out this article about using two crates for one dog.

Anyway even if you choose to have two crates they should be the same size which is the perfect size for your dog.

Dogs don’t need too much space to sleep and will feel just fine in the crate. Furthermore, if it’s the right size the dog feels more secure and intimate than he would in a large open space. In this case, a crate cover is also a great bonus to limit outside distractions. you can check the prices for dog crates that fit the midwest crates here.

In addition to that, it may take you longer to take your dog out to eliminate during the night; So if there is too much space he will probably just do it in there.

And if you decide you need two crates one for sleeping and the other in the living area it is best to choose the same crate. Unless you have a decorative one for your living room or need a heavy-duty one for outdoors.

How do I choose the right crate for my dog?

Choosing the right crate for your dog is not just a matter of size. Size sure does matter the most but there are other factors.

You need to know what kind of dogs you have, some are more energetic than others. And some need more intimacy than the rest.

If your dog is a bit aggressive a soft crate is not the best option. So you want to take these factors into consideration before you choose one.

You also have to consider your home options perhaps you want one that fits your decor or one easy to handle and fold. Or if you take your dog for outdoor activities you may need one that’s easy to move around.

There are plenty of dog crates in different sizes and materials and the most common are these ones:

Wire crates

Wire crates are the most commonly used crates, they sure don’t look the best but they are the ones that could fit all your needs.

Pros

  • Wire crates are fairly solid and durable and they can resist even the large breeds of dogs. they sure won’t resist a super agitated dog or an aggressive one but they’ll do if your dog is calm enough.
  • They are easy to install and transport as they can be folded flat which is great for moving it around or storage.
  • Very easy to clean in fact the easiest of all crates, and the leak-proof pan is very helpfull for potting incidents.
  • Mostly has floor-protecting roller feet to keep it from scratching your home floor.
  • It has a divider that can be used for puppies to limit the space and adjust it as the dog gets larger so you only need one for your dog.
  • Some models have two doors which are very helpful in the early stages of crate training.
  • It has a cover that fits it perfectly so you can choose to leave it uncovered if your dog likes it and during the day. And to cover it in the night for more intimacy.

Cons

  • If your dog is the chewing kind and does bite on it he may get stuck, this is very rare but it did happen.
  • It’s not the best looking of the dog crates. if decor matters a lot it may not be the best option.

The wire crate is probably the best option for you if you want a regular crate that is easy to maintain and solid enough to last.

The one we recommend: check the actual price.

Why we recommend it:

  • This crate comes in many sizes and it has double doors so it gives more open space; which helps when introducing your dog to the crate. It also lets the dog get more air and view not to get bored.
  • It is fairly solid and durable unless your dog is some large and aggressive badass this will hold.
  • Very easy to clean and maintain and has no sharp edges that could harm the dog which is common in wire crates.
  • Comes with a divider so if you have a young puppy you won’t have to change crates or buy a larger one for him to grow into.
  • The overall price is very cheap and the manufacturer “midwest home for puppies” is a trusted and established one.
  • You can get the cover that fits it perfectly here.

Plastic crates

These are also very popular among dog owners, not as great as the wire ones if you want my opinion but they come with great advantages also.

Pros

  • This crate is better looking than the wire crate, not the best looking though.
  • It is great for car travel and outdoor activities and movement around the house.
  • It provides intimacy for the dog and helps calm him down in the night.
  • Fairly solid enough but not for strong aggressive dogs.
  • Most plastic crates fit airline travel cargo specifications, but not all so must check if you’re looking for a travel crate.
  • Plastic crates come with a detachable roof so it could be helpful for crate training in the beginning.
  • Most plastic crates are very affordable and pretty easy to assemble.

Cons

  • The most disappointing aspect of these plastic crates is that they are not provided in all sizes. Dogs like great dane or other large breeds will not probably have any plastic crates with the right size.
  • You have to double-check the size before making a purchase as it has slightly less usable space than provided.
  • Not very sturdy, it won’t hold if a strong enough dog starts jumping in it.

The one we recommend: check the actual price.

