Picking the Perfect Small Dog Crate for Your Puppy

Crate training your puppy is a crucial part to their development and future behavior. You’ll want to start with a small dog crate that’s safe and meets a few criteria, as well as their own individual needs.

Getting a puppy is a truly thrilling experience. Especially when getting one for the first time. The feeling of warmth that comes from getting a furry little bundle of joy is almost unmatched! It’s enough to bring some people to tears when they receive one as a gift.

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Along with all the good loving feelings that go hand-in-hand, it’s not long before you realize having a puppy also takes some work. It’s a labor of love really (and definitely should be); as you work with them to get them potty-trained and move them through their biting and chewing phase.

One key component for handling dogs under 1 year of age should be getting a small dog crate and training them to feel confident in it.

It’s important to crate train your dog as early on as possible; not only for your puppy’s well-being and safety, but for the sake of your possessions, your furniture, and your floor as well. Getting them crate trained early in life will help them feel more calm and comfortable being in their pen when they get older.



What to Look for In a Small-Sized Dog Crate?

When looking for the right pen for your puppy or small dog, there are a handful of things you should consider that will suit their needs as well as your own before buying. To name a few, here are some things their very first crate should entail…

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  • Is the crate going to be safe for them?
  • The size of your puppy in the first 6-12 months (to determine ideal crate size).
  • The bar spacing of the crate (the frame and the floor if it is barred).
  • How big will your dog get, and will you need to buy a bigger crate later?

These questions play an important part in finding the right one. For instance, the safety of your dog is a given; so you will want your puppy to be crated in something with small enough bars so they won’t get stuck or hurt themselves.

That being the case, you may want to get a starter crate as a temporary solution until they get a little older. Then later on, you can upgrade to something stronger and more spacious. If you have a small-breed dog like a dachshund, it’s not really a necessity and you won’t have to worry about buying a second crate unless you want one.

If you don’t like your pup “behind bars” you can go with a plastic dog crate with a solid enclosure; which especially comes in handy if you plan on traveling with your dog from time to time.

In this article we are going to take a deeper dive into an array of small-sized dog crates of different kinds, and asses their uses to help you nail down which one will be the right choice for your new puppy or small dog.


5 Useful Puppy Crates & Their Purpose


1. AmazonBasics 24 Inch Double-Door Dog Crate – Nice Wide Open Space

We picked this small wire dog crate out for the extra open space feeling that comes from having 2 door-entries; helping make it easier for dogs to feel more at home when they start out.

It’s a good starter-kennel and a nice safe enclosure for your puppy to have their first “crate-time” in. We also like that you can fold it like a briefcase to transport and store it so easily.


  • (+) Very portable – quickly collapsible, has a carry handle.
  • (+) Double Door entry – allows front and side entry for your puppy.
  • (+) Safety – mini bar-dividers on floor to prevent paw-injury.

Carry Like a Briefcase

The cage collapses down flat within a snap of the finger. It was designed for easy portability and carry-handles on the top of the cage. That way you can get up and go with it when you want to take your dog with you on vacation, or to a pet friendly hotel. It’s also convenient for bringing them to a friend or family member’s house to dog-sit your puppy for you. Not to mention you can store it easily with how compactible it is.

Double-Door Action

The double door is somewhat of unique element for wire frame crates to have. Most other models only have a front-entry door. The AmazonBasics model allows a nice wide open access for your dog to climb in and out of. It also gives you the option for which way you want to face the cage if you set it against the wall.

4-Paws Friendly

One of the things that makes us happy about this crate, is that it was built with a small dog’s safety in mind. The 22 inch, 24 inch, and 30 inch dog crate models have extra small bar spacing (about 1 cm) along the floor of the kennel to keep a puppy or small dog from getting their paws stuck.

The last thing you want is for them to be unsafe in their crate; we don’t want that either. Note this feature is available only up to the 30 inch model; the 36 through 48 inch models have regular bar-spacing along the floor. These larger size options are more ideal as a step-up crate, for when your puppy gets bigger and their paws won’t fit between the bars.


  • (-) Not ideal for outdoors – The reason we say this is because the plastic slide out tray can easily warp or melt under the Sun’s heat.

The Bottom Line:

If you want your dog to enjoy the nice wide open feeling of the double doors, and have high-visibility within its wire frame; they can very much take in their new surroundings in the AmazonBasics model.

You can have this benefit of the wire frame dog crate, and you still get the use of a portable dog crate because of its ability to fold flat and carry so easily. This is what makes a great starter crate for a puppy at a very affordable price-range.

