The best dog crates are sturdy, durable and come in a range of sizes and shapes.
I have used a variety of dog crates over the years and my firm favorites are the double door metal style. These functional dog crates have a door on both the wide and narrow end. Making it easier to find a place to put it in your home.
Metal dog crates often also come with a divider. This means that you can buy a crate in your adult dog’s eventual size, but still use it for your new puppy when they first arrive.
Your dog crate should be big enough for your pup to stand, turn around and lay down comfortably, but not so big that they are tempted to use the extra space to poop or pee.
The right crate for you will not necessarily be the same as it is for me. So I’m going to share all the different available types and help you to pick the perfect option for your dog and home. I’ll also dive into the slightly less contentious world of puppy playpens and baby gates, both of which are invaluable for keeping your young dog safe and your home unchewed!
Dog Crate Sizes
Picking the right dog crate size is very important. An appropriately sized crate should have room for your dog to stand up and turn around comfortably. He should be able to stretch out and relax, and lay down on his side if this is his preferred sleeping position. However, it should not be much larger than the amount of space required to do these things.
The reason for this is if you choose a crate which is too big you increase the risk of your dog using a part of it as a toilet, as they will not see the entire dog cage as their nest.
If you are unsure by eye which is the right sized crate, then you can always measure your dog. To get the right length simply measure your Labrador when he or she is standing up. Take a note of their length and height as shown in this diagram.
To calculate the dimensions of your required crate simply add 4 inches onto the length and 2 inches onto the height.
- Crate Length = Dog Length (inches) + 4 (inches)
- Crate Height = Dog Length (inches) + 2 (inches)
Working It Out
For our Labs we used a 36 inch crate from the time that they reached adult size, but they are working bred and considerably slighter than a lot of Labs. Most show bred or chunky adult Labradors will be best suited to a 42 inch dog crate, but it really does depend so base it on your own Labs actual size and not what size you think he should be.
For a Labrador puppy of 8 weeks to around 5 months old a 24 inch crate will be sufficient to give them enough space. But keep a close watch, as some pups grow faster than others and if they start to look cramped move them up a size sooner.
Remember, for a growing puppy you can create the correct crate size from a larger crate using a divider. Expanding it as they develop. However you can of course buy a separate crate for your puppy to use when they are small.
When your puppy is little, you may like to choose a temporary crate which will fit them for the first few months. The downside of this option is that you will need to replace the crate with a larger one as they grow.
Some people feel that whilst they want a crate whilst they are house training their dog, they don’t want one after this point. It is entirely up to you personally whether you choose this method, however it is worth mentioning that Labs often chew until they are 18 months to 2 years old. This means that they will be adult sized but still benefit from having somewhere to be left where they will not cause damage when unsupervised.
There are some good reasons that people choose to have another separate dog cage for their puppy even when they intend to crate the dog for the first couple of years of their life. Whilst a puppy is small you do not have to have such a large area of the house dominated by a big dog cage. You can also choose a cheaper or less stylish option, as it does not need to last as long.
A separate puppy cage can also help your new pup to feel more secure when you bring them home. A large crate divided gives the impression of a big space, rather than a cosy little den your pup can snuggle up in. It is easier to make a smaller crate feel safe and homely for your new friend.
One of the UKs most popular crate brands is Ellie-Bo. The Ellie-Bo puppy folding, double door crate comes in a black, gold or silver finish so you can pick your preferred option. It is sturdy, chew proof and easy to move around, weighing just 5kg.
The downside of the Ellie-Bo crate line is that they are only available in the UK. If you are in the US there are lots of similar options, and our favourite is this very similar puppy crate from MidWest.
If you are looking for something with a bright cheerful color, then check out the Aspen Puppy Crate. It comes in a blue or pink finish, both of which are great fun. They also have all of the practical aspects of the other crates covered, in terms of the ability to fold down and sturdy construction. This crate does come with a divider, but you are unlikely to need it for a Lab sized pup.
Large Dog Crate – 36 inches
If your Labrador is from working lines or has a slighter build, then he is likely to need a Large sized crate. These will be around 36 inches in length, with slightly varying heights and widths.
We have tried a few dog crates over the years. Here in the UK our absolute favourite brand is Ellie-Bo. They last a long time, they are very durable and easy to clean. The crate trays are also chew proof. For a large Labrador we recommend getting this model. It measures 26 inches high by 36 inches long by 24 inches wide.
