Whether you plan to take a trip by road, sea, or air, holidays are always much more fun if you can take your furry friend with you.
If you are thinking of heading away with Fido in tow, you’ll need an effective dog crate for travel to streamline the process.
Travel dog crates, also known as pet carriers, offer a safe and enclosed space so that your furry friend can travel in comfort and style. Travel crates differ from the dog crates you use at home by improving security features to make traveling with your pet much less hassle.
As an added bonus, a great travel crate will also double up as a containment crate when you reach your destination.
If you have no idea how to choose the best dog crate for travel, keep the following pointers in mind on the buying trail:
If you are thinking of investing in a car carrier, focus on the following elements:
Now, before we launch into our product reviews, a note on traveling with your dog by air. If you need to fly with a larger dog in tow, make sure that you opt for a heavy-duty crate designed with the needs of larger breeds in mind.
While the terms dog carrier and dog crate are sometimes used interchangeably, there are some important distinctions. According to CPS (Center for Pet Safety), crates are large containment devices intended to be placed in the cargo space of a van, truck, or SUV. Pet carriers, on the other hand, are typically used for small breeds.
If you keep these pointers in mind, you should find it seamless to navigate our reviews of all the best dog crates designed with transportation in mind.
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The 11 Best Dog Crates for Travel
1. Our Pick PetMate Ruffmax Dog Carrier
Our overall favorite from today’s cross-section of dog crates for travel comes from the inimitable PetMate. This brand has been in business for almost half a century, bringing you cost-effective pet products of the highest quality.
This 24-inch crate is designed to transport smaller dogs weighing from 10 pounds to 20 pounds. Suitable for dogs of all life stages, the crate is constructed from recycled plastic, so you’ll be doing your part for the environment while also keeping Fido safely contained.
While the build quality is solid, we feel that this crate is slightly flimsy, so we recommend handling it with care. On the plus side, this is one of the lightest of all travel carriers that doesn’t compromise on security.
You will get the nuts and bolts you need to install this crate included. Set-up is reasonably straightforward, and the instructions are clear and easy to understand.
Designed to comply with most airline travel requirements, you can take your furball on the trip of a lifetime. Always check with the airline before flying to avoid any surprises at check-in.
The shell of this crate is plastic, and the metal door comes equipped with a sturdy latch. The crate is well-ventilated, allowing your dog to stay safe and comfortable while you head off for pastures new.
This camo-colored crate is ideal for transporting your dog just about anywhere, so what are you waiting for?
2. PetMate Sky Kennel
Next in line is another entry from PetMate with their classic Sky Kennel, the optimum method of securely transporting your pooch by air.
This lightweight crate is also remarkably rugged, so you should get plenty of faithful service from your investment.
You can choose from a wide variety of sizes from this 21-inch crate – the smallest in the line – to a spacious 48-inch crate suitable for bigger breeds. This is the base model featuring just the carrier. You can also purchase iterations including a bowl and a travel kit.
The shell of the crate is made from long-lasting plastic, the wing-nuts won’t rust out, and the steel wire on the doors means that even aggressive chewers won’t escape from this crate in transit.
As with all crates designed for air travel, the Sky Kennel complies with most cargo specs, but you should always verify with the airline before you arrive at the airport. Any complications at that late stage could be very costly.
Like the first PetMate crate we review above, this model also feels rather flimsy and quite brittle. In all other respects, though, this is one of the best dog crates for air travel, allowing you to relax and enjoy your flight without worrying about your dog being unsecure or uncomfortable.
3. EliteField Folding Soft Dog Crate
Not everyone wants or needs a hard canine travel crate, so next up is a soft carrier from Elite Field that’s well worth popping on your shortlist.
You’ll be rewarded with a wide array of colors so you can match the crate to your furball’s temperament. The crate is also available in five different sizes. This crate measures 24 inches and is the second-smallest in the line. If you have a bigger breed, the largest crate on offer measures up at 42 inches.
There are three mesh doors on this crate to streamline access and improve ventilation, crucial if you’re taking Rover on a longer trip.
Not only is the carrier reasonably lightweight, but you can also collapse it down when it’s not in use for easier storage and transportation.
The interior of the crate is padded to make your pup feel as comfy as possible when he’s traveling. The ability to see out of the crate should also allay any anxiety your pooch may have about travel.
Both the cover and the bed inside this crate are easy to remove and wash, simplifying upkeep.
You can stash any extras in the pockets on the front and side of the crate.
Even though you can find lighter soft dog crates for travel, you won’t find many that are more comfortable or longer-lasting.
4. Petsfit Dog Car Seat
Petsfit offers up a dog car seat that ensures your furball will stay safe, secured, and comfortable, even if you’re heading on a lengthy car trip.
One of the first benefits of this car seat is that it is designed with the needs of dogs up to 55 pounds in mind, making it suitable for most small, medium, and large breeds. Another bonus is that you can fit two smaller dogs inside this carrier, giving of peace of mind and undistracted driving. There are two smaller carriers available if you need less space for a smaller dog.
