How Big Should My Dog Crate Be

When it comes to training your dog, using a crate, is one of the most popular ways to help with potty training, behaviour modification and providing an overall safe space for your dog.   When choosing a crate, it is so important to make sure that you purchase the right size of crate.   Often dog parents buy the wrong size of crate for their dog and it ends up doing more harm than good.  But how big should my dog crate be?

 

how big should my dog crate be - dog in crate
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Crate training is one of the best ways to train your dog, but just like everything we buy for our dog, we need to make darn sure that we know exactly what size of crate our dog needs.  Nobody wants to get a crate home and quickly realize that they bought the wrong size.

Crates are a big investment, that have the potential to last the entire life of your dog.  Choosing properly is the key to success with crate training and providing that happy place for your dog when they are left alone.

Things you need to know

There are a few super important things that you need to know before jumping in and purchasing a dog crate for your dog.  Take a look at some of the most crucial factors that will help you determine which size of dog crate is best suited for your dog.

  1. Size of your dog right now.
  2. Breed of your dog.
  3. Is your dog a puppy and what size will they actually be full-grown?
  4. Age of your dog.
  5. Your dog’s behaviour which can help determine the style of crate.
  6. Do I need more then 1 crate throughout my dogs life?

All 6 things on this list are topics that you need to sit down and answer before you are ready to buy a crate for your dog.  Each one represents an issue that you could be faced with down the road.  If you take these into consideration when you are looking for a crate, these questions will be in the back of your mind when shopping.

 

how big should my dog crate be - dog breeds

Puppy

When shopping for a dog crate for your new puppy, there are a few things that you should specifically look for in a good dog crate.  Obviously when you get a new puppy, you realize that your dog is going to grow and get bigger. 

The most important part of this statement is how big is your dog actually going to get? 

You need to first start by looking at the breed of your dog.  Each dog breed as a guideline of the approximate size and weight of your dog that you can use as a template for your own dog.  This will help give you a starting point for what you can expect in say 6-12 mos.

If you have a dog that is a mixed breed or you are unsure what breed the dog actually is, then you will be best served to take your best guess at how big you think the dog will be.  Obviously, it is not an exact way to determine your dog’s full-grown size, but it the other thing you can do is to check out the size of your dog’s paws.  The size of their paws will often shed some light on how big they potentially could be.

Because we always want to start our puppy crate training right away, the best solution is to buy the size of crate that will best fit your dog’s full-grown size.  You can buy a much larger crate then necessary for your dog, you just want to make sure the crate comes with the add-on divider.  This divider will allow you to adjust as your dog gets larger.

 

how big should my dog crate be - crate with divider

Typically, this style of crate is the open wire style of crate.  The divider just attaches through the crating and can easily be moved to make the space bigger or smaller.   If you are choosing to get the more closed in style of crate that is plastic, you still want to go with the larger size, and find a way to make your own divider.  A box is often a great way to make this style of crate small enough to accommodate a smaller dog.  You can really use almost anything sturdy or strong enough to stop your dog from having access to the entire crate.

 

how big should my dog crate be - plastic dog crate

If you really want to make the perfect choice when it comes to your puppy and their crate, is to buy a small crate that fits them short term and buy another one when they are an adult.  The problem with this, is it is obviously a much more expensive option.  But if you have the resources to do that then go ahead.  Don’t forget you can always sell the smaller one once your dog out grows it.  Crates are always something that are in high demand and sell quickly.

 

Adult dog

An adult dog can be one of the easiest dogs to buy a dog crate for simply because they are full-grown all ready.  You don’t need to do any guess work when it comes to measuring them for the proper crate.

There are 4 things that you need to look at measuring on your dog to ensure that you know what size of crate will best work for your adult dog.  

  • Length – The best way to measure your dog, is by having them stand on all 4 legs and measure their length from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail.  Once you have that measurement, you need to add at least 4-6 inches and that will determine the length of crate that you need.
  • Height – Your dog’s height is measured from the sitting position.  Get your dog to sit still and measure from the floor to the top of their head.  Take that measurement and add 4 inches to it and that will give you the minimum height requirement your dog needs.
  • Weight – Making sure you know the current weight of your dog, is needed to make sure that the crate’s manufactured weight limit is rated for your dog’s weight.
  • Width – Your dog’s width really isn’t something that you need to worry too much about, as the crates actual size is based on the length and height of the crate.  But I still think that measuring your dog width when they are laying down will show you about how much space they would need to lay comfortable down.  Now the size of the crate doesn’t use width, it will still give you an idea of whether you need to go up a size or not just based on your dog’s long legs or wide girth.

how big should my dog crate be - crate sizes

Once you have all the measurement listed, you can start shopping for a crate simply based on those numbers.  Each crate offers these specific manufactured measurements in their description, just do your homework.