In the USA the most well reviewed and popular model is a very similar type of crate produced by the MidWest brand. It has all the benefits of the Ellie-Bo model including double doors and great durability. They measure a practically identical 27 inches high by 36 inches long by 24 inches wide.
Extra Large Dog Crate – 42 inches
For bigger, often show bred Labradors, you may well want to get an extra large dog crate. As with the large crates it is probably sensible to go with a well known and approved of brand.
If you are in the UK you can find out more about the Ellie-Bo Extra Large Dog Crate here. It is durable and secure to keep your extra large dog safe in his den. It also has double doors like the large version. This model measures 31 inches high by 42 inches long by 28 inches wide.
The MidWest crate is again identical to it’s large counterpart, but in an increased size. It is durable, secure, and made of a sturdy practical structure. This crate measures 31 inches high by 42 inches long by 28 inches wide.
You can check out the MidWest Extra Large Dog Crate here if you are in the US.
Dog Crate Divider
If you decide to buy a large or extra large crate from the beginning, you have the option of separating the space for your young puppy using a divider.
Some crates can be brought with dividers, others are available to buy as single items. Although you don’t need to buy a divider by the same brand as your crate, it will help you to ensure that it is the correct size to fit. If you are buying a different brand of divider then make sure that you check measurements carefully before you order it.
Wooden Dog Crates
When choosing your dog crate, you may well want to have one that fits nicely in amongst your furniture. A great way to get a dog crate that looks good as well as having all the function of a metal crate is to choose a wooden one.
We really like the look of the Wooden Pet Crate Table by Newport. Made of 100% wood this pet crate really blends well into the home. It is also designed to be as easy to clean as possible.
It’s a great way of keeping your dog crate in your living room, without it being immediately obvious to guests or interrupting the flow of your decor. It works well as a coffee table too! This pretty yet sturdy crate comes in a large size so would fit many adult Labradors.
The Pet Crate and Gate by Merry also has a wooden structure, but with metal bars and a plastic crate tray. Although this means that it is not quite as pretty as the previous model, it is perhaps more convenient for cleaning.
In it’s largest size it is also slightly longer than the Wooden Pet Crate shown above, making it a better choice for owners of bigger Labradors. It also has the added bonus of converting into a pet gate when not in use as a crate.
How To Find A Cheap Dog Crate
It’s all well and good chatting about luxury crate options, but not everyone can or wants to splash their cash on the pricier dog crates around. Fortunately, there are several ways to go about finding a cheap dog crate that will do the job just as well.
Free Dog Crates
Make sure before you begin searching for cheap crates that you have looked into the free options. The freecycle website is great for finding items that people just want to get rid of to clear up some space. Also, have a quick word with any friends who have adult dogs if you are looking for a puppy crate. They might have one that their dog has grown out of, which they are glad to be rid of.
Cheap Dog Crates
If you need to buy a crate but want to save money, then looking for them second hand is a good bet. Although you will find crates on eBay and similar online auction sites, they can go up in price rapidly near the end of the auction so make sure that you know your limits before you start bidding higher. Choose your top point, and wait until 30 seconds before the auction ends to enter it into the bidding box for the best chance to win.
If you are wanting a new crate but also to save money, then check out the sale section of Amazon – labelled ‘Deals’ for one off discounts or limited offers. Alternatively, consider cheaper options of the crate style you desired.
Although double door dog crates can be very useful, you could consider looking at single door crates to save money. Just make sure you measure up and can definitely open the door in your desired location before you buy. This single door crate from MidWest has a lower price tag than some of the equivalent double door models.
Dog Travel Crate
Dog crates aren’t just handy in the home, they are also very useful when you are on the move. Whether it’s in your car or boarding a plane, having a safe and secure dog crate can give you and your dog some peace of mind when you are out and about. There are a few different varieties out there, and these are our top picks from each category.
Wire car crates are very popular, as they are of a similar construction to the indoor dog cages but with a sloped side which allows them to fit into the back of most estates.
When you are choosing a crate for your car make sure that is big enough to comfortably accommodate your dog, but check the measurements carefully to ensure that it will also fit into the car itself. I recommend getting the tape measure out and checking the size of your car before you look. Remember to account for the slope of the rear window if it has one.
Our preferred travel crate for use is the Ellie-Bo Deluxe Sloping Travel Puppy Cage. It is sturdy, durable and even comes with a fleece to go over the plastic tray. Sadly, at present these are only available in the UK from this manufacturer. However there is a different option in the US which looks really good too.
