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How Big Should a Dog Crate Be? The Ultimate Guide

Just got yourself a new addition to the family? Congratulations!

Dog crates are a great way to give your new puppy a safe haven when they're feeling nervous or anxious. It can also be a useful tool in potty training your dog and doubling up as a secure way to take them with you traveling.

But the number of choices out there can be overwhelming.

How big should a dog crate be? Do I need a smaller or bigger crate? Should I put a bed in my dog's crate? These are just some of the most popular questions asked about dog crates.

The type of crate that you choose will depend on the size of your dog, how it will be used, and the area where the crate will be kept. To help you find the perfect crate for your four-legged companion, we have put together the ultimate guide on dog crates.

Areas the guide will cover include measuring your dog, types of dog crates, and ways to make it more comfortable.

Read on to find out more!

Uses of Dog Crates

Generally, crates can be used as a "den" to give your canine a quiet place to rest if they're feeling shy. Nervous puppies can find it beneficial from having a secure hideout, especially in new environments or from loud fireworks.

It also makes a comfortable bed for adult dogs to rest, similar to how their ancestors would have lived in the wild.

Crates can be used as a training tool to aid potty training and managing your dog's behavior around visitors (i.e. getting overly excited and jumping on people).

Other uses include a place for your dog to recover after surgery, and to keep your dog feeling comfortable when traveling.

Measuring Your Dog for the Correct Crate Size

You can find out the recommended crate sizes according to breed from this comprehensive dog crate size chart. Keep in mind, that your dog might not follow the standard sizing for its breed.

What if your dog is not a specific breed? Sometimes it might not be clear and this makes it hard to know how big your dog will grow.

To measure your dog try the following:

  • For the length of the dog crate, we recommend that you measure your dog from the nose to the base of its tail
  • To calculate the height of the crate, make sure your dog is in a sitting position. Then measure your dog from the top of the head to the floor
  • Now add 3 to 4 inches extra to both the height and the length to find out the best size for your crate 

Always check with the manufacturer of the dog crate to find out the weight limit. You can weigh your dog by standing on a digital weighing scale and picking up your dog for an accurate measurement.

Types of Dog Crates

There is a whole range of dog crates to choose from, suitable for all types of activities. Some dog owners like to have a few different crates, one for the home and one for the road.

If you're unsure of what type of dog crate to choose, then consider thinking about how you intend to use the dog crate and your dog's personality.

There are generally five main types of dog crates:

Metal Wired Crates

Well ventilated and one of the most popular types of crates. Metal crates come in a variety of dog crate sizes making them suitable for both small and big dogs. They are affordable and easily flat-packed if you need to store them away.

Combining soft bedding, a selection of toys, and a cozy cover will transform a metal wired crate into a den your dog will love being inside of.

Soft Mesh Crates

Soft mesh crates are generally made of a wireframe covered in material and mesh fabric panels on the sides. Its low price point and lightweight features make it a good choice for owners that are looking for something more portable.

Plastic Crates

If you're looking for a more sturdy option, plastic crates are a durable classic that's lighter than a metal crate. They're easy to clean, and often the go-to crates for short trips.

The narrower gaps on the crate also give your dog some privacy and shelter from the weather.

Wooden Crates

Wooden-built crates are considered the best-looking dog types of crates and are recommended for home use only. Wooden crates can be very heavy and difficult to take apart once put together, this makes them hard to move around.

But if you're looking for a beautiful dog crate that's comfortable and fits in nicely with the home decor, then choose a wooden one.

Hybrid Crates

Made from a combination of plastic and metal, the hybrid crates also have wheels that make them easy to move around.

Slightly lighter than a full metal crate, the hybrid crates collapse easily making these a good travel crate for your puppy.

Choosing the Right Crate

Choosing the right dog crate size will ensure that your dog can move around comfortably, and view the crate as his own private safe space.

Not only will a space that's too small be uncomfortable for your puppy, but a cramped dog will not be a happy one!

Making sure your puppy has enough space whilst growing is important, as a confined space will affect your puppy's health.

So which should you choose? A big dog crate or a small size dog crate?

For puppies that still have some growing to do, we recommend choosing a crate that's big enough for them once they reach adult size. Choosing a crate that will grow with your dog will save you the extra expense of swapping for a new one later on.

For fully grown dogs, we recommend a crate that has at least 3-4 inches of space above and surrounding - this allows your dog plenty of room to move around.

Making the Crate More Comfortable

Once you've chosen a dog crate, now it's time to make it a cozy place for your puppy or dog to snuggle inside. Making the crate look and feel inviting, will encourage your dog to explore and eventually grow to love their new den.

The first thing is to find a good place to put the crate. Keep the den away from areas that get too much sunlight or places that get cold and breezy.

Ideally, choosing an area where the family spends a lot of time, will keep your dog from feeling isolated.

Here are some essential items to turn your dog crate into a homely hideout:

  • A comfy dog bed
  • For puppies, add plenty of soft bedding
  • Water bowl to keep your dog hydrated
  • A cover for more anxious dogs that need some privacy
  • A selection of fun chew toys to keep them entertained and calm

How Big Should a Dog Crate Be and Can It Be Too Big?

If you choose an adult-sized dog crate for your puppy to grow into, it's best to initially divide the space using a large box.

The reason for this is to avoid your puppy from learning bad habits. They may start relieving themselves on one side of the crate and continue sleeping on the other side.

Generally, dogs do not like to potty where they sleep. Limiting the space to a comfortable size is recommended to avoid any smelly surprises.

Not a fan of DIY? Then look into dog crates that are designed specifically for growing dogs. These normally come with special inbuilt panels that divide the space.

Just remember to calculate your puppy's full-grown size before choosing a larger dog crate.

For adult dogs, it can be tempting to give them a big cage to roam around, but this can actually cause more anxiety.

Dogs in the wild choose dens with just enough space to rest comfortably, as large spaces can leave them vulnerable to predators.

If you have a fully grown dog, follow the measuring guide section to find the ideal size for your crate.

What a Dog Crate Shouldn't Be

A dog crate should not be used for punishing or confining your dog for long periods.

Once crate trained, your dog should have a positive attachment to their new den, seeing it as a safe retreat and a place of rest. If they're feeling stressed inside the crate, then forcing them to stay there will only make matters worse.

So how big should a dog crate be? As long as your dog can get up, turn around, and lie down in the crate, then you can't go too far wrong.

If you're read through this post and are ready to purchase a crate for your dog, check out our chew resistant crate pad with a 200-day guarantee