We recommend the 22, 24, or 30 inch option for the safety’s sake of your puppy or small dog. The extra small bottom-frame bars will keep your pupper’s paws out of danger of getting stuck.


2. Petmate Sky Kennel – 6 Travel-Friendly Dog Crate Sizes

Petmate crates have been in the making for over 50 years now. They aim to make quality kennels that are safe and comfortable for dogs to be in. The Sky Kennel is one of the most travel-friendly dog crates, and is meets the requirements for many airlines.

It’s also excellent for home use, and makes a good place for your pup to lounge around in. This crate is made of heavy-duty hard plastic and very secure. All 4 sides are well ventilated so your dog can be as comfortable as possible in it.

While the ideal airline travel size favors smaller dogs, this crate still comes in 6 different size options from 21 inches, all the way up to 48 inches in crate length. However we are talking about smaller crating solutions here for your puppy or small-breed dog.

This kennel makes the list because the smaller models are very convenient in terms of travel, and it is nice cozy enclosure for your pup.


  • (+) Heavy-duty plastic – solid safe plastic material with full ventilation.
  • (+) Non-corrodible wing-nuts – heavy-duty plastic wing-nuts hold top on.
  • (+) 4-Way vaulted door – vault door made of strong steel wire for a secure enclosure.
  • (+) Food and water tray – hangs on the door for when you travel.
  • (+) Travel-friendly – meets travel requirements of many airlines.

Tough Stuff

It’s a very sturdy design. The majority of the crate is comprised of an eco-friendly hard plastic shell. Proper ventilation is a must, and there is plenty of it on all 4 sides. There are steel wire bars on both sides and the front door, while the back side has large vent holes cut out of the plastic to help them keep cool  and comfortable while in transit.

Locks Together Easily

The top of the crate is held to the bottom half by heavy-duty plastic wing-nuts. The wing-nuts are non-corrodible; they’re built to last and keep the kennel together for a long time. Some airlines are ok with them, some require metal nuts and bolts in order to travel (more on that in a minute).

It’s always good to check the travel requirements of your specific airline before flying and getting an extra set of metal hardware, just in case. A good recommendation for a metal hardware set specifically for travel dog crates is a 16-pack of inch and a quarter pet carrier metal fastener nuts and bolts. This way your hardware is specifically made to fit your crate.

If you end up needing to buy the metal ones to meet a specific airline’s requirements, definitely still hang on to the plastic hardware. They are still good for their non-corrodible aspect and make a good backup set.

The “Vault”

the Sky Kennel’s impressive looking door is also very secure and intricate. The 4-way vaulted door stays in place well, and is pretty safe against those “Houdini” dogs that like to figure their way out of the lock latch. They’ll find it pretty difficult to crack this safe.

Snap-On Tray

It was very thoughtful of the designer to include a small food and water dish that snaps onto the door. Not so big that it’s impractical. It provides a good amount for your dog to be able to stay refreshed, and still not be fill up on too much fluids while mid-flight.

Built to Fly

This is among one of the most airline-friendly dog crates you can find. The previously mentioned features were aimed at meeting airline approval standards; from the hard plastic well-ventilated shell, to it’s safe vaulted door.

The Sky Kennel comes with ID tags for easy retrieval of your “precious cargo” and less to worry about. There are also 2 stickers to signify there is a live animal inside the crate to ensure safe handling of your furry loved one.


  • (-) Handle can slip off – the handle on the smaller models is not solidly fastened to the kennel. It is clipped onto the top and has a chance of slipping out of it’s housing and off of the crate if not careful. This is something we really wish they would fix.
  • (-) Metal fasteners not included – it would be better if they came with the plastic hardware set, and a metal set to meet the criteria of certain airlines. However a metal set can be purchased on the cheap.

The Bottom Line:

For airline purpose, it’s better suited for adult small-breed dogs that are potty-trained; as opposed to a puppy that needs to go every 2 to 3 hours. For a puppy this is a good way to go for land travel, where you can always pull over somewhere and let them do their business when they need to.

With exception to the handle, we love the quality of this crate and how sturdy it is. Ventilation is more than ample for the dog, and for airline travel. This is one of the most accepted kennels for airlines out there. The door locking mechanism is somewhat intricate, which keeps you from having to worry about your doggie getting out. And they even thought to give it a food and water tray.

