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Home Doggie Health and NutritionBasic Doggie Care Ultimate Guide: How to Choose the Right Size Crate for Your Dog

Ultimate Guide: How to Choose the Right Size Crate for Your Dog

by Dan Turner
dog crate
Dan Turner

Choosing the right size crate for your dog can feel like a puzzle with too many pieces. You want it to be a cozy den for your furry friend, not a tight squeeze or an oversized room. I’ve been there, staring down aisles of crates, scratching my head, and wondering which one is the “just right” size.

I remember the first time I had to pick out a crate for my pup. I was overwhelmed by the options and worried I’d make the wrong choice. But fear not! I’m here to share some tips and tricks that’ll make finding the perfect crate a walk in the park.

Why choosing the right size crate is important

When I first started looking for a crate for my dog, I didn’t fully grasp why the size was such a critical aspect. I’ve since learned that the size of the crate has a massive impact on your dog’s comfort, safety, and overall well-being. Let me share why picking the right size crate is not something to take lightly.

First, think about comfort. It should be cozy enough to make them feel secure but spacious enough to allow them to stand, turn around, and lay down comfortably. If the crate is too small, your dog might feel cramped and anxious. On the other hand, a crate that’s too large might not give them the feeling of safety and security they instinctively need.

Safety is another critical reason. Conversely, I’ve learned that a crate too large can potentially be dangerous if your dog tries to escape or gets tossed around during travel. The right-sized crate minimizes these risks by ensuring your pet feels secure and is kept safely in one spot.

Lastly, the psychological well-being of your pet is at stake. If the crate size is off, it can cause stress and anxiety, affecting their mental health. This aspect really hit home for me, reinforcing the crate’s role not just as a containment tool but as a comfort zone for my furry friend.

Here’s a quick guide to potential size ranges based on dog size:

Dog Size Crate Size (Length x Width x Height)
Small 24” x 18” x 19”
Medium 30” x 19” x 21”
Large 36” x 23” x 25”
X-Large 42” x 28” x 30”
XX-Large 48” x 30” x 33”

Factors to consider when choosing a crate size

When I’m deciding on the right crate size for my dog, several key factors come into play. It’s not just about picking the biggest or the most affordable option; it’s about understanding my dog’s specific needs and ensuring their comfort and safety above all.

First and foremost, dog’s breed and size are critical. Smaller breeds like Chihuahuas need far less space than larger breeds such as German Shepherds. I always consider my dog’s unique size and weight, as these can vary significantly even within a single breed. To make my job easier, I often refer to size charts provided by crate manufacturers but always double-check against my dog’s measurements.

Next, I consider my dog’s age and growth potential. For puppies, I aim for a crate that fits their adult size, utilizing dividers to adjust the space as they grow. This approach saves me from buying multiple crates over a short period, making it both cost-effective and convenient.

The purpose of the crate significantly influences my choice as well. If I’m looking for a crate primarily for house training, I’ll choose a size that’s just big enough for my dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, as too much space can lead to accidents. However, if the crate is for travel, I’ll ensure it meets airline specifications, which can be stricter.

Additionally, my dog’s personal needs and behavior play a significant role. Dogs with anxiety may require a cozier space to feel secure, whereas more active dogs might appreciate a bit more room to move around. It’s all about finding that perfect balance.

Lastly, ventilation and visibility are crucial factors. A well-ventilated crate with ample visibility helps keep my dog comfortable and reduces anxiety, especially in unfamiliar environments or situations. I always look for crates with sufficient air flow and the ability for my dog to see their surroundings without feeling too exposed.

While considering these factors, I always remind myself that flexibility and adaptability are key. After all, ensuring their happiness and safety is my top priority.

Measuring your dog for the perfect fit

When it comes to finding the perfect crate for your furry friend, getting the measurements right is crucial. I’ve learned through experience that a tape measure is your best friend in this process. 

The Height and Length of Your Dog

First, let’s talk about how to measure. For the height, I always ensure my dog is standing. Then, I measure from the floor to the tallest point of their head or ears, depending on which is higher. Some dogs have ears that stand up and are taller than their head, so it’s important to take this into account.

For the length, I measure from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. Remember, we’re not including the full length of the tail because your dog needs to be comfortable turning around inside the crate without their tail being squished or in the way.

Here are my quick tips for measuring:

  • Use a soft measuring tape for your dog’s comfort.
  • Measure twice to ensure accuracy; it’s easy to get it wrong the first time.
  • Always round up to the nearest inch to ensure enough space.

