The 10 Best Dog Crates & Carriers For Car Travel: Keeping Spot Safe!

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Dog Crates & Carriers By Meg Marrs 25 min read July 21, 2023 44 Comments

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best dog crates for car travel

Dogs love the open road as much as we do!

But while most humans remember to buckle up before leaving the driveway, your fur baby doesn’t really have a say in the matter.

Many owners let their dog roam free in the car, which can be a deadly mistake.

Even owners who opt for using a dog carrier or crate designed for car travel will likely be shocked to discover that the vast majority of mainstream car carriers aren’t designed to keep your pooch safe in the event of an accident.

But don’t worry — we’re here to help!

Below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about dog carriers and car travel. We’ll outline the reasons why securing your dog is important, and share some of the best crates and carriers that are made from durable materials and designed to keep your pooch safe and secure in the car.

Best Dog Crates for Car Travel: Quick Picks

  • #1 G1 Kennel [Best Overall Dog Crate for Car Travel]: Made with a series of locks and a dual-wall construction, this rock-solid carrier is ideal for pup parents who place safety above all else.
  • #2 Sleepypod Atom [Most Affordable Dog Crate for Car Travel]: You don’t have to spend a fortune to help your pet stay safe and travel in style, thanks to this versatile car carrier.
  • #3 Diggs Passenger Travel Carrier [Best Soft-Sided Travel Carrier] Crash-tested travel carrier that’s perfect for smaller-sized pets traveling by car, plane, or train.
What About Harnesses?

In some cases, harnesses can be the better option for car-riding canines. We break down some of the situations in which this is the case and list some of our favorites in our guide to crash-tested dog car harnesses.

Safest Dog Crates & Carriers for the Car

dogs riding in car

Below, we’ll share some of the crates and carriers that passed the CPS 2015 Crates and Carrier Crash Worthiness Study, complimented with additional CPS tests performed in 2016. We’ll be continuing to update this article each year when new crash test reports are released.

2022 Update

We’ve updated our recommendations below to include new products to the market and reflect new tests conducted by CPS.

Unfortunately, CPS hasn’t yet published an overview of their recent testing (which is understandable — they are a non-profit organization), but we’ve linked to the individual product test results and videos when available.

Also, we’ve included a few products below that have passed the safety testing conducted by other organizations, such as the Technical Research Institute of Sweden.

1. Diggs Passenger Carrier

Best Overall Dog Car Carrier

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Diggs Travel Pet Carrier for Small Dogs and Cats, Plane, Train, or Car, with Shoulder Strap (Navy)

Diggs Passenger Carrier

A high-quality, tote-style carrier with a 5-star safety rating and an innovative canine-hygiene setup. 

About: The Diggs Passenger Carrier is a must-have for travelers with small canines thanks to its cushy interior pad, three accessory pockets, and top-notch safety marks. Also featuring a detachable crossbody strap, sturdy base, custom seat belt clips, and a buckle strap, it helps you safely (and comfortably) tote your pooch from point A to B in cars, planes, and more.


  • Fabric crate made from fuss-free durable nylon and mesh air vents
  • Smart setup for easy pee pad changing 
  • Available in Charcoal, Grey, Blush, and Navy color options
  • Meets most airlines’ specifications for cabin travel

Size & Dimensions:

  • Available in one size for dogs up to 18 pounds
  • Measures 20” x 10.8” x 11.5”


  • 5-Star Rating from the Center for Pet Safety for pets up to 18 pounds


  • High safety rating from the Center for Pet Safety
  • Innovative pee pad setup makes traveling with accident-prone pups a breeze
  • Chic styling that’s eons beyond most canine carriers


  • More size options would be ideal
  • Accessory pockets mean there’s little extra space inside

2. Gunner G1

Safest Overall Dog Crate For Car Travel

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Best Dog Crates for travel

Gunner G1

A tough-as-nails carrier featuring multiple locks, a stainless steel door, and dual-wall construction for impact protection.

About: The American-made Gunner G1 takes safety and quality seriously with its aluminum-framed lockable door (featuring multiple latches), durable plastic shell, and stainless steel hardware. Built-in tiedown pins allow for a snug fit in the car, while a recessed bottom with a drainage system ensures easy cleaning.


  • Double-wall construction provides maximum impact protection
  • Non-slip rubberized base prevents dangerous sliding
  • Water-repelling windows allow air circulation while keeping rain out
  • Available in 3 colors: Tan, Gunmetal, and Mossy Oak Greenleaf

Size & Dimensions: The G1 comes in four sizes, and the manufacturer recommends using their Kennel Fit Finder on their product page to determine the best one for your pooch.

