Coming home to find that your four-footer has escaped his crate — and probably destroyed it and your home in the process — is a frustrating problem for many dog owners.
But fortunately, there are a number of Alcatraz-like crates on the market, specifically designed to keep these escape-prone pups contained.
Quick Picks: Best Heavy Duty Dog Crates
- #1 Pick: ProSelect Empire Dog Cage [Toughest] Made of 20 gauge steel and 0.5″ diameter steel tubes, this highly rated steel crate can hold even the toughest dogs. (Available in M,L)
- #2 Pick: Smonter Heavy Duty Crate [More Affordable] The Smonter is similar in design to the ProSelect, but is a bit lower priced and is available in extra sizes and colors (Available in 38″ / 42″ / 46″)
- #3 Pick: Homey XL Metal Crate [Best For XL Dogs] This Homey Metal Crate is 49″ and is capable of holding dogs up to 150 lbs! It also boasts a smaller feeding door as well as the option to stack crates for kennels or breeders.
Continue reading for more in-depth reviews
How Dogs Typically Escape Standard Crates
To have a good chance at keeping your dog inside his crate, you’ll need to understand how most dogs get out of kennels in the first place.
While there are endless variations on these themes, most dogs use one of the following three methods for springing themselves loose.
1. Chewing on Connectors and other Weak Spots
Many standard wire dog crates use small metal connectors to keep the sides together and the door mounted properly.
Many dogs will simply mangle these relatively flimsy pieces with their mouth, pull it off and burst through the resulting opening.
2. Manipulating the Latch
If your dog is more brain surgeon than trap-jaw, he may simply futz with the latch mechanism until he figures out how to open the door.
While the initial attempts to work a latch often look clumsy and random, dogs often learn how to work latches with remarkable speed after figuring it out and practicing a few times.
3. Brute Force
Many dogs, even relatively small ones, will simply use their muscles and mass to bend apart bars. They may incorporate a bit of mouth-work at times, but dogs will often just force their head between the metal bars (or any other perceived weakness) until they bend them enough to fit their body through.
Dogs may combine some of these techniques as necessary to achieve freedom, and some crates provide them with unique and specific opportunities to try. Don’t forget that your dog has nothing but time, energy and the drive to get out – don’t expect him to give up easily.
Features You Want in a Heavy Duty, Escape-Proof Dog Crate
If you’re faced with a dog that could break out of Fort Knox, you’ll eventually need to consider using a heavy-duty crate, designed specifically for these types of challenging pups.
However, not all crates marketed as “escape-proof” or “heavy-duty” live up to their name. And while no crate is 100% effective, 100% of the time, with 100% of dogs, there are a number of features and characteristics that are usually associated with the most resilient kennels. For example:
Heavy-duty crates should be built from metal. A flimsy sheet of plastic may discourage escape attempts by calm dogs, but those with severe separation anxiety will tear through plastic at mind-blowing speed. Not all metals are completely dog-proof, but most are substantially better options than other materials.
Crates with solid (ventilated) walls are usually the most secure options. While there are a variety of durable crates made with tubular steel or metal wire walls, dogs occasionally manage to escape from these types of walls. By contrast, even the most gifted escape artists are unable to tunnel through solid walls.
Crates that feature a removable pan and wheels provide additional convenience, without compromising security. Removable pans make it easier to clean up spills or accidents, and wheels are often very handy, given the weight of most heavy-duty crates.
Good crates never sacrifice ventilation for security. No matter how hard it is to keep your dog inside his crate, you cannot compromise his well-being and comfort. Poorly ventilated crates can become damp and stagnant very quickly, which can foster bacterial proliferation.
The best crates rely on latches that are inaccessible to your dog. Many dogs learn to outsmart simple barrel locks, so you’ll want to select a crate that uses latches that are more difficult for your dog to manipulate. Slam latches, which engage automatically when the door is shut, are usually among the most effective in this regard.
Tips and Tricks to Thwart Houdini Dogs
Even the best crates fail to keep some dogs contained, and owners are often required to use a little ingenuity to make their crate truly escape-proof. Some of the best tips and tricks for fortifying your pup’s crate include:
If possible, observe your dog’s escape attempts to see how he is getting out. You may need to hide in another room or use a webcam to do so, as most dogs will wait until their owner is out of sight before breaking free. Once you see how he is escaping, you can concentrate your efforts on reinforcing the weakness he is exploiting.
If your dog is escaping by forcing apart the crate seams, consider using carabiners or some other type of metal hardware to reinforce these places. Never use things through which your dog can chew, such as zip ties, rope or duct tape. Not all metal carabiners and similar connectors are dog-proof, but high-quality products usually are relatively immune to your dog’s jaws.
Providing your dog with a beloved toy can help give him something to do besides perfecting his escape routine. Just be sure that you select a toy that is safe to leave with your unattended dog.