We also love the reversible liner. The soft Oxford cloth is ideal for summer use, while the plush fabric on the reverse will help your pup to stay snug in the colder months. The liner is removable and washable for your convenience.
The seat is very easy to install in the rear seat of your car. There is a ring integrated which allows you to fix your dog’s harness to the seat, guaranteeing no antics or distractions when you’re driving.
Choose from a trio of colors to suit and benefit from a durable booster seat that should return a lengthy lifespan. The one weak spot that we detected comes in the form of the zipper. Handle this with extreme care to avoid any premature breakages.
5. One for Pets Portable Double Kennel
If you have more than one smaller dog at home, this double kennel allows you to travel with both in tow. How does it shape up, then?
Sized at 20 inches, if you act quickly, you’ll pick up a great deal as this crate is currently discounted.
Choose from a handful of colorways to suit your furballs and you’ll benefit from a lightweight and versatile pet transportation solution.
If you only have one dog, you can remove the divider and allow him to travel with plenty of room to stretch.
Three zippered doors mean you’ll run into no problems when trying to get your pups in and out of this thing.
Inside the carrier, hanging hooks allow you to incorporate an optional hammock if you want to give your hounds a decadent treat when they’re traveling.
Depending on how you are traveling with your pets and how they tend to behave, you might find that this model doesn’t offer enough security. If you feel this could be the case, explore some of the more secure models we review above and below.
For those looking to transport more than one dog with their comfort prioritized, this crate is a must. Those requiring security first and foremost can do better elsewhere.
6. Morpilot Dog Carrier
For owners of small dogs, we have a dog and cat carrier that’s approved for use on most airlines, so what do you get for your money?
The first things that stand out are the budget pricing and the large discount up for grabs if you act quickly and buy this crate for the holiday season. Not only this, but you’ll also be rewarded with a carrier that’s built to a much higher standard than most budget dog crates for travel.
The hardwearing polyester on the outside of this carrier will give you plenty of service from the Morpilot. Inside, you get a fleece-lined mat and a PP board. You can remove these for ease of cleaning. Since the fabric is dark, you should find that stains are not too easily noticeable.
At the front of the carrier is a handy pocket for any pet supplies you need close at hand.
One thing worth pointing out is that the crate has a very strong musty smell that’s apparent upon unboxing. This will fade but if that sounds like a deal-breaker, explore some of the other crates we review above and below.
Ventilated on all four sides, lightweight, and durable, this is a highly effective pet transportation solution, especially useful for smaller dogs.
7. Amazon Basics Soft Folding Dog Crate
Amazon Basics produces equipment at bargain prices without stinting on build quality or performance. This soft folding dog crate continues that winning tradition, so how does it stand and fall?
The first thing we appreciate is the ease of set-up. You won’t need any tools or DIY skills to get up and running right out the box.
Choose from one of four colorways, including this bright blue carrier. Of the many sizes available, this is the 26-inch carrier. Refer to the buying guide above for suggested breeds compatible with this size of crate.
Soft-sided and collapsible, this is a lightweight and convenient travel crate ideal for taking your dog to the vet or the groomer in the car.
A shoulder handle and a handle baked into the top of the carrier allow you to use different methods of carrying your pet depending on the situation.
The crate is nicely ventilated, and your pup can also monitor his surroundings on the road, while at the same time remaining securely zippered into place.
If you have a smaller dog and you’re looking for a means of transporting him safely and comfortably, we can’t recommend this soft carrier strongly enough. Does it make the right choice for you and your dog, though?
8. Sherpa Original Deluxe Travel Carrier
Sherpa is one of the most reputable brands in the business, and this deluxe travel carrier will allow you to indulge your pooch when you head on a trip – even if you’re going overseas.
The soft polyester carrier is designed to fit under most airline seats. Whether you have a toy breed, a teacup breed, or even a cat, you can take them with you anywhere you go with this airline-approved carrier from Sherpa. You can push the frame of this carrier down to facilitate sliding it under the seat on a plane, or if you need to fit it into a tight space in the back of your car.
Inside the crate is a removable liner, removing any obstacles when it comes to keeping Rover spotless.
This is the largest of the three sizes available, measuring 19 inches. If you have a bigger breed, we suggest checking out some of the larger travel crates we highlight above.
We are sorry to report that this is yet another dog crate on our list today that features a cheap and shoddy zipper. Open and close the zipper with care to avoid any nasty surprises.
Whether you and your dog are traveling by car, bus, train, or plane, you can keep him safe and comfy in this outstanding soft crate from Sherpa.
9. Sleepypod Pet Carrier
What do you get for your money with the Sleepypod pet carrier?
Firstly, choose from one of six striking colors, including this fire hydrant red example that should put you and your hound in a good mood when you travel.
There is only one size available, measuring up at 22 inches. If you have a smaller breed, this will make the perfect travel cocoon.
Made from a long-lasting nylon, there is a padded shoulder strap included, allowing you to easily carry your dinky dog as you head to the plan.
