Dogs love spending time outside, but without a fenced-in backyard or electric dog fence, owners will need outdoor dog kennels to keep their canines safe and secure.
Dog kennels are also great for those running their own dog boarding facility, as some outdoor dog kennels are designed to hold multiple dogs at once.
We’ll be detailing the key features to consider when selecting an outdoor dog kennel, as well as recommending our top picks below.
Quick Picks: Best Outdoor Dog Kennels
- K9 Kennel Castle Ultimate [Best Super-Premium Outdoor Dog Kennel] Canine comfort is front and center with this luxury hound hangout, featuring a roomy dog run and an elevated, insulated house with optional extras galore.
- Lucky Dog STAY Series Studio Jr [Best Outdoor Kennel for Small Breeds] A petite floorplan, low height, and protective cover make this the perfect pen for little dogs needing an outdoor pen.
- Lucky Dog STAY Series Presidential Kennel [Best Outdoor Kennel for Large Dogs] Ideal for big barkers, this large steel dog kennel has a dual-access door, an all-weather cover, and plenty of room for fun in sun.
- Two by Two Expandable Kennel [Most Affordable Outdoor Dog Kennel] This budget-friendly pen gives you the best bang for your buck, as it is foldable, strong, and portable — best of all, you can increase the size of it as your budget allows.
Outdoor Dog Kennels: Factors to Consider
You don’t want to just run out and buy the first outdoor kennel you see. There are a lot of options on the market, so be sure to consider the following things when making your choice.
- Material: Most dog kennels are made of either steel wire, chain-link fencing, or expanded metal. Different materials will provide varying degrees of durability (and will also result in a different look, so personal tastes have an influence here too). Large, powerful breeds do best with stronger materials like heavy-duty welded steel.
- Size: Outdoor dog kennels come in a variety of sizes and height options. Your ideal kennel dimensions will depend on your dog’s size and activity level and if you plan on housing a single or multiple dogs in your kennel. You’ll want to provide ample space for your dog to move around and play. Also consider if you plan on including a dog house or other objects in your kennel, as this may also require a larger structure. Factor in upkeep, too, as kennels with low ceilings can be back-breaking to clean.
- Weather Resistant: You’ll want to ensure that the kennel you choose is sturdy and weather-resistant against the elements, especially if you’re keeping your kennel in an outdoor, unprotected area such as a backyard. Seeking out stainless steel or other metals treated to prevent rust is especially important.
- Enclosed Top: Some kennels come with enclosed tops, while others are open. Owners with small dogs who are vulnerable to predators will want to make sure to purchase a kennel with a covered top. These are also recommended for escape artist doggos.
- Material Cover: You may also want to consider purchasing a tarp-style cover for your kennel. This provides protection, shielding your dog from the sun in the summer, and keeps out snow and rain in the winter. The best option is a heavy-duty waterproof cover, as these will repel the wet stuff to keep your canine dry, comfy, and cozy.
- Number of Doors: You’ll also want to consider how many doors your dog kennel has. Some kennels provide a set of double safety doors so that a dog cannot rush out when you enter the kennel. Some kennels also provide waist-high doors so that owners can put in food, water, and toys without allowing the dogs to escape. Just pop open the top of the dual-zone door and give your dog the items he needs.
- Food and Water Attachments: While food and water dishes can be pushed and attached to kennel walls, some high-end kennels come with food and water dishes pre-attached to panels that can then be swung around to the outside of the kennel. This lets you add food and water without stepping into the kennel at all, keeping your pets safe and secure inside.
- Digging Prevention: Some dog kennels come with digging bars that sit alongside the ground, around the edge of the kennel. These bars prevent dogs from digging under the kennel and escaping, making them great for owners with digger dogs.
The 7 Best Outdoor Dog Kennels: The Best Options for Your Four-Footer!
We compared dozens of different outdoor dog kennels, dog runs, and other types of fenced enclosures to help you pick the best one for your pet. Check out our top picks below!
1. K9 Kennel Castle Ultimate
K9 Kennel Castle Ultimate
A luxury pup hangout with a spacious dog run and a raised house with many optional upgrades.
