Some owners think crate training their dog is cruel and mean. They feel like they're locking Fido away in a doggy jail. On the contrary, crating a dog and the best dog crate will provide your pet with a safe and comfortable place to rest from everything, and feel peaceful and calm.
Before we compare the best dog crates, let's talk crate training.
While many pet owners dislike the idea of dog crates and the whole crate training in general, canine experts and professional dog trainers suggest (here, here, here, here and here) that dogs enjoy being in crates and that crate training itself is a helpful tool.
Here's the official statement from The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (ADPT):
“The Association of Professional Dog Trainers recommends the use of crates for puppies and dogs as a short-term training tool and as safety equipment throughout the dog’s life.” (source)
Did you know that wild dogs are den animals?
Our domesticated dogs' ancestors dug holes in the earth to make their home. It offers them protection from the weather and from predators. In the exact same way, a dog crate fosters our dogs' natural instinct to want a den where they can feel safe and secure.
As the above links prove, professional dog trainers and canine behavior experts will tell you that crate training a dog will help tremendously in the house training process.
You wouldn't leave your 5-year-old child home alone to roam the house without supervision, so why do the same to a dog who is not yet clear on the house rules?
The best dog crate provides a safe place for your untrained pooch to stay when no one is home to keep an eye on him. Once he's properly trained to use the bathroom outside and behave with free roam of the house, you won't need to use the crate on a daily basis.
However, most experts say that you should still keep the dog crate as a place for your dog to take a break when he wants his own space or he needs a place to feel safe.
The American Kennel Club says that crate training a dog is not cruel in any way:
“Dogs like crates since they mimic the close quarters of a wolf’s den. Also, this practice can help with anxiety issues. Dogs naturally want to protect their space when their humans aren’t there…”
FULL RANKINGS: This Year's Top 10 Best Soft Dog Crates
How to pick the best dog crate for your pet?
- Your dog's and dog crate sizes
- How the dog crate will be used
- Your dog's breed and behavior
You need a pet crate that your dog can comfortably stand, lie down and turn around in.
If you have a small puppy that is going to grow into a large breed dog, be sure to select a dog crate that will allow room for your puppy's growth. Some dog crates offer dividers that can block off part of the pet crate until your puppy grows into it.
If the dog crate is going to stay in your living room all the time, you don't need to worry about finding one that folds down or is made of lightweight material. However, if you'll be moving your dog's crate around the home, trying to fold and hide it, or want to be always traveling with it, you need to find one that will be easy to take along.
Finally, your dog's behavior is probably the most important variable in choosing the best dog crate. Here are a few questions to consider beforehand:
- Does your dog have separation anxiety?
- Will he try to escape the crate while you're away?
- Do you have a puppy that scratches and chews?
If your dog is destructive in any way, you need to choose a canine crate that is strong enough to contain him as well as prevent the dog from hurting himself.
How to choose the right size dog crate?
There are several factors to consider when you're trying to pick a perfect size crate.
For plenty of advice, tips and detailed information on choosing the right size dog crate, you should take a look at my guide on How To Choose the Right Size Dog Crate.
My search for the best dog crate
Because every dog is different and there are so many styles of dog crates to choose from, I chose three of the best dog crates in their own categories, all of which have very different features.
All dogs differ, so the best dog crate for me and my dogs may not necessarily be the best choice for you. Your dog and yourself may have different needs. That's why I selected one of the best dog crates in each of these three categories to share with you today:
- The best wire dog crate (MidWest iCrate Folding Crate)
- The best soft-sided dog crate (EliteField 3-Door Crate)
- The best dog crate for traveling (Pop Crate)
Our dogs are all crate trained, so I was able to test each of these three best dog crates with our pack without any issues. That means that all of the information that I'm sharing with you today has been collected from my first hand experience.
MY PREVIOUS TEST: Best Dog Pooper Scooper Comparison
Best Dog Crate Comparison
MidWest Homes for Pets vs. EliteField vs. SportPet Designs
Similarities Between the 3 Best Dog Crates
While all of these pet crates are designed to contain dogs, they're all very different. As I mentioned above, I've chosen this variety because they all offer benefits for different types of dogs and owners with different needs.
They might offer a variety of features, but these dog crates do have a few similarities.
For example, they all offer adequate ventilation. This is an extremely important feature that any best dog crate should have. Ventilation is crucial for airflow that keeps the temperature in the crate regulated and ensures your dog can breathe easily.
Depending on your pet's behavior and his level of training, these pet crates also offer secure locking mechanisms that will keep your canine contained. Another very important feature, secure locks are vital so your pup won't escape when you leave home or escape their crate while you're traveling.
Finally, all three dog crates are well-made with durable materials. Again, each type of pet crate is designed for different types of dogs. As long as you choose a dog crate that will suit your specific canine, any of these crates will likely last throughout your dog's life – you may even have them for another generation of pets.
Differences Between these Best Dog Crates
This is where we get into the meat and potatoes of these dog crates.
If you follow Top Dog Tips, you know that I always choose high-quality products to include in all of my reviews and comparisons. It's not a surprise that the similarities these three best dog crates share are the features that should be found on every single pet crate.
What makes these options stand out are the features that they offer that other similar products don't. These crates will meet the needs of Houdini dogs that try to escape their crate, senior dogs that just want a comfortable place to rest and pets that travel frequently with their owner and a need a safe place to sleep while away from home.
SportPet Designs Pop Crate Review
I would have to say that SportPet is the most unique dog crate that I have included here. As you'll see in my video review above, it twists 180° and collapses into itself for easy storage. This also makes it a breeze to travel with.
