Buying a Dog Crate? 2 Tips to Get the PERFECT Size

A crate is so much more than just a housetraining tool. It’s a cozy home for your dog to escape to when things get too hectic, it will keep him safe in the car, and it’s a quiet retreat while he recovers from an accident or surgery.  

In order for you to buy the perfect size crate for your dog, you’re going to need to know his or her measurements and what you will be using the crate for. If you’re only planning on using it for housetraining, it needs to fit him for about 5 or 6 months. If you’ll be using it throughout your dog’s life, the crate has to be big enough to accommodate his full grown size. There is a detailed chart below to help you figure that out. 

*There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you buy something I may receive a small commission. This has no effect on the price you pay.*

Can a dog crate be too big?

  • It can be too big if you’re using it for housetraining
  • It can be too big if your dog is flying in cargo. Many airlines have pretty strict guidelines, not to mention the bigger the crate the more expensive it will be to fly him. NOTE: In this case I’m really referring to a carrier, but some people use the words interchangeably.
  • For use in the car, the size will be determined by the amount of space you have to accommodate it.
  • It won’t be too big if you’ll be using it so your dog has his own private space, or if he needs bed rest on vet’s orders. Having said that, if space in your house is limited than it is an issue.

What size crate do I need for my dog?

In order to answer that question, you’ll need to know two things:

♦ What you will be using the crate for

♦ The measurements of your dog

Buying a dog crate? 2 tips to get the perfect size

What will you use the crate for

If you’re only planning on using a crate for housetraining a puppy, all you need is one that will fit him for the next few months.

However, if you’ll be using it throughout your dog’s life, you will need one to fit the size he will be when he’s fully grown.

Housetraining

When using a crate for housetraining, the crate should be just big enough for your dog to stand up without touching the roof, stretch out, lie on his side and turn around. The reason you don’t want it much bigger than that is because dogs won’t typically soil their living space.

If the crate is too big, he will have enough room to go to the back of the crate, pee or poop, then be far enough away from the mess to still be comfortable. That defeats the purpose.

A space of his own

Of course your dog will have his own bed or beds in at least a couple of rooms in your home, but a crate gives him that extra feeling of security. Dogs are den animals and while they like to be close to their humans, they also welcome a quiet space of their own. The crate can be set up in a high traffic area so he can still enjoy your company, but perhaps in a corner where he can also remove himself when things get too hectic.

Dogs who are afraid of fireworks or thunderstorms can benefit from having a place to hide. Moving the crate to a bathroom or basement may help muffle the sound. Otherwise putting a cover over the crate, anti-anxiety supplement and playing dog calming music can help.

Travel safety

It is a law in many places that dog’s must be tethered while traveling in a car. Seat belts and dog car seats are two options, but if your car is big enough a crate will work too.

For flying you would be using a carrier not a crate, but I have included information about airline travel in the measurement section below. Even though the product is different, measuring is the same.

Rest after injury, illness or surgery

I don’t want to be all doom and gloom, but there is the very real possibility at some point in your dog’s life he or she will get hurt, sick or have surgery. It doesn’t have to be something major to require bed rest. Maybe he overdoes it on a hike one day and needs to rest. A crate is the best way to ensure he isn’t jumping all over the place and making things worse.

In this case a nice sized crate would be welcome so there’s room for a big bed, a blanket and some favorite toys.

My dog Jack had spinal surgery a few years ago after sudden paralysis. He needed to rest and was in a crate for 4 months, except for his allotted exercise time, and when I took him out in a doggie stroller to prevent boredom.

That period of confinement made all the difference to his recovery.

How to measure your dog for a crate

If possible, bring your dog with you when you start shopping, so you can see how your dog “fits” in various sizes. Even if you ultimately make your purchase online, having already seen your dog in a crate will make the selection process easier.

With your dog standing measure…

  • From the tip of his nose to the base of his tail
  • From the floor to the top of his head if his ears are naturally down, or the tips of his ears if they are naturally up
  • The widest point on your dog’s body

There is a difference of opinion as to how many inches you need to add to the measurements when choosing the right size crate. I’ve seen recommendations from 2”-6.”

If the crate will be for your home or car, the space you have to put it will be the determining factor. If you’ll be flying, especially internationally, that is a whole other story and you need to get it right or they may not let your pet on the plane.

In that case, please contact your airline, cargo or pet shipping company for their requirements.

NOTE: As I already mentioned above, some people use the words crate and carrier to describe the same thing although they actually are not. I’m going to include international travel in this section because even though you will be using a carrier and not a crate, the information in this section will help you.

 

SIZE MEASUREMENTS (LxWxH) WEIGHT BREED (a few examples)
Extra small 18”-22”

18″ x 12″ x 14″ –  42 x 49 x 35 cm

22″ x 13″ x 16″ – 56 x 33 x 41 cm

Up to 25lbs

11kgs

Chihuahuas, Maltese, Morkie, Toy Poodle, 
 Small 24”

24″ x 18″ x 20″ – 61 x 46 x 51 cm 

Up to 25lbs

11kgs

 Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu, West Highland Terrier, Boston Terrier, 
 Medium 30”

30″ x 19″ x 21″ – 76 x 48 x 53 cm  

26-40lbs

12-18kgs

Cockapoo, Dachshund, Corgi, Staffordshire Terrier (Staffie)
 Intermediate 36”

36″ x 23″ x 25″ – 91 x 58 x 63 cm 

41-70 lbs

18-32kgs

Beagle, Whippet, Basset, Springer Spaniel
 Large 42”

42″ x 28″ x 30″ – 107 x 71 x 76 cm  

71-90lbs

32-41kgs

Border Collie, Retriever, Boxer, American Bulldog
 Extra large 48″

48″ x 30″ x 33″ – 122 x 76 x 84 cm

91-110lbs

41-50kgs

German Shepherd, Greyhound, Doberman, Sheepdog
Extra extra large 54″

54″ x 37″ x 45″ – 137 x 94 x 114 cm

Over 110lbs

over 50kgs

Great Dane, St Bernard, Mastiff, Weimaranger

 

I compiled these figures through my research of crate selections on Amazon, Chewy and Pet Crates Direct.

NOTE: Because of the number of breeds, mixes, and crosses this is not an exact science, but it’s a guideline and a good place to start.

 

Resources

What Size Dog Crate Do I Need?  

Dog Crate Sizes | A Quick Guide 

 

Read my crate training series

11 Reasons Why You Should Crate Train a Dog

What Should I Look for When Buying a Dog Crate

Where is the Best Place to Put a Dog Crate

5 Easy Steps to Crate Training a New Puppy

How to Crate Train a Puppy at Night

 

For information about my virtual training and dog care consultancy service, and to book an appointment, please visit my services page.

 

Hindy Pearson
I am a dog trainer and behaviour consultant, specialising in working with first time dog owners. Whether you're thinking of getting a dog and aren't sure if it's the right time, or you've been sharing your life with one for awhile but there are issues you can't resolve, I am here for you. No matter where in the world you live I can help.

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