Every dog deserves a bone—and a box. The box is shelter, refuge, safety—and convenience, for both of you.
We call these boxes travel crates or kennels. Their role is to contain Dog in the kind of cozy den canines have lived in for millions of years. Instead of an underground warren, the modern dog den is steel or molded plastic. But to Dog it’s the same dark, quiet, secure space in which she can relax without worrying that something can sneak up from behind.
Kennel crates reduce stress for Dog’s partners and caretakers, too. We know our dog inside a box is secure and accounted for—safe from rabid skunks and coons, protected from sudden stops or rollovers on the highway, secured against running away or chewing up the sofa while we’re out. We can stick a wet, muddy, smelly dog in its crate and contain the mess. You’ll appreciate this the first time Princess rolls in fresh cow dung just prior to the two-hour ride home in the new truck.
Kennels have been around since nail-and-lumber days, but they are now made of steel and plastic. Plastics are most popular for portability and minimum weight. These four examples run the gamut from cheap and basic, through expensive, durable and elaborate.
This is the typical, basic plastic kennel available in most pet stores. It weighs 5-30 pounds depending on size, and comes in two nesting halves for takedown storage.
Pros • Lightweight • Inexpensive ($30-$90) • Good air circulation • Doors can usually be reversed
Cons • Tough, but eventually crack • Connecting screws can vibrate out • Minimal impact protection • Top handle can pull through
My take: Great value for the price. Easy to move. Adequate for local travel, lightweight for lower-cost air shipment. Not much impact protection. Nervous, aggressive, chewing and scratching dogs can destroy it in short order.
Pros • Lightweight • Reversible, anti-rattle doors • One-piece roto-molded, single-wall polyethylene • Won’t crack in cold or degrade in sun • Attachment points for stacking or connecting multiple kennels • Energy-absorbing flexibility • Optional top handles and tie-downs • Raised floor with moat • Three sizes, four colors, including orange
Cons • Price: $140-$340, depending on size
My Take: I love this single-wall kennel. Simple, one-piece, no assembly required, and much stronger and tougher than most. At 20 pounds, it's not too heavy. No joints or grooves, no screws to lose on long rides, easy to keep clean. Quiet (no door rattles). Excellent ventilation, but you’ll need a cover in cold weather. Best intermediate size for smaller vehicles.
Pros • One-piece, roto-molded, single-wall construction • Integrated aluminum tie-downs and double top handles • Paddle latch, key lock • Reversible "chew-proof" door with stainless steel hinges, lock • Raised floor with moat • Drain plugs for easy cleaning • Removable back window • Rubber, anti-slide feet at corners
Cons • A bit heavy for air shipment •Price: $499.99 • Only one color, one size
My Take: This is a well-thought-out, strong, durable kennel providing good impact protection. Top handles are perfect for hoisting into a truck bed. Oversized for smaller breeds, perfect for your typical Lab. Drain plugs are a nice touch. Not sure how useful the closing side vents are, or the lockable door. I appreciate how the rubber feet and integral tie-downs prevent sliding in truck boxes.
Pros • Double-walled, roto-molded construction • Stainless-steel tie-down bars • Reinforced aluminum frame, nylon "chew-proof" door, piano hinge • Tapered vent slots drain away rain • Drain plug • Raised floor with moat • Rubber, anti-slide feet at corners • Optional cooling fan • Four sizes
Cons • Price: $599.99 • Heavy • A bit challenging to assemble
My Take: The Gunner G1 is no-holds-barred tough and protective. This is the travel crate providing ultimate protection for Dog. The double-wall construction has been tested to withstand 4,000 pounds of force without crushing, and keeps Dog cooler and warmer. This is the ultimate box for Dog safety, but you'll pay a premium for its features, and it's not the easiest to hoist in and out of rigs on a regular basis.