Pet Tips, Dog Health

The Potential Dangers of Wire Crates

March 3, 2022

Both of my dogs are crate trained.  I know not everyone agrees with using crates.  But for numerous reasons I will always crate train all of my personal dogs.  If introduced correctly, a crate becomes a dog’s ‘safe place’.  A crate is a comfortable area that belongs to your dog, where he/she can go to sleep or relax, and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  As such, we should do everything we can to ensure our dog’s crates are actually safe!  Are some types of crates dangerous for our furry best friends?  When my Alaskan Klee Kai, Fenrir, was a puppy we experienced something that made me start to wonder – are wire dog crates dangerous?


Fenrir was a dream to crate train, especially when compared to my papillon Kitsune.  I remember Fenrir’s first night home with us.  Much to my surprise, he almost slept through the entire night.  Fen seemed to love his crate from day one.  Even to this day, Fenrir is 6 years old now, he spends quite a bit of time each day napping or otherwise relaxing in his ‘room’, as we call it.  But when Fen was around 7 months old, something happened that caused me to ditch the wire crates forever.

What Happened to Make Me Ditch Our Wire Crates?

wire dog crates dangerous

Kitsune relaxing in a wire crate, before we decided to get rid of them.

My partner had been away for a week on a business trip.  When he got home, the dogs were understandably excited.  A few hours after our reunion I thought everyone had calmed down enough that we could all relax and go to bed.  I took the dogs out, got Fenrir settled in his crate, then went into the other room to finish getting ready for bed.

I remember I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth when I heard Fen screaming.  Not his typical “hey I need to get out of here and use the bathroom” whine, but a panicked wailing.  I ran to the bedroom, where Fen was, and found that one of his paws had gotten caught in between two of the wire bars of his crate.

If he had remained calm I’m sure it would have been easy for him to free himself, but he was panicking.  Frantically trying to pull his paw out from between the wires, he was only making the situation worse.  One wrong twist and he could have broken his leg!

A Freak Accident?

We lucked out.  I was able to quickly free Fen’s paw, which was unharmed.  But the experience lead me to do some research and I found that we were not the only ones who have had this type of experience with wire crates.  I found reports of other dogs getting their paws/toes caught, and even an old petition about a dog who got her teeth caught in her crate, broke her jaw, and had to be euthanized due to her injuries.

Scary, especially considering that many owners, myself included, leave their dogs crated when they leave the house.  I hate to think of what could have happened to Fen’s little leg had I not been able to quickly help him free it.  Hopefully he would have freed it on his own without hurting himself, but who knows.

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If Wire Dog Crates are Dangerous, What Are Some Safe Alternatives?

wire dog crates dangerousAfter that event with Fenrir, and the research I did afterwards, I decided not to use wire crates for my own dogs anymore.  Luckily I had a soft sided carrier/crate on hand to use with Fen while I worked on deciding what type of crate I wanted to get him for more permanent use.  I ended up deciding on a plastic crate, which can be a good alternative for dog owners looking to avoid metal crates.  A lot of plastic crates do still have metal or plastic doors with grids.  You need to make sure the grid on the door of the crate you select is small enough that your dog’s leg/paw can’t fit through.

I actually ended up going with Ruff Land Kennels plastic dog crates for both of my dogs.  At least for indoor crating.  We use something else for traveling in the car with the boys, but that’s a post for another day.

Should All Dog Owners Avoid Wire Crates?

Part of me feels like this could be one of those “know thy dog” type of situations.  Maybe metal crates are just not a good fit for certain dogs.  On the other hand, it could take just a single incident to make dog owners regret using metal crates.  Even if your dog has been using them safely for years, that doesn’t guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen.

What do you think?  Has your dog ever gotten hurt on his/her metal crate?  After learning of the potential danger, would you stop using this type of crate?  Or do you feel the benefits outweigh the risks?