  • Small (Measures 24.5” x 18.6” x 20.5”)
  • Medium (Measures 29.5” x 20.5” x 25”) 
  • Intermediate  (Measures 34” x 23” x 30”) 
  • Large (Measures 40.25” x 28” x 34.5”)


  • Gunner Kennel G1 Small: 5-Star Rating from the Center for Pet Safety for dogs up to 30 pounds when used with G1 tiedown straps
  • Gunner Kennel G1 Medium: 5-Star Rating from the Center for Pet Safety for dogs up to 45 pounds when used with G1 tiedown straps
  • Gunner Kennel G1 Intermediate: 5-Star Rating from the Center for Pet Safety for dogs up to 75 pounds when used with G1 tiedown straps
  • Gunner Kennel G1 Large: Currently unrated


  • Quality and durable plastic construction earned high marks from pet parents
  • Comes with an impressive lifetime manufacturer’s warranty
  • Excellent choice for traveling with a Houndini escape artist


  • Not as portable as other options (it’s quite heavy)
  • Quality comes at a cost, and these crates are expensive

3. Sleepypod Atom

Most Affordable Dog Car Carrier

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Sleepypod Atom Pet Carrier (Robin Egg Blue)

Sleepypod Atom

A travel-friendly bag that transforms from a crash-rated canine car seat to a stylish messenger tote with ease.

About: The Sleepypod Atom safely cradles your small dog for travel, whether you’re riding in the car, flying high, or buzzing through the subway on official pupper business. Built-in seatbelt straps hold your canine snug in her seat, while the sturdy base and plush interior keeps her cozy (you can even remove it for easy cleanup).


  • A well-built fabric crate with luggage-grade nylon exterior 
  • 3 mesh panels provide excellent ventilation
  • Padded shoulder strap and 3 pockets for toting your pup and her accessories comfortably
  • Available in 9 colors, including Robin Egg Blue, Jet Black, and Olive

Size & Dimensions:

  • Single size option measures 10.5” x 8.5” x 17” 
  • Suits dogs up to 12 pounds


  • 5-Star Rating from the Center for Pet Safety for dogs up to 12 pounds


  • Quality and lightweight design earn high marks from owners
  • Dual zipper entries allow for top or side access
  • Removable privacy panel can help reduce travel anxieties 


  • Lack of size options is a bummer
  • Only suitable for tiny toy breeds

4. Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed

Best Bed-Style Dog Car Carrier

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Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed (Blossom Pink)

Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed

A canine carrier that mimics your four-footer’s bed with its soft, fuzzy interior and rounded shape.

About: The Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed doesn’t sacrifice your pet’s comfort in the name of portability, allowing for less-stressful travel in its bed-like, lightweight design. Best suited for dogs who sleep in a curled up position, the round carrier features shearling bedding that can be removed for washing as needed.


  • Luggage-grade durable nylon shell stands up to the rigors of travel
  • Removable dome-style mesh topper contains pets while allowing airflow
  • Adjustable, padded shoulder strap for your comfort
  • Available in 5 colors: Arctic White, Dark Chocolate, Olive Green, Robin Egg Blue, and Strawberry Red

Size & Dimensions:

  • Single size option measures 17” x 17” x 6.5”
  • Recommended for pets under 15 pounds


  • 5-Star Rating from the Center for Pet Safety for dogs up to 15 pounds


  • Comfort gets a paw’s up from most doggy travelers
  • Pet parents loved the carrier’s quality
  • Bed-like design can ease travel anxiety


  • Pricey compared to other carriers
  • A tad bulky to carry

5. Sleepypod Air

Best Car Carrier for Frequent Travelers

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Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier, Strawberry Red

Sleepypod Air

A favorite for woofs with wanderlust featuring a 4-star crash rating and an airline-friendly shape.

About: The Sleepypod Air is a fabric crate that’s made for safe, comfortable canine travel with two zippered entries, a sturdy base, and a low-profile design. The soft, machine-washable bedding inside keeps your canine cozy, while the breathable mesh dome and durable nylon shell exterior protect her from harm.


  • Luggage-grade super-durable nylon outer shell
  • Removable padded strap and dual storage pockets
  • Water-repelling interior liner
  • Offered in 8 eye-pleasing colors, including Orange Dream, Charcoal, and Glacier Silver

Size & Dimensions:

  • Single size option suitable for pets up to 18 pounds
  • Measures 17” x 17” x 13”


  • 4-Star Rating by the Center for Pet Safety for dogs up to 18 pounds


  • Works great for traveling in cars and planes
  • Pet parents raved about the quality
  • Owners report doggos love this carrier and even sleep in it at home


  • Storage pockets can bulge into canine space 
  • Not as fashion-forward as other carriers

6. Sleepypod Mini

Best Dog Car Carrier for Toy Breeds

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Sleepypod Medium Mobile Pet Bed, Jet Black

Sleepypod Mini

A luggage-grade, dome-style travel crate that earned a 5-star crash rating for dogs under 7 pounds.

About: The Sleepypod Mini protects your most petite precious cargo from harm, securing to your car’s seat belt with the PPRS Handilock. Made to mimic your best buddy’s bed, this fabric crate features a rounded shape and a removable plush interior for cozier travel and a water-resistant foam liner in case of accidents.


