When you’re looking for a dog crate, you might not want something that will take up your entire living room. You also won’t necessarily want a crate that’s made up of a lot of different parts. Soft dog crates are a great alternative to heavy-duty steel crates because they tend to be more portable and are usually easier to set up. If that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ll definitely want to read our list of the best soft dog crates before buying a new portable home for your pet.
Carry on reading to see our full list of the best soft dog crates, followed by a bonus section of budget options and a full breakdown based on the specific pros of each crate. Or jump straight to our number #1 pick by clicking here.
What’s the Difference between a Soft Dog Crate and Hard Dog Crates?
As we’ve mentioned above, soft crates are usually much easier to pack or carry around than steel-framed crates. They’re also usually easier to take apart and put together, and even if they’re not specifically designed to collapse for travel, they’re pretty easy to just shove in the back of your car and be on your way. The mesh windows and door screens that are popular in soft crates give a little less visibility than steel crates, but they offer plenty of ventilation so your dog will feel nice and cool.
The main downside of soft crates is that they offer less physical protection than hard crates, but this is only really an issue in instances where you’ll be leaving your dog unattended. So, for example, you may not feel comfortable putting your dog on an airplane in a soft crate. Soft-sided crates also just look nicer than steel crates, which much too strongly resemble a jail cell for a lot of owner’s tastes. You’d much rather give your dog a cozy little room to call their own, right? Finally, a nice bonus of soft crates is that they tend to be much cheaper than hard crates.
What Should You Look For in a Soft Dog Crate?
Now that you know what the differences are between soft and hard dog crates, it’s time to learn what to look for in the best soft crates. Especially if it’s your first time buying a soft crate, it could be hard to know what separates the good crates from the bad ones. Even if you’ve bought one before, it never hurts to have all the information written down for you.
That’s why we’ve provided a list of the criteria we used to evaluate the best soft dog crates. We hope that these criteria help you understand how we chose our list and helps you if you decide to conduct your own research afterward.
Criteria #1: Ventilation and Visibility – Though we’ve listed two traits, ventilation and visibility tend to go hand in hand. That’s why we’ve listed them as one criterion. A good dog crate will have a design that makes sure you can see your dog and that your dog can see you. This will help you know your dog is safe, and your dog will feel safer if they can see you. Ventilation is important for obvious reasons, and though it’s a little hard to measure, it’s relatively easy to eyeball. The more mesh-like and non-air-tight surfaces there are on a crate, the better the ventilation will be. Just remember that you can run into issues with mesh if you have a dog that tends to chew on things.
Criteria #2: Portability – The main benefit of a soft crate is that they’re easy to travel with, and we want to make sure you get your money’s worth and enjoy that advantage. Portability can be achieved either by just buying a smaller crate (though this is an issue if you have a bigger dog) or by buying a crate that folds together so it can fit in a bag. For some products, it even becomes its own bag. We’ll also look to see if a soft-sided dog crate has any shoulder straps or handles that will make for easy carrying.
Criteria #3: Size – Our third criterion is completely subjective, as what size you’re looking for in your soft dog crate will depend on how big your dog is. Most crates will have more than one size option, so if you find a soft-sided crate that you’re really in love with, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about it not being the right size for your pup. That being said, there are certain crates that are for puppies and small dogs only, and we’ll ideally only want to point you towards crates that are more likely to have the size you’re looking for.
Criteria #4: Price – As we said, soft crates tend to be cheaper than their hard counterparts, so staying on a budget shouldn’t be too difficult. There are of course soft crates that get a little more pricey, but we’ll only recommend those crates if they really justify their higher price tag. Meeting the price criteria is more about being a good value at your price than being cheap. Better to spend a tiny bit more on a $30 crate that won’t break and is as good as a $50 crate, than buy a $20 crate that will break and should cost $10.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Soft Dog Crate
We used our criteria above in tandem with the listed specifications of the most popular soft dog crates to find the best crates on the market. We then checked customer reviews and blog posts to make sure that actual buyers and dog owners were happy with these products and that they performed as advertised.
#1: Noz2Noz Soft-Krater Dog Crate (Best Value – All-Purpose)
Sometimes the best option is the simplest one. The Noz2Noz Soft-Krater Dog Crate comes in 5 sizes, with the smallest being 21 inches and the largest being 42 inches. Whether you have a Shiba Inu or a Saint Bernard or anything in between, Noz2Noz will have a soft-sided crate perfect for you and your dog.
