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Indoor Dog Crate Vs. Outdoor Dog Kennel — When to Use Each

by Dakota Storage Buildings, on September 29, 2021


The difference between dog crates and kennels is a common misunderstanding among dog owners.

If you're struggling to know the best thing for your dog when you're gone all day at work, on a day trip, or even out for a few hours, it's worth weighing your options. For instance, there are advantages and disadvantages to your dog...

  • Having free reign of the house when you're gone
  • Being gated in a bathroom, laundry room, or mudroom
  • Staying inside an indoor crate
  • Hanging out in an insulated outdoor kennel 

For this post, we're going to focus on a common misunderstanding among dog owners — the difference between dog crates and kennels. Understanding these will put you in the best position to make an informed decision on what would work best for your dog and you.

To start, here's the clear differentiator between the two. A crate is used indoors and should only be a little bigger than the dog's size, providing a sense of safety and security. A kennel, much bigger than a crate, is a semi-permanent outdoor structure with an attached outdoor run and is often used to house dogs in backyards anywhere from a few hours to all year. 

With this general understanding, let's dive into the specifics of each.

Indoor Dog Crates

Indoor Dog Crates

Crates are used indoors and should only be a little bigger than the dog's size, providing a sense of safety and security. They are usually used to prevent dogs from roaming the house. Some owners choose to use crates to prevent dogs from getting into trouble in their absence or to help eliminate accidents during potty training. 

Crates come in various designs and materials, including metal and plastic, and tend to have open walls offering visibility and aeration.

Regarding care, crates don't require much maintenance. A bit of cleaning now and then, adding some bedding in the form of a dog bed, folded towels or blankets, and keeping the crate stocked with safe chews is about all that's needed.

Indoor dog crates are best for:

  • Puppies who are potty training
  • Dogs that have bad or destructive behavior when owners aren't present
  • Dogs with separation anxiety and other phobias

Check out these top dog crate picks for 2021.

Outdoor Dog Kennels

Outdoor Dog Kennel

Kennels, also known as doghouses, are semi-permanent outdoor structures built to resemble small houses, and many even have the slanted roof design and are meant to offer shelter and protection for dogs. They are usually completely enclosed and may have a door or an attached run for fresh air and bathroom access.

While there are many different types of backyard dog kennels, they are generally built to last in outdoor spaces, withstanding the elements and wear. The material used for outdoor kennels is meant to offer protection but also to prevent deterioration. Dog kennels require a little more attention than crates, but not much if you choose a high-quality kennel. Some come with low-maintenance siding and flooring that’s water-resistant and easy to clean.  

Dog owners who are often gone all day may find that an outdoor kennel offers a great alternative to a small indoor crate. If the weather report is favorable, it could be in your dog’s best interest to spend the day outside while you’re away. The right kennel would provide security, an indoor space for protection from a stray shower or direct sunlight on a scorching hot day, and a gated outdoor area for fresh air and bathroom breaks. 

For working dogs, a kennel can serve as an ideal home when they are not performing their duties.

Outdoor dog kennels are best for:

  • Big dog breeds
  • Working dogs
  • Dogs that have bad or destructive behavior when owners aren't present
  • Dogs that like being outdoors
  • Dogs that need to go to the bathroom frequently

For more insight, read 4 Benefits to Having An Outdoor Dog Kennel.

Benefits To Outdoor Dog Kennels


You may see the benefits of having both an indoor crate and an outdoor kennel — and that's great. They serve very different purposes, and both can benefit your dog. 

If you're seriously considering buying a dog kennel to use all year round or only for periods of time, there are important things to consider. A quality outdoor dog kennel should be insulated, waterproof, the right dimensions for your dog's size, and it should keep him safe and protected from harsh weather and give him plenty of space to move around (unlike crate space). 

But with a million different kennel options available, where do you begin? What should your main concerns be? What design options and features are vital for your dog?

When it comes to recommending the best outdoor dog kennels, we have a ton of experience and can make sure you choose the best one for your dog. To help, we've put together this guide to help you choose the right outdoor dog kennel

Download Evaluating Best-fit Kennels Guide

When you're ready to browse kennel options, shop our premium pre-built dog kennels. We currently serve North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, western Wisconsin, northeast Nebraska, and north-central Iowa.

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Topics:Dog Kennels

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