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Crate sizes

Dog crates come in varying sizes based on the measurements like height and length.  They offer many chooses for you to chose from when shopping for your dog.

  • 20′
  • 24′
  • 30′
  • 26′
  • 42′
  • 48′
  • 54′

Based on the measurements and end size of your dog, you will need to select the size that best fits your dog.  Whether you opt for a plastic crate, or a metal crate, they both offer a ton of choices.

 

how big should my dog crate be - dog crate sizes

Some people opt for the plastic style of crate while other like the metal crate.  Obviously the metal crate is far more open then the plastic, but if you are not travelling with the crate, then it really boils down to personal preference.

Personally I think for me, I have always like the metal option just simply because it provides more air flow and your dog the option to see their surroundings.  But again, if you are looking for that closed in den feeling, the plastic maybe a better choice, although you can still cover the metal crate also.

 

My experience

Every dog I have ever had, has been crate trained.  I have had different sizes and breeds of dogs throughout my life, so I personally have a ton of experience with dog crates.

My current dog Fergus has been the one dog that I have had to really adjust my thinking and ultimately my crate logic with.  He is a Labradoodle and is currently about 11 mos. old.  Although he is the second Labradoodle that I have had, he is not at all like my other Doodle Finn.  The thing about mixed breed dogs, is there is no guarantee which of the breeds they will take after more.  Fergus for example is pretty much a Labrador.  Yes, is a Doodle, but his body type is all Lab.

When we first got Fergus as a puppy, we did exactly what I said at the beginning of the post to do.  We looked at the approximate size of a Labradoodle and of course our past experience with our dog Finn’s size.  We tried to use that as the guide.

BOY were we wrong!

We bought a 42’ crate, with a divider, which as he grew should have been more then big enough based on the breed.  NOPE!

Unfortunately, we have had to recently purchase a second larger crate that is a 46’ which really should be for the super large breeds of dogs.  We found that his original crate was just not giving him enough space to comfortably sleep in.  He could barely stand up and was struggling to turn around in it.  Because we want him to be comfortable in his crate, we decided to jump up a size and get him a larger one.  The decision has been awesome.  He just fits so much better in his new one, and ultimately enjoys going in there much more.

 

how big should my dog crate be - dog and the right size

This just goes to everything I have been saying about making sure that you buy the right size of crate for your dog.  They spend hours at a time in there, and if it isn’t comfortable, it maybe a struggle to get them into it every day.  We ultimately want them to love it.

How big should my dog crate big is really a bit of planning ahead, measuring and of course a tad bit of guessing.

Yes, for us buying 2 crates, wasn’t ideal, but to be honest we have had no problem selling the smaller one.  Like I said there is no guarantee that you will hit the mark the first try when it comes to dog crates, but why not start shopping now.

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I hope that you have enjoyed reading my post and if you have any comments or questions, please drop me a message below.

4 thoughts on “How Big Should My Dog Crate Be”

  1. Hello,

    I commend you on your ability to write such a detailed article on a very sepecific issue for dogs. Yes it’s true that crates are very important for their potty training and that it should be adapted to their size. As far as I am concerned, I have a friend who thought that she would buy a crate that must be much bigger than the size of her small chihuahua so that it would be comfortable in it. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Hello,

      I really appreciate your warm comments on my post. I love hearing that. 

      I do know people that have done the same thing with a smaller dog with a bigger crate.  The big thing is if they are potty trained, then sure why not.  The downside if they aren’t is it is too much room for them to pee and just move away from it. 

      Thank you so much for sharing.

      Coralie

      Reply
  2. I heard that a crate is a perfect tool for training the dogs but I never really look into it because I feel like I am locking him up.

    My Shiro likes to spray around the house when I leave him alone, very naughty so now it is time. My Shiro is a husky so I am glad I don’t have a surprise like your Fergus.

    Thanks for the tips I will be sure to follow the guidelines. 

    Reply
    • Hi Nuttanee,

      Yes sometimes as a dog parent the struggle to put them in a crate is often our issue and not theirs.  Making sure that they don’t get into trouble when we aren’t home is important for everyone’s safety.

      I have always crated my dogs for at least 1 -2 years, then after they have proven they can be trusted, they don’t always have to be.  It is truly each dog and how fast they can behave and mature.  Some dogs can never be trusted.  I will have to wait and see how Fergus is when he gets older.

      Take care of your Shiro and thanks for sharing your thoughts.  Take care.

      Coralie 

      Reply

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