The Best Heavy Duty Dog Crates in 2019

Is your dog a wiggling, furry escape artist?

If so, then it’s time that we help get you set up with the best heavy duty dog crate around. Ranging from invulnerable to ingenious, we’ve found that there really is a solution for every dog who thinks that they’re the reincarnation of Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.

Whether they’re a chewer or slicker than a fox, it’s often important to make sure that your dog remains exactly where they’re supposed to be.

What makes a good heavy duty dog crate? What do you need for your dog? Read on and we’ll guide you to making a purchasing decision that you’re not going to regret.

What to Look for in Your Heavy Duty Dog Crate

While normal dog crates will suffice for the average dog, when it comes to those who really have a knack for escape… well, you’re going to need something which is a little bit tougher and more escape proof.

Heavy duty crates have another advantage: they’re great for prolonged travel. These overbuilt crates can keep the world safe from your dog but they also keep your dog safe from the world around them.

So, in addition to the normal sizing requirements for your crate you’ll want to look for the following:

Overbuilt

While the standard ⅛” to ¼” steel bars work great for normal dogs, those who are escape artists love them for one reason: they can bend and pry them. Some dogs can even figure out how to work their simpler locks, which is super cool as a party trick but enough to make you shake your head when you come home and Fido has escaped.

Locking

Standard crates only have latches. They’re simple to use but a crafty dog can manipulate them from the inside. Real locks and other solutions which can’t be moved without a complex set of actions set heavy-duty crates apart.

Wheels

Wheels are a great option, especially for crates which stick around the home. Heavy duty dog crates stack up weight compared to “normal” dog crates and wheels will let you move them around the house much easier. They should be removable for air travel, however, where the crate may need to be stacked.

Solid, Not Caged

For dogs who primarily use their puppy power to break out of normal dog crates, you need to find something which has solid walls with ventilation holes. They’re much more secure than your normal wire cage affair.

Well Ventilated

No matter how the crate is built, your dog still needs to breathe. Make sure there’s adequate ventilation so your dog doesn’t overheat or have to deal with stale air.

As long as the above are in order, then chances are you’re looking at a good crate for escape artists.

Remember that no crate is 100% escape proof, 100% of the time. If you take the right precautions, however, then you’ll be able to help make sure that your dog stays in their crate, rather than busting loose in order to produce chaos.

How Dogs Escape Their Crates

We know that many dogs are perfectly happy sitting in their crate. A properly crate trained dog often won’t even have to have the door closed once the command has been given.

On the other hand, some pets simply refuse to be confined.

There are a few different ways that our mutts figure out how to get free.

Chewers can sometimes get through the weak points of a standard crate. It’s more common with larger dogs but some of the terriers out there are truly terrifying. Nothing can withstand a dog with enough bite force and determination, which is why heavy duty crates tend to not only be tougher but also have less places for your canine to wrap their jaws.

Other dogs can figure out the latches. Not every dog is able to pull this trick off, but standard barrel latches are pretty easy for a dog to manipulate. A smart dog will have it figured out after seeing it done a few times, and latches are commonly manipulated by smaller dogs.

Finally, some dogs will not be held. This is most common with stubborn and powerful breeds like pit bulls and mastiffs. They just slam themselves through a weak point in the crate they’re in.

The ideal heavy duty crate will mostly solve all three of these problems without much fuss.

The problem with regular crates is that nearly all of them are collapsible, which prevents them from having solid corners. The latches are also made in such a way that a human should have no difficulty with them.

Which is great, until your dog figures out how to undo it from the inside. Since wire crates are intended to be as open as possible and easy to put away in the garage or closet they simply have a ton of failure points which can be exploited by doggy determination.

If your dog is regularly escaping no matter what you try, then you should probably buy a heavy duty crate.

Top 5 Heavy Duty Dog Crates

Like most pet products we had to do some digging. A lot of crates claim to be heavy duty but simply don’t make the cut. We tested each with a wily terrier and a rather boisterous, albeit lovable, pitbull to make sure they were escape proof.

