The 6 Best Dog Crates For Cars Australia: Tested & Evaluated 2023
If you’ve been letting your dog hitch a ride in the back seat of your car unrestrained, we don’t blame you. Many of us have done it. But, there are better and safer ways to transport your dog in a car. And the absolute safest way is to use a quality dog crate for car rides.
But how do you find the perfect option for your pooch? To answer this question thoroughly, we teamed up with veterinarians, canine behaviour experts, and dog parents alike to form our independent team of experts. Then, we spent months testing out dozens and dozens of the most popular dog crates for cars Australia offers. What we learnt was amazed us, and resulted in this comprehensive guide.
Today, we’ll discuss everything related to travel crates: Why they are great, why some of them are not so great, and how to choose the best option for your canine companion.
Quick Picks - The Top 3
Our Number 1 Pick -
- Available in a variety of sizes
- Adjustable depth
- Easy to use
Runner Up -
PP Kennel Pet Transporter
- Sturdy construction
- Easy to clean
- Suitable for flying too
- Includes a water bowl
- Easy to assemble
Third Choice -
PaWz Soft Pet Portable Crate
- Lots of windows for good airflow
- Folds down easily for storage
- Water-resistant exterior
- Includes storage pockets
Australia's Best Dog Car Crates Reviewed
Ready to get your new crate and start a journey with your canine companion? These are the best options our independent panel of experts found. They stood up to our tests and suit a variety of dog breeds and price points.
What sets this product apart from the rest?
"The VarioCage Original car dog crate is the best, no doubt about it, it's not cheap but nothing else comes close to providing the same safety standards as this option."
The Variocage car cages, produced by a Swedish company called MIM construction, are the absolute leaders in the global market when it comes to car safety.
As we mentioned above, dog car safety equipment standards are very low in most countries, so pretty much anything can be marketed as safety equipment, with the safety part not being proven in any way. Well, that’s not the case with VarioCage.
These cages have been crash-tested by the Research Institutes of Sweden in 2012, and again in 2015 as part of the independent study conducted by the Center for Pet Safety (x). Both studies gave the green light. Although the results in the second study were not perfect, the dog-dummy remained safe, which is all we want from car safety equipment.
So what makes the VarioCage different from the others? It’s not the bulkiness of the build, it’s the built-in compression area that follows the crumple zone of the car. In the case of a crash, the cage will compress (along with your car) which prevents breaking.
Our panel of experts note that these cages are not cheap, and also not very portable. You’ll probably want to install one in your car and keep it there. If you're looking for a strictly portable option, check out our number two option ahead.
However, we think these cages are the safest option available. I also love how they come in a variety of sizes so it was easy for me to find the one that fit my car whilst working well for my dog.
The PP Kennel pet transporter was primarily designed for flying. As such, it was designed to meet the IATA requirements concerning animal transport containers. That means that the carrier must be made of a strong, durable material, it has a secure lockable door, it’s non-toxic, and it’s safe for the animal too (no sharp corners on the inside, big enough, enough ventilation).
Considering all of that and our own research, our team of independent experts could conclude that this carrier is a decent option for the car too. The shell of this pet crate is made of plastic which is 2 mm thick. The bottom and the top half come together using metal screws (which is important, as plastic connectors can easily fail). On the top part, you’ll find lots of ventilation holes on each side and a handle on top for easier carrying.
The door is made from thick metal wires and has a secure locking mechanism.
Like our number four option ahead, I also like that the pet crate also comes with a water bowl that you can hang on the door and a funnel for filling the water bowl without opening the door. This might not be very useful for car rides, but it is a nice feature to have. This pet transporter is made in a variety of sizes, but the larger ones aren’t always easily available
This portable pet crate from PaWz is a quick and easy solution for all your travel needs. If you only use your travel crate occasionally and don’t want to invest too much in a huge crate, this might be a good option.
So what makes this crate different from the others on this list? Well, for starters, it folds down flat, so you can easily store it out of sight when not in use. Of course, this is a soft crate, with walls made of fabric and a steel frame. It’s not the toughest structure ever built, but it is quite sturdy under normal conditions.
