Photo Credit: AxsDeny via Flickr CC2.0

Your dog’s crate is his home within a home. It’s a safe space for resting, training, and more. The right crate for your dog helps provide a lifetime of physical and mental benefits.

While you’ll find no shortage of options, selecting the best choice for your specific dog can feel confusing. The crate must meet particular criteria related to his breed, temperament, size, and many other factors.

Here’s a closer look at how to choose a dog crate you and your furry friend will love. Read on to learn about types of crates, dog crate sizes, crate training, and everything else you need to know.

Finding the Right Size

Size is the most crucial aspect of a crate. Use the Goldilocks rule. The crate can’t be too big or too small. Instead, it has to fit just right.

If the crate’s too big, your dog won’t feel comfortable and secure. Plus, he’ll likely use one corner of the crate as a bathroom. However, your dog will feel cramped and confined if he’s in a cage that’s too small. 

A properly-sized crate lets your dog:

Naturally, the size of your dog determines the size of the crate needed. Here’s what you need to know about measuring your dog:

Measuring Your Dog for a Crate

Your dog’s size is influenced by a wide range of factors, including age, breed, gender, and more. As your dog grows, you’ll want to take regular measurements to ensure his crate remains appropriately sized.

To size a crate, you need your dog’s height and length. You don’t need to measure the width, because it’s proportional to height and length. 

If your dog struggles to stand still for long periods, use a wall to help. Place her against a wall. Next, mark the appropriate measurement on the wall with chalk or pencil. It’s easier to measure the mark on the wall than to hold a tape measure against a moving dog.

Measuring Height

Measuring height is easy if your dog already knows how to sit. If he’s younger and struggles to stay still, treats can help distract him.  

While your dog is sitting, measure from the floor up to the tallest point on your dog’s ears. If your dog has erect ears, be sure to measure to the tip. After all, he’ll feel uncomfortable if his ears press into the top of his crate.

Measuring Length

Next, you need to measure the length of your dog. To collect accurate measurements, ensure your dog is standing on all four paws. Measure the dog’s entire length from nose tip to tail base.

Use your best judgment regarding your dog’s tail. If your dog has a long tail, it can bang against the crate. If you consider the entire length of the tail when measuring, you’ll end up with a crate that’s too big.

If your dog has a short tail, you probably don’t need to measure it. However, if his tail is long, you do want to take that into consideration when measuring. 

How Measurements Relate to Cage Size

“What size crate for my dog is best?” It’s the most common question pet parents have about dog crates. Now that you’ve gathered up your dog’s measurements, let’s take a look at different dog crate sizes.

If your dog is a small breed:

If your dog is a large breed:

This formula will determine the minimum crate size for your dog. It’s okay to go a few inches larger, especially if your dog has a long tail. However, be careful not to add too many extra inches. As discussed above, if the crate is too large, your dog likely won’t feel comfortable (and might go to the bathroom in the crate).

When Should You Buy a Crate?

Your dog should always have a crate available. They’re especially useful during the puppy stage as a toilet training aid. Also, young dogs have a need for a quiet space away from the big, new world.

However, as we determined above, the size of your dog determines the size of the dog crate. A crate suitable for a puppy will likely become too small as he grows.

Unfortunately, if you have a puppy, you’ll almost certainly need to buy multiple new crates during his life. But the good news is there are a few ways to save:

Don’t Spend Big on Puppy Crates

First, don’t spend a ton on a crate for your puppy. As long as it’s appropriately sized and safe, you don’t need a stylish crate packed with features. Most dogs reach their adult size between six and 24 months, with smaller breeds reaching their full size quicker than larger breeds.

Consider a Resizable Crate

If you have a small breed dog, you can probably get by with two crates – one during puppyhood and another for his adult dog size. However, large dogs are different. They’ll likely spend more time in different size stages, so just two crates might not work.

A resizable crate is often an effective option. It uses a divider to create a temporary interior wall, reducing the size. Most dividers are made from wire or wood.