The only thing that we think they could have payed more mind to is the handle design. As always, we care very much about a dog’s safety. If purchasing one of the smaller models that come with a handle; it’s a good idea to not swing the crate around by the handle, and support the bottom of the kennel with your other hand whenever possible.

If you do not like the idea of the handle weakness, that’s understandable. You can always change your approach and go with a soft travel dog crate without a hard handle. The HiCaptain portable soft dog crate comes in 5 different sizes for dogs all the way up to 100 pounds and has 2 soft carry handles that are well affixed to the crate. It’s ideally made for land travel, but some airlines may allow you to use the HiCaptain for carry on.

With all that in mind, the Sky Kennel is a pretty solid solution for small adult dogs from about 10 to 25 pounds to fly in. We would recommend not traveling with a puppy by air if they are not yet potty-trained, as they typically can’t hold their fluids as long as a full grown adult dog.

However if you have a small puppy that’s still learning to potty-train, and you want to bring them on the road with you, you can store them in the Petmate (provided you have enough space for it in your vehicle), and make sure they don’t have any accidents on your car seat.


3. HiCaptain Portable Dog Crate – The Softer Side of Travel

As we talked about in the breakdown of the Petmate Sky Kennel, the HiCaptian portable soft dog crate bears mentioning because it dubs as an alternate travel option for your dog that meets good quality standards. This is a more practical solution for when on the go with your dog by land. It may be suitable for carry-on airline travel as well; depending the airline.

It’s a soft and strong material that has plenty of ventilation for your doggie to stay cool and comfortable in. It’s very easy to get your dog in and out of because the entries are zippered. Underneath the hood of its soft mesh exterior, is sturdy retractable steel-tubed frame that’s less than an inch thick. Yet, it can hold up against some serious weight.

It’s very lightweight and perfect for a road trip with your travel buddy. Or if you just want a place for your pup to hang out in it, indoors or out (there’s even a sun-visor). One thing that’s really impressive about this crate is that it has so many extra features designed into it. Below we will list a good majority of them.


  • (+) 3 Colors – comes in red, blue, or grey.
  • (+) Soft, but strong – heavy duty soft fabric coated with PVC.
  • (+) 5 Sizes – 5 size options to accommodate most dogs (up to 100 lbs.).
  • (+) Carry-handles – durable carry handle to tote your dog around.
  • (+) Steel frame – 0.8 inch steel-tube frame holds it all together.
  • (+) 1-Year warranty – 1-year manufacturer warranty against defects.
  • (+) Extra storage – has a storage pouch and water bottle strap & opening.
  • (+) Floor mat included – comes with a soft fleece floor mat for comfort.

Why Be Bland?

We know the main purpose of selecting a dog crate is for its usefulness and safety, but who says you can’t have a little fun with it too. The HiCaptain lets you pick from 3 different color options (red, blue, or grey) because we humans like a little variety, and why not have the ability to choose from 3 different looks?

Holds Up to Claws

Some dogs have the habit of scratching and clawing. The HiCaptain is made from a heavy duty soft material and coated with PVC to help prevent tearing; so your dog can scratch the crate without hurting their paws or ripping a hole in it. It’s also well ventilated with mesh windows on all 4 sides.

For Most Dog Sizes

The HiCaptain portable crate has 5 different crate sizes so you can have the ideal fit for your doggie. The extra-small size fits up to a 25 pound dog, which is pretty good for their smallest option. The largest of the 5 will hold a dog up to 100 pounds.

Easy to Tote Around

There are 2 soft nylon handles fixed to the top of the crate that make carrying around your dog a breeze. They are good and durable, so you can tote your “precious cargo” around safely.

Strong on the Inside

The inner frame of the crate is made of steel-tubing that is almost 1-inch thick. Although the tubing is very lightweight, it can still withstand a good amount of stress and is rated to handle 200 pounds.

1-Year Warranty

The manufacturer backs this product with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty against fabrication defects.

Pouches for the Pooch

The extra carrying pouch comes in handy if you want to put anything in there for you, or for your dog while the two of you are on the go. It aslo has a place for you to strap a water bottle into the side of it and a hole to stick the nozzle through; which is very convenient.

Cozy Floor Mat

Included in the package is a comfortable soft fleece floor mat so your dog can feel warm and comfortable while lounging around the house, or in the yard.


  • (-) No door lock – The door zipper is very convenient for accessability, but it’s intended purpose is not for “Houdini” dogs.