We recommend that you check out the Cool Runners Aluminium Dog Crate. It is built in a similar shape to fit into the back of the car, but structured differently with thicker bars. If you are travelling by plane, then you will need a different type of travel crate.
Plastic dog crates are a great choice for Labradors when flying. Although soft dog carriers are available they are not ideal for bigger breeds, as they are potentially less secure and harder to move about.
The best travel crate for Labradors is probably the Petmate Ultra Vari Pet Kennel. This plastic dog crate is designed to hold a dog up to 90lbs in weight and is a comfortable length for most Labs at 39 inches long. You will want a travel crate for air travel to be snug just as an indoor dog crate is, but in this case it is even more important for helping the dog have a sense of security in his unusual surroundings.
Dog crates are brilliant beds for dogs, and a nice way to keep them secure in the home when you cannot supervise them as well as when travelling. They are however not suitable for leaving a dog in for long periods of time, as they do not provide anywhere for them to stretch their legs or relieve themselves.
A great alternative option for securing your puppy in a more free manner, is to invest in a puppy playpen. These are especially useful when your Labrador is small and still inclined to chewing or messing in the house. Our favourite puppy playpens are those which are sturdy, durable and easy to use.
This Heavy Duty Playpen by RayGar is made up of 8 secure panels. It folds flat for storage or transportation, and provides a secure area for your puppy to play in outdoors or indoors. It is very similar to the BestPet version available in the USA.
Alternatively, you could look at a sturdy plastic option. This Indoor and Outdoor Playpen from Iris gives a secure place for your puppy to play. It is easy to assemble and comes in a range of fun colours.
Dog and baby gates
Sometimes what you need is a barrier rather than a crate. A way to separate a puppy from your children or the cat, or to keep him from under your feet while you are busy or carrying hot utensils across the kitchen
But isn’t restricting access mean?
This puppy is a member of your family. Isn’t it mean to keep a small puppy shut out of parts of your home? No it isn’t. Happy puppies are puppies that are not constantly in trouble. Not being scolded, not eating dubious household items, electrocuting themselves, or getting their tails accidentally slammed in doors. Happy puppies have a nice place to sleep, a safe place to play not far from a door to their toilet area, enough to eat and approving humans to tell them how great they are.
New puppies may be family members, but your puppy is a family member with very poor bladder control, no knowledge of the English language, and a terrible memory. Keeping him off your carpets for a few weeks is just common sense.
Don’t baby gates look horrible?
In general baby gates are not beautiful things. But the situation is temporary, and if it really bothers you there are some nicer though more expensive options available. Including black metal gates, dark wooden gates and even bamboo gates. Once your puppy can control his bladder to some extent, and is beginning to understand some family rules, you can gradually extend the parts of the house he has access to.
What type of gate should I buy?
A standard baby gate will suffice for a Labrador puppy. I use plain white metal baby gates. These are fairly cheap and very practical. If you want to fit one into a space wider than a doorway you can also buy extender panels or a wider baby gate to fit the gap.
If you are adopting an older dog, or if you want to permanently restrict your dog from part of the house (and there is no reason why you should not do so if it suits you) then you may want to buy a taller baby gate. An adult Labrador is perfectly capable of jumping a standard baby gate. Though many will not attempt to if it has always been there.
Setting up the baby gates
The best location for your gates depends on the layout of your house. I use them to keep puppies confined to an area that includes part of the hall (access to stairs is blocked) the kitchen and utility room. With access to the back garden. At the very least, you should gate your stairs so that the puppy cannot run up and down them, or have unsupervised access to bedrooms.
When can I take them my puppy gates down?
Once your puppy has grasped the concept of toileting outdoors without you constantly having to watch him. Once he can last a couple of hours between bathroom breaks, you can start to introduce him to carpeted rooms. Let him in there for twenty minutes or so, immediately after a successful bathroom break, and before his mealtime. This is the time he is least likely to have an accident.
Don’t rush it. Build up the amount of time he is allowed access to the new room little by little. Remember that success breeds success when it comes to house training. Accidents are likely to be repeated because puppies like to pee where there is already the smell of pee. And it is nearly impossible to remove urine from carpets so thoroughly that a dog cannot smell it.
If your puppy loves to chew things, you might also want to take a look at our guide to indestructible dog beds!
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website