This folding soft dog crate is incredibly easy to set up, with no extra parts that you need to connect and zero tools necessary. All you need to do is open up some buckles and lock some bars into place, and your dog’s new personal playpen is ready to go. Disassembly is just as easy. So this crate is perfect for you, if you tend to be on the go and want to bring your dog and their crate with you.
The Noz2Noz crate has 3 doors – two on the sides and one on top. The top door is perfect for helping you place more skittish dogs inside, and for placing toys, treats, and dog food inside without your dog walking out. The two side doors give you a little more flexibility with where you place the crate. The side doors are made out of a heavy-duty tight-weave mesh fabric that even the most destructive dogs won’t be able to chew through.
The mesh design acts as a window when the doors are closed, giving this crate plenty of ventilation and visibility to help your dog feel physically comfortable and give them the emotional support they need, as they’ll still be able to see you while they’re inside. The top door is made out of a solid fabric that doesn’t offer extra ventilation or visibility.
Both of the side doors have latches to keep the zippers in place, so no matter how adventurous your dog is, you don’t have to worry about them escaping from this crate. The crate is also water-resistant, which is great for cleaning up spills and nice if you want to bring your dog along on a camping trip.
This collapsible crate is suited for pets weighing up to 70 pounds. It gets a bit expensive if you’re looking at the larger sizes, but that’s to be expected. The smaller sizes of the Noz2Noz are perfectly affordable.
The Soft-Krater dog crate offers all of the standard features in a dog crate, and customers love it. This high-quality product has one great review after another on Amazon, with users raving about how easy to set up it is, how sturdy it is, and how the design keeps everything nicely in place. One reviewer even pointed out how great this crate is for road trips and provided pictures of the crate in the back of the car. So if you have a vehicle with a larger trunk, you should definitely consider this crate as an easy way to bring your dog along on your adventures. This crate is perfect for anyone looking to get all of the essential features and keep things simple.
#2: EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate (Best Dog Crate)
Our second soft dog crate, the EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate, falls in at about the same price range as the Noz2Noz Soft-Krater at the larger sizes, but it’s a bit more expensive than our number one crate at the smaller sizes. This leaves us with a dilemma on our hands, because it’s at the smaller sizes where this crate really shines. At the larger sizes, it’s all about your personal preference, but if you have a smaller pet, you’ll have to decide if splurging a bit is worth it for some great features. Here are some reasons you might decide to spend that extra dollar for the EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft Crate.
Reason #1 to Choose This Product: The Shoulder Strap
The Noz2Noz soft crate doesn’t have any straps or handles, which means it’ll look nicer in your living room. But if you’re ever in a spot where you have to carry the crate while it’s set up, not having anything to grab onto will be a bit of a pain.
In contrast, the EliteField dog crate has 4 straps, one on each side, that you can bundle together in a velcro sleeve and which will act as a convenient shoulder strap. Though every size of the crate has this feature, it’s more practical at the smaller sizes. The reason for this is that the most common reason you’d want to carry the crate around while it’s set up is when your dog is inside it. Otherwise, you could usually just fold the crate together.
Now carrying the crate around with your dog inside it is fine, if you own a chihuahua or maybe even a cocker spaniel, but imagine walking around with a German Shepherd weighing on your shoulder. Still, if you do happen to have a smaller dog, this strap is great for carrying around your pet from one point to another, if they’re being a little resistant.
Reason #2 to Choose This Product: The Carrying Bag
Our second standout feature of the EliteField soft crate is a bit more universal and is convenient no matter which size crate you decide to buy. This crate comes with a free carrying case which is incredibly convenient, if you need to pack it up tight and make sure it doesn’t end up taking a lot of room.
The crate also comes with clear instructions on how to disassemble it and put it in the case. Lastly, the crate itself has buckles on the side that are perfectly suited for hanging up the carrying case, so you never have to worry about finding room for it or misplacing it.
Reason #3 to Choose This Product: The Built-In Pocket
Our last standout feature for this travel crate is just as universal as our second feature, and it might be the most convenient feature of them all. It’s certainly my personal favorite. This dog crate comes with a pocket built into its top that’s perfect for placing dog food, toys, and treats. Now you’ll never have to wonder where you put your dog’s food, and you can keep everything in one convenient spot near your pet, but still in a place where they won’t be able to reach it. The only downside of this pocket is you might feel that it makes the crate a little bulky and unsightly.
Aside from those three features, our top two crates are pretty similar. The EliteField crate has the same three mesh doors, and the sides of the crate that don’t have doors have a nice mesh window to keep your dog entertained no matter where they’re looking. As I mentioned, this crate is more expensive in the smaller sizes, but about the same price as our number one pick in the larger sizes. This means that it’s a clear choice of preference if you own a large dog, but if your pet is smaller you have a decision to make. Do you want the convenient EliteField crate with its case, shoulder strap, and built-in pocket? Or do you want the sleek and compact Noz2Noz crate that will save you some money?