So, without further ado, we’d like to present to you the five best heavy duty dog crates that we could find.

Best Overall Heavy Duty Dog Crate

Guardian Gear ProSelect Empire Dog Cage

It’s big, it’s imposing, it’s wheeled, and as far as we can tell even the dog equivalent of Hercules won’t be able to break out of this one.

Seriously, this one is practically indestructible. It also comes with a removable floor grate to make clean up of loose food or spilled water an absolute snap.

For dogs who chew or bull their way through their cages it’s the perfect solution. It’s made of thick, coated metal and also allows for an incredible amount of ventilation while maintaining the structural integrity of the cage itself.

It also has removable casters to allow you to move the cage around. We found that they worked great to position the crate before removing them to make the entire platform more stable.

It’s not perfect, however. We’re pretty sure a determined and intelligent dog could work the double latches after a bit of trying. If your dog has been managing to escape that way you may want to try something else.

4.8/5
Our Opinion:

For bruisers, chewers, and incredibly ursine dogs however, this is a great way to go. Just be aware that dogs who can work latches may still be able to escape and it comes in with a pretty stiff cost.

  • Incredibly durable construction
  • Casters for easier positioning
  • Removable tray for easier cleaning
  • Comes in two sizes
  • Rather expensive overall
  • Latches can still be worked by crafty dogs

Best Heavy Duty Crate for Smarter Dogs

Durable Aluminum Dog Crate from Grain Valley

In addition to being extremely durable, this heavy duty dog crate has a few extra features which made it stand out.

The first thing that stood out to us was the fact that it has a “slam latch” which locks the cage shut as soon as it’s closed. Since the latch is protected by the aluminum face of the crate itself it’s actually a great way to make sure that even the smartest dog isn’t able to pop it from the inside.

It’s probably the closest thing to escape proof we’ve ever seen, the reason that it didn’t top the list is due to the inferior ventilation of the crate which we feel could be a bit problematic in hotter climates when combined with the aluminum exterior.

It’s also collapsible despite its strength, making it a great option for those who are only going to be using it on occasion.

That said, it was also the most expensive of our favorites by a good margin. If you’re looking for something special which can keep even large, highly intelligent dogs from escaping then you’ll be in luck with this one from Grain Valley.

One other thing to note: right out of the box this crate actually passes international air travel regulations. Almost any other crate is going to need modifications for that purpose, so it’s a win from us.

4.5/5
Our Opinion:

This expensive crate is absolutely the best option for strong, intelligent dogs who seem to be able to get out of anything. We’re sure that a dog somewhere has managed to escape it, but we should probably crown that one king rather than counting it as a failing of the crate itself.

  • Lightweight and collapsible
  • Extremely tough sides
  • Lock is impossible to undo from interior
  • Sized appropriately for air travel
  • Very expensive
  • Could use some more ventilation

Best Outdoor Heavy Dog Crate

Lucky Dog Uptown Welded Wire Kennel

While it can’t compare to our first two in toughness, it also comes in at a fraction of the cost and neither of the dogs we tested the crates with could escape from it. It’s welded steel construction is fantastic and we found it to be an excellent option at a lower cost.

We’re not sure how much we’d trust it with exceptionally heavy dogs either unless you have enough DIY skills to anchor it to the ground extremely well.

That also limits it to outdoor use for the most part, which is unfortunate as the construction is quite good looking overall. Most people aren’t going to want to modify their floor just to get a crate in, however, and the work and tools required would probably get rid of most of the savings you’d get out of purchasing it.

It’s also modular in design, allowing you to place it however you might want as long as all of the edges connect.

The latch itself isn’t perfect. A smart dog can get it open… so there’s a couple of holes for a padlock which makes it the perfect solution.

4.5/5
Our Opinion:

For keeping your dog confined outdoors this we think it works great if you’ve got the skills to anchor it properly. The modular design and ability to lock make it a stand up option for an outdoor dog run as well.

