Quick Picks: Best Dog Crates for Truck Beds
- Gunner G1 Kennel [Most Affordable] — The Gunner G1 Kennel is not only the most affordable truck bed kennel we could find, it is one of the few to earn a 5-star crash rating. We’ll admit “affordable” is relative – Gunner Kennels still have a +$500 price tag, but that’s still below many others on this list.
- UWS Northern 2-Door Dog Box [Best for Multiple Dogs] — The UWS Northern Dog Box comes with a non-removable divider and two separate doors, making it perfect for those with two pooches.
- Primos Hunting Kennel [Another Solid Pick] — The Primos Hunting Kennel boasts a heavy-duty truck crate with aluminum tie-downs and adjustable ventilation panels.
Let’s be clear at the outset: It is not safe to allow your dog to ride in the back of a truck.
Lots of people do it – I’ve been guilty of this in my younger and dumber years – but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea. A truck bed provides virtually no protection to your pooch and leaves him at risk of serious injury or death.
However, if you must let your dog ride in the bed of your truck or you are in one of the very few situations in which it is arguably somewhat safe to do so (more on this later), you’ll want to install a crate in the bed and allow your dog to ride inside.
The crate won’t provide very much protection in the event of a car accident, but it will keep your dog from jumping out of the bed and it will offer a small degree of protection against road debris and inclement weather.
It is also important to realize that while a high-quality crate will certainly keep your dog contained, it may not protect your dog from nefarious or careless people. A thief may steal dogs left unattended in truck-bed crates, or a child may put his or her fingers through the bars and suffer a bite from an understandably frightened dog.
So, we’ll look at a few of the best truck bed crates available below.
But first, let’s discuss some of the most appropriate situations for using dog crates and explain some of the things you’ll want to look for when making your choice.
Reasonably Safe Situations for Truck-Bed Riding
Again, it is never safe to allow your dog to ride in the back of your truck. However, there are a very few scenarios in which the relative risk is probably quite low – especially if you use a truck bed crate while doing so. Some of these situations include:
Hunters Traveling through Rural Areas
If you are only letting your dog ride in the back of your truck while riding across farmland or down remote dirt roads, the risk of having an accident are much lower than they are driving around urban or suburban roads. Accordingly, this is probably one of the safer times in which you could let your dogs ride in the truck bed.
Additionally, because of the ways some hunting dogs are used – they are encouraged to sniff for prey while the truck is moving – it is necessary to let them ride in the back. If you accept this risk on behalf of your pooch, it is a good idea to have them ride in the most secure crate possible.
Search-and-Rescue Dogs Traveling in Limited-Access Areas
Some professional dog handlers may need to travel through areas that are not crowded with other cars. In such cases, it may be permissible to allow the dogs to ride in the truck bed.
However, such professionals will be better served by using an SUV instead of a truck and allowing the dog to ride in the better-protected interior.
Note that dogs should still be transported in a crate – even when they are inside the cab of a car, truck or SUV.
Farmers Working on Private Property
If your dog likes to accompany you as you tend to crops and inspect irrigation lines, and most of your driving occurs on your own property or empty public roads, you may be comfortable allowing your dog to ride in the back.
However, your dog will remain much safer if forced to ride in a crate, and it will prevent him from jumping out of the bed unexpectedly.
Different Types of Truck-Bed Crates
There are three basic styles of truck-bed crates, although it is important to note that some of the best crates for truck beds aren’t designed explicitly for this application. The three basic types of truck-bed crate include:
Metal Wire Crates
Metal wire crates are essentially identical to traditional wire dog crates, except that the bars used are often much thicker. Nevertheless, metal wire crates are probably the least escape-proof of the three basic types of truck bed crate, so they aren’t a great idea for Houdini-like hounds.
These types of wire crates are better than nothing, but they won’t provide very much protection in the event of a crash, nor shield your dog from the elements. This can make for a wet, cold and miserable pup.