Why we recommend it :

  • This is actually the most reliable of the plastic crates out there, it is solid enough and can be enhanced.
  • easy to move around especially for smaller size crates.
  • It is easy to clean just a simple wet towel is enough to make it new again.
  • It costs a bit more than regular cheap plastic crates but it has a great return on investment.
  • The manufacturer is established and trustworthy; they have been manufacturing crates and pet products for 50 years.
  • It meets most airline cargo specifications. you may need to reinforce it with “Metal Fasteners Nuts Bolts” (to comply 100% with all airline requirements) that you can get here.

Soft-side crates

I am actually a big fan of the soft-side crates; since I crate train all my dogs I don’t really need some heavy-duty crate except for rescue dogs.

Pros

  • The soft-side crates are very nice looking. there are plenty of colors and thems options to choose from.
  • Very easy to set up and assemble, and also very lightweight.
  • For smaller dogs, there are actually some very good looking designs you can’t find in other crates. they even come with a very convenient shoulder handle to carry it around.
  • Surprisingly there are large breed models.
  • It comes with multiple doors and ventilation fabric for aeration.
  • The fabric is not as sturdy as the wire plastic or wooden crates but most Soft-side crates have fairly solid fabric.

Cons

  • This is definitely not the crate to start crate training as it is not strong enough and hard to clean in case of a potting incident.
  • Not the crate for dogs with separation anxiety as they will just tear it apart.
  • Gets dirty very easily so periodic maintenance is necessary.

The one we recommend: Check the actual price.

Why we recommend it:

  • Very easy to assemble with a very lightweight steel frame.
  • Also very easy to transport and great for the outdoors and road trips and especially great for RVs.
  • The fabric is solid enough for a calm dog but again these crates are no for agitated dogs with behavior issues.
  • The customer service is just amazing; I mean I’ve never seen vendors reach out to clients for eventual free change and help without them even asking, and for issues that are not directly related to the crate.
  • It has round corners to protect home furniture.
  • It is very comfortable and could be even better with a pet bed like this one.

Wooden crates

The wooden decorative crates are great for having your dog around and in the seem time keeping the home decor. They are very cool looking and could fit any home furniture you might have.

Pros

  • Obviously, the design as it passes for a side table and completes the interior decor of your home.
  • It is strong especially if you go for hardwood crates, and some have a great looking mix of wire and wood mixture.

Cons

  • These wooden crates are not the easiest to assemble and will need basic tools.
  • It can’t be used outdoors as it is made of wood.
  • Not the easiest to clean especially after potting incidents.
  • Most are heavy to move around.

The one we recommend: Check the actual price.

Why we recommend it:

  • The design is one of the best among wooden dog crates and could serve as a side table.
  • Its a mixture of wire and wood which makes it durable.
  • Very easy to assemble and the door nob is secure and not easy to open for a dog.
  • It has multiple doors which makes it very helpful for crate training a new puppy.
  • It gives a lot of open space for the dog to enjoy being around the family.
  • The MDF is relatively easy to clean and maintain compared to full hardwood crates.

Heavy-duty crates

The heavy-duty crates are the last resort for dog owners with aggressive dogs and dogs with separation anxieties.

Pros

  • They work great with aggressive dogs and most of them are chewing-proof.
  • Easy to clean and does not need much maintenance.
  • Very durable they have a great return on investment so it’s worth the extra dollars.

Cons

  • These crates are not the easiest to move around and sometimes very heavy.
  • It does look like a cage more than a crate and the designs are mostly not the best.
  • Very minimalistic on features and can’t be used for travel unless you have a small dog.
  • They often don’t offer much choice in size but that’s reasonable because small dogs are more likely to be just fine in a wire crate.

The one we recommend: Check the actual price.

Whey we recommend it:

  • It comes with wheels so it’s great for moving it around without damaging the floor.
  • The removable tray is great for cleaning up.
  • It’s very sturdy and solid and will keep even the most badass dogs.
  • It can even be used in the backyard and outdoor.

Travel crates

Travel crates are for the dog owners who need to travel with their dogs especially by plane, not all crates are authorized by the airline companies and some have very strict requirements.