#3: AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Travel Carrier (Best for Public Transit)
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We all know how stuffy some animal-haters get around dogs, and we definitely know how strict and specific the rules and regulations around animals can be in a city. If you live in a bigger city and just need to bring your furry friend around with you, the AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Travel Carrier is perfect for making sure you never have to wander around the concrete jungle without your dog to keep you company.
This soft-sided dog crate is best for small dogs and therefore perfect for any urban pet owner. As far as travel crates for dogs go, this product has everything you could need. It comes in a nice, compact shape and size, but also offers three different sizes to give you some versatility. You can get a crate the right fit for your medium-sized dog or just spoil your little chihuahua with some extra room.
This crate comes with two doors – one on the front and one on top – and comes with a free mat for the floor of the crate. The mat is completely machine-washable which means that you’ll never have to worry too much about this crate getting dirty.
The crate also has one handle on each side which makes this product perfect for carrying by hand, and it comes with a detachable shoulder strap so you can keep your hands free. And if you don’t think you’ll need the shoulder strap and don’t want it getting in the way, just leave it at home.
The AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Travel Carrier comes in at a nice price and is suitable for dogs weighing up to 22 pounds. If you need to bring your dog to the veterinarian, the kennel, or the park and don’t have a car, this soft-sided travel crate for dogs is the perfect crate for you.
#4: Henkelion Soft Dog Crate (Best Low Cost)
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If you want to keep things cheap, look no further than the Henkelion Soft Dog Crate. This small-dog travel crate is intended for puppies and dogs up to 15 pounds, and it’s even TSA approved, so it’s great for bringing your dog along with you on your next vacation.
It has 4 different doors – one on the top and three on the sides – to offer the best ventilation and convenience possible, with plenty of mesh windows to let your puppy friend know you’re right there with him. Plus, this crate has a sleeve on the side that will let you slide the crate onto the handle of a suitcase, so you can bring your dog around the airport or train station without any extra effort.
The Henkelion Soft Dog Crate also has a shoulder strap and two fabric handles so you can carry this bag however you choose and always have the mobility you need depending on the situation. It doesn’t come in any different sizes, so you’ll need to be sure your dog will fit in it before you buy it. If you need a cheap dog crate for your smaller dog, this is the best option available to help you give your dog the crate they deserve without breaking the bank.
#5: Ruff ‘n Ruffus Portable Foldable Pet Playpen (Best for Large Dogs)
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If you want to give your dog a crate that won’t feel like a crate, you’ll need to buy the Ruff ‘n Ruffus Portable Foldable Pet Playpen. This crate comes in three sizes, with the smallest size measuring 29″ x 29″ x 17″, the medium size measuring 36″ x 36″ x 23″, and the largest size measuring 48″ x 48″ x 23.5″. Just to show they mean business, Ruff ‘n Ruffus didn’t officially list a small size for this crate. The sizes are listed as medium, large, and extra-large.
This crate is perfect for bringing your dog camping or with you to a picnic and allowing them to stretch their legs and run around, while still keeping them safe and where you can see them. It’s nice and easy to set up and has a steel frame similar to the rest of our crates that keeps it sturdy, while still offering the flexibility provided by the fabric and mesh body.
The Portable Foldable Playpen also comes with a traveling case and clear instructions on how to fold and unfold the playpen. It even includes a collapsable travel bowl for your dog food, water, or treats. This crate/playpen is so big that reviewers mentioned they were able to have two dogs in it at once, and they still had plenty of room to have fun and run around. Keep in mind that these were chihuahuas, and while your Golden Retriever will be more than comfy in this soft crate, things might get a little crowded if you have two large dogs in it, even if you by the extra-large size.
The biggest flaw of this product is that it only has one door, so you won’t exactly have easy access to your dog if they’re being stubborn about coming out. That being said, even the extra-large size is very affordable. So if you want to give your dog (or dogs) their own personal backyard, this soft crate is perfect for you. You won’t even have to spend so much in your efforts to give your dogs that 5-star treatment they deserve.
We’ve given you the 5 best dog crates on the market, and while we tried our best to keep things cheap, we know that not everyone has the same budget. No matter how much or how little you’re willing to spend, we want to make sure you can find the perfect soft dog crate for your dog. That’s why we’ve added this bonus list of budget products, so you can find what you’re looking for at the price you’re looking for.