About: Upgrade your doggy’s outdoor digs with the K9 Kennel Castle Ultimate, featuring a raised 4-foot-long by 4-foot-wide dog house, an access ramp, a tile hangout pad beneath the house, and a large run space for play. Also included with the purchase is an 8-foot-long by 8-foot-wide metal cover for protection from rain and sun, swivel bowl brackets with two food bowls, and a septic tank for waste disposal.
- Welded wire panels treated with a powder-coated finish for weather resistance
- Prefabricated fence panels pin together for easy installation
- Digging prevention system with three 8-foot dig bars
- Comes with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Includes six 8-foot welded wire panels, one 8-foot door panel, and one 4-foot panel to configure as you see fit (as pictured, the kennel measures 8 feet long, 24 feet wide, and 7 feet tall)
- Loads of extras for the ultimate experience in canine kennel comfort (plus optional add-ons!)
- Dig prevention system keeps dogs contained
- Purchase comes with a free dog cot or food dispenser from the manufacturer
- By far the most expensive kennel on our list
- Raised house with a ramp isn’t the ideal (or safest) option for older or mobility-challenged dogs
2. Lucky Dog STAY Series Studio Jr
About: Provide your petite pooch with the perfect size hangout with the help of Lucky Dog STAY Series Studio Jr, an outdoor dog playpen with a waterproof polyester topper for blocking out the elements or other threats. The wire-mesh panels offer your furry friend an unobstructed view of the action, while the latching door keeps him tucked safely inside.
- Made of powder-coated alloy steel
- Toolless assembly makes for easy setup
- Lightweight design can be moved around the yard to give the terrain a break
- Roof comes in Steel Grey, Khaki, and Black finishes
- 4 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 4.5 feet tall
- Roof protects small dogs from rain and predators
- Quality and strength received praise from owners
- Tool-free assembly is a win for convenience
- Some escape artists can climb the panels. and slip over the walls
- Doesn’t offer a ton of room for dogs to run and play (it’s also a poor choice for dogs prone to poop-running!)
3. Lucky Dog STAY Series Presidential Kennel
Lucky Dog STAY Series Presidential Kennel
A steel frame, spacious layout, and all-weather cover make this a top choice for large dogs.
About: House your large pupper comfortably with the Lucky Dog STAY Series In-Ground Kennel, a roomy Rover retreat where dogs can pace, play, or relax in a 10-foot by 10-foot area. The mesh-pattern panels give your dog top-notch visibility of his surroundings, and the tall walls and roof keep him from leaping to freedom.
- Made with powder-coated steel for increased durability
- Assembles easily; you only need an adjustable wrench to assemble it
- Dual-access door provide great convenience, especially during feedings
- All-weather polyester cover offers protection against precipitation and UV rays
- Measures 10 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 7.5 feet tall (with cover on)
- Offers ample space for large dogs or multiple mutts
- Sturdy steel frame ideal for big, powerful pups
- Ease of setup is a win
- Determined dogs may climb the wire paneling to try to make an escape
- One of the pricier picks on our list
4. Two by Two Expandable Kennel
Two by Two Expandable Kennel
A budget-friendly, foldable dog kennel that can be expanded onto later for more sniffer space.
About: Save your doggy dollars while still giving your furry friend a safe hideout with the Two by Two Expandable Kennel, a versatile doggy den that can be used as a puppy playpen, backyard dog run, or crate. If you’d prefer more wiggle room for your woof in the future, you can always expand onto it with an additional unit and configure it as you’d like.
- Made of steel
- Detachable roof protects den dwellers from rain and sun
- Dual-action door can be fully opened or split for partial access
- Foldable design stores easily
- Expandable, meaning you can increase the size as your budget allows
- Measures 4 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 4.5 feet tall
- Can’t beat the price for such a versatile piece
- It’s easy to set up and portable, so it can be moved around the yard or brought on the go
- Can be expanded on with the purchase of an additional unit
- Cramped size not ideal for large dogs or pup packs (though it can be expanded on)
- Escape artist pups can scale the fence with ease to slip out the top
5. Advantek Indoor Outdoor Metal Dog Gazebo
About: Advantek Indoor Outdoor Metal Dog Gazebo provides a safe, enclosed area for your canine companion that isn’t an eyesore thanks to its chic octagon shape and pitched roof. Cleaning is also easier when placed on a hard floor, thanks to the kennel’s raised leg design. Meanwhile, spring-loaded safety latches on the door provide added security against escape attempts.