Tire out your pooch before putting him in the crate. Exercise is an important aspect of general dog care, but it can also help prevent escapes. Exercise can drain your dog of the energy necessary to bust out and it will frequently just encourage him to go to sleep.
Experiment with different crate placements. Sometimes, you can reduce your dog’s desire to escape from his kennel by placing it in a different location. You may find, for example, that by placing him within view of a window, he stops trying to escape as much. You may also find that the opposite – eliminating his view of squirrels and pedestrians – may calm him down more.
6 Best Heavy Duty Dog Crates: Escape Proof & Indestructible!
While no crate or kennel can ever be expected to be completely escape-proof, the following options are among the best available.
1. ProSelect Empire Dog Cage
About: The ProSelect Empire Dog Cage is one of the world’s strongest, and most escape-proof kennels. Made with thick steel tube construction, heavy-duty welds, and paired door latches, the ProSelect Empire Dog Cage is an indestructible crate made to take whatever abuse your dog can dish out.
ProSelect Empire Dog Cage
- Designed specifically for powerful dogs, who have clawed or chewed their way out of other crates
- Long-lasting, high-grade hammerstone finish
- Includes four 4-inch-tall wheels (two of which are locking wheels)
- Features a removable tray to make cleaning up accidents or spills easy
This crate boasts 20-gauge steel and reinforced 0.5″ diameter steel tubes, as well as removable casters that can be attached for rolling the crate to other spots around the house – or take off the casters for increased stability.
The ProSelect also has a grated floor and a tray to catch any unmentionables that fall through. The tray can simply be removed for easy cleaning.
- Large: 40¾”L x 28⅛”W x 31¾”H
- Medium: 35.75″ x 23.5″ x 24.5″
This is one of the best-rated crates in the heavy-duty category, and most owners were extremely pleased with this kennel. Many appreciated the wheels, tray and other features included in the design, but most simply loved the strength, durability and design of the crate.
Despite being one of the strongest crates available, a few dogs were still able to bust free of the ProSelect Empire Dog Cage. However, this model undoubtedly ranks among the best available options for the strongest and most determined dogs.
2. Smonter Heavy Duty Dog Crate
About: The Smonter metal dog crate features a heavy duty steel frame that is tough enough to keep your canine in check. The steel frame is made of galvanized square tubing and thick wall pipping with 2″ spacing between bars.
The metal frame is also treated with rust and corrosion-resistant materials, ensuring that it’s built to last.
The double door design allows you to access your crate via the top panel or at the front side of the crate. Doors include double locks, making it tougher for lock-picking pooches to escape.
This crate also comes with wheels that you can connect, allowing you to move the crate to different parts of your home depending on your needs. There’s a plastic tray underneath the frame as well, letting you remove the tray for quick and easy cleaning in the event of accidents.
Smonter also prides themselves on how easy it is to put together this crate – just a few screws and you’re good to go.
The Smonter crate is available in two sizes: 38″ or 42″, and is available in three colors: brown, silver, and dark silver.
- Medium: 38″L X 26″W X 32″H
- Large: 42″L X 31″W X 37″H
Fans note that this crate is made of materials similar to the higher end dog crates, but comes at a more affordable price. Owners also say it’s quite easy to put together.
One owner notes that the only major difference between this crate and higher-end models is that the door locks could potentially be opened if a dog pushes the lever with their tongue. And indeed, several owners have noted that the locks weren’t able to keep their Houdini hounds in check. However, one individual notes that you could simply zip tie or caribeaner the lock if escape is an issue.
3. LUCKUP Heavy Duty Dog Crate
About: The LuckUp Heavy Duty Dog Crate is a steel indestructible dog crate designed to prevent your pup from escaping.
The crate is made from rust and corrosion-resistant steel, with a non-toxic finish. It features double doors as well as locking casters so that you can easily move the crate around.
It’s designed to be easy to put together, with all hardware included and requiring just a few minutes of setup.
This crate also provides several size options, as well as the ability to choose a special “anti-biting” variation which features a grid design rather than the classic bar design style. Owners can also choose between black or silver, and can even choose for the crate to have a cute little roof over the top.
- Made from durable steel
- Double doors for multiple entry options
- Locking caster wheels let you move the crate around easily
- Several size and design options
- 38″ Model: 37.5″L X 25.5″W X 32″H
- 42″ Model: 41.5″L X 30.5″W X 37″H
- 46″ Model: 46″L X 32″W X 39″H
- 48″ Model: 48″L X 29″W X 51″H
Affectionally dubbed the “lion cage” by one owner, this crate really doesn’t give. One family even noted that this crate calmed their dog that previously broke out of all other crates, simply because the dog knows he cannot bust out.
One owner notes that he wished this crate had double locks instead of just one, as his Mastiff mix was able to bust by breaking through the lock.