  • Made with a supremely durable nylon shell with mesh windows for ventilation
  • Built-in safety tether prevents bolting when opening
  • Available in 8 colors, including Blossom Pink, Dark Chocolate, and Jet Black
  • Two zippered entries for versatile use

Size & Dimensions:

  • Single size option best for dogs 7 pounds and under
  • Measures 13” x 13” x 5”


  • 5-Star Rating from the Center for Pet Safety for dogs up to 7 pounds


  • It earned top-notch safety accolades for toy breed dogs
  • Rounded design mimics your pup’s bed
  • It’s quite durable despite featuring a lightweight design


  • Only fits the tiniest of dogs (it’s not even ideal for leggier toy breeds)
  • Can feel a bit clunky to carry

7. Away Pet Carrier

Most Stylish Dog Car Carrier

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best dog carrier for travel

Away Pet Carrier

Forget the frump with this fashionable nylon bag featuring slip pockets and dual tote-style handles.

AboutAway’s Pet Carrier doesn’t look like your run-of-the-mill dog bag with its tailored design. It performs as great as it looks, boasting a 5-star crash rating and a collar clip for added safety.


  • Constructed of nylon with a water-resistant liner
  • Interior sherpa bedding is removable and washable
  • Custom embroidery option for an additional fee
  • Available in 2 colors: Black and Coast (a medium blue hue)

Size & Dimensions:

  • Single size option measures 18.7”x 10.8” x 10.7” 
  • Suitable for dogs up to 18 pounds


  • 5-star Rating for dogs up to 18 pounds by the Center for Pet Safety


  • Design gets a thumb’s up from fashionista fur parents
  • Sturdy construction holds its shape
  • Comes with a 100-day satisfaction guarantee


  • One of the pricier carriers available
  • Only available in one size

8. Lucky Duck Kennel

Best Dog Car Crate For Large Breeds

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Lucky Kennel Intermediate

Lucky Duck Kennel

A locking, hard-sided crate that’s earned a 5-star rating and is available in sizes suitable for dogs up to 110 pounds.

About: The Lucky Duck Kennel allows for safe car travels with big dogs as it is one of the few large-breed carriers crash-rated by the Center for Pet Safety. The rubberized bottom prevents slippage, as do the built-in tiedown points, which are designed for use with Lucky’s ratchet strap kit for maximum protection.


  • One-piece rotomolded durable plastic shell design in Gunmetal (Gray)
  • Ventilation slots for airflow
  • Pitched floor features a recessed channel to capture liquids away from canines and drain holes for easy cleanup
  • Reversible door with locking pins for added security

Size & Dimensions:

  • Lucky Duck Kennel Intermediate (Measures 32.5” x 22.5” x 24.5”) 
  • Lucky Duck Kennel Large (Measures 38” x 24” x 29”)


  • Lucky Duck Kennel Intermediate: 5-Star Rating from the Center for Pet Safety for dogs up to 75 pounds when used with Lucky strength-rated anchor straps
  • Lucky Duck Kennel Large: 5-Star Rating from the Center for Pet Safety for dogs up to 110 pounds when used with Lucky strength-rated anchor straps


  • Largest travel kennel that’s earned 5 stars from the Center for Pet Safety
  • Secure enough to handle anxious travelers and escape artists
  • Comes with a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty against defects


  • Height can be an issue for taller canines
  • On the pricier side

9. MIM Variocage Single

Best Impact-Absorbing Dog Car Carrier

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best dog carrier for traveling

MIM Variocage Single

A stainless steel kennel crash-rated for various accident scenarios, including front, rear, and rollover collisions.

About: The MIM Variocage Single offers supreme safety, as it’s manufactured by a company specializing in automotive safety products. Featuring a built-in crumple zone for shock absorption and a rear emergency escape hatch, this super durable option is made to protect your pooch in multiple situations.


  • Made with a powder-coated steel frame in a charcoal finish
  • Locking door with key for additional security
  • Barred design allows for maximum airflow and visibility
  • Mounting tabs for tiedown straps

Size & Dimensions: The manufacturer strongly advises consulting their measuring guide and speaking with customer support to ensure a proper fit. Each kennel size features an adjustable length for a customized fit for your dog and vehicle. 

  • Extra Small (Measures 28.7” to 38.9” x 21.8” x 23.2”)
  • Large (Measures 29.9” to 40.5” x 21.8” x 25.5”)
  • Large + (Measures 31.8” to 40.5” x 27.5” x 27.1”)
  • Extra Large (Measures 31.8” to 40.5” x 27.5” x 28.1”)
  • XXL+ (Measures 32.2” to 41.7” x 27.5” x 30.7”)
  • Max (Measures 36.2” to 45.6” x 27.5” x 33.2”)

Safety Reports:


  • Crash-certified for multiple accident scenarios 
  • MIM offers a free kennel replacement in the event of an accident
  • Adjustable length is highly convenient
  • The rear escape hatch is an uncommon feature


  • Design allows curious paws (and possibly teeth) to slip out during travel
  • No U.S. crash certifications
  • One of the priciest canine carriers 

10. Ruff Land Kennel

Best Dog Crate For SUVs

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best dog kennel for travel

Ruff Land Kennel

A rugged canine carrier whose angled back was designed with SUV and crossover cargo areas in mind.