- Made of weather-resistant, powder-treated alloy steel and nylon connection points
- Reversible polyurethane gazebo cover is water-resistant to protect your pooch from the elements.
- Fast and easy installation doesn’t require tools (plus it’s portable!)
- Dropdown window for refilling your dog’s food and water or giving out goodies
- 60-inch diameter and 60 inches tall
- Owners report it’s a quality product with a unique look
- Most pet parents found this pen is easy to assemble
- Portability is a major win, as this kennel can be used indoors, outdoors, or during travel
- Sizing is cramped for larger dogs or multi-pup families (you can, however, expand your pup’s space with the purchase of other gazebos)
- Not recommended for escape artist doggos
6. Bonnlo Plastic Dog House
About: Bonnlo’s Plastic Dog House provides a cozy, quiet zone for your small or medium dog to catch Zs outside, while the lockable door allows you to close him inside for brief kenneling. Great for temporary use during barbecues, yard work, and other times when pupperinos can’t be underfoot, this shelter has air slots for increased ventilation and a raised floor for elevating pups from rain and creepy crawlies.
- Made of thick yet lightweight plastic that can be hosed clean as needed
- Includes a detachable metal door with a two-way, spring lock for kenneling
- Slanted, waterproof roof drives rain away from the shelter
- Base can be held in place with ground stakes for added stability
- 28.7 inches long, 26 inches wide, and 28 inches tall
- 34.3 inches long, 30.5 inches wide, and 32.7 inches tall
- Great for giving your small dog a temporary safe hangout
- Light, easy-to-assemble, and portable design won over pet parents
- Ease of cleaning earned high marks
- Not for large breeds
- Doesn’t provide enough space for dogs to reside shut inside for an extended period
7. PawHut Indoor/Outdoor Metal Dog Kennel
About: Ideal for door-rushing doggos at dinnertime, the PawHut Indoor/Outdoor Metal Dog Kennel makes mealtime easier to serve with two rotating bowl holders and bowls that allow you to feed your dog without opening the main door. Both the main entrance and feeding doors feature exterior latches for additional security.
- Strong wire and alloy steel frame with metal connection points
- Water-resistant cover is made of Oxford cloth
- Lightweight build can be moved around the yard with ease
- Dog bowl panels can be configured as you’d like, whether side-by-side or across the kennel from one another
- Measures 55.5 inches long, 55.5 inches wide, and 60.25 inches tall (with canopy attached)
- Built-in rotating bowls make for stress-free feedings
- Provides adequate space for small dogs to eat, stretch their legs, and stretch out
- Easy to assemble according to many owners
- Meant for use with small and medium breeds
- Houndinis can scale the fence and slip out the top relatively easily (especially since the canopy only attaches with rubber banding)
The Benefits of Outdoor Dog Kennels
While some owners never consider setting up an outdoor kennel or outdoor dog run for their pet, most owners who do wonder how they ever survived without one!
Simply put, outdoor dog runs and kennels are amazingly valuable for your pet, and they’ll often make your life much easier too. A few of the most notable benefits they provide include:
Outdoor Kennels Allow Your Dog to Enjoy the Great Outdoors
As long as the weather is nice, most dogs love spending time outside, as it gives them the chance to see and smell all kinds of stuff they wouldn’t get to enjoy if they were sequestered indoors.
Many dogs will get bored hanging out indoors, but outdoor kennels give them the chance to bark at squirrels, sniff interesting things in the air, and feel the wind blowing through their fur. This outdoor time is great for canine enrichment.
Outdoor Kennels Are Helpful Dog Management Tools
From time to time, most owners will need to put their dog in a safe, secure place while they host guests, clean the house, or complete complicated projects (you don’t want your pooch running through the room when you’re trying to decipher IKEA instructions and put together your new bookshelf!).
Outdoor dog kennels are perfect for these times, and they’ll give your dog more room than a typical crate will. They also give your dog a wide range of sights and smells to safely enjoy outside.
Outdoor Kennels Are Often a Better Option than Crates
Dog crates are invaluable tools, and most owners should have one on hand for their pup. They’re not only helpful for house training dogs, but they’re also great for keeping your dog safe when you can’t directly supervise him.
