Types of Dog Crates – Metal, Wire, Plastic, Wood & More

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There are many types of dog crates that serve different purposes, depending on what you want the crate to achieve for you and your canine companion.

What’s the best type of crate for potty training a puppy? Are soft crates good for traveling with your dog? How can you choose a dog crate that suits your home decor scheme? And, are there special crates for Houdini dogs?

Read this guide to learn about the different types of dog crates and find out what’s the best choice for your furry friend.

What Are The Different Types Of Dog Crates

Types of Dog Crates

There are several different types of dog crates to choose from, depending on what you want the crate for.

1. Wire Dog Crates

Wire dog crates are probably the most popular choice of crates for puppies and adult dogs, being versatile, relatively cheap to buy, collapsible, and easy to store and transport.

Wire crates are made from metal mesh, and they come in a wide range of sizes to suit most dog breeds, from tiny toy dogs, such as Chihuahuas to extra large pups, such as Great Danes.

What’s Good About Wire Dog Crates?

There are plenty of good points for pet parents about wire dog crates, and that’s why these crates are a perennial favorite.

  • Wire dog crates give your dog excellent ventilation and provide both you and your dog with excellent visibility. That’s essential for flat-faced dogs that can struggle to breathe in a crate that doesn’t offer good airflow, and for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety.
  • Wire crates are usually easily collapsible and foldable for easy portability and convenient storage.
  • Wire crates are generally reasonably-priced, making them a popular choice for dog owners on a budget.
  • To make a wire crate smaller for crate training and potty training and to accommodate a growing puppy, you can fit movable crate dividers.
  • Wire crates generally have a removable plastic waste tray for easy cleanup.
  • Wire mesh dog crates don’t absorb odors and they don’t stain.
  • Wire crates are sturdy and durable.

Downsides Of Wire Crates

Wire crates also have a few negatives:

  •  Large wire dog crates are pretty heavy and cumbersome to transport.
  • A wire crate is not aesthetically pleasing, although you can fit a crate cover to help the crate blend in with your home decor if necessary.
  • Wire crates can be noisy at night, rattling when a dog moves around inside. That’s potentially a problem for you if you want to keep your puppy’s crate in your bedroom or home office.
  • A determined escape artist pup can often barge his way out of a wire mesh crate unless you take steps to make the crate more secure.

All-in-all, wire dog crates are a good choice for potty training a puppy or adult dog, and if you want an affordable crate that you can store out of sight when it’s not in use.

2. Metal Dog Crates

A heavy-duty metal dog crate option could be a good choice for puppies that tend to chew, as this kind of heavy-duty crate is virtually indestructible. These crates are similar to wire dog crates, although they are typically made from sturdier metal bars. 

What’s Good About Metal Dog Crates?

Metal heavy-duty dog crates have similar advantages to wire crates, plus:

  • Heavy-duty metal dog crates are ideal for large, heavy dogs that regularly escape from flimsier crates.
  • Houdini hounds can’t escape from a heavy-duty metal crate thanks to reinforced joints and strong latches.
  • If your dog likes to have a good view of his family and the world around him, metal and wire mesh crates provide an excellent 360-degree viewpoint for you and your pet.
  • Sturdy metal crates can make a good chew-proof crate for teething puppies.

Disadvantages of metal dog crates

  • Again, metal wire crates have similar downsides to wire mesh crates.
  • Although most metal dog crates can be disassembled relatively easily, they tend to be very heavy. That’s a problem for owners who like to take their dog’s crate with them when on vacation or for use as a travel crate on road trips.
  • Sometimes, loose dog hair and general muck can become stuck in the cage bars, making the crate smelly and a hassle to clean. Also, if you use the crate outside your home or in the back of a pickup for transporting your dog, the metal can corrode or even become rusty over time.

3. Soft-Sided Dog Crates

Soft-sided dog crates are made from fabric, often supported by a steel tube frame. Generally, soft-sided, fabric dog crates are best for small to medium-sized dogs.

If you want a comfortable crate for your dog, a soft-sided crate could be a good choice. Fabric dog crates can be made to resemble a cozy, den-like environment, a carrying case, or even a backpack.

You can use soft-sided dog crates for securely transporting your canine companion in comfort in your vehicle or on public transport. That said, for air travel, you generally need an airline-approved plastic kennel, unless you’re planning on taking your dog on board with you as cabin baggage, in which case a fabric crate might be acceptable.