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  • Reply M John October 27, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    Our 7 month lab got out of his crate twice and we couldn’t figure out how he did it. We assumed that my son had not locked him in properly. There was also some mysterious blood around the house on the second time, but we couldn’t find where it came from. On the third occasion, after locking him in, I stayed home and heard him barking as usual. A few minutes later, he was howling in pain. I immediately came over only to find that he had unlocked the top latch and had his head and neck caught in the top part of the door (bottom latch was still secured). I was shocked to see that he could have been stuck there for several hours and could have died. We are now trying the dog leash method with carabiners on the opposite door. Hopefully, Houdini won’t figure it out.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack October 28, 2019 at 7:16 am

      That must have been scary! I thought the same thing after Fen’s incident, if I hadn’t been home to deal with the issue quickly I don’t know what would have happened. It’s frustrating because we use crates to protect our dogs, then to have them get hurt in them is horrible. I switched to a heavy duty plastic crate for Fen and haven’t had any further issues. I’ve never tried leaving my dogs tethered instead, hopefully it works for you!

  • Reply Arabesque May 17, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    Our 1 1/2 year old lab appears to have gotten her paw stuck in the metal crate and she must have panicked because she had a gash on her paw. She ended up needing stitches. I would have never guessed that it could hurt her in that way.

  • Reply Lisa Bailey November 25, 2021 at 4:26 am

    My 12 week old puppy got stuck in her crate while i was out luckily i had a camera on her and was able to dash home and free her, she had managed to undo the top latch and got stuck she was half in and half out, she has now damaged her back left leg the vets think it maybe nerve damage we are hoping that this will repair in time, she has also chipped a tooth on the metal crate so i do think that these crates are dangerous and potentially death traps so I’m not using them again, i thought my pup would be safe

  • Reply Terri March 5, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    Wow!!! I had heard about some issues with wire dog crates. You certainly built the case for not using them at all. I have one for Henry, but I rarely use it. I won’t use it now at all. I need to look into different options as well. If I need to contain Henry in a smaller portion of the room I put him into a wire-gated portable dog pen. But now I’m thinking that’s not the best move either. Gosh, I’ve got some research to do. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack March 6, 2022 at 1:54 pm

      I do wonder about wire pens too. I think a lot of it could depend on the size/spacing between the bars and stuff like that. As for crates, thankfully there are a lot of soft sided and plastic crate options out there!

  • Reply jana rade March 5, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    Oh no, poor baby. Yeah, everywhere a foot could fit is potentially dangerous. As well as, wire crates can pose a risk to the teeth of anxious dogs and more. We never crated our dogs, but I wouldn’t want a wire crate if we did.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack March 6, 2022 at 1:55 pm

      For sure! I still think being calm in a crate is an important skill for a dog to have, but I’ll be more careful in the future about what types of crates I use with my own dogs.

  • Reply Beth March 6, 2022 at 3:57 pm

    I’m glad you were home when Fenir’s foot was caught! We have used wire crates for many years, but I’ll have to check out some alternatives for my dogs.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack March 7, 2022 at 3:31 pm

      Me too! I hate to think what could have happened if I wasn’t home to free Fen quickly. We’ve been using Ruff Land plastic kennels for indoor crating.

  • Reply Ruth Epstein March 6, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    I had never heard of crates for dogs till I came to the States, no one had them abroad so was really surprised. I have never crated a dog but with living in this studio which is tiny I did make Layla from a wooden fruit box an indoor kennel which she loves to sleep in when she wants her time. It has no door to it so she can go in and out whenever. I am so happy Fen was fine and you have found a solution for him phew. I would freak out also

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack March 7, 2022 at 3:34 pm

      I’ve heard that other countries don’t use crates. I mostly use our crates similar to what you described. The crates we have now have removable doors, so I just keep the doors off when we’re home, which is most of the time, and the dogs can go in and out as they please. Both my dogs like to sleep in their crates.

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