About: The Ruff Land Kennel allows for a snug vehicle fit with its special line of SUV-friendly designs featuring an angled back to accommodate your vehicle’s cargo area. Its rust-proof composite door opens both ways, while built-in handles make for easy hauling.


  • A durable option made from rotomolded polyethylene plastic 
  • Lightweight, stackable design allows for versatile use beyond the car
  • Includes top and bottom ventilation holes
  • Available in 3 colors: Whitestone, Rockstone, and Millstone

Size & Dimensions: Consult the manufacturer’s sizing guide to select the best fit for your dog.

  • Intermediate SUV (Measures 20″ x 31″ x 23″)
  • Large SUV (Measures 21″ x 33.5″ x 27″)


  • Previously tested under the Ruff Tuff brand label with the Center for Pet Safety
  • First test using a 75-pound dummy failed due to tie-down bracket failures
  • Second test using a 75-pound dummy with new tiedown straps yielded no such failure, though the test dummy did impact the door 


  • Made specifically with SUVs in mind, ensuring a good fit
  • More affordable than most large-breed travel crates
  • Comes with a 1-year comprehensive warranty


  • No current test star ratings
  • Ventilation holes are on the smaller side

Why Dogs Need to Be Secured in the Car

why dogs need to be in car carrier

Whether you opt to use a dog car crate, or some other kind of canine car restraint, your dog needs to be secure while you’re driving.

Many owners opt to let their dog have free reign in the car, but this can be very dangerous for both owners and pets. For one, in the event of an accident, your dog will become an instant projectile, flying through the windshield and injuring you, other passengers, and himself.

Unrestrained dogs are also a common cause of distracted driving. Author Stephen King famously got into a horrific, nearly-fatal car accident when the other driver took his eyes off the road to correct his misbehaving dog.

Having an unrestrained dog in your car often results in distracted driving — using a restraint will keep both you and your dog safer.

This infographic from CarRentals.com shows how dogs often cause distracted driving!

distracted driving with dogs

Even though it’s fun to have your pup by your side as a copilot, the distraction of your dog can be deadly for you both. It’s just not worth the risk!

The Search For A Safe Dog Car Crate

There are a number of things you’ll want to look for (as well as things you’ll want to avoid) when picking a safe dog car crate.

Starting with the things you DO want in a car crate, be sure to look for a crate that is:

Of Sufficient and Suitable Size. Pay attention to the size of your dog, compared to the size of the crate or carrier. A dog car crate should never be 6 inches longer than your dog. This is because the snugness is actually part of what is keeping your dog safe — providing too much excess space means increased momentum and force on impact, resulting in a more dangerous crash for your dog.

Built with High-Quality Connection Points. If your crate’s connectors aren’t strong and up to snuff, the crate will go flying in an accident. And that kind of defeats the whole points of having a sturdy dog car crate! In many dog crash tests, connector safety straps were a key point of failure.

On the flip side, you’ll want to avoid car carriers and crates featuring the following characteristics:

Wire Construction. Wire dog crates can be quite useful in many scenarios, but the car is not one of them. Wire crates just won’t do a ton to protect your fur baby in a car accident. While they are suitable for stopping your dog from distracting you while driving, a wire crate may collapse upon impact.

Soft-Sided Crates. Soft-sided carriers and soft crates are fine enclosures for general use (especially if they’re made from something like durable nylon), and they work great as airline approved in-cabin carriers. However, a fabric crate will do little-to-nothing when it comes to protecting your pooch in a car accident. Since the carriers are soft, most will immediately collapse on impact.

Plastic. The majority of plastic crates have been reported to fracture and break upon impact, leaving your dog unsecure. Most traditional plastic crates simply aren’t sturdy enough to be crash-proof. Nevertheless, a few crash-tested crates are made from very durable plastic, so just be sure to dig in and do your homework before making a choice.

So what does that leave? Well…not much. The dog crates and carriers that have been deemed crash safe are few and far between. However, there are a few that are will work, and we’ll share them below.

Crates vs Carriers

The terms “dog crate” and “dog carrier” are often used interchangeably. In fact, we do so all the time.

However, some manufacturers and safety organizations — including the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) — make a pretty clear distinction between the two.

In these cases, the term “crates” is reserved for relatively large containment devices, which are typically meant to be placed in the cargo area of a truck, van, or SUV. By contrast, “carriers” are usually for smaller pets, and they’re designed to ride in the back seat.

CPS Study Reveals That the Majority of Dog Crates Aren’t Safe

cps logo

The CPS (Center for Pet Safety) is a non-profit research and advocacy organization that conducts crash tests for various dog safety products. The organization was established in 2011 after realizing the disturbing fact that there are no performance standards or test protocols for testing pet safety devices.

Key Lesson: Don’t Believe The Marketing

The truth is that manufacturers of canine car crates and carriers aren’t even required to test their products. Many crates and carriers that market themselves as “crash tested” and safe fail to provide substantial protection in the event of an accident.

Most crates or harnesses that claim to be “crash tested” were only evaluated, at the manufacturer’s discretion, for one size. This means that a crate might pass for a very small dog, but lacks the stability and security for a medium or large sized dog.