That said, most dogs would surely rather hang out in a spacious outdoor kennel for extended periods of time than sit in the relatively confined space a crate provides.
Outdoor Kennels Don’t Force Your Dog to “Hold It” All Day
Adult dogs can usually go 6 to 10 hours between bathroom breaks without difficulty, but there are still going to be times when your pup drinks a little more water than usual. This may cause your dog to end up doing the pee-pee dance for a few hours while waiting for you to return and let him go outside. He may even have an accident, causing anxiety and a yucky mess for your to tend to upon arriving home.
But an outdoor kennel will allow him to tinkle (or poop, as the case may be) at his leisure, which will keep him more comfortable while you’re away.
Outdoor Kennels Can Allow Your Dog to Get Some Exercise
Some dogs get destructive when their owner leaves, so they need to be confined while you’re out running errands. A crate is a safe and acceptable option, but indoor crates don’t allow your dog to do much but sit there and bark at stuff. The same is often true of pet playpens.
By contrast, a spacious outdoor kennel will keep your dog safe while you’re away, but it’ll also let your dog run, jump, and play quite a bit while contained.
They’re an excellent option for keeping your dog contained in an unfenced yard.
Outdoor Dog Kennel Safety
As you can see, outdoor dog kennels provide a ton of benefits to you and your dog. But, you must use them carefully to ensure your dog stays safe. Among other things, this means doing the following:
- Don’t use outdoor kennels in extreme weather. Kennels are great when the weather is nice, but you don’t want to leave your dog outside whenever it is uncomfortably hot or cold. The exact temperature range your dog can tolerate will vary based on his size, health, breed, and fur length, so discuss your dog’s likely temperature tolerances with your vet. That said, it is generally a good idea to use extreme caution anytime the temperature is below 50 degrees or above 80 degrees. You also shouldn’t leave your dog outside in bad weather like thunderstorms.
- Be sure your dog always has plenty of fresh water. This should go without saying, but make sure your dog always has more water available than he could possibly drink. If your dog can polish off a whole bowl of water, go ahead and set out two bowls of water for him.
- Provide your dog with some type of shade. Even in relatively mild temperatures, dogs can overheat if forced to sit in the sun. You needn’t necessarily shade the entire kennel, but make sure your dog can get out of the sun if need be. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure your dog can get out of the rain if inclement weather swoops in, so make sure part of the kennel also features a waterproof cover or roof.
- Carefully test the security of the kennel. Some dogs are extraordinarily skilled at escaping kennels, so you’ll want to make sure the kennel you choose is 100% escape-proof. The best way to do so is to put your dog in the kennel, and then watch him (without letting him know you are looking) and see if he can escape. Make sure you verify that your dog can’t climb or jump over the top, nor dig his way beneath the fencing. A quality product won’t have any gaps or escape points your dog can exploit. You can also reinforce an outdoor kennel with features like anti-dig bars and ground anchors.
- Clear the enclosed area of any potential hazards. It’s important to make sure that your dog won’t be able to get into any mischief while hanging out in his kennel, so be sure to give the area a once over for sharp edges and other dangers before putting your dog inside. Also, be sure that you don’t leave any toys in the kennel unless you’re positive that they will hold up to your pup’s jaws – you don’t want him to rip up his toy and choke on the pieces while he’s unattended.
DIY Kennel: Outdoor Dog Kennel Ideas
It’s always easier to buy an outdoor kennel than it is to make your own, but some owners prefer going the DIY route. This may be helpful for those with dogs who have special needs, as well as those who simply can’t find a commercial option that fits the bill.
There are a number of DIY dog house blueprints and DIY kennel plans available online, but the following video provides a pretty good example of a homemade kennel that shouldn’t be too difficult to build yourself.
FAQ: Outdoor Dog Kennels
Outdoor dog kennels are relatively straightforward, but with so many styles and options to choose from, you may still have questions or concerns. Let’s dig into them.
What is an outdoor dog kennel?
An outdoor dog kennel is a safe space to secure your dog within four walls that are usually made of heavy-duty steel or chain-link fence (technically, some kennels are built up against an existing wall or two to create an enclosed space).