  • Excellent welded construction
  • Modular
  • Easy to install and anchor outdoors
  • Can be used with a padlock
  • Needs to be anchored for heavier dogs
  • Really only suitable for outdoors

Best Travel Heavy-Duty Crate

Petmate Sky Kennel

Let’s face it, it’s not always possible or desirable to leave our pets at home when we go on a trip. We still want to keep them safely confined, however, which means that picking up the perfect, reinforced aircraft carrier is a good idea.

This one is made of plastic but all of the metal cage parts are heavily reinforced and the latch can’t be opened from the inside. That alone would make it a stand out option in most cases but the fact is that Petmate has been making crates since the very beginning and if anyone knows how to make sure that your pet can be transported it’s definitely them.

It can be found in quite a few different sizes as well. The big thing is that it’s specifically designed with air travel in mind, allowing you to rest east although you’ll still need to check regulations to be one hundred percent sure.

While we didn’t take it on an airline ourselves, we did find that the majority of its users found it perfectly suited for the task.

It’s definitely the weakest option on our list, however, and it’s not suitable as a home crate for a particularly large dog. If your dog has particularly bad separation anxiety and the ability to break through, you may have to use the option above from Grain Valley instead.

4.5/5
Our Opinion:

If you’re looking for a tougher, nicer crate for air travel then look no further than the PetMate Sky. It’s well-engineered for the task and can handle all but the gnarliest of escape artists.

  • Engineered for flights
  • Reinforced wire on sides and front
  • Great ventilation
  • Durable construction
  • Not suitable as a home crate
  • Some modifications need to be made for international flights

Best Budget Heavy Duty Dog Crate

Walcut Heavy Duty Strong Metal Pet Dog Cage Crate Cannel Playpen w/Wheels

When it comes down to it, heavy duty crates are expensive in comparison to their more normal counterparts. Not everyone with a highly determined escape artist has the funds lying around to pick up the first couple on our list.

So, for those who are on a shorter budget, we recommend the Walcut. It’s a wheeled, welded, steel cage which comes with sturdy double latches. They’re not entirely unable to be undone by dogs, but your canine will have to be the equivalent of an Einstein to learn how to undo them.

It’s not the sturdiest, but it beats out your average dog crate by a long shot.

On top of that, you can also open it from the top or the front in order to put your dog in or out. The top is actually a good idea for crafty dogs, since they won’t be at eye level to see how the latches can be undone.

The biggest flaw isn’t with the durability, however, it’s due to the fact that the bars are spaced widely enough a dog can damage their teeth if they try to chew their way out of it. We didn’t let the terrier we tested it with get to that point, but we could see it being a problem.

4.9/5
Our Opinion:

While it’s not our top pick, the lower cost and incredible durability of this steel dog crate puts it far ahead of any non-heavy duty model on the market. We really don’t recommend it for chewers, however. The steel will probably hold, but their teeth might not.

  • Top and front opening
  • Comes on casters for easy movement
  • High-quality steel frame
  • Double latches are hard for dogs to undo
  • Bar spacing allows determined dogs to get their mouths wrapped around them
  • Caster wheels aren’t removable

Escape Prevention and You

The best way to prevent escapes is to make sure that your dog’s crate is ideally suited for their escape style. For most dogs a complicated double latch and sturdy construction is going to be enough, but for ensuring that you’re good to go in the long run we recommend doing the following:

  • An appropriate crate is always the best option. The truth is that some dogs are going to tear through a “normal” crate like it’s tissue paper and you’ll just have to bite down and spend the money to make sure yours is able to prevent them from escaping.
  • See how they escape before buying a new crate. Sometimes it’s obvious, the pitbull we used in our testing had simply walked through the sides of most of the standard crates he’d been in before. A cage which was torn apart was a good indicator. Other times, you may need to set up a camera to figure out how they’re opening the lock.
  • While it won’t fix separation anxiety you can help to handle high-energy and high-velocity dogs by simply making sure that they’re exercised. This will help to keep your dog from getting too much energy to remain in the crate.
  • Try to leave toys or at least something for the dog to do while they’re in the crate. A playful dog is one which isn’t going to be trying to bust out of their cage for the most part.
  • Don’t make it a big deal when you leave. Your dog will be less likely to panic when you step out of the door with the crate locked up.
  • Try catching them in the act. When they do so, let them know that you don’t approve of their escape attempts.