Plastic Panel Crates
Plastic panel crates usually provide great protection from the elements, and if they are designed well, they can be quite escape proof. Some of the best models feature double-walled construction, which provides further insulation against temperature extremes, and they’re typically lighter than metal crates.
However, plastic panel crates don’t provide much protection for your dog in the event of a crash.
Metal Panel Crates
Metal panel crates are typically the best option available for owners who want their dog to ride in the bed of a truck.
While the metal panels still won’t provide complete protection for your dog, they will provide more protection than metal wire crates or plastic panel crates will. They’re moderately effective at shielding your dog from the elements.
Metal crates are, however, heavy, so you may need a friend help you move the crate around. They’re also quite expensive, but if there’s anything that justifies dropping a chunk of cash, it’s your family’s safety (we’re assuming most of our readers consider dogs members of the family).
Things You Want in a Truck-Bed Crate
Because of the security and safety concerns involved in the decision to allow your dog to ride in a truck bed, it is imperative that you scrutinize the available crates carefully to make the best possible choice.
Among other things, you’ll want to look for a crate that includes the following features, characteristics, and design concepts:
A truck-bed crate may not provide total protection for your pooch, but it certainly provides some. So, you’ll want to ensure that your dog can’t escape from the crate while you’re riding around. Ideally, you’ll want a keyed lock on the door to keep your dog inside and keep unauthorized individuals from opening the door.
Additionally, you want to select a crate that can be securely attached to your truck bed – a thief could conceivably make off with the entire crate if it isn’t exceptionally heavy or connected directly to the bed in some way.
Few crates are designed to keep your dog safe in the event of a crash, but you’ll want to provide your pet with the most protection possible, should something terrible happen. Rigidity has as much to do with the crate’s design as it does the materials used in the construction, however, metal crates are generally less likely to collapse or break than plastic crates are.
Note that there are a few collapsible truck-bed crates on the market. But, while convenient to store and transport, these crates may not be as rigid as their non-collapsing counterparts are.
Your truck bed crate will be exposed to the elements and road debris, so you want one that is built to last. Galvanized metals will last longer than just about any other commonly used material, but most economy metal crates will eventually rust if allowed to get wet repeatedly.
Plastic crates will usually handle moisture fine, but they may get dinged and scratched from the rocks, gravel, sand and other things that blow up off the road.
Make sure that the crate you choose is the proper size. Essentially, you want your dog to be able to lay down, stand up and turn around inside the crate, but you don’t want them to have much more room than this.
In the case of a car accident – and this is difficult to explain gently – your dog will be thrown around more in a large crate than a small crate, so it is important to avoid providing a crate that is much larger than necessary.
Tie-down pins provide a place to attach the straps included with the purchase of the crate (or aftermarket alternatives).
They aren’t absolutely necessary as you can strap down truck bed crates in a number of ways, but tie-down pins, which are generally built into the frame of the crate, provide maximum security.
It can get pretty chilly riding around in the back of a truck – even during warm weather, the high winds will lower the effective temperature your dog feels. Conversely, dog crates can get pretty hot while sitting in the summer sun.
Accordingly, you may want to select a crate with insulated walls to protect your dog from temperature extremes.
If you don’t have a crate that has solid insulation, purchasing an insulated kennel cover is another option. You can simply place the cover over an existing dog crate.
Even though dogs are covered with a layer of fur, they can experience hypothermia pretty easily if they get wet (especially if they’re also exposed to low temperatures and high winds). So, it is important to select a crate that will keep your dog dry. Some of the best crates feature rain-deflectors around the vents to prevent water from splashing inside.
The Six Best Dog Crates for Truck Beds
If you need to let your dog ride in the bed of your truck, the following five crates should help keep your pup a bit safer:
1. Gunner G1 Kennel
About: The Gunner G1 Kennel is designed specifically for hunters who need to haul their dog in a truck bed, but it is also appropriate for non-hunting owners too. Rigid and durable, the Gunner G1 is the first kennel to earn a five-star crash rating.
