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If you have a new puppy running around your home, a good dog crate can be one of the handiest tools in your kit. Used in moderation, a crate keeps your new friend safe during brief periods where you can’t keep an eye on them, reduces the chances of accidents and puppy mischief, and makes travel a lot smoother.
But crate training isn’t just about human convenience. As certified professional dog trainer Shoshi Parks explains, “The magic of the crate is that it taps into a deep genetic desire in your dog to want to ‘den’ or curl up in a cozy, dark, warm space. As long as a pup is introduced to the crate properly and not forced to be inside of it for too long, it often becomes a favorite snuggle space.”
One of the most important factors in successful crate training is choosing the right dog crate for your puppy. That depends on your particular needs, your puppy’s size and activity level, and your future plans. Read on to learn about the best dog crates for puppies of all kinds.
How To Choose the Right Puppy Crate
One puppy crate might look the same as the next, but different models can have dramatically different advantages. Details like materials, sizing, and design can restrict the ways you use your crate—so you’ll want to consider the use cases you have in mind.
Here are some things to look for in a dog crate for puppies:
- Hard or soft sides. Hard-sided crates do a better job of containing puppies for a longer period of time, and they’re easier to clean. Soft-sided crates may work for travel, but they’re not always proof against sharp puppy teeth—so if you like the look, considering upgrading to one once your puppy is full grown and has learned the ropes.
- High-quality construction. Whether you choose a soft- or hard-sided crate, make sure it is constructed well. This means sturdy walls, a strong door, and quality hardware that won’t break or jam.
- Durable materials. You’ll want to make sure your puppy’s crate is tough enough to withstand sharp puppy teeth and some wear and tear. For this stage of your pup’s life, wood is out and metal and hard plastic are in.
- Adjustable sizing. Many crates come with a divider that enables you to adjust the interior size of the crate as your puppy grows. If you don’t want to buy a new crate later, prioritize adjustable options.
- Easy to transport. Choosing a crate with a carrying handle will make it easier to transport—but if you’re working with limited space, you might rather have a folding model that collapses flat for storage.
- Simple to clean. A few accidents are inevitable with a new puppy, which is why many dog crates feature a slide-out tray for easy cleaning. Soft-sided crates are generally a little tougher to clean, and wood crates are a no-go; it’s really hard to get the smell out.
Top Dog Crates for Puppies
As you browse different designs and materials, keep in mind the golden rule of sizing a dog crate: a pup should have enough room to comfortably lie down, stand up, and turn around. Too much extra space increases the risk of your puppy having an accident during crate training. Once your puppy is housebroken, however, you can upgrade to a larger crate—or choose a model with a movable divider so the crate grows with your pup.
Here are our top picks for the best dog crates for puppies.
1. Best All-Up Puppy Crate: Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel
The Vari-Kennel is favored by veterinarians and pet-care professionals because it’s sturdy, easy to clean, and useful in a variety of settings. You can strap it into the back seat for safe car travel or set it up in the living room for an at-home den. And it’s ideal for puppies who gnaw on the sides of wire crates and need something a little more secure to keep them cozy but contained.
2. Best Configurable Puppy Crate: Life Stages Double Door Folding Dog Crate
MidWest makes a variety of high-quality crates for dogs, and this model is particularly recommended if you need a sturdy, reliable wire crate that will grow with your puppy. The LifeStages line comes with a divider insert that splits the crate into separate compartments so you can limit your puppy’s space to exactly what he needs. As your puppy grows, the crate grows too!
Midwest Homes for Pets Life Stages
Made of heavy-duty steel and wire mesh with roller feet to protect floor surfaces, this simple dog crate comes in your choice of size and single or double door options.
3. Best Basic Puppy Crate: MidWest ICrate Double Door Folding Metal Dog Crate
If you like the design of the previous crate but you’re working with a limited budget, this Midwest ICrate offers many of the same features but is made of more affordable and lighter-weight steel and mesh materials.
It comes in a single- or double-door design in multiple sizes with a tray and optional divider panel, making it a great option for puppies who need a crate that grows along with them.
