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German Shepherd Crate Size: What Size Crate for a GSD?

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Are you looking for a crate for your German Shepherd, whether a puppy or adult, and want to know the best size to get? Or maybe you already have a crate, and you’re unsure if you have the right size?

A German Shepherd needs a size 48-inch crate. As a large breed, this will allow sufficient space for the dog to stand and sit erect, to turn round comfortably when standing, and to lie in a natural position or on its side with outstretched paws. It’s better to size up when selecting a crate.

In this post you’ll learn:

  • The recommended crate size and dimensions for a GSD
  • Pros and cons of crating
  • How long you can leave a German Shepherd in a crate
  • Whether German Shepherds need or even like crates
Extra Large Dog Crate for German Shepherd, 48 inch dog crate
Willow’s first crate – size 48 inch

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First, let’s cover the basics.

How Big of a Crate Does a German Shepherd Need? 

When buying a dog crate, the consensus is that you should err on the side of caution and opt for more space and a bigger crate. German Shepherds are a large breed, and the American Kennel Club states that they weigh between 65-90 pounds (29-41kg) for a male and 50-70 pounds (23-32kg) for females.

However, you have to consider that this is only a rough guide as all dogs are different, just like you and me. When you get your pup, it’s hard to know exactly how big he’ll grow. I can certainly vouch for that, as my female German Shepherd weighs a whopping 88 pounds (40ks)! However, she isn’t overweight – she is just very tall.

But to do good with your new companion, you must also keep your dog’s age in mind when you ask, “how big of a crate does a German Shepherd need?”

A fully grown adult German Shepherd needs a 48-inch size crate. The full dimensions will be 48 inches long, 33-inch in height, and 30-inch wide. An 8-week old puppy needs 3/4th that length and an increase of an inch a week until 12 weeks. You can use a sliding divider to increase this length.

How Big of a Crate Does a German Shepherd Need?
“Huh! Maybe I should sleep the other way!” Willow at 6 months old.

You can ignore this guideline if your German Shepherd is bigger and weighs more than 110 lbs (50kg), such as the mighty King Shepherd. Ultimately you want to give your dog enough room to stand and stretch. 

If you physically measure your fully grown German Shepherd’s length when he naturally stretches, you’ll have a good idea of how big of a crate he should have. In terms of height, you want to make sure his head doesn’t push against the roof of the crate. Ideally, add four inches to the height and length of your dog.

With that said, it might seem the safest to buy as big a crate as possible and pop your puppy in there. Although that’s a great idea, unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. While erring on the side of spaciousness is good, you should do it within reason.

A significant driver of using a crate is giving your German Shepherd a sense of comfort and security and keeping him safe when you can’t watch him 100% of the time, such as when cooking. Crates also help with potty training, but too big of a crate can be ineffective.

So, what’s the bottom line?

Get a crate with a divider panel that allows you to make the crate bigger as your pup grows. This is why I recommend the MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate from Amazon. This all-inclusive crate comes with a handy divider, allowing you to increase the crate’s length gradually.

Read More: 8 Best Dog Crates for German Shepherds (and Playpens)

Use the Below Table as a Guide for Your German Shepherd Puppy’s Crate Size When Using a Divider…

German Shepherd AgeRecommended Crate Size
8 weeks 36 inches
10 weeks38 inches
12 weeks40 inches
14 weeks43 inches
16 weeks46 inches
18 weeks48 inches

The Pros and Cons of Crating Your German Shepherd

If you’re thinking of buying a crate for your German Shepherd, the question of size is now answered. But there are other things you must know that go beyond the crate size. Check out my detailed pros and cons analysis that will help answer questions that most people forget to ask before deciding whether to crate or not.

Pros of Crating

Here are the key advantages of buying a crate for your German Shepherd…

Provides a Sense of Security

Even though it can seem cruel from the human perspective, if you get the right-sized crate, your German Shepherd will not feel confined as much as he will feel secure. From a human standpoint, a crate is like a jail even if adjusted to our own body’s proportion with the same ratio as a dog crate is to a dog’s body. 

But we cannot project our psychology onto our puppies and assume what would be kind to us is also kind to the dog. In fact, if your home is large enough, you might make a new puppy, who’s just left its mother quite uncomfortable. Having a cozy corner, puppy zone, or a crate can give your German Shepherd puppy a proportionate place that feels secure and more like “home.” Remember, what’s home to you is unexplored territory to him, at least for a while.

Builds Discipline

Crating is a cruelty-free method of building discipline, provided you don’t go overboard. There’s more on the ideal crating duration for German Shepherd puppies of different ages later in this post. When you place your puppy in the crate, you can gradually train him to stay inside even if the door is wide open. 

