How we selected the best soft dog crates
If you’re looking at soft dog crates, chances are you’ve already realised wire crates aren’t the best option for you or your pup. But while a soft-side crate will undoubtedly make a comfortable spot for your prized pooch, they are several key features you need to look out for depending on what you want to use your crate for, especially if you plan on taking it on trips!
You don’t want your pup to feel confined, and so the ideal crate should offer them plenty of room for them to move around in. If you’re not sure about the size of your dog and what they’ll need, please consult our ‘crate size by breed and weight’ guide further below.
We wanted to try and find a selection of soft crates of various sizes. Surprisingly, there was a great choice of larger soft crates, but some lacked the quality of smaller soft crates due to their size. We looked at thousands of reviews to ensure that any soft crate which promises to fit a labrador really does do as it says.
If you want to be able to move your pet’s portable home around at will, you’re going to need it to be as lightweight as possible! Luckily, we found that most soft crates are generally light anyway due to their materials, but if you’re purchasing a particularly large one, make sure to check the specified weight of the product to make sure you can lift it.
This was especially relevant when we tested smaller crates that may be carried with the dog inside. You don’t want to be adding to the weight of the dog too much, but you can’t give way to quality.
As well as the crate being lightweight, if you plan on transferring it around, you’ll need it to have suitable handling. We looked for things like long top handles and adjustable over-the-shoulder straps to make life a lot easier!
The handles also had to be strong. A few products we disregarded stated that handles came unravelled when carrying the crate, or that the material of the handle was very uncomfortable.
Foldability and easy set up/storage
Many soft-sided crates are foldable, which means they don’t require tools to assemble. A good soft crate should be a fabric material and collapse down to be stored as and when required.
Some have an inner steel frame to give a bit more sturdiness – great for dogs that can be fidgety. We still looked for the importance of easily building or folding down for quick storage, though. You don’t want to feel like you’re building a 10-man tent.
If you’re only going to use the crate on holiday’s and trips, collapsibility is a great feature as it means you can stow away the kennel when not in use and also easily transport it in the car.
The one huge con of soft dog crates is that they can often be made of materials that are easily torn and ripped. This is especially the case if you’re pup is the type to go out of their way to rip them up! We searched for soft crates made of a more durable nylon or polyester material as opposed to a soft cloth.
Plenty of poorly reviewed crates had stories of dogs chewing through doors or ripping mesh windows to get out, which is something you would likely not want to risk being repeated so they didn’t make the cut.
Windows and ventilation
Naturally, none of us particularly enjoy being thrown into a box with no windows. Therefore you may want to choose a crate that provides plenty of visuals for your pup to relieve any anxiety they might feel. More importantly, these windows must also offer plenty of ventilation so your pup can breathe easy!
However, we also know that some dogs actually prefer quieter, darker environments to help them feel calmer. So, there are also a few crates on our list which are closed in but still offer mesh windows for breathability.
Comfort mats or beds
Not a necessity, but crates that offered these as a bonus got some extra points. Despite their name, a soft crate’s base is never actually that comfy, especially when against the ground or a hard floor. A comfy bed or fleece partition is incredibly useful in making your pooch feel at home, and will save you shelling out for a suitably-sized dog bed to put inside!
But we still made sure they were easy to clean, could be removed from the crate and again, weren’t easy to rip or chew.