Dogs escaping are usually caused by one of three things:

  1. Separation Anxiety-The most common cause, and the hardest to deal with. A professional trainer is your best bet if at home measures fail, and they often do.
  2. Boredom-Dogs get bored, just like people do. A bored dog can become a destructive dog, or just one that wants to go sit in the kitchen instead of observing the living room from their crate.
  3. High Energy-A dog with a lot of energy is going to have a hard time sitting still. The best way to handle this is to ensure that you take your animal for regular walks or other activities to keep them doing well.

Of course, these measures sometimes fail. In our experience working dogs who’ve been retired cause the most problems since they’re extremely intelligent and high-energy… and most of them don’t really want to sit around in a crate.

Brute force is the hardest form of escape to manage. Dogs can be amazingly powerful animals, and a dog which wants to get out of a wire crate often will. They know how to use their muscles to produce the most force and if they can’t simply walk through the side of the crate they’ll often torque themselves or use other methods to get out.

Keeping your dog entertained and entertained is always going to be the best method of keeping them from making The Great Escape a living room reality for your family.

Heavy Duty Dog Crate FAQ

Q: Is a heavy-duty crate worth it for me?

A: This depends on the dog. Plenty of mutts have a free run of the house or backyard while their owners aren’t home. Others will begin to tear things apart while their owners are gone, whether out of boredom or anxiety. One of our reviewers noted that his dog could cause hundreds of dollars of damage with a single escape if it wasn’t caught early enough. We’ve also heard of dogs doing things like jumping through windows when looking for their owners. In extreme cases you’ll be saving money in the long run and preventing injury to your animal.

Q: Are casters necessary?

A: The wheels on the crates we reviewed were extremely useful, mainly because the cages that come with them are made of heavy-duty steel. Our only issue with them is that the locks and higher center of gravity can create a tipping hazard for a motivated dog, so we recommend removing the wheels when you set them down.

Q: How do I know if a crate is air-travel compliant?

A: Check with the airline you’ll be flying with. The PetMate Sky is compliant for most in-country travel and the Grain Valley option is compatible with IATA 82 right out of the box. It’s hard to guarantee anything other than that however and individual airlines have their own regulations which need to be followed for your pet to board.

Q: Should I find a bed or blanket for using a heavy duty crate with bars?

A: Yes, with some caveats. Chances are that your dog, if they’re already a motivated escape artist, is going to shred anything you put in there with them so it’s not a great idea to use high dollar blankets or memory foam dog beds when you’re away. Instead, find something which will give them some comfort but you ultimately won’t end up missing. We found horse blankets to be a good option in this area.

Q: Is there anything that can be done to prevent tooth damage for chewers?

A: Unfortunately, your only real option is to make sure that your dog can’t bite down on anything hard. Chew toys can be a good option but we’ve seen a lot of dogs damage themselves trying to make an escape over the years and each case is individual.

Q: Can these crates handle damage during a disaster?

A:That’s… uncertain. While we wouldn’t rely on the crate to protect an animal during an earthquake, tornado, or other serious hazard they’re definitely better than any standard crate on the market. We actually found this to be a big concern for some people, and if your dog isn’t an actually an escape artist but you’re worried about possible disasters then they’re still a good option.

Escape No More

When it comes down to it keeping our dogs in their crates during the day is just as much about protecting them as it is about convenience for us and protecting our property. A dog can get themselves in trouble extremely quickly when left unsupervised and the smarter they are the worse off the whole thing will be.

If standard crates have been failing you then maybe it’s time to look into something a little bit on the stronger side. The best heavy duty crates are expensive, but in the long run we think that you’ll end up saving a lot of money in vet bills and a lack of damage.

So, pick one up today and see if you can’t make your dog just a little bit safer and be able to leave the house with more peace of mind. It’s the right choice for you and your crafty, powerful pet.

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