Dog Beds vs Crates: Which is Best?

We’re taking a look at dog beds vs crates because deciding whether to get a dog bed or a crate for your fur baby isn’t always easy. Both have their pros and cons, and some aren’t immediately apparent. So, we’re comparing both, and introducing some alternative options you might not have considered.

Crate vs bed comparison photo

Which is best – a dog bed or a crate? You’ll have your answer by the time you get to the end of this post.

K & H crate bed, K & H odor control crate bed, K & H Pet Products kennel bed

Pros and Cons of Dog Crates

Crates or kennels might conjure images of little doggy prisons. But you don’t have to isolate your fur baby in a wire cage, as modern crates come in various shapes, sizes, and materials.

While kennels are primarily used for puppy training and travel, they can be handy for dogs who like to feel safe and secure. Some pups just get used to sleeping in a crate, so they might prefer it – even if you don’t close the door.

Dog Crate Pros:

  • Creates a safe space
  • Ideal for puppy training
  • Eases anxiety in nervous dogs
  • Keeps dogs from getting mischief-making during the night
  • Provides a consistent sleeping area for pups who travel frequently
  • Option to lock or unlock the gate

Dog Crate Cons:

  • It can take up a significant amount of space
  • Most don’t come with liners or mats
  • Far from being a stylish alternative
  • It doesn’t provide orthopedic support
  • Some models aren’t comfortable
  • Very few affordable options

If you want to offset a few of those cons with more stylish options that are comfy and cozy for your fur baby, you’ve got some options. Instead of wire cages, there are soft-sided crates that are more portable. You can even find kennels that double as pieces of furniture, like Merry Products’ combination kennel/end table.

PetFusion dog beds, PetFusion ultimate lounge dog bed

Dog Beds – Pros and Cons

If there’s something we know about here at Restful Dog, it’s dog beds. We’ve reviewed countless models and found that there’s a bed for every pup – large, small, or with special needs. So, you know we’ve got a list of pros ready. But we’re comparing dog beds to crates, and even the best dog bed won’t beat a kennel in some areas.

Dog Beds Pros:

  • Available at all price points
  • Comfortable
  • Portable
  • Orthopedic benefits
  • Stylish models
  • Less confining
  • You can use them on top of furniture (beds, sofas)
  • Models like cave beds or donuts can be calming
  • Some provide warming or cooling options

Dog Beds Cons:

  • Not restrictive – dogs can still roam the house
  • Don’t help with puppy training
  • Can’t replace crates for plane or train travel

Dog beds can’t compare to crates for puppy potty training or keep their users from getting in trouble through the night. However, they can compete with kennels by creating a safe space, making the user feel safe and secure.

Dog Beds vs. Crates – the Best of Both Worlds

A dog bed can stand alone. But, if you’re intent on buying a kennel, we suggest budgeting for a crate bed to go with it. That gives you the best of both worlds, as quality crate beds create a much more comfortable confined environment. They’re also thick enough to use outside the gate.

PetFusion crate mat, PetFusion PuppyChoice dog crate mat, PuppyChoice create mat

One of our favorites, the PuppyChoice Crate Mat, is by PetFusion. It’s over an inch thick and has low-profile bolsters in one corner, creating an L-shape. Those raised edges are excellent for back support – in or out of the crate.

Don’t be deterred if you’re using the kennel for puppy training. The PuppyChoice Crate Mat has a waterproof liner and cover. And, if you’re still concerned, you can always put a disposable pad on top. At least your new fur baby will sleep a lot more comfortably!

>> Check out our list of best dog beds for kennels

So, Is a Dog Bed Better Than a Crate?

Whether a dog bed is better than a crate or vice versa depends on the intended use. If you’re puppy training and worried about what can happen when you’re not home or during the night, a dog bed isn’t going to do the trick – unless it’s in a crate.

Therefore, a dog bed is always a good purchase. A crate has a specific purpose but is even better when equipped with a dog bed.

Another Alternative

Yes, we know we’re here to debate the merits of dog beds and crates. But we came across a unique alternative we’re excited to share.

Pet Life dog house, Pet Life Hush Puppy electronic dog house, warming dog house

How about an electronic smart dog house?

Pet Life’s Hush Puppy Electronic Dog House is an indoor, soft-sided dog house with heating and cooling. It doesn’t have a gate like a crate. However, it provides a safe, secure sleeping environment for puppies or dogs who need a little nurturing. There’s a memory foam gel pad for joint support, and the heat shuts off automatically when it reaches the optimal temperature.

FAQs About Kennels and Crate Beds

Are all dog kennels made of wire?

No. The pet product industry has just exploded over the past few decades, offering all kinds of innovative products that are functional, stylish, and dog-friendly. Yes, you can still buy a metal crate or kennel, but there are also plastic and soft-sided options. If the style is a priority, you’ll even find wooden crates that double as pieces of furniture, like end tables or nightstands.

Do I need a dog bed for inside the crate?

Unless your kennel has a soft sleeping area, you’ll want a crate bed for joint support and comfort. While you can buy more structured pet beds that fit inside the kennel, a simple crate mat is probably enough unless your fur baby needs better joint support.

What kind of crate beds are available?

Almost anything goes with crate or kennel beds these days. Crate mats have always been available. But now, you can get elevated pet beds for crates, structured beds with bolsters, and heating or cooling models.

Are dog beds or crates better for puppies?

The ideal situation is to have both – a kennel to create a secure environment and isolate any puppy training accidents with a crate bed for comfort.