It is quite shocking that dog car crates and carriers aren’t held to the same rigorous government safety standards that child car seats and other vehicle safety devices are — especially considering that a compromised crate can injure both pets and humans. Car crates with connector safety straps that fail under stress means that your dog crate could go flying, hurting any passengers in the way (as well as your canine).

CPS Crash Worthiness Study & Testing Plan

After realizing the horrifying gaps in dog car crate and carrier testing, the CPS organization began conducting rigorous testing through the use of specially designed fake crash test dogs.

The CPS teamed up with Subaru to do an objective study in an independent, third-party testing facility in Virginia. A startling number of car crates and dog car carriers failed, but thankfully, a few performed well and are now being recognized as the life-saving devices that they are!

This video explains a bit about the testing and highlights the three winners. We go into more detail about the winning crates below, but this video offers a nice quick overview:

How The CPS Testing Works

In the CPS (Center for Pet Safety) Crash Worthiness Study, two tests were performed.

One was completed with a crate placed in the back cargo area of a vehicle, with the back seats folded downwards, and the crate being secured through connector straps. The vast majority of crates failed in this scenario.

In the second test, dog car crates were again placed in the cargo area, this time with one side of the crate resting against the back side section of the back seats (which were kept in the upright position, rather than folded down flat). This allowed the crates to have additional support through the seatback, and many more crates were able to pass this test.

However, the problem is that if the crate relies on the car’s seatback for support, there is an increased risk of a seatback failure in the event of a front impact if the dog and crate have a combined weight that exceeds 40 pounds.

This wouldn’t just put your dog at risk, but your passengers too. So, in many cases, using the seatback support for your dog’s crate is not safe or recommended.

Let’s take a look at the top winners for the most secure and safe dog car carriers and crates!

Give Careful Consideration to Where the Crate Goes

crash crumple zones
from BBC

Many owners place their dog’s car crate or pet kennel in the back of the car — the traditional cargo area. But unfortunately, this isn’t always a safe area for your pooch to be.

In many cars, the front and back sections are designed to be “crumple zones” when involved in accidents. The idea is that, by allowing certain sections of the car to crumple on impact, passengers in the interior of the car may remain safe.

This can be life-saving technology — so long as your loved ones aren’t stuck in one of those crumple zones.

Crumple zones can vary, especially when it comes to larger cars and SUVs that use more of the back car space for seating (making those areas unsafe to be designed as crumple zones, therefore making them safe areas to keep your dog).

Back crumple zones may not be a threat with all cars, but we recommend consulting with your car dealership to determine what the crumple zones of your car are. And then, make sure to place your dog’s pet kennel away from that dangerous crumple zone.

Placing your dog in the front seat isn’t a viable option either, as that exposes your dog to front passenger airbags, which are designed to save a human’s life — not your dog’s. Similar to how you shouldn’t place a child in the passenger seat, due to their size in relation to the airbag trajectory, dogs also can’t safely be placed in the passenger seat.

Usually, the back seat is the best place to install your dog’s car travel crate.

This is also the position where your dog will likely be the most comfortable. One study revealed that dogs exhibit less stress in the car when they are positioned closer to their humans, and can visually see them from where they are positioned. This can be key in helping reduce a dog’s anxiety in the car.

For Larger Dogs, Security Is Even More Important

While dog car safety is important for all canines, special care needs to be given to big dogs. Simply put, big dogs need a super durable crate.

Large dogs are even more of a dangerous projectile than small dogs, as a 70-pound canine body hurtling through your car at 70 miles per hour is going to be a whole lot more dangerous than a 10-pound dog.

However, even a small dog can exert a tremendous amount of force at high speeds.

unrestrained dog collision

On top of that, larger dogs will experience more force on impact. Unfortunately, this collision force is so strong that very few dog crates can hold up — the list of car-safe dog crates for big dogs is a very short one.

Additional Things to Seek in a Car Carrier for Dogs

Aside from the characteristics we’ve already discussed, you should also look for a few other things in any car carrier — whether it is crash-tested car crate or not.

  • Soft material on the inside: In addition to keeping your fur baby safe, you’ll want to look for a carrier that’s also comfy!
  • Keep the crate’s weight in mind: Generally speaking, you’ll want to look for the lightest crate you can find that still provides the safety and security your doggo deserves.
  • A water-resistant base: Even the best-trained pooches can have the occasional accident, so always try to stick to carriers with a water-resistant base.
  • Portability: Because of the very nature of car crates, you’ll want to ensure you select one that is as easy as possible to move around. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pick a collapsible dog crate, but it should be one you can move around easily.

How Do I Measure My Dog For a Car Carrier?

how to measure car space

Whether you use a soft- or hard-sided crate, you must keep your canine’s comfort in mind and make sure your fur baby gets the right size crate. Essentially, this means that you need a car carrier that is large enough that your doggo can stand up in it and lie down comfortably.

Measure from your dog’s neck (aka where the collar sits) to the base of the tail. Then, add a few inches. That’s the length you want to shoot for.

