Why Should Dog Crates Be Small? (How big should a dog crate be?)

Why should dog crates be small? You’ve probably heard that your dog should be able to stand up, turn around and lie down in a dog crate, and that it should only just be big enough for your dog to perform these actions. But what’s all that about then?

what size should a dog crate be?

Why shouldn’t I buy the biggest crate possible for my dog? Why should dog crates be small?

Seems logical to want to give them the most amount of room possible when they’re contained in their crate, right? So why shouldn’t I just buy the biggest crate possible?

Ineffective for Crate Training:

One of the primary purposes of a crate is to provide a safe and comfortable space for your dog, particularly if you’re using the crate to help you toilet train your puppy

If the crate is too large, your puppy may not develop the necessary control over its bladder and bowels, defeating the purpose of crate training. Dogs tend to avoid soiling their living space, so a smaller crate can encourage them to hold it until they’re taken outside.

If there’s too much space, your dog might use one area for sleeping and another for eliminating waste, which can create hygiene issues, not to mention making cleaning up their crate space unpleasant. The whole purpose of using the crate is to avoid your puppy relieving themselves in the crate. (A common mistake is to put puppy pads in the crate…STOP! )

Safety Concerns:

A crate that is too large can pose safety risks to your dog.

Larger crates can make it easier for your dog to move around and potentially injure itself during travel or when you’re not at home to supervise.

It also encourages you to put more things in it, that the puppy could chew, choke or ingest.

All they need is the crate, some bedding and water.

Anxiety and Comfort:

Dogs often find smaller, cosier spaces more comforting. A crate that is too large may make your dog feel insecure or anxious, especially if they are a puppy or have separation anxiety. A properly sized crate can provide a den-like atmosphere that can help reduce stress, especially if you cover it.

Don’t forget, if we weren’t trying to create a comfortable smaller space, then we might as well let them roam the entire room or house.

best dog crate dimensions

What are the best dog crate dimensions?

Choosing the right dog crate size is crucial for your pet’s comfort, safety, and well-being. You should consider your dog’s current size, breed, and age, as well as their expected adult size if you’re getting a puppy. It’s important to select a crate that accommodates their growth while also providing a cozy space.

Don’t forget that crate dividers are available to buy, reducing the overall space in the dog crate for a short time whilst they’re growing and removing the need to buy several crates of different sizes for your growing puppy.

Crate size Guidelines

Here are some guidelines for selecting the ideal dog crate sizes for different size dogs;

Dog Size Crate Size (inches / cm) Weight Range Notes
Extra-Small Dogs 18-22 inches / 45-56 cm Under 10 lbs or 4.5 kg Puppies in this size range can be small breeds like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, or Yorkshire Terriers. Make sure the crate is spacious enough for them to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Consider getting a crate that has a divider to adjust its size as the puppy grows.
Small to Medium Dogs 24-36 inches / 61-91 cm 10-40 lbs or 4.5-18 kg This category includes breeds like Beagles, Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, and small to medium-sized puppies. Ensure the crate is tall enough for them to stand without hunching and offers enough room to move around. A divider can be handy to adjust space for a growing puppy.
Medium to Large Dogs 36-42 inches / 91-107 cm 40-70 lbs or 18-32 kg Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and larger puppies fall into this range. The crate should provide ample space for them to stretch out and change positions comfortably. Again, consider using a divider for puppies to adjust space as they grow.
Large to Extra-Large Dogs 42+ inches / 107+ cm 70+ lbs or 32+ kg Larger breeds such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and giant breeds need crates with sufficient length and height. Ensure the crate is spacious enough for them to stand, lie down, and move around without feeling cramped.

Remember that these are general guidelines, and individual dogs may vary. It’s essential to measure your dog from nose to tail and from the floor to the top of their head while standing to determine the ideal crate size accurately. Also, consider your dog’s behavior and preferences; some dogs may feel more secure in a smaller, cosier crate, while others may prefer more space.

Always prioritize safety, comfort, and crate training to make the crate a positive and secure place for your dog, regardless of their size. As your puppy grows, adjust the crate size accordingly to ensure a proper fit.

Why does the size of a dog crate matter?

Selecting the right size crate is essential to ensure your dog’s comfort and safety. If you opt for a crate that is too small, your dog won’t have enough room to relax.

On the other hand, if you go for a crate that is too large, your dog may be inclined to use it as a bathroom, play, or attempt to run around rather than settling down.

What are the consequences of a crate that is too small for a dog?

A cramped crate can result in discomfort, causing potential back pain and skin irritation from prolonged rubbing against the crate. Additionally, your dog may experience various health issues, including withdrawal, eating disorders, obsessive behaviors, muscle atrophy, aggression, difficulties in forming bonds, and numerous other related problems.

Eek! Better get the right size!

All articles on tetradog.com are written by qualified behaviorist and dog trainer, Cheryl Walker.


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