The Bottom Line:

This is one of our favorites because it’s much more than just your “basic model” crate. It gives the feel of a tent for your dog and is an all-around ideal setup for home or on the road. The mesh windows and colorful design make it both fun and versatile.

Traveling light is the best way when going somewhere, especially if you have to pack up your car when you are traveling. The HiCaptain portable dog crate makes it much easier because its so lightweight for when your dog is in it, and folds flat to save you space when your dog is not in it. The extra pouch and water bottle strap are a fun and useful feature to be prepared for your outing. Having a place to store food and water when they are thirsty or want a snack.

For road travel, camping, or leisure around the house, the HiCaptain comes highly recommended for puppies and small dogs. Once again, it can be used for airline travel; but check with the airline you are using for their requirements first. If you are looking to fly somewhere with your dog and need a hard plastic crate with a lock, you will want a crate that was made for air-travel, like the Sky Kennel. Either scenario, you will want to check with your airline for requirements first.

As far as for home use, the HiCaptain once again, is a wonderful dwelling for indoors or out in the yard. If your purpose is to keep your dog enclosed around the house, of course you will want to go with a crate where the doors lock like the AmazonBasics wire crate or something more heavy-duty if your dog is an avid escape artist.


4. Midwest Homes iCrate 24 Inch Dog Crate – for Making Your Own Space

We like this dog crate because it suits the many needs of a growing puppy and their owner very well. Our favorite thing about this is the divider panel that it comes with. Allowing you to customize the amount of space your dog has as they are growing and getting crate trained.

The iCrate is a very comparable solution to the AmazonBasics for wire crates with many similarities, and some differences. Such as the floor friendly roller feet that come with the iCrate to help keep your floors in-tact.


  • (+) Easily portable – easily collapsible, has a carry handle.
  • (+) Divider panel – Lets you adjust the dog’s enclosure space.
  • (+) Roller-feet – helps guard your floor from scratches.
  • (+) 1-Year warranty – comes with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Fold and Carry

Like the AmazonBasics, this wire frame crate folds down flat, and carries like a briefcase. It folds down quickly and easily so it’s not a big hassle. The carry handle allows you to tote it with one hand easily so you can hold your pooch in the other when the two of you are going somewhere. With how small it breaks down, it will not take up very much space at all in your car or storing it away in a closet.

Room to Grow

The iCrate comes with a divider panel which gives you space-customization options to suit your growing puppy’s needs. It’s also nice to have because dogs can differ in the amount of space they feel most calm and comfortable in. Which can make the crate training process better for both of you.

Floor Saver

One thing’s for certain; bringing a puppy into your family can pretty much ensure there will be some messes to clean, and some things torn up. The roller-feet on the bottom of the iCrate can help make one less thing be “collateral-damage” in your house by protecting your floor from scratching as they move around shifting their crate.

Yes, even the thrill of having a new dog in your home does have some drawbacks to it; but it’s all worth it for those little furry bundles of joy. Dogs are very good and loving animals, and deserve love and kindness as well. They just need someone to be patient with them while they grow and learn.

1-Year Warranty

People like this crate, but like any product, there can always be a few “duds” made down at the factory. Midwest backs this product with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty in case of the slight chance you received one with defects.


  • (-) Not “Houdini proof”– Most wire crates are not made for “escape artists” that like to open the door lock. Basic wire crates have simple latches that slide out very easily. If a dog has the habit of opening locks or breaking out of crates due to separation anxiety; you would do much better with a heavier-duty crate with a better locking system and thicker bars.

The Bottom Line:

All in all, the iCrate is a fine choice for your pup as a starter-crate. The divider panel makes the space size adjustable, so it’s also a possibility as a longer-term option to buy the crate 1 or 2 sizes bigger than needed, and adjusting the divider as they grow into it. Provided the bar-spacing is small enough that your pup doesn’t hurt themselves.

Sizes range from an 18 inch extra small dog crate, all the way up to 48 inches in length. Midwest accounted for most all dog breeds, ages, and sizes with this one. It fits the basic needs required in crate-training a puppy or dog.

Like most wire frame base model crates, they aren’t ideal for dogs that have been known to chew through the wires of the crate. As a safety measure you might want to think about a heavy-duty dog crate for that. In most cases, you will not need to worry about that with a puppy though.


5. Carlson Compact Dog Crate – Has a Colorful & Fun Personality!

We picked this colorful small dog crate mainly for its stylish aspect. The fun factor of it adds some personality to crating your dog, and to your living room.