For height, measure from the top of your dog’s shoulders to the ground. If you’re buying a soft-sided crate or soft-sided carrier (or any kind of soft crate in general), you should add 2 to 3 inches to the height measurement. For hard carriers, add 3 to 5 inches.

Also, make sure to keep weight recommendations in mind when trying to pick the perfect size crate for your fur baby — pet owners with dogs falling between two sizes should probably opt for the larger size!

Distraction Prevention Vs Crash-Proof Power

dog carriers for car

It’s worth noting that while the majority of budget-friendly and popular consumer crates and carriers failed the safety test, most of these failed crash products do help substantially at least when it comes to distraction prevention.

Having your dog secured in the back seat, away from the driver, means a safer driving experience and, as a result, puts the entire car at lower risk for an accident.

So while the vast majority of crates will not protect your dog in an accident, even a poorly cash-tested device will likely be better than none at all. This holds true for many dog booster car seats and dog seat belts as well — most provide virtually no protection in an accident, but they will keep your pup from pestering you while you drive.

Still, we want to prevent distractions and keep our dogs safe, so we’d certainly suggest opting for a dog car crate or carrier that is capable of doing both!

What to Do If You and Your Dog Are in a Car Accident

what if you and dog are in accident

Unfortunately, no matter how safe we try to be, accidents happen. 

If you and your pup are in a car accident, your utmost priority is safety, so now more than ever, keep a level head and assess the situation.

Follow basic safety steps to ensure you and your four-footer’s well-being:

  • Pull into a safe area, if you can. If you’re involved in a minor fender-bender on a busy roadway, it’s best for all parties to move to the shoulder, if possible, to avoid another collision (some states even have “If you can steer it; clear it” laws in place). It’s all too common for a two-vehicle crash to worsen.
  • Assess the vehicle’s safety. Are there any fluids or smoke being released into or out of the vehicle? Can you smell gas or chemicals? Are there downed live wires outside? The answers to these questions greatly affect your next actions. Downed wires outside of the car mean staying inside, while smoke, gas, or chemical leaks require you to grab your pooch and get out of the car pronto .
  • Check yourself. Glance over yourself for signs of injury. We know your first instinct is to check on your pooch, but if you hurt yourself further, you won’t be able to help your fur baby. Adrenaline can make it hard to pinpoint any pain, but a quick once-over can usually spot any bleeding or serious injury that you need to address.
  • Check your pet. In most cases, pet carriers protect your dog from serious harm but you’ll still need to check her for injuries when it’s safe to do so. Keep the car door closed behind you if possible, as a frightened pup is prone to bolting after an accident. Look for signs of obvious pain like a stiff posture, whimpering, or limping. You also want to check for blood or a misaligned limb. Dogs who aren’t properly secured in a carrier or with a harness are more susceptible to severe injury.
  • Use caution. A dog in pain may act aggressively, so don’t feel offended if your best friend is snappy or fearful of you. Your feelings need to take a backseat, but your safety shouldn’t so use caution when handling an injured dog.
  • Render emergency aid. If your dog is bleeding, apply pressure with a clean towel or clothing item. If she isn’t responsive and appears not to be breathing, proceed with dog CPR.
  • Secure your pet. Make sure your dog is properly leashed before exiting the vehicle. This is critical, as even dogs with the best recall may run away after an accident. 
  • Call the police. Report the accident to proper authorities as soon as you’re sure you and your dog are OK and secured. If you or your dog are injured, relay this information as well. This ensures the proper help arrives informed of the situation.
  • Seek veterinary care. Bleeding, fractures, or signs of pain require emergency treatment by a vet. If you need care and can’t go with your dog, emergency professionals will likely be able to transport your canine to receive treatment. We’d also recommend getting your doggy copilot checked over by your vet from head to tail even after a minor accident.
  • Contact your insurance company. Pet injuries suffered during a car accident are covered by some insurance companies. It’s worth giving your insurer a call to check on your status. This is a good feature for all pet owners to look for while insurance shopping.

Automobile accidents are traumatic for both humans and dogs. What once was a safe space suddenly isn’t, so you both may have residual anxieties about riding in the car. A good way to overcome this is by having driveway hangouts, where you reintroduce sitting in the car in a fun, stress-free way. Bring treats and offer praise as you relax in the backseat. Over time, you can work up to turning on the car and driving around the block, making the car fun again.

If you haven’t already, it’s also a good time to introduce a travel dog crate to ensure your pupper’s safety for future car adventures.


Do you use a crate or carrier in the car with your fur baby? Are you surprised to hear about the CPS’s study and the lackluster safety of most car crates? Have you found a supremely durable option with a sturdy base that’s made from high-quality materials yet not listed above? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Written by

Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Director of Marketing at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!


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Very comprehensive, thank you! I’m considering the Ruffland kennel but there are 2 versions of tie down attachments available. https://rufflandkennels.com/product/tie-down-bracket-kit/?attribute_pa_size=medium-intermediate-large

One is a D ring style and the other one is a bracket. Is one of these the one that passed the test? I looked at the videos at CPS but it was not clear. Thank you!