Features: The Gunner G1 is made with double-walled construction to provide extra protection from UV rays, cold temperatures, and impacts, while the water-repelling windows will help keep your dog dry in the rain – and even if a bit of water splashes inside, the provided drain plugs make it easy to remove this water.
The crate uses all stainless-steel hardware, which will last a lifetime without rusting or causing discoloration. Super strong carrying handles are included to make the crate a breeze to lift and load, and the elevated feet and broad base help prevent tipping. Additionally, the crate features dedicated tie-down pins to ensure it stays in place.
The Gunner Kennel is available in three sizes – small, medium and large – and with either a black or mossy-oak-patterned door.
There aren’t a lot of user reviews available for the Gunner G1 Kennel, but most owners who shared their experiences were quite happy with the crate. It certainly appears pretty rigid and escape-proof, and it includes a number of helpful features, such as the drain plugs and dedicated tie-down pins.
The Gunner G1 Kennel requires quite a bit of assembly, and despite earning a 5-star crash-test rating, it’s primarily made from plastic, rather than metal, like some of the other available truck bed crates.
2. Owens Dog Box (55015)
About: The Owens Dog Box is another heavy-duty crate designed for use in the back of a truck or anywhere else you need to keep your dog safe and secure.
Features: The Owens Dog Box provides a number of safety and security features, including its rugged aluminum construction and locking T-handles. It is equipped with plastic corrugated insulation panels and comes with a removable storm door to keep your dog comfortable in inclement weather.
Assembly is required upon delivery, but the crate is designed to be easy to put together or take apart, so it is a breeze to transport or store. The 55015 crate is only available in one size (30” x 20” 24”), but Owens manufacturers a number of other crates (such as the 55048, 55002, 55046, and 55077) which are available in various sizes. Most feature the same type of construction and materials, and they are equally well-built.
There aren’t many reviews for the Owens Dog Box, so it is difficult to judge its overall value. It does, however, include most of the features and design concepts you’d want in a truck bed crate, it is made from rugged materials, and those owners who did report their experiences with the crate were pleased with their choice.
The Owens Dog Box didn’t receive many negative reviews, and there aren’t any glaring weaknesses. It is about an inch shorter than most similar crates though, so be sure to measure big dogs carefully before selecting this crate.
3. Impact Collapsible Aluminum Dog Crate
About: The Impact Collapsible Aluminum Dog Crate is a heavy-duty dog crate that can be collapsed for easy storage. Although it is primarily intended as a shipping container for pets, it should also make an excellent truck bed kennel.
- Collapses in minutes: This heavy-duty all-aluminum crate conveniently collapses in minutes to less...
Features: From top to bottom, the Impact Collapsible Aluminum Crate is built for safety. It features rust-resistant, powder-coated, 0.063 aluminum construction, and each of the corners come with crush-proof caps. Three-eights inch crossbars are also included for additional rigidity.
All four sides of the Impact Dog Crate provide ventilation to ensure your dog remains comfortable, and each side also comes with a carrying handle. The crate door comes with “slam latches” that lock automatically upon being closed.
The Impact Dog Crate is available in three different sizes (the largest being 41″ x 25″ x 29″) and it is made in the USA.
The Impact Collapsible Dog Crate received the best owner reviews of any truck bed crate we looked at. Most owners raved about the quality of the kennel, and several confirmed that it kept their escape-prone canine safely contained.
Several owners had difficulty assembling and collapsing this kennel. You’ll likely need two adults to do so, and you may need a hand truck to move it around when necessary.
4. Primos Hunting Kennel
About: The Primos Hunting Kennel is built like a tank to provide as much protection as possible and keep your dog safely contained inside.
It appears to be specifically designed for hunters and hunting dogs, although it could probably be used in a variety of contexts.
- Single-walled, one-piece roto molded housing for durability & strength
- 37lbs for easy one-person lifting and loading
- Integrated aluminum tie downs & stainless-steel hardware
- Reversible, locking door for versatile entries & exits
Features: The Primos Hunting Kennel is made of a single-walled, one-piece roto-molded material, providing extra durability & strength.
