Dog Crates: A Guide to Proper Sizing

puppy in a crate

It can be difficult to choose the right-size crate for your dog if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Many pet owners tend to choose a crate larger than what their dogs need because they want their dogs to have plenty of room. Other owners make the mistake of purchasing crates that are too small. Either of these sizing issues can cause safety and health issues, so it's important to know what you're looking for. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a crate.

Size Considerations

Undersized Crates

In a crate, your dog should have enough room to turn around, stand up, and comfortably lie down. If you purchase a crate that is too small for your dog, not only will they be uncomfortable, but also it can cause health problems if they are left in a cramped crate for an extended period.

Oversized Crates

On the other hand, if your dog has too much room in an oversized cage, they also are more at risk of sliding around and even suffering injury from sudden starts and stops while in a cage during travel.

Crate Size Calculations

Between the dog’s breed, weight, length, and height, most pet shops can help you find an appropriately sized dog crate. If you're purchasing a crate online, you can do some math at home to determine the approximate dimensions you will need.

For the length of your crate, measure your dog from its tail to its nose. Add about 2-4 inches to this overall length for a rough appropriate crate length. Then, measure the height of your dog from the ground to the top of its head, including its ears if they stand up. This will be the approximate height of the crate you need. Lastly, measure the width of your dog to get the appropriate crate width, adding between 2-4 inches depending on the size of the breed.

General Crate Sizing by Breed

Toy and Small Breeds

Toy breeds — such as Chihuahuas, Maltese, and Yorkies — that are approximately between 1-10 pounds, usually do well in extra-small crates between 24L X 18W x 19H and 24L X 18W x 21H. With dogs this small, you can also sometimes use crates made of lighter materials, such as plastic or sometimes tent fabrics.

Pugs, Dachshunds, Boston Terriers, Miniature Poodles, and other small breeds between 11-25 pounds also do well in these crate sizes, however, you should still measure your dog and not rely solely on average breed sizes when choosing an appropriate-size cage.

Medium Breeds

Medium-size dogs, such as English Bulldogs, Pit Bulls, and Cocker Spaniels between approximately 26-40 pounds will likely use a crate between 30L x 19W x 21H and 30L x 21W x 24H.

Large and Extra-Large Breeds

Basset Hounds, English Setters, Bulldogs, and other large breeds between 41-70 pounds should have a crate large enough to match their size — about 36L x 23W x 25H, or 36L x 24W x 27H.

Extra-large breeds, such as Border Collies, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers need even more space if they are around 71-90 pounds. While the sizing will differ from dog to dog, appropriate approximate sizes range from 42L x 28W x 30H to 42L x 28W x 31H.

Keep in mind that extremely large dogs, such as Mastiffs, Rottweilers, and Saint Bernards 90 pounds and above will need the biggest crates of all, at about 46L x 30W x 33H.

Crates for Puppies

The same size standards apply for puppies that apply for adult dogs. However, many pet owners don’t want to purchase a stream of new crates as their dogs continue to grow. It’s a bad idea to buy an adult-sized crate for a puppy, though, because it can make it harder to house train them. A good alternative is to buy a crate large enough for what size your puppy will grow to be as an adult dog. Then, use dividers inside to set the appropriate size as they grow. Or, save money by building your own dog crate and dividers.

Before Purchasing a Crate

Before purchasing a crate, remember that crates should not be where a dog or puppy spends much of its time. Dogs are social, physically affectionate creatures and will be both physically and psychologically unhealthy if they aren't given the proper love, care, and time outside of their crates. While dogs can be in a crate for approximately overnight and up to half a day, puppies need more time outside of the crate, especially to use the bathroom.