Here are a few things to keep in mind when using this dog crate size calculator.
The crate size calculator above provides the minimum requirement based on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidelines. Some airlines, especially for international travel, can have slightly different guidelines. Always check with the specific airlines before purchasing a crate.
For crate training at home or car transport, use this guideline as a baseline. You can increase the size of the crate for a roomier fit. But a crate that’s too big can cause problems. The same principle still applies: the animal should be able to stand, sit, lie and turn around comfortably in the crate.
Number of animals
This dimension is for a SINGLE pet in one crate. If you’re looking to transport 2 or 3 animals, check with the airline if this is allowed. Some airlines will only allow a certain number of animals per human passenger, some even limiting it to one animal per human passenger.
Also, if you’re transporting multiple animals in a single crate, check if the airline allows this. If it is allowed, the IATA guideline is to take the measurement based on the largest animal. The height and length of the calculator still works, only the width of the crate will be different.
If you have 2 animals, take the width calculated and multiply by 1.5. And multiply by 2 if you have 3 animals.
IATA does caution that “animals may become stressed and aggressive when traveling by air and should not be placed in the same container unless they are young puppies or kittens.” And this applies even to animals from the same household.
How to choose a crate or carrier
Size/ Dimension: This crate size calculator above provides the minimum internal dimensions of the crate. This is the minimum amount of space for your dog to be comfortable.
Build and Material: Consider the material and build quality of the crate. A sturdy, well-built crate should be able to withstand any gnawing or digging and will not warp. Choose a crate that’s suited for the situation.
Handling and Storage: Can the crate be collapsed and folded for compact storage? Is the crate easy to handle and not too clunky for car travel? Does the crate come with secure attachment points for safe travel?
Crate size: how to measure your Pet
- Prepare a ruler or measuring tape
- Have your dog or cat stand in a natural relaxed position.
- You’ll need 4 measurements of your pet:
- Length: Measure from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. This measurement does not include the length of the tail.
- Leg height: Measure from the elbow joint of the front legs to the floor. This is to determine how long the front legs are.
- Width: Measure across the widest point of the body. This is typically the width of the shoulders.
- Height: Measure from the top of the head to the floor. If your dog’s ears are erected, start from the tip of the ear.
- Enter these 4 measurements into the calculator above.
- Select if your dog is snub-nosed or not. Snub-nosed breeds include Boxers, Pugs, Bulldogs and Pekinese. These breeds need a slightly larger crate.
- The calculated dimensions are for the inner side of the crate. Make sure to place your measuring tape inside the crate when measuring.
Crate build and material
Aside from the size of the crate, you should pay attention to the build and material of the crate. You’ll need a different type of crate for different scenarios. You’ll need to comply with the airline guidelines for your crate to be approved for air transport. However, you’ll have much more wiggle room if you’re using the crate solely at home. But you’ll need to pay more attention if you’re looking for a crate to transport your dog in the car.
For air transport
The International Air Transport Association, or IATA, provides some resources on how your pet should be housed during an air transport. The guideline given is “to ensure the animal has enough space to turn about normally while standing, to stand and sit erect, and to lie in a natural position.”
The most common material used in air transport is plastic crates with metal doors. This is the most widely approved type of crate. Some airlines do approve of custom-build crates made of wood or other material. But the building requirements are quite strict.
According to the IATA, the locking mechanisms need to function properly. The panels and wire mesh has to be strong enough to withstand gnawing, pawing and pushing. Therefore, the wire mesh needs to be attached to the crate firmly, and not by stapling.
You can engage pet transport companies to help with the process. This is especially helpful if you’re dealing with international air transport.
For crate training at home
Plastic crates with metal doors are also a popular choice for crate training at home. If your dog is not comfortable entering the crate at first, you can remove the door and the top panel completely. As the training progresses, and your dog gains confidence with being inside a crate, add the pieces back on. A plastic crate is strong, durable and can be easily cleaned.
Another popular choice is the wire crate. A wire crate is also very durable and easy to clean. It is collapsible and can be stowed away quickly. Some wire crates come with internal dividers. If you’re crate training a puppy, and you need a crate that grows with him. Then this is an ideal choice. The internal divider allows you to expand the size of the crate as needed.