The great thing about this travel crate is that it was built for both your dog’s and your comfort. There are multiple mesh windows on all sides, with fabric covers that can be opened or closed. One of my favourite features is that this crate features one door at the front and one on top, so it can be used as a top-loading travel crate too.
On the inside, you’ll find a removable fleece pad for even more comfort for your pooch. On the outside, there are multiple storage pockets for your convenience as well as a carrying strap. Like our first two options, it's available in different sizes.
If you are looking for a travel carrier similar to the PP Kennel Pet Transporter mentioned above, but wanted in a bigger size, then consider the K9 Pet Carrier. The largest version of this crate is 94 cm long, 62 cm wide, and 84 cm high, which is about as big as these plastic carriers get.
There is a reason why this type of crate usually isn’t made in huge sizes: it would get quite heavy. According to our panel of independent experts, the large crate will weigh 8 kg on its own. This is understandable and necessary since the plastic used to make the crate is quite thick and dense, and hence heavy. Again, 8 kg is reasonable for a robust crate like this one, but if you plan to lift it in and out of the car often, consider if you can handle the weight.
Otherwise, this is a great, classic travel crate for larger dogs. The walls of the crate are made of smooth plastic with lots of ventilation holes. The door is metal and it locks securely, like our number one and number two choices. A water bowl is included too. In short, all the standard features are there
This cage from VidaXL is a very robust product that will take up the entire backseat of your car (unless you are driving a van or another roomy vehicle). If you are driving a standard hatchback or SUV, the main issue with this cage will be making sure that it fits. It did fit perfectly in my car and the cars of my other panel members, but for some, it might be too big.
The cage is 94 cm wide, 88 cm deep at the base (getting more narrow towards the top, which helps fit it inside the car), and 69 cm high. This creates a very wide and spacious area that might be suitable for two small or medium dogs or one large dog.
The VidaXL Dog Cage being tested by our independent expert team.
The frame and bars of the cage are made of aluminium pipes. Since VidaXL chose to use aluminium here, the cage is quite lightweight while also being fairly strong - although not as strong as if it were made of steel, for example.
The aluminium frame is combined with wooden (actually MDF, to be precise) boards to create a wholesome interior. Overall, it’s a nice option that will make your dog feel comfy and give you peace of mind. Compared to other similar constructions, the crate is quite affordable too.
This pet transporter from Amazon Basics can be a quick fix if you need a dog carrier and aren’t ready to invest a lot of money in a permanent solution.
If your dog is small enough, that is. I have a toy breed so this wasn't an issue for my dog. However, members of our independent panel with large breed dogs did not find it suitable for their pooches. The larger version of this pet kennel is 58 cm long and 33 cm high and is suitable for dogs weighing up to 9 kg (providing that they can fit in the carrier comfortably).
The Amazon Basics Two-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel being tested by our independent expert team.
The carrier looks just like most plastic carriers, but it’s considerably cheaper. There are two plastic ‘tubs’, one for the bottom and one for the top - this one with ventilation holes. There is a metal door on the front that locks and another one on the top of the carrier so you can put your dog inside from above.
Overall, it’s a decent option and similar to our number two and number choices, except that it doesn’t include any extras and isn’t the most durable.
Everything You Need to Know About Putting A Dog Crate In Your Car
Is it necessary to restrain a dog on a car ride? This is a very common question, but one that often doesn’t get any concrete answers. When it comes to Australia, the rules vary from state to state. The only thing that seems to be universally illegal is to have a dog on your lap while driving (1).
But letting your dog ride in the back seat unrestrained might not be an issue in some places, as far as traffic law is concerned. Still, it is often recommended (2). The number one reason behind this is that having a dog restrained (or crated) eliminates the danger of the dog distracting the driver. But, even if your dog is perfectly behaved, using a car harness or a crate can make the difference between life and death in the case of a crash.
Now, both a harness and a crate are perfectly fine providing they are well-made. The choice is entirely up to you. But, using a crate can come with some advantages.
According to our team of independent experts, these are the main benefits of using a crate for your dog on car rides:
What I Look for in a Car Dog Crate
But how do you choose the right crate for your dog and your car? After testing out several dozen ourselves, here's what we think are the main things to consider.