It includes a reversible, locking door that allows the crate to be opened in a variety of positions. It also boasts aluminum tie-downs, rubber feet to prevent sliding, hefty carrying handles, and built-in drainage for easy cleaning.
The crate also has a number of interesting ventilation options, with a removable back vent and adjustable side vents for ventilation adjustment.
The Primos Hunting Kennel has internal dimensions of interior dimensions of 24. 5″H x 21. 5″W x 34″D and weighs 37 lbs.
This sturdy crate is designed for hunting, with solid tie-downs and connection points for added security.
Some owners were disappointed in the quality and were not impressed with the craftmanship. Some even reported receiving a cracked door.
5. UWS Northern 2-Door Deep Dog Box
About: The UWS Northern Dog Box is a safe and secure truck box, specifically designed to keep dogs warm and comfy in cold weather. This truck bed crate is designed to contain two dogs at a time, and it features a non-removable divider.
Features: The UWS Northern Dog Box is made from corrosion-resistant, extra-thick aluminum panels, so it will not only keep your dog safe but last for years too. The box lid features a RigidCore foam-filled core that provides additional strength and insulation for your dog’s safety and comfort.
This box features two independently opening doors that each utilizes a stainless-steel locking mechanism to prevent your pooch from escaping (two keys provided with purchase). Stainless-steel T handles are included to make the box easy to lift, and the lid even comes with a cargo rack to provide additional storage space.
This truck box is made in the USA and measures approximately 48″ x 48″ x 31.3″.
Like many of the other truck bed kennels we examined, the UWS Northern Dog Box hasn’t received many user reviews. That said, the reviews that were available were very positive, and this crate comes with all of the features most owners would want.
This is not a cheap truck kennel — it’s actually one of the priciest models on the market. But while that may scare off some owners, others will probably be happy to cough up some extra cash to get a top-notch kennel for their hunting dog or pet.
6. Bushwhacker Paws n Claws K9 Canopy
About: The Bushwhacker Paws n Claws K9 Canopy is not a true kennel, but it may provide value for owners in very low-risk situations. Essentially designed to keep your dog tethered and protected from the elements, this product may also be useful for hanging out with your dog at the beach or park.
- The K9 Canopy is constructed with durable 600 denier polyester and tear resistant mesh. The grey...
- Half inch pad uses closed cell foam so you can simply hose it off without worry of corrosion....
Features: The Bushwhacker K9 Canopy basically includes four key components: A 600-denier polyester canopy to shield your dog from the rain and harsh sun, two mesh sides to provide some protection from road debris, a cushioned pad to give your dog a comfortable place to lay, and a leash-clip tether to keep your dog from jumping out.
The canopy is easy to secure to your truck bed with the four included straps, but you can use it outside of your truck if you prefer. It is also easy to assemble and install without tools. The canine canopy measures 48” x 32” x 30” and the pad is comprised of ½-inch closed cell foam, which is easy to rinse with a hose.
Many owners liked the Bushwhacker K9 Canopy, praised its quality, and loved the way it protected their dog from the sun and rain. It appears to remain securely attached to the truck bed even at highway speeds, and the padding provides the kind of comfort most dogs want. It is also very lightweight, easy to set up and a breeze to move from one place to the next.
The Bushwhacker K9 Canopy may protect dogs from sun and water, but it will offer no protection in the case of an accident. Additionally, dogs could easily chew through the tether, if sufficiently motivated.
While it is always better to allow your dog to ride inside a crate placed in the cabin space of your car, there are a few scenarios in which it may be acceptable (though never ideal) to let your dog ride in a truck-bed crate. Just be sure to select the best model for your pooch if you decide to do so and keep safety in mind at all times.
Have you ever used a truck bed crate for your pup? We’d love to hear about your experiences and learn about any crates you’ve found to be particularly effective. Let us know all about it in the comments below!