Soft shell crates made of cloth or nylon material are not ideal for training, as it can be easily destroyed by chewing or gnawing. But if your dog is well trained, this could be an excellent choice to bring along when travelling to another location. It is lightweight, packs down into a compact size and can be set up very quickly.
For car travel
For car travel, look for crates with attachment points that allows you to strap the crate down during transportation. Wire crates are usually too bulky or boxy to fit into the back of your car. But there are metal crates made specifically for long distance car travel.
To ensure your dog is safe in the event of a car crash, opt for a crash-proof crate or carrier. These crates are sturdy and virtually indestructible. They don’t come cheap but you are paying for safety.
Soft shell crates are not ideal for car travel because they usually don’t hold their form well. Your pet will be sloshing about in the crate as the crate doesn’t provide any support.
Denning: A safe sanctuary for your dog
“Dogs are den animals. They need their own sanctuary that is just large enough for them to fit inside and feel secure.” according to the American Humane Society.
Crate training is a key ingredient in house training your dog. When you’re crate training your dog, you’re tapping into your dog’s denning instincts.
The crate should be a comfortable area for your dog. It should never be used as a time-out or punishment area. You want your dog to develop good and positive feelings about being in the crate. This is the mindset you and your dog needs to arrive at together.
Once your pet is comfortable with being in his crate, you can use it for travelling as well. The crate becomes a safe and familiar space for your pet. Keeping your pet in a crate in a moving vehicle is always a safer option.
The crate can also be a space to unwind or recover. If your dog is recovering from an injury or operation, limiting movement is a good idea. But if a dog is not accustomed to being in a confined space, it can do more harm than good. So it’s always a good idea to crate train your dog even if it’s not something you’ll be using on a daily basis.
Crate placement: Where is the best place to put the crate?
There are different arguments for where you should place the crate. Some experts say it’s best to put the crate in “the room where the family spends most of its time”. While others think that it should be in a place that’s a cozy getaway from noise and disturbance.
Depending on when and how you’re using the crate, a slightly different approach can be taken. A healthy balance is a quiet corner in the family room. Some experts advise to cover at least 2 sides of the crate with a towel or blanket. The blanket will dampen noise and block out some light. This will create a dark and soothing environment.
Figuring out where best to place the crate is also important when you’re helping your dog overcome fear and anxiety. It needs to be a safe and secluded spot in the house, but you should still be able to keep an eye out for him.
Can a dog crate be too big?
YES. That’s the short answer. Having a crate that’s far too big for your pet can pose soiling and safety issues. Let’s dive deeper into when it’s a bad idea to have a crate that’s too big and the reasons behind it.
Dogs prefer not to sleep in their soil, so they won’t soil inside the crate. However, if the crate is too big, it can start to feel like he can soil one part of the crate and still sleep comfortably in the other.
This is especially true when you’re starting crate training a puppy. A puppy who’s still in training is still unsure where to potty. Having a too big crate will send the wrong message and set the training back.
So for puppies still in crate training, keep the crate size to the minimum amount for him to be comfortable. But more importantly bring him out for potty breaks every few hours at least.
Alternatively, you can provide a potty area that’s always available to your puppy. This setup is often referred to as the puppy play den. If you’re building a puppy play den then, then check out this useful guide by Simpawtico Dog Training.
Make sure the crate door cannot be accidentally shut preventing him from accessing the crate. In this case, removing the crate door entirely is a good idea.
For a more seasoned crate-user, a larger crate poses less of an issue. If your dog is well trained to be comfortable in a crate, then you shouldn’t have to worry about soiling. That’s again provided that potty breaks are provided.
When a crate is too large, travelling in it will not be as comfortable or safe. Your pet will be slosh around in the crate and they won’t feel too secure. They’re more likely to bump up against the wall panels.
Dog crate size chart by breed
Here is a resource to dog crate size based on breed. This is a general guideline. Keep in mind that there are still differences in size between individual dogs of the same breed.