Adding Extra Space

Now that you’ve got the measurements, it’s time to add a bit of extra space. I recommend adding approximately:

  • 2 to 4 inches to the height measurement
  • 2 to 4 inches to the length measurement

This extra space ensures that your dog can stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably, without feeling cramped.

Consider Your Dog’s Growth and Weight

If you’re like me and you have a puppy or a dog that’s still growing, remember to take their potential growth into account. I look at the breed standards for an estimate of their adult size. 

Dog Size Add to Length Add to Height
Small 2 inches 2 inches
Medium 3 inches 3 inches
Large 4 inches 4 inches

Understanding the different crate sizes available

When I first ventured into the world of dog crates, I was surprised to find such a vast array of sizes and types available. It felt a bit like walking into a shoe store—only, instead of shoes for me, there were all these options for my furry friend’s new den. To help you navigate this variety, I’ll break down the different crate sizes commonly found and what each size typically accommodates in terms of dog breeds.

Most crates are labeled with a general size (small, medium, large, etc.), but the dimensions can vary widely by manufacturer. Here’s a quick rundown of the sizes you’ll likely encounter:

  • Extra Small (XS): Generally around 22 inches in length, these crates are perfect for tiny breeds like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians.
  • Small (S): Typically 24 inches long, suitable for breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers and Dachshunds.
  • Medium (M): Around 30 inches long, fitting breeds like French Bulldogs and Beagles.
  • Large (L): Usually 36 inches in length, these crates are good for dogs like Bulldogs and smaller Labrador Retrievers.
  • Extra Large (XL): At about 42 inches, they accommodate larger Labradors and Golden Retrievers.
  • Giant (XXL): Measuring 48 inches or more, these are for breeds like Great Danes and Mastiffs.

It’s worth noting that these sizes are approximate. Some dogs might prefer a bit more room, while others enjoy a cozier space. 

Aside from the size, you’ll also want to consider the material and design of the crate—whether it’s metal, plastic, soft-sided, or a decorative piece that doubles as furniture. Each type has its own set of pros and cons, depending on your and your dog’s needs.

Tips for choosing the right size crate

When it comes time to choose the right size crate for your furry friend, a few essential tips can guide you through the process. I’ve learned through experience that getting the size right not only comforts your dog but also makes training more effective.

First, consider the purpose of the crate. If it’s for house training, you’ll want enough space for your dog to comfortably stand up, turn around, and lie down. However, too much space can undermine house training efforts, as puppies might use a corner of the crate for relief. On the other hand, if the crate is meant for travel, ensure it meets airline requirements and provides enough room for your dog to be comfortable during stress-inducing situations.

Another critical factor is anticipating growth. For puppies, I recommend a crate that fits their expected adult size with a divider that can adjust the available space as they grow. This approach saves money in the long run and helps your puppy adapt to a single crate throughout their growth phases.

When I measured my dog for his crate, I followed a simple rule: add 2 to 4 inches to both their height and length measurements. This extra room ensures they won’t feel too cramped. Below is a quick guide:

Dog’s Size (Height and Length) Crate Size Add-On
Up to 20 inches +2 inches
20-30 inches +3 inches
Over 30 inches +4 inches

Accessibility is also worth considering. Crates with multiple doors offer more placement options in your home and easier access for your dog. Also, check if the crate has smooth edges and a sturdy lock, features that ensure your dog’s safety.

Lastly, think about portability and storage. If you plan on traveling with your dog or need to store the crate when not in use, look for lightweight options and those that fold flat. I’ve found that metal wire crates often provide the best of both worlds, offering the ventilation and visibility many dogs need to feel at ease, while also being easy to fold and transport.

By keeping these points in mind, you’re well on your way to selecting a crate that will serve as a cozy and safe space for your dog.


Choosing the right crate for your dog might seem daunting at first but it’s all about their comfort and safety. Remember, it’s not just about the size but also about anticipating their needs as they grow and ensuring the crate serves its purpose effectively. Whether it’s for house training or travel, the little details like adding a few inches for movement, considering portability, and ensuring the crate is a safe haven for your furry friend make all the difference. I’ve found that taking these steps not only helps in picking the perfect crate but also in making my dog’s transition to it smoother and happier. So take your time, consider all the factors, and you’ll find the right fit for your pup.


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