How We Tested the Dog Crates
We tested 20 dog crates in The Lab in Industry City, Brooklyn. After setting up each crate, we conducted multiple strength tests on the crates to rate their durability. We asked each tester to place a 25- and 10-pound sandbag inside the dog crate and then apply 40 pounds of pulling pressure onto the door of the crate with a luggage scale. Testers then rated (out of 5) the crates on whether the door popped open, warped, or broke from the pressure of the scale. We also asked testers to throw a 25-pound sandbag at the side of each crate (this test was skipped for soft-sided crates) and rate its appearance and durability after the impact of the sandbag.
In addition to these strength tests, our testers also made judgments on each crate’s overall appearance, ease of use, and ease of cleaning. We also asked our testers to consider which categories or scenarios each crate would be best suited for and, finally, asked them to consider the crate’s overall value.
What to Look for in Dog Crates
Safety is arguably the most important factor to consider when purchasing a dog crate, but the level of safety depends on the life stage and temperament of your pup. For example, a wooden crate might be safe for more mellow dogs who don’t chew, but those with puppies or chewers will want to avoid this type.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to make sure that the crate has a stable frame that won’t flip over or let your dog escape. Wire mesh options can pose more safety concerns, so you’ll want to go for a durable, high-gauge metal option. This will minimize any possible injuries, like getting paws stuck in the wire or breaking out of the crate entirely, and give you greater peace of mind. Plastic options generally come with fewer safety risks, but you’ll still want to make sure that the crate is chew-resistant, with no detachable pieces that can be swallowed or eaten.
The ideal crate size allows your pup to fully stand up and lie down, with room to stretch to his full body length without being constrained. But dogs still like a den-like experience, so make sure that the crate isn’t too big (for example, a smaller breed shouldn’t be housed in a crate intended for larger breeds).
So, when shopping for a crate, you’ll want to consult a dog crate size chart, considering your dog’s shape and size. Those with puppies might opt for a crate that comes with divider panels, which allow the crate to grow with your pooch (and also come in handy for training).
Apart from practical design elements like a removable tray—more on that below—you’ll also want to consider the overall look of your potential crate. Your dog’s crate is most likely something you and your family will be seeing often, after all.
While a traditional wire mesh crate is neutral enough, if you’re looking for something that will either blend in or stand out a bit more, there are plenty of options. Those with wooden furniture might opt for a wooden crate, which is perfectly suited for the living room area (though those with puppies or chewers should opt for a more durable option). And if you want something a bit more Instagram-worthy, opt for something like the Diggs Revol Dog Crate, which is just as practical as it is easy on the eyes.
Dividers are a great way for your crate to grow with your dog, reducing the need to buy a new crate several times a year. As your puppy grows, you can adjust the amount of living space to suit her needs. Additionally, if you have two dogs that don’t get along, you can use a divider to split up their crate. Just make sure that each pup has enough space to do its thing.
Ideally, your pup won’t be in a crate long enough to have to “do their business.” But accidents again, and when they do, you’ll be glad to have a tray that you can remove for cleaning. Luckily, most crates come with this feature; if not, you can purchase a separate fabric pad that will absorb any urine or other messes.
Casters can prove super useful for at-home crate use, as they allow you to more easily move your pup’s crate from one room to another. This is particularly great for puppies; when they’re still young and potty training, you can keep the crate in your bedroom or hallway (as you would a baby), and as they get older, you can move it to your living room or kitchen area. Just make sure to lock the casters in place every time to minimize accidents or tip-overs.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets?
This article was originally written by dog expert Christina Donnelly, who is a writer and animal welfare advocate. When researching products to add to this article, we read dozens of customer and third-party-site reviews, keeping safety, style, and comfort in mind.
Emma Phelps, an updates writer for The Spruce, offered additional assistance in updating this article with our latest testing insights from The Lab. After reviewing our testers’ feedback on all 20 crates that were tested, Phelps and senior editors compiled the final list of crates in this roundup. She then converted our testing insights into digestible product descriptions to inform readers about the user experience with each crate and its overall value.