Advantages Of Soft-Sided Crates

Fabric dog crates have the following advantages:

  • Fabric crates are lightweight and often collapsible, making them easy to transport and store.
  • Dogs like spending time in a soft-sided crate, as they enjoy the cozy, comforting vibe these kinds of crates provide.
  • Most soft-sided dog crates are machine washable for easy cleaning.
  • Soft-sided dog crates usually have good ventilation provided by mesh windows and doors.
  • Soft-sided crates can have multiple doors, which is handy if you need to get to your pet in an emergency.

Disadvantages Of Soft-Sided Dog Crates

Disadvantages of fabric dog crates include:

  • Fabric crates are not suitable for dogs that scratch or chew.
  • Soft-sided crates are not practical for big dogs that need a larger crate size.
  • Most fabric crates don’t come with a crate divider, making this kind of crate unsuitable for potty training puppies.
  • Soft-sided pet crates tend not to last very long, as they are not as durable as metal or plastic crates.

Soft-sided crates can have multiple doors, which is handy if you need to get to your pet in an emergency.

4. Plastic Dog Crates

Plastic dog crates are essentially rigid plastic boxes, generally with a front door for entry and exit. Some designs incorporate a top-loading hatch, too.

These dog crates are practical, durable crates that most people use as travel carriers for their pets. In particular, most airlines insist on an approved plastic crate for traveling pets in airplane holds.

Advantages Of Plastic Dog Crates

There are many advantages to using plastic dog crates, including:

  •  Plastic crates are sturdy, robust, and long-lasting.
  • Plastic crates are very easy to clean; simply wash the crate inside and out with warm water and soap.
  • Plastic crates don’t need a crate cover, providing your dog with plenty of privacy and a den-like experience without the need to cover the crate.
  • Plastic crates are safe for traveling with your pet in a car. Also, most airlines approve plastic crates for use in the hold or cabin if placed securely under your seat. However, we recommend that you check with your carrier before you head to the airport with your dog.
  • Thanks to the limited visibility they provide, plastic crates can be good for keeping an excitable, reactive dog calm.
  • A plastic crate is generally less expensive than a metal mesh travel crate.

What’s Not So Good About Plastic Travel Crates?

Plastic dog crates do have a few downsides, including:

  • A plastic dog crate is not especially attractive. That said, most dog owners only use plastic crates for transporting their dog to the groomer, vet clinic, or on vacation, etc. The crate is mostly put away out of sight, so its looks are not a priority for most people.
  • Plastic crates do not offer especially good ventilation, especially for brachycephalic dog breeds. So, although these crates are fine for use over short periods, they are not suitable for long-term confinement, especially in warm or humid weather.
  • Plastic crates do not fold down, making them much more challenging to store and carry around.
  • Although durable, plastic crates can easily be damaged by a determined chewer and are not the best choice for a destructive puppy.
  • Unfortunately, plastic tends to absorb odors and can develop a permanent doggy smell after a while.
  • You can’t use a crate divider in a plastic dog crate, so this kind of crate is not considered ideal for potty training puppies.

Plastic dog crates generally have a front door opening and often incorporate an emergency access hatch in the crate top. That’s important for traveling with your pet and makes it easier for a veterinary surgeon to get to your pet during routine veterinary visits.

5. Furniture And Decorative Dog Crates

Wooden crates are often designed to function as decorative, functional pieces of furniture, such as end tables, media consoles, and even nightstands, as well as providing a refuge for your dog.

These combination dog crates can make an attractive, practical addition to your home and are the most aesthetically pleasing of all the crates available to the pet parent. A wooden crate is not usually intended to be moved often, and most owners have an alternative less roomy crate that they use for travel purposes. 

Advantages Of Furniture Crates

  • The main advantage of rattan or wooden dog crate is that you can use it as an attractive piece of furniture in your home. These crates can be an excellent option for space-saving if you live in a small home or apartment where a regular crate would take up valuable room.
  • These furniture crates are available in lots of different styles, making it easy to pick one that fits well with your interior decor scheme. You can also find some wooden crates that are stackable, which is handy if you have more than one dog to cater to.
  • A wooden crate can make a wonderful, secluded den for your dog while allowing your pet to relax in privacy surrounded by his family.