Your best option is finding a crate that includes a divider, as that ensures the best fit. However, you can also buy a divider separately for an existing crate. If you’re trying to add a divider to a crate that didn’t come with one, you’ll usually have an easier time finding the right fit if both the crate and divider are made from wire.

Dog Crates by Breed

You always want to measure your dog precisely to buy a crate that fits his exact size. However, it’s often helpful to consult some general sizing guidelines for dog breeds.

While not a substitute for exact measurements, these recommendations for dog crate sizes from the Association for Professional Dog Trainers can help make sure you’re on the right track:

18″ by 18″ and 18″ by 24″ Crates

These small options are best for dogs under thirty pounds, such as chihuahuas and Japanese chins.

24″ by 18″ and 24″ by 24″ Crates

The next size up is suitable for dogs between 30 and 38 pounds. They’re ideal for Yorkshire terriers, Shih Tzus, French Bulldogs, and similar small-to-medium dogs.

30″ by 24″, 30″ by 30″ and 30″ by 36″

These cages generally fit dogs that range between 40 and 60 pounds. Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, and Welsh Corgis typically fit into these crates comfortably.

42″ by 30″, 42″ by 36″, 48″ by 24″, and 48″ by 30″

These crates generally suit most dogs between 80 and 100 pounds. Some dog breeds that fit well into these crates include Boxers, Alaskan Malamutes, and American Bulldogs. 

48″ by 36″ 

This size crate is ideal for dogs that weigh around 100 pounds. Bloodhounds, most German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Greyhounds, some Siberian Huskies, and many Standard Poodles fit comfortably into a 48″ by 36″ crate. 

60″ by 36″ and 72″ by 36″ Crates

These large crates fit breeds that weigh between 100 and 180 pounds, such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Siberian Huskies, and Newfoundlands. They’re big crates for big dog breeds.  

You’ll notice some overlap between dog breeds across these crates. The difference usually depends on tail size and crate comfort level. If your dog seems to straddle two sizes, you’ll usually want to choose the larger crate. 

Types of Dog Crates

You’ll find a variety of different dog types. No one kind is absolutely the best for all situations. Instead, they each have pros and cons. Here’s a closer look at each type:

Metal Wire

Photo Credit: mylifeforsale via Flickr CC2.0

Metal wire crates are probably the most popular. They’re made from metal wire (obviously), with a latching door in front and sometimes a bigger door on its side.

Most metal wire crates have collapsible construction that allows them to fold down flat for storage. They’re also usually the easiest type to use with a divider.

A metal dog crate is ideal for a curious dog who wants to see his surroundings when crated. Additionally, a metal dog crate is the best choice for use in hot temperatures, because the open wire allows for substantial ventilation.

On the downside, their openness can decrease the dog’s feelings of comfort. Plus, they don’t provide much protection against cold temperatures. Finally, they’re usually heavy and awkward to carry, even when folded.


Photo Credit: emeth via Flickr CC2.0

Crates made from lightweight but durable plastic are another option. Although ventilated, they’re also opaque, which can provide a greater sense of security and comfort for dogs who want a safe space.

Plastic dog crates are great for both home and travel use. You can buy accessories that let you clip the crate into your car’s seat belt system for safe road travel. Additionally, plastic crates are the only type allowed on airplanes.

On the downside, they do require more storage space than a wire crate. Also, not every dog likes limited visibility.


These crates have a soft, synthetic exterior. They provide shade, ventilation, and shelter. When not in use, they fold down flat for easy portability.

On the downside, they’re not as durable as the other types. Instead, they’re best as a shelter for older, calm dogs. They’re mainly useful for a day trip or other outdoor excursion rather than full-time use at home.


Your dog’s crate is his special safe spot to rest and relax. Starting when he’s a puppy, you want to teach your dog to feel comfortable in his crate. It’s a useful house training tool, too.

Use the guide above to measure your dog and select the right size crate for your furry friend. The right crate helps boost your dog’s physical, mental, and emotional health for life.