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Best Dog Crates for Truck Beds: Keeping Your Buddy Safe in the Back

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Dog Crates & Carriers By Ben Team 15 min read July 1, 2022 1 Comment

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truck bed crate for dogs

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.

truck bed dog crate

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. They offer excellent ventilation and visibility. 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 inclement weather or wind. 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-wall 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. Flimsier plastic crates can also be chewed or scratched, leading to sharp edges that can become a safety hazard. 

Metal Panel Crates

Metal panel crates are typically the ideal crate 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 also moderately effective at shielding canine companions from inclement weather.

Many truck bed kennels and dog boxes are made of aluminum, specifically. An aluminum crate may be made of recycled materials, which is always a hit with eco-friendly fur parents.

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).

dog truck bed crate

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:

Security

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.

 Rigidity

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, a collapsible crate may not be as rigid as their non-collapsing counterparts are, leaving your dog at risk.

 Durability

Your truck bed dog crate will be exposed to the elements and road debris, so you want one that is built to last and not your average dog crate. Galvanized metal 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.

It’s also important to pay attention to the smallest components to ensure durable construction. This includes quality fasteners that won’t rust or snap and door hardware that won’t break with repeated use.

 Suitable Size

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

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.  

 Insulated Walls

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 truck bed dog crate with insulated walls to protect your pooch 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 in colder weather.

 Rain-Deflecting Vents

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.

Extras that Are Nice (But Not Necessarily Must-Haves)

Some features make toting your best friend around a breeze. While they may not mandatory, they’re certainly nifty for day-to-day life with a doggo. 

Additional Storage Space

Carting around canine accessories is easier if your kennel or dog box has a storage compartment or two for leashes, bowls, and more. Ideally, the storage compartment should have a secure closure, too, with either a latch or keyed lock. This prevents opening during travel or theft.

Double Doors

Dual entry points allow for easy access to your canine and let you configure your truck bed’s layout in more ways than a standard crate. Double doors are also helpful while cleaning. Just be sure that each is a quality closure, like a paddle-latch door.

Escape Hatch

An emergency escape hatch is an excellent feature in case of an accident. It gives you access to your pup, even if the primary door is damaged. Most are roof or rear-mounted, but all should include a secure lock to keep your pup in place when not in use.

Easy-Cleaning Setup

Keeping your dog’s kennel clean can be tricky, particularly if he’s a hunting hound or a mud monster around the farm. Some crates make the process easier with features like a removable tray with a smooth finish or floor drain holes to rinse messes away effortlessly.

The Best Dog Crates for Truck Beds

If you need to let your dog ride in the bed of your truck, the following 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 with its convenient drain plugs, lift handles, and dedicated tie-down pins for securing in place. Rigid and durable with a locking door, the Gunner G1 earned a five-star crash rating from the Center for Pet Safety.

Features:

  • Double-walled construction provides protection from UV rays, cold temperatures, and impact
  • Water-repelling windows help keep canines dry in the rain
  • Available in five colors, including Gunmetal, Tan, and DU Green
  • Made in America with stainless-steel hardware and a solid plastic shell

Safety Rating:

  • Small: 5-Star rating from Center for Pet Safety when used with strength-rated safety straps (For dogs up to 30 pounds)
  • Medium: 5-Star rating from Center for Pet Safety when used with strength-rated safety straps (For dogs up to 45 pounds)
  • Intermediate: 5-Star rating from Center for Pet Safety when used with strength-rated safety straps (For dogs up to 74 pounds)
  • Large: Unrated currently

Size Options:

  • 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”)

PROS

  • Most owners praise the crate’s quality
  • Bears a 5-star crash-test rating
  • Pretty rigid and escape-proof
  • Comes with a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty

CONS

  • Requires quite a bit of assembly
  • Primarily made from plastic, which isn’t everyone’s favorite material

2. Owens Dog Box (55048)

About: The Owens Dog Box (55048) is a two-dog truck bed kennel that arrives in a kit-style package, giving you more control over the building process than most carriers. It’s also relatively lightweight and portable unlike bulkier metal options.

