How to Choose the Best Type of Crate for Your Dog

Professionals that work with dogs, often debate what type of crate they feel is best for dogs. Personal preferences will always vary, but one truth remains constant. Different types of crates bring their own various advantages and disadvantages.

In this article we are going to explore the various types of crates that are available to dog owners and the pros and cons of each.

Metal Wire Crate
When your dog is inside a metal crate, they have full visibility of the environment outside of the crate.  Some dogs seem to prefer the ability to watch what is happening from all angles outside of the crate. One advantage of the wire crate is that if your dog prefers a cozier den like environment, you can easily cover it with a blanket to change the feel of the crate.

Metal crates are easy to fold up when more room is needed inside the home or you need to transport the crate inside your vehicle.

Crate training exercises are also easier to accomplish in metal wire crates because you can access the dog from any point in the crate whereas you are limited to only the door area on plastic style crates. Metal wire crates also provide better ventilation which should be taken into consideration for breeds that were bred to withstand cold climates.

With all of the benefits that metal wire crates offer, there are still disadvantages when compared to other styles of crates. Most notably is the ability for dogs to be able to escape out of the metal wire crates easier than other types of crates.

Dogs that have a desire to escape out of the crate will find weak points in the metal style crates. Many dogs learn that they can bend the bottom of the door by pushing it outward and then slide out beneath the door on the metal crates. If you have an escape artist, you may have come home to find your dog outside of the crate with the door still closed and latched and felt quite confused in how they managed this feat.

Another disadvantage of wire crates is that they are heavy, especially if you have a crate that is sized for a large breed dog. If you need to move the crate around the house or out to the car regularly, a lighter plastic crate is much easier to manage.

Metal Crate Pros

  • Dog has full visibility, which some dogs prefer
  • They provide more ventilation
  • They fold up easily which gives you more space in the car when transporting
  • Can be modified to resemble a den like environment simply by covering with a blanket

Metal Wire Crate Cons

  • Escape artist can bend the wires and slide out
  • The large wire crates are heavy
  • Some dogs will tear up the sliding tray on the bottom

Plastic Crates
Plastic crates are lighter than metal wire crates which make them a great choice if you need to move them around the home or plan to travel with your dog crated in the car.

Plastic crates are more secure than the wire crates because there are fewer structural weak points. If your dog can escape out of metal wire crates, changing to a plastic crate or a heavy duty steel crate will help keep them confined during the crate training process.

I currently own and use just about every style of crate available. I use plastic crates to transport dogs in my car and then use metal crates inside the home.

Plastic Crate Pros

  • Light and easy to move around which is great if you are going to be carrying it back and forth to the car
  • More secure for the dogs that try to escape out of the crate

Plastic Crate Cons

  • Lack the ventilation that wire crates provide which may be a concern for some dogs.
  • Low visibility which some dogs dislike.  

Soft Sided Foldup Crates
Soft sided crates are ideal for traveling. They are light, fold up easily and quickly, and can be stored almost anywhere.

The major drawback of a soft crate is that dogs can tear through them in a couple of seconds if they choose. Before you decide to use a soft sided crate, your dog should be trained in a plastic or metal crate first.

Soft Sided Crates Pros

  • Ideal for traveling including flying with your dog
  • Light and easy to move around

Soft Sided Crate Cons

  • Dog can escape out of the crate easily
  • Expensive if you have to replace them often due to your dog chewing through them

Heavy Duty Steel Crates
Heavy duty steel crates are built with heavy gauge metal that can withstand harsh punishment from a dog that is determined to escape out of the crate. The metal is reinforced with welding points so that it will not bend when a dog tries to pull on it with their teeth.

I have one of these heavy duty crates that is made by a company called Empire. The crate has worked well for me and has been very dependable, although I can say that I have had one dog that was able to escape by pawing at the latches.

Heavy Duty Steel Crates Pros

  • Virtually Escape Proof
  • Durable and long lasting

Heavy Duty Steel Crate Cons

  • Very Heavy and difficult to move around
  • Expensive

Each style of crate comes with its own advantages. For the majority of dogs, I prefer metal wire crates. If traveling with your dog in the car is going to be common, you may want to consider a plastic style crate due to the ease of moving it around. If you have an escape artist, go with a plastic or heavy duty steel crate.

Return to Crate Training Guide

Published on July 23, 2017

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