At the same time, it well serves its basic purpose, and is very accommodating for small-breed dogs and puppies in training with its small and quaint enclosure.

The “compact” model was made specifically for little dogs. The Carlson compact comes in 1 size (24 x 18 x 19) and ideally suits dogs up to 25 pounds to give a new puppy, pug, or chiweenie a cozy colorful place to hang out in.

Product Specs:

  • Dimensions – 24″L x 18″W x 19″H
  • Cage Weight – 12 lbs
  • Recommended Weight – 7 to 25 pound dogs

Of the many options on the market; what makes this one unique to other small size wire dog crates is definitely the ability to add a colorful zest to match your “mini fur-baby”.

The 2 colors to choose from are pastel pink, or baby blue. The powder-coated color just makes for a less bland & more fun way to for you to contain your pup (your dog may possibly even like it better too).


  • (+) Vibrant color – pastel pink or baby-blue coating on the frame.
  • (+) Colorful sliding tray – bottom pan slides out for easy cleaning.
  • (+) Compact – small in size, folds flat easily for transport and storage.

Pastel Colors Add Personality

The “stand-out” feature of the Carlson compact is definitely the pink or blue color options available. Dogs are lovable family members first and foremost; but they are also extensions of our personality. And a cute, colorful crate for them is one more way to add more “flare” to the home you give them.

Colorful Bottom Pan

Even the bottom pan has the fun factor to it. The tray matches the color of the crate, and slides out for easy cleaning when your doggie makes a little bit of a mess.

Compact and Transport-Friendly

The kennel was made small in size to accommodate small dogs and puppies specifically. It’s also a foldable crate model. It folds down flat so you can carry it to your car more easily and bring it with you without having to take up a lot of unnecessary space.


  • (-) 1 Size option – This is both a positive and a negative. For small breed dogs, it’s the only crate you should need. For a small puppy you may need to buy a larger crate in the future, depending on the breed.

The Bottom Line:

This is ultimately the product-winner in style for smaller sized dog crates. It has the most personality and helps enhance the “fun” factor of having a cute small-breed dog. It’s still a good fit for puppies too; until it comes time for them to fit into a larger cage.

If you don’t mind upgrading once they need more space, and they surpass the 25 pound milestone, then this is good for medium to large breed dogs too. It’s a break from the ordinary if you’re don’t want just a “plane-jane” wire crate.


Recap – Finding the Ideal Crate for Your Small Dog or Puppy

  1. AmazonBasics 24” Double Door Dog Crate – Wide Open & Spacious
  2. Petmate Sky Kennel – Great for Airline Travel
  3. HiCaptain Portable Soft Dog Crate – Strong, Perfect for Road Travel & Leisure
  4. Midwest Homes 24” iCrate w/ Separater  – Great for a Growing Puppy
  5. Carlson 24” Compact Crate (pink or blue) – a Crate with a Colorful Personality

Taking some time to consider your puppy’s current and future needs is important when fitting them in the right crate, and can save you time and some hassle in the long run. Most of these factors depend on a few main variables like their breed and how big they will get.

– If your puppy won’t get too much bigger than their “puppy-size”, you can get a small 18 or 24 inch dog crate and call it good. If your pup will grow to the 40–100 lbs. plus range, you can start with a small crate that they fit into well, and you can always upgrade later.

Otherwise, you can get a larger crate with a divider, and let them grow into their enclosure. Of course safety is another factor. A larger crate with a divider is a good option as long as the bar separation space isn’t so large, that they can get stuck or hurt their legs.

– Portability is something to think about, depending on your habits. It’s good to ask yourself if you’ll be traveling with your dog, if you’ll be flying or driving, and if you will need something to transport them to a dog-sitter. If so, you’ll want to pick up something that’s travel-friendly.

– Also, how well do you think your puppy will do inside their crate? Are they the type that will try to chew their way out or “Houdini” the door lock open? If so, you might want to consider a thicker-framed crate with a good lock.

Your dog’s crate time is a big part in their training and development. It’s worth taking a few minutes to decide what type of kennel will work best for them, and for you.

Final Note:

Puppies have small bladders, and shouldn’t be kept in their crate for long periods of time unattended when they begin crate training. Starting off, crating your puppy in shorter periods of time while you are home & building up. This is ideal for the sake of their good treatment as they build their comfort levels inside their crates.

Your pup is exploring and learning all kinds of things in their first 12 months of life. Guiding them in gradual steps with love and patience can yield really good results in their learning and building confidence.

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