Pros

  • Obviously, the fact that you can use them outdoors and for travel is a great option for outdoors lovers.
  • Most travel crates can be used as indoor crates as well so you don’t have to invest in two crates.
  • They are easy to move around and usually have facilities to carry around.
  • These crates are often available in all sizes for all breeds of dogs.

Cons

  • To be honest, there isn’t much to complain about for travel crates they cover all the cons of the other crates, depending on the crate you choose of course. All in all travel crates are a great option not only for travel but indoors also.

The one we recommend: Check the actual price.

Why we recommend it:

  • Mostly travel crates are a great option, we choose this one because it has all the pros of the other crates and none of the cons.
  • It does look good as any regular plastic crate, not the best but not hideous.
  • Strong enough for a regular dog even strong ones if not very agitated.
  • Very easy to move around with the wheels that can be removed easily.
  • It comes with two handles for heavy dogs for easier handling.
  • It has the metal bolts and nuts required by all airline companies.
  • Comes with water dishes included that stick to the door.
  • The top can be removed for early introductions to the crate training.

Underground crate

This is actually not a dog crate but more like a backyard dog den if your dog likes the outdoors but also wants a private place to be when he wants.

This is not for all dogs and can’t be used for large dogs or even for the smallest breeds(they may struggle to get out).

However, it’s a nice option for some dogs and a cool den for the dog so why not. However, the dog crate size for this one is a must check before you buy it.

You can check the actual price here.

Measuring your dog for a crate

Before you choose a crate you must measure your dog yourself and do not rely on the manufacturer’s charts.

Dogs within the same breed can vary in size so much that one crate could not work for both.

In order to choose the perfect dog crate size, measure your dog according to the charts we provide bellow.

And when measuring it is better if you use a string, the tape measure can be difficult to use with a dog. then you can measure the string.

Before you start you need to have your animal in the natural standing position for the measures to be accurate.

You also need to know that you have four measurements to make as demonstrated in the picture below.

Measuring your dog for a crate
Measuring your dog for a crate
AThe length of the animal from the tip of the nose to the base/root of the tail.
BThe height of the animal from the ground to the elbow joint.
CThe width across shoulders or the widest point (whichever is the greater)
DThe height of the animal in a natural standing position from the top of the head or the ear tip to the floor(whichever is higher).

Now that you have the four necessary measurements for the crate all you need to do is apply this formula.

The crate length   A + ½ B 
The crate widthC x 2
The crate height D

The snub-nosed breeds require 10% larger crates.

You have to be aware that these measurements are for the dog crate size from the inside. Meaning you have to check the measurements that are displayed by the manufacturer and make sure it’s the usable part of the crate.

You should not rely on the weight of the dog only when choosing the crate size for your dog. Different breeds can have different proportions between size and weight.

Puppy crate size

The dog crate size matters a lot and as we explained during this article you can’t have a dog crate that is too big or too small.

The question now is what to do in the case of a puppy; as puppies will keep growing fast and you can’t just change crates every month. At the same time, you are bound by the perfect size crate criteria so what to do?

This is why I actually love wire crates as most of them come with a separation panel; a divider that helps you limit the crate space adequately to your puppies size and keep adjusting it as he grows.

Wire crates are generally the best for crate training a puppy with all the open space and at the same time, you can just add the crate cover and have more intimacy.

This is the wire crate we recommended earlier it comes with the separation panel and you can have a crate cover that fits it.

Crate size for travel

The dog’s crate size for travel is exactly the same as a regular crate; in fact, there are plenty of travel crates that can be used both for travel and indoors like the one we recommended earlier in the travel crates section.

The measurement method we provided earlier is in compliance with IATA guidance. Source.

Conclusion

No matter what type of crate you choose, size is what matters the most and can have a huge impact on the crate training of your dog.

Make sure you follow the simple measuring method we provided and don’t rely on the manufacturer’s information.

You have a large choice when it comes to the crate material so make sure you know your dog’s needs. And check out the comparison review we provided to decide what’s best for your dog.

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