MidWest ICrate Double Door Folding Metal Dog Crate
This popular dog crate is an Amazon bestseller, thanks to an affordable price tag, double-door design, and availability in a range of sizes.
4. Best Heavy-Duty Puppy Crate: SmithBuilt Heavy Duty Dog Crate
If a hard-sided crate isn’t quite strong enough to keep your puppy contained, this heavy-duty dog crate is sure to do the trick.
With premium-grade construction and commercial-quality steel, this crate is guaranteed to hold even the most destructive of puppies. It features a three-quarter-inch frame reinforced with half-inch diameter welded steel tubes and a convenient two-door design.
It even comes on four rolling casters for easy transfer—a blessing considering that those high-quality materials can get pretty heavy.
5. Best Soft-Sided Dog Crate for Puppies: PetNation Indoor/Outdoor Pet Home
This soft-sided but sturdy dog crate is ideal for puppies on the go. It’s made of heavy-duty fabric over a steel frame that offers extra strength and support.
The padded handle and mesh windows make it suitable for travel or outdoor time. And the interior is relatively easy to wipe clean in case of accidents or spills.
Note: This fabric crate is best for puppies who are already crate-trained or unlikely to chew. It’s durable but not indestructible!
6. Best Top-Entry Dog Crate for Puppies: Petmate Two Door Top Load Pet Kennel
If you have a smaller puppy who will grow into a small dog, you might like a top-entry kennel. It’s helpful for puppies who are reluctant to walk into an open kennel but who can be picked up and plopped into one from above. Like other hard-sided plastic kennels, this one is sturdy and durable, with an easy-to-clean interior and well-ventilated sides.
7. Best Airline-Approved Dog Crate for Puppies: Petmate Sky Kennel
Featuring a heavy-duty construction of durable plastic and extra-strong steel wire, this hard-sided dog crate for puppies is approved by most airlines. It comes in six different sizes, equipped with an interlocking door, 360-degree ventilation, and a strong carrying handle. It also comes with travel necessities including two “live animal” stickers, clip-on bowls, and ID stickers. Plus, it’s made from recycled materials, and the smallest size is just under $50.
8. Best Luxury Crate for Puppies: Diggs Revol Dog Crate
The Diggs Revol dog crate is one of the most flexible options out there. It’s collapsible (though its folded profile is chunkier than a traditional wire crate), comes with both a handle and wheels, and has a divider and a removable tray. Multiple entry points satisfy a wide range of use cases, and it’s surprisingly attractive as far as dog furniture goes—a rarity in puppy crates.
The Diggs Revol is also significantly pricier than its counterparts. But the pet parents who love it say it’s a worthy investment—after all, it might be the only dog crate you ever buy. We tested it ourselves and can see why it has so many fans.
9. Best Dual-Purpose Dog Crate for Puppies: Merry Pet 2-in-1 Configurable Pet Crate
One of the most common complaints about puppy-safe crates is that they look unattractive—but this option from Merry Pet is an exception! The solid wood veneer of this end table crate looks lovely in a living room, and strong wire panels plus a removable plastic tray make it more practical for puppies than other wooden crates. Bonus: it opens up into a wooden pet gate that you can use to close off doorways.
It isn’t, however, as sturdy as plastic and metal crates, which means it’s a better pick for a puppy who’s already crate trained or one you know won’t be tempted to do any gnawing.
10. Best Budget Puppy Crate: Petmate Puppy 2-Door Training Retreat Crate
Looking for a budget-friendly puppy crate? This sweet pink crate—also available in blue—is perfect for puppies and small-breed dogs. It comes with a front and side door access, carrying handles, a slide-out plastic tray, and a handy divider panel. And best of all, it is extremely affordable!
A crate is only one of the items on any new puppy checklist. You’ll also want to stock up on essentials like a puppy collar, leash, and harness. It’s also important to choose a healthy and balanced diet that provides the ideal blend of nutrients to support your puppy’s growth and development.
For more detailed guidance on raising a puppy and other puppy gear and accessories to enhance your time with your new companion, read on!