He'll also have a great view of what's happening around him, and you'll be able to see each other. Complete visibility helps a lot of dogs who suffer with anxiety while being crated or traveling.
The back plastic panel features a plastic grate and the front has a metal grate that acts as the crate door. The door locks with a knob-style handle that can easily be turned with just one hand. I appreciate this feature because it allows you to keep one hand on your pet and open the crate with the other.
This crate's unique design makes it ideal for dog owners who have limited space in their home. When it's needed you can pop it out, and it folds down quickly for easy storage in closets or under furniture when not needed.
In my opinion, this is the best dog crate for traveling if your pet is already crate trained.
Unfortunately, this distinctive design is also a drawback. The soft sides and mesh material mean that this crate is only suited for pets that are 100% crate trained.
If your dog digs or chews at all he will quickly ruin this crate. Honestly, I wouldn't even put a chew toy or bone in this crate to entertain my dog, because I would be afraid that she would accidentally rip a hole in the bottom of the crate while chewing.
The SportPet Designs Pop Crate is available in two sizes. I show you the small size in my dog crate review video. It measures 22.5 inches long by 14.625 inches high by 14.25 inches wide. The company says that it is suitable for dogs weighing less than 25 pounds, but remember to measure your dog first.
If you have a breed that is tall and slim, the dog may meet the weight requirements but be too tall to comfortably stand up in this dog crate. Remember that your canine should always be able to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down inside his dog crate.
The company also makes the Pop Crate in a larger sizes that measures 36 inches long by 22 inches high by 20.75 inches wide. This is recommended for dogs weighing less than 70 pounds. The small crate sells for about $35 on Amazon. If you need the large size, you can purchase it for about $60.
EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate Review
Here's another soft sided dog crate, but this one is much sturdier than the Pop Crate. EliteField is known for making some of the best quality dog products on the market, and this crate is no exception.
The first thing I noticed about this crate is that it is taller than most similar products of the same length. This is a great option for tall, slim dogs. As you'll notice in my video review, this crate also easily folds flat for traveling or storage, and it's one of the best soft sided dog crates there is.
It's not as quick to assemble as the Pop Crate, but the strong steel tube frame is much more durable. It also comes with a convenient carrying bag that makes it easy to take this best dog crate with you in the car, on an airplane or anywhere else that you may need to bring it.
As the name suggests, this crate has 3 doors. Mesh panels unzip on the top, side and front of the crate to allow easy access to your pet no matter what position the crate is. There are also fabric panels that fold down over the mesh to give your dog some peace and quiet if he gets overstimulated or needs to rest.
I like the top door in particular, because it makes it Makes It very easy to get timid pets into the crate. If your dog gets nervous entering the crate, you can just pick him up and place him inside. It's also a nice feature that allows you to reach in and pat your dog to calm him while traveling without the chance of him escaping.
In my dog crate review video, I also show you the two small storage pockets on this best dog crate. The one on the back of the crate is detachable, which makes it super convenient for traveling.
The cover, included faux sherpa mat and the carrying bag are all machine washable as well. This is a huge advantage over the Pop Crate.
Again, this is a soft sided crate. That means it is only suitable for dogs that are 100% crate trained and comfortable being confined to a crate. This option is more sturdy than the Pop Crate, which I like, but that means it is a bit heavier. The small size only weighs about 6 pounds, but the large sizes weighs nearly 20 pounds.
You can get the EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate in a variety of sizes from 20″L x 14″W x 14″H to 42″L x 28″W x 32″H. It's also available in 11 color options. Depending on the size you choose, prices range from $100-$200 on Amazon.
MidWest iCrate Folding Metal Dog Crate Review
(my personal favorite)
If you watched the best dog crate review video above, you know this is the pet crate that I use when crate training my dogs. This is a metal wire crate, which is very different than the other two I've compared. I like this style because it's durable, can be used in virtually any situation and is extremely easy to clean.
You can get the iCrate in a 2-door model, but the one I have just has one front door. You can purchase these crates 7 different sizes from 18-inches long to 48-inches long. They also come with a divider, which is the biggest benefit that metal dog crates offer over soft sided crates, in my opinion.
I bought the 42-inch crate for our chocolate Labrador, Saddie, when she was a puppy. I put the divider up while crate training her so that she didn't have enough room to use the bathroom in her crate.
As she grew I moved the divider, and now she uses the entire crate without having to divide the space.
These crates can grow with your dog, saving you a lot of money on replacement crates when your puppy grows out of them.
As I demonstrate in the video above, these metal dog crates also fold flat. While they'd be too heavy for some people to carry around, the iCrate is a great option for anyone who wants to travel with a destructive dog and it's easily one of the best metal dog crates out there. If your dog would escape from a soft sided crate, this is a much better option!
Rubber feet protect your floors from being scratched by the metal wires of this best dog crate, and there is an easy-to-clean plastic tray in the bottom of the crate. I also like that this best dog crate is equipped with a detachable carrying handle that can be positioned anywhere on the folded crate to make it easier to lift.On the smaller iCrates, like the one I show in the video, there is one slide latch that secures the door. There are two slide latches on the larger crates. As long as your dog isn't a Houdini, this crate would likely keep him contained.
Unfortunately, it wouldn't be strong enough to contain an escape artist. The folding aspect would also make me a bit nervous to kennel a dog that tries to escape in this product. It would be difficult, but if a dog really started pulling on the sides of the crate I would worry that the crate would collapse on him.
As far as the best metal dog crates go, this option from MidWest is very affordable. Some metal dog crates cost hundreds of dollars! Of course, the larger the crate you need the more expensive they are. You can buy the Midwest iCrate Folding Metal Dog Crate on Amazon for $14-$110 depending on the size you need.