#1 Budget: Furhaven Pet Playpen
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the Ruff ‘n Ruffus Portable Pet Playpen, the Furhaven Pet Playpen is the best option available. This easy-to-fold, collapsible, portable playpen has the same basic design and large build as the Ruff ‘n Ruffus product, but it’s much cheaper. There’s even a smaller option, so if you have a really tiny dog that you want to let run around, you can pick the right size and save plenty of money.
Even the extra-large size of this playpen is cheaper than the medium Ruff ‘n Ruffus playpen, and it’s even a little bigger. The main downside is that this product doesn’t come with the collapsible bowl or the traveling case, though it does fold upon itself into a convenient pouch.
#2 Budget: Aivituvin Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier
The Aivituvin Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier can best be thought of as an even cheaper version of the Henkelion Soft Dog Crate. it has the same 4-door design with the top-side door to give you easy access to your dog and mesh windows all around to let your dog see everything and feel included during your travels.
It’s airline approved and can fit under most airline seats, and it has clips that can click into your car seatbelt buckle. You can also throw the strap over a car headrest for some extra security. This is probably the best dog crate available for so cheap, and it’s one of the best soft travel options out there.
The only real flaw is that the mesh isn’t so tightly woven, so more destructive or nervous dogs may end up chewing through it. Some reviewers did complain about the durability, but if you just need a cheap option that will deliver a high-quality performance until you can afford something that will last longer, this is a great pick.
#3 Budget: Love’s Cabin Portable Large Dog Bed
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The Love’s Cabin Portable Large Dog Bed is the cheapest item on our list, and it’s a great soft crate for your dog if you bring them along in the car a lot or on outdoor adventures. This collapsible crate folds in and takes up almost no space at all when it’s put away, and it comes with a storage bag.
The rectangular shape can be a little awkward, but this crate can be held down with tent stakes so your dog won’t find a creative way to get lost or knock itself over if they stay in it overnight. The crate can also be buckled into a car using the seatbelts.
Keep in mind that this product is not machine washable. so cleaning it may become a bit of a pain. That being said, it has mesh windows on three sides so it offers the great visibility we’ve come to expect from the products on our list. However, it doesn’t have a top-side door, so you might have trouble getting more stubborn dogs into this crate.
It doesn’t come in any different sizes, but it is big enough that it’s suitable for medium-sized and even some large-sized dogs. This product definitely comes with its pros and cons, but if you need a cheap option, well, it’s the cheapest option available.
Verdict: Your Best Soft Dog Crate
There you have it. We’ve shown you collapsible dog crates, foldable dog crates, travel dog crates, and every other soft dog crate you can think of. Some have three doors, and some have two doors or even just one. We gave you a lot of information at once, so we’re going to recap and break everything down quickly, making it easy for you to decide which soft dog crate is the right choice for you and your pet.
If you want the best value for money, pick the Noz2Noz Soft-Krater Dog Crate.
Coming in at an affordable price and still delivering a high-quality performance, the Noz2Noz Soft-Krater Dog Crate is our best soft dog crate for small dogs and larger dogs alike. This soft-sided dog crate gives you the best in visibility and ventilation, and it collapses down to an incredibly convenient size and then buckles up to keep it in place. On top of that, it has three doors to keep things convenient, and it has latches to keep the zippers locked in place so you won’t have any runaways on your hands. This is the best all-around dog crate.
If you need to keep everything in one place, pick the EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate.
It’s exhausting to run around the house trying to remember where you put everything. If you buy the EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate, you may never have to suffer that exhaustion again. Coming with a convenient shoulder strap and a carrying case that latches onto the side of the crate, the number one standout feature of this soft-sided dog crate is the pocket at the top. Now you can keep all of your dog’s food, treats, and toys in one convenient place. You’ll never forget where you put something for your dog ever again, and the pocket is still safely out of your dog’s reach.
If you want to keep the spending cheap, pick the Henkelion Soft Dog Crate.
If you need to save but don’t want to suffer too much for your efforts to be frugal, the Henkelion Soft Dog Crate is the perfect dog crate for you. This soft crate for small dogs and puppies is made of a durable, lightweight, and waterproof polyester fabric, and it has plenty of mesh windows to keep your dog cool and calm. It also comes with a machine-washable mat that will keep your dog clean and comfortable. The crate even comes in different colors, so you can make sure your dog’s fashion matches your own.
Those are our 8 favorite soft dog crates. We hope that one of them matches your dog’s needs. Remember to keep in mind the size and personality of your dog when you’re buying their crate. If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, we hope that our listed criteria will help you on your search for the perfect, soft-sided dog crate.