Ben Team

Hey, Tanya. I *think* it is the bracket, but I’m not 100% sure. I’ve dropped them a line and will follow up here, but you should probably just give them a call before ordering to make sure.


I have contacted Ruff Land and although they market SUV specific kennels, including the ‘Backseat Rider’, there is actually no way to safely secure the backseat rider in the backseat. I contacted them about that and they couldn’t answer it, instead pointing me to their flat bed truck tie down video, but that method doesn’t work in backseats. On the question of brackets, they are bought separately and are attached by the customer through what seems like a flimsy hole in the plastic crate using a socket wrench. This seems like a significant weak point. The D rings in particular seem very flimsy. But regardless, all of the CPS crash test videos show failure, and until the failure points are addressed and they are certified, there are much safer options out there. Both Lucky Duck and Gunner can be secured in the back seat. They both have metal rods integrated into the kennel under which you pass the ratchet straps and wrap around the bottom of the kennel.


I have a 15 month Female Doberman and doing obedience training so on the road weekly. I have an SUV so looking for a safe kennel made in USA can you recommend one that has a hard exterior?

Thank you!

Ben Team

Hey there, Marie.
The Gunner Kennel has a hard exterior and may be large enough for your Dobie.
But you may want to check out our article about crates for truck beds — there are some larger kennels with hard exteriors there.
Best of luck!


I’m a little confused, in the article you say: things to avoid “Soft-sided carriers and crates are fine enclosures for general use, and they work great as airline approved in-cabin carriers. However, they will do little-to-nothing when it comes to protecting your pooch in a car accident. Since the carriers are soft, most will immediately collapse on impact.” …then you go on to recommend 2 soft sided carriers?

Ben Team

Hey, Kathryn.
This is one of those cases in which the language is just tricky. We discuss it in the product sections, but essentially, some of these carriers are pretty “soft,” yet they incorporate materials and design features that allow them to pass crash tests.
We’re really trying to discourage owners from using a run-of-the-mill, general use soft-sided carrier — not the listed products, which are “soft,” but pretty darn safe for car travel.
Thanks for checking out the article!


FYI, the G7 Commuter carrier lost its rating from the CPS on 31 Dec 2019.

Ben Team

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Nick!
I’ll update the article to reflect the change.


Posting this warning for other dog owners looking to purchase a crate for their car. TransK9 crates have an unsafe flaw in the design. We bought this TransK9 crate for the back of our car because we believed it was safe, would protect our dogs from accidents, and we would all feel more secure. However, we experienced an incident where our dog got her snout stuck in the grate of the door so severely that she chipped two of her teeth and damaged the top of her nose (bloody and severely bruised). We had to use small bolt cutters to cut her out of the door. Luckily she didn’t break her nose, but we’re still watching her teeth closely, and she will need dental work.

We contacted the company, TransK9, for support, however what we received was lectures about anxious dogs and the importance of reading terms and conditions. They did offer to replace the doors with ones that have smaller openings, however a few days later they rescinded this offer and instead leaned on their terms and conditions as an excuse. They did offer to send us replacement doors identical to the ones Cooper got her snout stuck in.

No one wants to see their dog in pain.

Ben Team

Hey, Kathy.
First of all, we’re so sorry to hear about Cooper’s ordeal! We hope she recovers fully and would like you to give her some scritches from us!
We also appreciate you sharing your experience with the ThansK9 Crate. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open to see if this is a common problem, or just a one-off thing.


What criteria are you using to determine that all other crates for large dogs failed in the CPS testing? I watched it, and the Vario performed as it was suppose to, as per manufacturer recommendations. Looking to outfit our new van and curious.


None of the prices actually reflect the actual price. I know this article is older but it links to the amazon page. Anyway, any price for the pooches.

Ben Team

Hey, Jen.
It is an older article, but we try to go in an update our titles periodically.
They should all reflect accurate prices now, except for the Sleepypod Carriers. For some reason, that one is being difficult.
Rest assured, we’re on the case, trying to get it fixed.

Thanks for pointing out the error!


Thank you for the great article! I have two 20-25 pound dogs, is it recommended to get them each their own safe padded crate or a large one to put them both in? Or would separate harness seat belts be better? Or separate booster seats? I was in a pretty bad wreck a month ago and I just keep thinking how awful it would’ve been if my pups had been with me 🙁 hopefully I can find the best and safest solution for them!


I’m so glad I found this before going on my three-week road trip with my dog.


What about Impact Crates? I am not sure ion CPS has testes these crates, but a lot of people claim they saved their dogs in auto accidents.

Meg Marrs

I’ve heard good things about Impact, they are definitely very secure crates, but they either haven’t been tested by CPS or haven’t passed the CPS crash test so we aren’t including them as a suggested option for car travel.


How do I determine the size of the carrier for my dog? Should my dog be able to stand up in the carrier? Should my dog be able to turn around in the carrier? My dog is 15 lbs, height is 13” (from the base of neck above the shoulders to ground), and 15” long (measured from butt to shoulder).