4. Homey XL Metal Crate
About: The Homey XL Metal Crate is specifically designed to hold bigger canines, able to contain dogs up to 150 lbs.
This crate has a lower front feeding door that allows you easily give your pooch his daily kibble, as well as a tray that can be removed and cleaned. The structure’s floor uses a plastic grid with small holes that are more comfortable for your pooch’s feet.
This XL crate uses a double chain lock for added security, and the metal unit has a non-toxic finish on the surface to prevent rust. Bars are spaced at 1.44″, so no slipping out!
This crate’s measurements are L 49″ x W 37″ x H44″, with an interior height of 37″.
Most owners agree that this crate is ultra durable and just the thing to keep in large escape-artist canines. Folks especially appreciate the plastic grate on the bottom as well as the heavy duty locks.
Some owners had a difficult time with the assembly instructions, claiming they needed to be clearer. This crate is also so big that the only way to really move it is to disassemble the entire unit, so not great for those who want a crate they can easily relocate. And as always, there were a few dogs who managed to make quick work of the crate, although this was relatively uncommon.
5. Goplus Metal Wire Dog Crate
About: The Goplus Metal Wire Dog Crate is a raised crate that is mounted on four wheels and made with a removable tray. Made of high-quality steel wire, this escape-proof crate is designed to keep your dog contained, while providing owners with several convenient features.
- Two of the four wheels lock to keep the crate from wandering across the floor
- Dual-door design keeps your pooch secure, but provides you with an easy way to access the interior
- Square steel tube and steel-wire design provides a great combination of strength and ventilation
- Spinning tab keeps the tray in place
The Goplus Metal Crate is made from heavy-duty, non-toxic steel wire that is 3/3.5mm thick and square metal tubing that is 16x16mm thick resulting in a relatively strong structure. The bottom of the crate contains a composite plastic tray that can be removed and cleaned for cleanup.
While the wire may be enough to hold your run-of-the-mill rough guy, it may not be suitable for a truley rough and tough dog. It really depends on how strong your pooch is!
The crate’s designs has two doors – one has a lock, while the other uses a slide bolt latch. The unit’s wheels mean that the crate can easily be transported between rooms, while the two lockable wheels can be used to provide added durability when your dog gets feisty!
- Dimensions: 43.3’’ x 28.3’’ x 37’’ (L x W x H)
- Door Size: 29’’ x 13.4’’ (L x W)
- Small Door Size: 11.8’’ x 7.9’’ (L x W)
- Top Bar Spacing: 6.3’’ x 1.6’’ (L x W)
- Side Bar Spacing: 7.1’’ x 1.6’’ (L x W)
Although a few dogs were able to escape from the Goplus Metal Wire Crate, most owners reported that the cage worked as advertised and prevented their dog from escaping. Additionally, the removable tray, wheels, and dual-door design were well-received by owners.
While not a reported problem for those with large dogs, a few small dogs were able to escape via the small door. Additionally, some customers also complained that it was slightly hard to set up this crate (some assembly is required).
6. SmithBuilt Heavy Duty Dog Crate
About: The SmithBuilt Heavy Duty Dog Crate is a heavy-duty, expertly crafted crate designed to be durable and last for years. It is not only made from thick, tubular steel, it is coated in a multi-layer protective coating that will not stain, rust or retain odors.
- Bottom grate is rust- and corrosion-proof for improved durability
- Includes removable steel tray and four casters (two are of the locking variety)
- Features both side and top door for improved access
- Side door features two slide-bolt locks, the top door features one slide-bolt lock
This crate is made from commercial-quality steel, with 3/4″ frame reinforced with 1/2″ diameter, 20-gauge welded steel tubes. The crate is also treated with a multi-layer hammer-tone coating that helps the crate stand up to rust and corrosion, which means it’s suitable for outdoor use as well as indoor.
The crate comes with four rolling caster wheels, so you can move the crate easily between different sections of your house. Two wheels also have locks to keep the crate for moving around when your pup starts causing a ruckus!
Lastly, the crate’s bottom section if grated to let any droppings go through to the lower pan, which can be easily removed for cleaning. the pan also has a small lip around the outside of the pan to keep messes in the pan and off your floor.
- Small: 36″ long
- Medium: 42″ long
- Large: 48″ long
Most owners rated the SmithBuilt Heavy-Duty Crate highly, sharing that it performed its intended purpose and kept their dog safely contained inside. The removable tray and casters were also welcome additions.
The majority of owners were happy with the SmithBuilt Heavy-Duty Dog Crate, but a not-insignificant number of dogs were able to escape from the crate, despite the robust materials used in its construction. Several customers were also displeased with the manufacturer’s customer service after the purchase.
Does your pooch find a way to bust out of every crate you’ve tried? Have you ever had a crate that worked exceptionally well? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below!