Product

$414.71

Rating

3 Reviews

Details

Features:

  • Kit includes rugged aluminum panels and a bolt pack
  • Locking slam-latch doors keep canines secured
  • Slant-style air vents keep harsh weather conditions out
  • Made in the USA

Safety Rating:

  • Currently unrated by Center for Pet Safety

Size Options:

  • Single size measures 38″ x 48″ x 25″

PROS

  • DIY aspect offers more owner control over construction
  • Relatively cheaper than other two-dog carriers
  • Comes with a 1-year manufacturer’s guarantee covering defects

CONS

  • Some owners felt the install instructions were lacking
  • Requires more assembly than most truck bed kennels, plus you need to purchase plywood

3. Rock Creek Crate Aluminum Kennel

About: The Rock Creek Crate Aluminum Kennel is a welded metal carrier featuring a stainless steel lock with keyed entry, protecting your pooch from theft. With tie-down points and gripped feet, this kennel stays in place during travel with proper tethering, keeping your canine safe and secure.

Features:

  • Crafted with internally welded aluminum for a sturdy frame
  • Available in seven colors, including Gray Slate, Plum Field, and Midnight Black
  • Powder-coated finish protects against scratches and rust
  • Made in the USA

Safety Rating:

  • 5-Star rating from the Center for Pet Safety awarded to the medium-sized kennel equipped with secondary door bolts and strength-rated safety straps

Size Options:

  • Medium (Measures 30″ x 20″ x 22″)
  • Large (Measures 36″ x 24″ x 27″)
  • Extra-Large (Measures 42″ x 28″ x 32″)

PROS

  • 5-Star crash rating is always a plus
  • No assembly required
  • Comes with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Pretty aesthetically pleasing for a metal kennel

CONS

  • One of the most expensive crate options
  • Metal tends to hold onto heat and cold, affecting canine comfort

4. 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 with a foam-filled, insulating core. This truck bed crate can contain two dogs at a time with a non-removable divider.

Features:

  • Two independently opening doors with stainless-steel locks for added security (with included keys)
  • Stainless steel T-style handles for easy lifting
  • Lid cargo rack provides additional storage
  • Made in the USA with corrosion-resistant, extra-thick aluminum panels

Safety Rating:

  • Currently unrated by Center for Pet Safety

Size Options:

  • Single size option measures 48″ x 48″ x 31.3″

PROS

  • While relatively few owners reviewed, most report being pleased with the product
  • Insulating core keeps canines comfortable
  • Excellent protection against falling rain

CONS

  • One of the priciest models on the market
  • A few owners ran into some quality issues during assembly

5. 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 canine canopy may also be useful for hanging out with your dog at the beach or park.

Product

Sale Bushwhacker K9 Canopy
−$25.05 $174.95

Rating

168 Reviews

Details

  • 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:

  • Includes four key components: A 600-denier polyester canopy, two mesh sides, a cushioned pad, and a leash-clip tether
  • Secures in place with four included straps
  • Simple to assemble without tools

Safety Rating:

  • Currently unrated by the Center for Pet Safety

Size Options:

  • Single size measures 48” x 32” x 30”

PROS

  • Quality praised by pet parents
  • Padding provides comfort to canines
  • Lightweight and easy to install

CONS

  • Offer zero protection in the event of an accident
  • Dogs could easily chew through the tether if sufficiently motivated

Types of Crates to Avoid for Truck Bed Travel

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Two types of carriers are too dangerous to be used as a truck bed dog crate, regardless of brand or features. These canine carriers may be acceptable inside the vehicle’s cab, but they aren’t cut out for #truckbedlife. 

Wire Dog Crate

While this collapsible crate is great for at-home use with its portable nature and removable tray, it’s far too dangerous for riding in a truck. It offers zero protection in collisions or hostile weather conditions and is easy for dogs to escape from.

Soft Crate

Pet parents love the wide range of styles these portable carriers come in, but they are useless for protecting your beloved pooch in a crash. They’re also a breeze to escape from and for pupnappers to steal.

***

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!

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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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Hannah

I’m in the market for a dog crate and these ones look awesome. Thanks for sharing!

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