There are many things to consider when choosing a car crate, but perhaps the first one should be the size. If the crate is not the right size, all of the other cool features will be pretty useless.
The rule of thumb when choosing crates is that your dog should be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down while inside the crate. Follow this, but we also recommend not choosing a crate that’s too big either.
If you also plan to use your car crate as a transporter to carry your dog in on occasion, make sure it has the weight capacity to support that.
Material & Construction
When choosing a dog crate for your car, there are quite a few material and construction options. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to figure out which one might work the best.
Probably the most common crates are the plastic type that’s also often used for flying. These are generally ok, and if you are using one of those make sure that the plastic walls are thick and that the connections between the plastic parts are sturdy (usually this means that the screws and nuts should be made of metal and not plastic).
On the other hand, some pet parents opt for soft crates with metal frames and fabric walls. While not incredibly safe in the case of a crash, these crates will still do a good job at keeping your pet restrained.
And then, finally, there are the large safety cages with thick metal bars and a variety of safety features.
So, when considering the material, you should adjust your standards to the type of crate you want and also how much money you are willing to invest.
Ventilation is one of the most important features of a dog crate. Our experts say it’s quite simple: there should always be enough holes in the windows to ensure constant airflow. You don’t want your dog to suffocate in there!
And that’s completely true. The thing is, there are no strict standards for testing car safety equipment for dogs, and finding products that are crash-tested can be very difficult. And even then, the meaning of the ‘crash test’ can be questionable.
One of the rare examples of independent crash testing of dog products is a study conducted in 2015 by the Center for Pet Safety in the US. While all the crates they tested were labelled as “crash protection” or something similar, some of them failed miserably.
However, while they are best in terms of security, dog car crates that pass the crash test can be both expensive and difficult to find. And all of this doesn’t mean that regular crates aren’t helpful at all. There is a lot of space between a calm car ride and a heavy crash in which your car gets crumpled. For all those situations in between, a regular crate can be useful.
Our team of experts suggest you look for crates that have a sturdy construction, no sharp edges inside that could hurt your dog, and hopefully, some way to anchor the crate to your car so it doesn’t move around while driving.
My Final Thoughts
The best crate for car rides? Well, our team of independent experts agreed that the Variocage, which is more of a robust cage than a crate, seems like the best long-term option. It offers serious protection, it’s quite roomy and fairly easy to install and manage.
However, it might be a bit of an overkill if all you need is something for the occasional short ride. In that case, a simple crate like the PP Kennel Pet Transporter might be a good starting point.
Dogs should be restrained while travelling in a car for their own and your safety, even if they are well-behaved. Putting the dog in a crate or transporter is one option, while car harnesses offer an alternative. Some form of restraint is recommended to both minimise the risk of distracting the driver and to prevent the dog from becoming a projectile and flying out of the car in the case of a crash.
There are no official rules when it comes to crates in cars, but putting the crate in the boot of your car is the safest option. Some pet parents also choose to put the crate in the back seat, especially with smaller dogs. In any case, try to make sure that the crate is secured from moving around, using a seatbelt or otherwise. We do not recommend putting a dog crate into the passenger seat, but if you were to do it, make sure that the airbag is off - these are designed to protect people and can seriously harm dogs if they go off.
If your dog is not comfortable in a crate, or you have other reasons to avoid it (i.e. your car is not big enough), consider using a car harness to keep your dog safely in place.
- Walden, L. “Travelling with pets: the rules and regulations”. Pet Professional. Retrieved February 8, 2023. https://www.petprofessional.com.au/info-centre/travelling-with-pets/
- Do I need to restrain my dog when travelling in my car?” RSPCA. Retrieved February 8, 2023. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/do-i-need-to-restrain-my-dog-when-travelling-in-my-car/
- Madison, C. March 20, 2022. “Preventing and Treating Travel Anxiety in Dogs”. Preventive Vet. Retrieved February 8, 2023. https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/preventing-travel-anxiety-and-carsickness-in-dogs
- Godio, M. August 2, 2021. “Safe car travel with your dog: Crash-tested harnesses, crates and carriers”. NBC News. Retrieved February 8, 2023. https://www.nbcnews.com/select/shopping/safe-car-travel-dogs-ncna1275708