Meg Marrs

Great question! We just added a new bit of info to the article based on your question. Yes, your dog should be able to stand and turn around. Sounds like you have the right measurements you need. Just add a few extra inches for length and a few more for height (2-3 inches for soft carriers, 3-5 for hard carriers).


Thank you for the helpful information. Unfortunately, all the soft sides are too short, and the Gunner small kennel is 4.5 inches too long. I think Gunner would be my best bet, but I wish the other companies would make taller models.


There are a few other companies (Variocage, TransK9, Lintran) – I will do more research on those but so far I would go with TransK9. An important safety feature not mentioned here is a rear escape hatch door. What would happen if after an accident, the cargo door won’t open due to the damage, or the kennel door won’t open and I need to get the dog out? Worse, what if the car is on fire and I *really* need to get the dog out very quickly? TransK9 has an escape hatch in the back facing the front of the car, that folds down. Unfortunately, it seems that TransK9 was only tested independently. And It’s just as pricy as Variocage.

Meg Marrs

Good point – I can see why multiple doors might be important in the event of a crash.


The Variocage has an escape hatch at the opposite end from the normal entry and exit doors (in the back facing the front of the car), to be used in case of emergency – just like the transk9 does.

Marie Z

FYI, Gunner makes a medium dog crate for dogs up to 45 lbs. the price is $429.99, which is WAY too much for me. But, for those who can afford it, it’s out there. They have 4 sizes to accommodate all size dogs. They are ALL, very expensive, though. I wish I COULD afford it. My dog, like all dogs, deserves the best!

Marie Ziniti

You recommend a carrier for SMALL dogs, several, in fact. And you recommend a carrier for LARGE dogs. But, there are NO recommendations for MEDIUM dogs! My dog is 35 lbs. He’s too big for the small and too small for the large! So what about all the MEDIUM dogs out here. We love our MEDIUM dogs, and want to,protect them, too!

Meg Marrs

Hey Marie – we only recommend these crates because they are the only crash proof crates on the market at this time.


Thank you so very much for this article! I have 2 XL dogs (125 lbs each) Kangal/Great Pyrenees and am buying a new car that can accommodate 2 crates. I hope the Gunner Kennel will be able to safely transport them!! For a car I am looking at the GMC Yukon (or Yukon XL) hoping it will accommodate not one but two crates. I thank you so much for this article!!!

Meg Marrs

You’re welcome Nina! I wish there were more crash-test-approved dog crates, but unfortunately, these are the only options for now, especially for big pooches! Let us know how you do with the Gunner kennel.


Great! just ordered a Gen7commuter. Thanks for the suggestions!

Henry Collins

Didn’t know about these crates. Thanks for sharing this information.


Been reading a lot about Variocage as being tested and safe system …. Any further information? Not cheap, but certainly cheaper than vet bills would be.

Rick Riemer

The Variocage test results are included in the 2015 Crate Study posted on the Center for Pet Safety website.

Meg Marrs

Hi Kim – Variocage did not pass the 2015 CPS crash test. You can find out more details about how the Variocage failed the crash test here” (they have videos too).


I checked out the videos on the CPS site, and it seemed that the Variocage’s only downside was that the straps broke. The crate was pushed in to half its size because, as is mentioned on the CPS site, it is designed to do that (a built-in crumple zone). Tight quarters for the dog after that but the crate itself looked intact to me.

Meg Marrs

I noticed that too Dagmar – there’s definitely a chance that means the Variocage could be a suitable option, but I’m hesitant to suggest it if it wasn’t passed by the CPS, especially when there are other options that do pass. Maybe next time we refresh this article I’ll spend time looking more into Variocage.

Sharon Phillips

Hi, I have a question. I have 2 chihuahuas . 1 is 8.5 pounds and the other is 7 pounds. They always travel together in a plastic crate.
However I want to purchase a sleepy pod for safer travels. Can they be in the same crate? Is that safe ? Thanks!


I have a service dog (lab 75 lbs) that I wanted to keep in a crate in the cargo area of an SUV like a CRV or RAV4 because I thought it was safer. After your article, I am having second thoughts. Since she is a working dog, safety is a big concern because even a small injury could put her out of work. Have you done research on safest SUVs for dogs or best way to secure a dog in the passenger area? Debbie


You may want to look at Volvos. I am not sure about the newer models, but I used to have the 240 wagon, and those had a safety cage that extended to include the cargo area, because a pop-up seat in the trunk of the cargo area was an option and therefore, there was a chance of passengers riding in the cargo area, and it could not be a crumple zone. I miss my 240 wagon for that very reason.


please get to the large dog car harnesses! most of us cant buy a $600 cage. thank you

Meg Marrs

Don’t worry Katy – our article about car safe dog harnesses will be published in the next week or the following- promise!


We have a golden puppy and want to transport her safely. I’m bummed there is nothing but the pod for small dogs and then the $600.00 gunner kennel for large dogs.

Meg Marrs

I know Tammy – it really sinks! Luckily there are some really high-quality harnesses that work well for serious car protection. We’ll be reviewing those soon.


Shocking. As a dog owner it makes me angry that there is not more 3rd party testing.


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