Looking for a crate that fits your Labrador may get tricky, especially since you can’t quite tell how big they will get. They keep growing anywhere from 12 months to 2 years of age. But no need to be worried. Here is a comprehensive guide on what size crate for Labrador.
What are dog crates?
Before settling on a size, let us first explore what dog crates are. You may be familiar with terms such as cages, indoor kennels, and crates. All of them have a similar meaning and purpose. They are a safe space for your dog to stay in for short periods.
There are different types of crates but the primary materials used are metal wires, plastic, and fabric. They usually have a removable tray and a door with a latch.
What kind of crates are there?
Depending on the kind of dog, temperament, and usage, there are five kinds of dog crates that you may find.
Metal wire crates
This kind of crate may be your first image to pop up when talking about crates. They usually come in black, are collapsible, and are very durable.
Many pet owners prefer this type of crate since it is sturdy but still provides excellent airflow and visibility to the dog. They are also great first crates for puppies who are teething.
They can get quite pricey the bigger size you get, especially for large breeds since they need extra space and durability. In addition, they can also be heavy and not suitable for traveling. However, they are great for indoor use, and you may never need to purchase an indoor kennel again.
Fabric Dog Crates
These crates have a soft mesh or fabric forming a box. It usually has a metal frame to keep the structure, but it can also come in different forms, like a case or bag.
Many owners use them to bring their pets in for vet visits or travel a short distance. They are incredibly light since it is basically made of fabric and is easy to bring for adventures. These are more popular for pet owners of small breeds.
There are a few downsides, like not being easy to clean or easily torn up. You may need help to use them with bigger breeds as well. They are comfortable but may be best used if your Labrador is still extremely young.
Plastic Dog Kennel
A plastic dog kennel is right in between the fabric and metal crates. They have become trendy in recent years because of how versatile they are.
Most commonly seen for families who travel with their dogs, plastic crates are lightweight and comfortable but also durable and suitable for every type of transportation. They retain airflow but are great for reactive dogs because of their limited view.
Some downsides remain, like being harder to put away or being susceptible to dogs that like to chew on plastic. Plastics can get smelly if not cleaned regularly as well.
These are still highly versatile and great for small and large dog breeds.
If you have never seen a wooden crate before, you aren’t the only one. Wooden crates are famously known for serving a more decorative purpose.
They look amazing in your home, but if you have a puppy that likes to chew furniture, it may end up number one on their target list. In addition, they absorb smells since wood is much more porous and can be more on the expensive side.
These crates combine plastic and metal crates and typically have a plastic frame with metal wires to fill the gaps.
This kind of crate is one of the newer types, which may be why it’s either a hit or miss.
Some pet owners hate them, and some swear by them. Depending on the manufacturer and design, they can be great for those looking for the durability of metal and portability of plastic.
Why is having a crate important?
Many dog trainers suggest having a kennel if you keep your dogs indoors. These kennels can be their personal area where they can feel secure and have some privacy.
They can also be great tools for training. For example, if you have a job and need to leave the house often, using a crate and establishing trust between you and your puppy can help prevent separation anxiety. Some use it for potty training and as a way to prevent resource guarding.
The more recent use of dog crates is for traveling. Having a sturdy dog crate to put them in while on the road is like their seatbelt.
Getting a durable crate can ensure that your pup is safe even in case of an accident. Most, if not all, airlines also require any dogs flying with them to be kept in crates for the dog and the other guests’ safety.
What size crate for Labradors should I get?
Most dog crates range from an extra small to an extra large, with some companies even going as far as XXXL for huge dog breeds.
Labradors are considered a large breed and need a corresponding size crate to feel comfortable in. If your dog is already an adult and fully grown, you just need two measurements.
First is their length, going from the tip of their nose to the end of their tail. Once you have their length, add 4-5 inches to give your dog enough space to move.
Next is their height; your dog should be able to stand and sit comfortably in the crate. Measure their height from the forehead to their front paw while you place them in a sitting position. You will again need to add around 4-5 inches for some wiggle space.
Now that you have their measurements, go to the store and check out which ones they can be most comfortable in. This usually ranges anywhere from extra large to XXL if they are on the bigger side.
But what if your Labrador is still a small puppy? This may be a bit more difficult, and you may need to purchase two crates, one while they are young and another for when they are old.
But if you want to save some money, here is an estimate. If you have a female Labrador, they are on the smaller side, so around extra large to XXL, and if they are a male, XXL to XXXL.
You may need to consult their breeders or original owners for the size of their mom or dad for a safer estimate. However, it would be best if you remembered, as a rule of thumb, it’s always better for the crate to be bigger than smaller.
Why is getting the right size of crate necessary?
You may be wondering what all the fuss is about finding the right size. Well, it may be more important than you think.
If the crate is too small and you make them stay there for an extended period, they may develop sores or even a fear of small areas. Eventually, they will stop using it, which may be a waste of space and money.
Going too big is also an issue, primarily if you use it as a travel crate. Having a big crate is no problem indoors and can be quite comfortable for them. However, if you take them out and place them in a crate that is way too big, it may do more harm than good when it comes to shielding them from impact.
This is why it is advisable for breeds like the Labrador to start with a medium dog crate, like one made of fabric, and just buy a plastic or metal one when they grow out of it.
How to get my Labrador accustomed to their crate?
Crate training can be a big challenge for owners who use them for the first time and the dog themselves. Luckily for you, Labradors are smart and have a strong sense of food drive.
You will need to prepare the crate before introducing it to them. Make sure it is well-built, and place some of their frequently used items like toys so it will have a similar scent. Get ready with your treats, patience, love, and positive affirmations.
It will solely depend on your dog’s behavior towards new things and constant practice for them to get accustomed to the crate. A quick note is that it’s always better to start training them younger, as puppies have a more inquisitive nature.
To determine the size you will need, if they are fully grown, you will need their height and length with some wiggle room. If they are still a puppy, estimate how big they will grow based on their gender and the size of their parents.
Keeping them safe and happy will make them comfortable in their new space immediately! That is just about everything you need to know before getting a crate for your wonderful Labrador.
- How to Potty Train a Labrador Puppy?
- How Long Does a Labrador Dog Live?
- How to Stop Labrador from Shedding?