Downsides Of Furniture Crates

  • Wooden furniture dog crates have a few disadvantages.
  • First of all, wooden crates tend to be much more expensive than metal, fabric, or plastic ones. These crates tend not to be collapsible, making them impractical for travel and difficult to store when not in use.
  • You can’t usually use crate dividers with a furniture crate, depending on the style. Wood tends to retain odors and stains, and it’s also very vulnerable to damage by scratching and chewing. That makes furniture crates unsuitable for puppies or very destructive dogs.
  • If your dog finds it difficult to settle and sleep, a piece of furniture that’s kept in a main living area with heavy foot traffic, a TV, and general family hustle and bustle might not the ideal choice of crate.
  • Finally, wooden dog crates tend to be poorly ventilated when compared with wire mesh crates.

Combination Dog Crates

As the name suggests, combination dog crates are designed to be multifunctional. Combo crates are usually made from both plastic and wire mesh.

For example, the Diggs Revol crate can be used as a regular daytime crate, and the crate is also lightweight enough to be used for travel. This particular crate comes with a puppy divider and detachable wheels, making it easy to move around. The Revol is fully collapsible, too, for space-saving storage when not in use.

What Size Crate Do You Need?

MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate Double Door

So, now you know what crates are out there on the market, you have a clearer idea of what style suits your requirements.

However, no matter which one of the types of crates you decide to go for, you must ensure you choose the right size crate for your dog. 

So, how do you choose the right size crate for your pet?

Basically, your dog should be able to:

  • Stand up without bumping his ears or head on the roof of the crate
  • Sit up without his ears or head touching the top of the crate
  • Lay down flat without his toes getting caught in the wire mesh or scraping against the side of a wooden, fabric, or plastic crate
  • Turn around without getting stuck or bumping into the crate sides

That’s just a general rule of thumb. You can measure your pet more accurately by using the following guide:

  1. Measure your dog from the base of his tail to the tip of his nose. Add 2 to 4 inches onto that figure. That gives you the ideal length of the crate.
  2. Now, have your dog stand upright and square, and measure your pet from his paw to the highest point of his head. Add 2 to 4 inches onto that figure. That gives you the ideal height of the crate.

Most crates are a standard width

Many manufacturers provide the precise dimensions for their crates rather than simply stating that the crates are small, medium, large, or extra-large.

Here’s a handy chart to help you choose the correct size crate for your dog:

Extra small dogs (e.g., Chihuahua)18″ to 22″
Small dogs (e.g., Terriers)24″
Medium dog breeds (e.g., Mini Goldendoodles)30″
Large dog breeds (e.g., Labrador retriever)36″
Extra-large dogs (e.g., German Shepherd)42″
Giant dog breeds (e.g., Great Dane, Mastiff)46″ to 72″

Of course, if you’re not sure that size crate to buy for your canine companion, ask the manufacturer or pet store assistant for advice.

Avoid Upsizing!

MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate

High-quality dog crates are generally not a cheap purchase, so you don’t want to have to upsize the crate multiple times to keep up with your puppy’s growth spurts.

So, if you have a puppy, we recommend that you choose a wire mesh or metal dog crate that can accommodate a crate divider. Some crates come with dividers included as part of the package, but you can generally buy a generic divider that will fit your crate.

If you decide to take this route, choose a dog crate that’s the correct size for your dog when he’s fully grown. Use the divider to modify the crate size to accommodate potty training, moving the divider as your puppy grows. Once your pup is completely toilet trained and crate trained, you can remove the divider altogether.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed our guide to the different types of crates that you can choose for your dog. If you found the article helpful, please share it!

There are several different kinds of dog crates that you can choose from, ranging from metal mesh crates to soft-sided fabric crates, plastic travel kennels, and even wooden furniture crates. The kind of crate you go for depends on your requirements, your dog’s personality and age, and your financial budget. However, you must always choose the right size of crate for your pet. 

What kind of dog crate did you go for? Tell us in the comments box below.

Meet our writer

Alison Page was brought up with dogs and various other pets! For a few years, Alison worked as a Practice Manager in a small animal veterinary clinic. Alison is now a full-time writer, specializing in creating articles on the care and training of dogs, cats, and fish.

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