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How To Measure Dog For Airline Crate [The Proper Way]

Ensuring your dog has the perfect crate size is crucial when flying with your dog.

Not only does it guarantee comfort during their journey, but it also ensures compliance with airline regulations.

Oh, not to mention you actually purchase a crate that you can use. No complicated returns. No unnecessary additional research and time.

So today, I’m going to share with you my comprehensive guide on how you can measure your dog for an airline crate.

It’s considered the gold standard in terms of your approach, and thankfully, it’s quick an easy too.

Let’s delve into it!

How To Measure Dog For Airline Crate

To measure a dog for an airline crate you need to first measure your dog. From there, you need to add some additional

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Measuring Tape or Ruler: Precision is crucial. A flexible measuring tape (like those used in sewing) can work wonders, especially around a wriggly pup. However, a ruler can also suffice for more cooperative dogs.
  • Pen and Paper: Once you take those measurements, jot them down immediately. It’s easy to forget or mix up numbers, so having a pen and paper at the ready ensures accuracy.
  • Your Dog’s Cooperation: Arguably the most challenging yet vital “tool”! A calm and patient dog makes the process smoother. Consider doing this post-playtime when they’re more relaxed or incorporating treats to make it a positive experience.

Step-by-Step Guide To Measuring Your Dog:

  • Length:
    • Start at the very tip of your dog’s nose.
    • Stretch your measuring tape or ruler straight to the base of their tail.
    • Make sure your dog stands in a natural posture. This will give you the most accurate length.
  • Height:
    • If your dog’s ears stand erect, use the tip of the ears as your starting point. If not, begin at the top of their head.
    • Measure straight down to the ground. Remember, it’s the distance from their tallest point to their paws.
  • Width:
    • Locate the widest part of your dog, which is typically across the shoulders.
    • Stretch your measuring tape across this section to get the width. Ensure your dog isn’t puffing out their chest or hunching their shoulders.

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Calm During the Measuring Process

  • Familiarize: Before you start, let your dog inspect and get familiar with the measuring tape or ruler. The less foreign it seems, the calmer they’ll be.
  • Treats: Reward your dog with treats throughout the process. This will not only keep them still but also make them associate measuring with positive rewards.
  • Playtime: Engage your dog in some play before measuring. A tired dog is often more cooperative.
  • Voice & Touch: Use a calming voice and gentle touch. Reassure your pup throughout the process, making it a bonding moment rather than a chore.
  • Stay Patient: If your dog becomes restless or anxious, take a break and try again later. It’s essential to be patient and not rush the process.

Calculating Crate Size

Here’s how to calculate the best fit based on your measurements:

  • Comfort and Space Adjustments:
    • Once you have your dog’s core measurements (length, height, and width), it’s wise to add a few inches to each dimension. This added space ensures that your dog can move, stretch, and turn comfortably within the crate.
    • As a general rule:
      • Add 2-4 inches to the length.
      • Add 2-3 inches to the height.
      • Add 2 inches to the width.

Looking to buy a crate for airline travel. This guide may be of interest 👉 Best Airline Approved Large Dog Crate [This Tops The List]

Why Proper Sizing Matters

Selecting the right crate size might seem like a mere detail in your travel preparations, but its significance runs deeper than you might think.

Let’s delve into why getting the size just right is so critical:

Dog’s Comfort and Safety

Just as you wouldn’t want to spend hours in a cramped space, your dog deserves a comfortable area to rest and move.

A crate that’s too small can cause unnecessary stress, discomfort, and anxiety for your furry companion.

On the flip side, a crate that’s excessively large can make a dog feel insecure and unprotected.

The right balance gives them both comfort and a sense of security.

Meeting Airline Regulations and Requirements:

Airlines have strict regulations when it comes to transporting pets.

These rules are in place for the safety of the animals, other passengers, and crew members.

If your crate doesn’t meet the airline’s size and build requirements, you may find yourself in a stressful situation where you’re not allowed to board or forced to make last-minute changes.

Prevention of Injury During Turbulence or Movement

A well-fitted crate acts as a protective enclosure for your dog.

During unexpected turbulence or rapid movements, it ensures that your dog is not thrown around inside.

Conversely, an ill-sized crate can expose your dog to the risk of injury.

Too much space may cause them to be jostled about, while too little space can lead to cramped muscles or pressure sores.

Additional Considerations When Choosing A Crate For Airline Travel

While the dimensions of your dog’s crate are crucial, there are other factors to consider ensuring a seamless and comfortable journey for your pet.


A well-ventilated crate is paramount for your dog’s well-being.

Ensure the crate provides adequate airflow from multiple sides, preventing overheating and ensuring a continuous supply of fresh air.

This is particularly vital for brachycephalic breeds, like Bulldogs or Pugs, who are prone to respiratory issues.

Food and Water Provisions

Depending on the flight duration, your dog will need access to food and water. Some crates come equipped with attachable bowls that won’t spill during movement.

For longer flights, consider freeze-dried food or kibble, which requires less space and is less messy.

Always ensure there’s ample water, preferably in a spill-proof dispenser.

Remember to check with the airline about their policies regarding feeding during the journey. Some airlines might have specific guidelines or recommendations.

Bedding or Padding

A comfortable crate is more than its size. Incorporate soft bedding or padding to make the crate cozy.

This not only ensures comfort but also acts as a buffer during turbulence or sudden movements.

Opt for materials that are easy to clean and replace in case of any accidents.

Additionally, familiar bedding from home can help soothe and calm your dog during the flight.

Airline-Specific Requirements

Each airline may have its own set of rules when it comes to pet travel. Beyond crate size and type, there could be specifications about materials, latch types, labels, and more.

It’s vital to consult your chosen airline’s pet policy well in advance. Some airlines might even offer checklists or guidelines to help you prepare.

A Note On Airline Regulations For Crates

While there’s a myriad of rules, understanding the basics can help streamline your preparations. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Variability in Regulations:
    • At first glance, airline regulations might seem universally standardized, but there’s considerable variation between carriers. Factors such as the airline’s country of origin, the size of the plane, and even the specific flight route can influence the rules.
    • Common requirements most airlines share include: the necessity for a well-ventilated crate, secure latches, and sufficient space for the animal to stand, turn, and lie down comfortably. Many airlines also mandate that the crate should be leak-proof and made of sturdy, durable materials.
  • The Imperative of Specific Checks:
    • It’s tempting to assume that a crate that worked for one airline will be acceptable for another, but this can lead to last-minute travel disruptions. Always consult the specific airline’s pet travel guidelines before you fly.
    • Before purchasing a crate, check with your chosen airline. They may have a list of approved crate models or detailed specifications that your crate needs to meet. Some airlines might also have restrictions on certain breeds or weight limits.

Looking to buy a crate for airline travel. My guide may be of interest 👉 Best Airline Approved Large Dog Crate [This Tops The List]


Embarking on a journey with your dog is an exciting endeavor, but getting organized and prepared does require a little bot of work.

Thankfully, a simple tape measure, a bit of patience and a bit of airline-specific research will ensure you get the right crate for your needs and reach your destination safely and without a hiccup.


What are the standard crate sizes for airline travel?

Standard sizes range from small (around 19″ L x 12″ W x 10″ H) to extra large (up to 48″ L x 30″ W x 35″ H). Always check with your specific airline for accepted dimensions.

What are the standard airline crate dimensions for dogs?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer since airlines and dog sizes vary, most airlines follow the International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidelines which stipulate general size and design requirements.

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