Often used by owners without fenced-in yards or by those looking to protect grass and plants from all-over pottying, these pens are a great way comfortably contain your dog for longer periods of time outdoors when a crate may be too restrictive.
What are outdoor dog kennels used for?
Outdoor dog kennels are used to contain canines, sometimes for pottying or exercise when a fenced yard isn’t available, and other times for something as simple as eating or chilling outdoors.
Outdoor kennels also come in handy during outdoor chores or parties when you can’t risk your pooch snooping around yet you still want him to enjoy some outside time.
How big of an outdoor dog kennel do I need?
The right dog kennel size depends on your pup and the pen’s expected usage. Larger, active breeds require a larger kennel than low-energy, small dogs, for instance. Similarly, a four-footer who spends extended periods of time in the kennel will need more room than one who only uses it during mealtime.
The perfect option is a kennel that has ample space for pottying, lounging, and playing without feeling cramped. The happier your dog is inside his pen, the less likely he is to voice discontent through nuisance barking or escape attempts.
If you’re on the fence (heh) between sizes, go with the largest size of the two as long as it’s still secure. It’s always better to have a larger space than your dog needs than one that is too small.
Are outdoor kennels good for dogs?
Outdoor dog kennels have a wide range of benefits for your fur kiddo when used correctly. For one, they allow ample space for off-leash play and exercise if you don’t have a fully fenced-in backyard. This provides much-needed mental and physical stimulation that can’t always be met by walking your dog on a standard leash.
Outdoor kennels can also ease the stress of sitting in a cramped crate for extended periods during parties or other activities where your pup may get into mischief. Siting outside in fresh air beats a boring indoor crate any day. They have the added bonus of keeping your doggo safe and out of things he shouldn’t be rummaging through.
With all that in mind, it’s important to use your dog’s outdoor kennel safely and ethically. He shouldn’t spend hours alone in there day in and day out. Dogs are social creatures who need interaction with their people and the world around them. They also shouldn’t be left outside in extreme weather conditions.
Can I leave my dog in his outdoor dog kennel alone?
Yes, as long as you follow some basic safety rules. Most importantly, make sure your dog can’t escape from his kennel before leaving him alone in it. You can do this by putting him in the kennel and walking out of view. From there, watch him and see if he tries to escape. Not only is escaping a risk since your dog could end up roaming the neighborhood on his own, but he might also injure himself trying to get out.
Additionally, it’s probably wise to avoid leaving your dog alone in a kennel cage wearing a collar (unless it is a breakaway collar or “safety” collar), as they can snag on fencing and choke your dog. It’s not recommended to leave your dog alone with toys he may choke on or ingest, either.
What should I put on the ground of my dog’s outdoor kennel?
The best option depends greatly on you and your dog. Some materials are best for ease of cleaning, while others are more natural and eco-friendly.
Grass is the most common form of outdoor kennel ground coverage, as it’s all-natural and readily available in most backyards. Unfortunately, it’s prone to wear and tear from dogs running and playing or damage from bathroom breaks. It’s also difficult to clean the kennel thoroughly without making a muddy mess and needs care like watering and mowing.
Another option is artificial grass if you’d prefer less maintenance. It offers a similar look to the real stuff yet is far more durable against everyday use. Artificial grass does need a drainage system to prevent odors and bacteria, however.
Wood chips and other dog-safe mulch options are sometimes used as well. Just pick up your pup’s waste regularly and hose it down for a refresh. It does need replacing as it wears down and can wash away, even with occasional rains. It’s not, however, a good choice for dogs who eat things they shouldn’t.
Other pet parents prefer laying something permanent like concrete, as it allows for quick cleaning with a pooper scooper, hose, and kennel disinfectant. This cuts down significantly on odors. Concrete is expensive, however, and it can get pretty grimy fast if you have multiple dogs.
Kennels and outdoor dog runs are great tools that most owners should consider using. They not only help keep your dog safe when you can’t watch his every move but also provide great mental stimulation for your pet and give him the chance to run around a little bit.
Have you found an outdoor dog kennel that worked especially well? Let us know all about it!
Tell us what model and brand you chose, as well as the things you like most about it. Maybe we’ll include the one you use in a future article update!
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