It’s important to choose a crate that’s comfortable and functional if your dog will be spending any amount of time in it. Consider the size of your dog, how long he will need to be in the crate and if it is for travel or home use. There are multiple categories of heavy duty dog crate on the market and we’ve narrowed it down to three for the purpose of our review.
Some heavy duty dog crates are more specialized such as vehicle-mounted or built-in laboratory/veterinarian office style. Most users will not require that level of containment so we’ve chosen crates the average consumer might purchase.
When assessing a dog crate, pay attention to weak points and potential escape routes. Dogs learn quickly how to operate door latches, push through doors, or even separate components of a crate that are held together with insubstantial joints or wire connectors. They will chew on anything they can get their jaws around. With the force of his body, even a medium-sized dog can force his way out of a standard wire dog crate or a wooden dog crate with a wire door. Some dogs even blow out of sturdy plastic crates with metal doors by bending the door until the posts come out of their holes and voila- freedom!
While you want to ensure your dog is unable to escape his crate you should also pay close attention to how it is built – if he manages to push through a wall or joint are there components that might puncture or pinch his skin, catch a leg or trap him by the neck? Some dogs tend to chew on wire grates and we’ve seen permanent and serious damage to their teeth and jaws when they do this all day long, day in and day out. If you choose to reinforce your crate with additional hardware or connectors such as carabiners try to position them so the dog cannot get them into his mouth and grind on them.
We recommend heavy-duty crates that are constructed from metal with removable pans vs. a bottom panel that could provide a weak seam to break through. The locking mechanism or latch should be outside the door and your dog should not be able to manipulate, chew, or otherwise tamper with it from the inside. The crate should be well ventilated but beware that crates that use flimsy wire grates or easily bent aluminum tubes can be busted through easily. You should be certain though that the dog has adequate ventilation and nothing is blocking the ventilation openings in the crate.
Crate anxiety can be a real issue, so be sure to determine where he will be most comfortable while in his crate. Some dogs prefer quiet while in their crates such as a basement or back bedroom, and other dogs become nervous and manic when they cannot hear what is happening around them.
And most importantly of all – ensure your dog has had adequate exercise and play before putting him in his crate so he will be more likely to take a nice long nap and spend less time and energy trying to escape.
Categories of Crates
Wire Cage Style. Typically made of panels made of rigid heavy metal wire held together with tabs or connectors and a bottom tray
Can easily be forced open
Carabiners may not hold them closed tightly enough for them to be safe
May not be accepted by airlines or shipping companies for transporting your dog
Solid Panel Style- Typically made of hinged solid panels perforated with ventilation holes
Solid panels are more difficult to push against and chew than wire
Less ventilation than wire
May be collapsible for storage or transport
Plastic Crate Style
Metal Bar Style: Sturdier than a wire crate, will typically consist of powder-coated steel bar panels bolted together
Once assembled can be bulky
May not be as easy to use for travel or transport