Inside the carrier is a comfy doggie bed, enabling your furball to relax as he soars through the air.
This soft carrier is unsuitable for use in airline cargo holds. Instead, the carrier is intended for use in the cabin, sliding neatly under most plane seats.
There are straps on both sides of the carrier and as an inbuilt bonus, the crate collapses when not in use making it much easier to store in small spaces.
Oversized zippered pockets on both sides of the carrier allow you to keep all your dog’s accessories safe, secure, and close at hand.
Aside from an overpowering smell that’s evident upon unboxing, this is one of the best dog crates for travel you’ll find.
10. K&H Pet Products Travel Carrier
This soft travel carrier from K&H Pet Products offer you the ability to transport your doggo in the car safely and comfortably, reducing the chance that you’ll be distracted when driving.
The largest of the three iterations, this carrier measures up at 29.5 inches, making it suitable for small and medium breeds weighing up to 40 pounds.
There are two doors so you can easily get your pooch in and out of this thing.
Super-simple to install in the back seat of your car, you can head off a long road trip with no concerns about your dog playing up in the back seat and taking your attention away from the road.
You can install the carrier in a matter of second by folding it up or down. This is especially handy if you need to store the crate in limited space between uses.
Aside from an overall flimsiness that suggests you might not get the longest lifespan from this carrier, this is an effective and safe method of transporting your pooch in the back of your car.
11. Pet Gear Car Seat and Carrier
Pet Gear has a deep bench of highly effective and affordable pet equipment. How does this soft dog crate for travel fare?
This is a smaller crate that is intended for dogs that weigh no more than 20 pounds. If you have a larger furry friend, you can find many bigger crates on our shortlist to suit. Small dog owners, read on.
Despite the pocket-friendly pricing, you’ll get a tether thrown in with this carrier, ensuring that your pooch stays securely fastened inside the carrier. This is especially valuable if your dog is cheeky and prone to pulling an escape act.
At the front and on top of the carrier, there are mesh windows, providing Fido with ample ventilation, while at the same time allowing him to peek outside.
Regrettably, this is another carrier that comes with a lamentably weak zipper. We suggest handling this extremely carefully to avoid any frustrating damage that compromises the security of the carrier.
As an added kicker, this model also serves double duty as a car seat, giving you a great deal of bang for your buck, as well as one of the most effective methods of transporting small dogs. What are you waiting for?
1) Why do I need to contain my dog in a crate in the car?
There are three main reasons to contain your dog in a crate:
- Safety: don’t allow your dog to become a projectile in a collision.
- Security: your dog will be contained in the event of an accident.
- Restraint: reduce the chance of your dog distracting you while driving.
2) What are some of the most important features in a dog crate for car travel?
Some of the most critical features to look out for on a dog crate for cars include:
- Great ventilation.
- Stackability for more than one dog.
- Carrying handles.
- Tie-down options.
3) How can I make a travel crate more comfortable for my dog?
There are many different ways in which you can increase the comfort factor inside your furball’s travel crate. Cushions, blankets, and waterproof liners are all worth having inside the crate. Bumpers are useful if your dog like to snuggle up in the corner of his crate. Crate covers can transform your pup’s travel crate into a den to-die-for.
4) What are the airline cargo requirements for dogs?
The rules relating to the types of containers approved for transporting dogs, cats, and birds, whether flying in the cabin or in the cargo hold were developed by IATA (International Air Transport Association). Most of the world’s major airlines adhere to these regulations. It is considered best practice to have one animal per crate. That said, IATA rules state that you can place two animals in a single container, as long as they weigh less than 30 pounds and are compatible animals of the same species. Many airlines will also set their own rules, meaning it is vital to call the airline before traveling with your dog. Minimum requirements include:
- Crate large enough for dog to stand, turn, and lie down.
- Constructed of metal, rigid plastic, fiberglass, solid wood, metal mesh, or plywood.
- Solid, leakproof floor.
- Handles or handling space bars on long side of crate.
- Container door must have a secure and spring loaded locking system.
- Doors made of welded metal, cast metal, or heavy plastic.
- Sturdy and non-collapsible.
- Solid roof with ventilation.
- Food and water bowls attached inside of front door.
- Bowls must be refillable from outside of crate without needing to open the door.
- Ventilation on at least two sides.
- LIVE ANIMAL stickers on top and sides. Letters must be at least one inch tall.
- Shipper’s Declaration indicating when your pet was last fed and watered.
- No wheels on the crate.
- Pet identification.
- Forklift spacers if your pet weighs more than 132 lbs.
We hope you have found plenty of inspiration in today’s showcase of the best dog crates for travel.
The most important thing when comparing crates is to double down on your use case. If you require a travel crate that enables you to take Rover to the vet or groomer in your car, you will have very different needs to a pet parent looking for their dog to accompany them on a long-haul flight.
If you have a particularly good dog crate that we didn’t review today, let us know what it is and why you like it in the comments below. In closing for today, bookmark GO Boxer Rescue and come back very soon!