This kind of discipline goes a long way in making your German Shepherd more sociable and prepares him to play his part in what is supposed to be a lifelong companionship. The enthusiasm of having a new puppy cannot be perpetual, and you’re not going to maintain it for the next few years. A disciplined dog is well-adjusted to be a member of your family.

Helps With Potty Training

Using a crate to potty train your puppy is a quicker way than other methods. Puppies naturally do not like to pee or poop where they sleep and will tend to “hold it.” It’s also another reason to use a crate divider. If the crate is too big, the puppy may feel there is enough space to potty at the far end. You don’t want him to treat the crate like the yard where he poops at one end and rests at the other.

Prevents Exhaustion

Within four weeks of bringing home your puppy, the crate isn’t essential for the sense of security. Your puppy is now feeling at home in his “den,” at least in the room or the area where the crate has been consistently placed. 

However, the crate is still needed because your German Shepherd doesn’t yet know how much activity is too much! The crate acts as the necessary restraint to keep your dog from exploring the house indefinitely and overdoing it. For a greater insight into this, read my post about exercising a German Shepherd puppy, including how much exercise he needs, including some fun ideas.

Keeps the Puppy Safe

If you’ve read the post mentioned above, you’ll also know that your puppy has open growth plates: regions with a soft tissue where bones are supposed to grow. This makes jumping and running too much quite risky. 

If your puppy is left unsupervised outside the crate, he may climb up too high and jump off furniture. A crate prevents such unsupervised incidents by making sure your puppy remains on level ground. Still, the crate should not be your only measure to avoid such occurrences. Please keep easy-to-climb furniture and pedestals away from your German Shepherd for the first few months.

Makes Raising the Pup More Convenient

Finally, we have to admit some self-interest. While crates are suitable for puppies, they’re also good for you as they give you the ability to leave your puppy out of sight for a short period, at least initially. The discipline advantage benefits the dog, as mentioned earlier but also makes your life somewhat easier. 

Cons of Crating

Here are the key drawbacks of crating your German Shepherd…

You May Initially Feel Bad

Even though you know that crating is good for your German Shepherd and he doesn’t even feel bad, you’ll still find this information cerebral. It takes a while to set in, and you may initially feel guilty as if you’re imprisoning your dog. This drawback is significant enough for many people that they would rather risk raising a German Shepherd with little discipline and self-control than put one in a crate.

Easy to Misuse

While putting your German Shepherd in a crate can be a convenient way to leave him unsupervised for a while, you can easily go overboard. Your dog doesn’t know the right time limits to crate confinement, and if you have too agreeable a dog, you’ll not know when he has had enough of his crate. 

It is, therefore, essential that you remain sensitive to nuances of time and humane treatment when it comes to crating your German Shepherd. You want to conjure connotations of “home,” “security,” “special place,” “den,” and “bed.” If you use the crate as a grounding tool, your relationship can become strained because of how easy it is to turn the crate into “jail” instead of a bed with a boundary.

How Long Can I Leave My German Shepherd in a Crate?

With the advantages and disadvantages of dog crates established, we must look at timing. The duration you place your dog in a crate determines whether the practice is helpful or cruel. That’s why you have to know how long you can leave a German Shepherd in a crate at different ages.

You can leave a German Shepherd in a crate for a maximum of 1 hour up to the age of 10 weeks. From the 11th week, you can leave him in the crate for no more than three hours. Depending on the personality of your GSD, you may be able to leave him for a maximum of 4 hours from 18+ weeks.

A German Shepherd Puppy in a size 48 inch crate. German Shepherd Crate Size
My 8 week old German Shepherd in her size 48-inch crate.

Remember that your dog’s time in his crate varies based on the individual dog, just like with size. The general rule of thumb mentioned above is the aggregate of what most GSDs can handle and instinctively prefer. I advise getting your vet’s opinion on your dog’s crate time.

Read More: How Long Can You Leave a German Shepherd in a Crate?

If you’re still unsure about crate training your German Shepherd, below are two common FAQs…

Do German Shepherds Need a Crate? 

German Shepherds need a crate for training and discipline, routine, shelter and safety, potty training, and for use in an emergency. If they don’t internalize crate discipline early, they can become ill-adjusted and require significant training from an expert to socialize and behave properly.

Do German Shepherds Like Crates? 

German Shepherds don’t just like crates; they love them – as long as you raise them with proper crating from the get-go. Instead of confinement, they associate their crate with “home,” “bed,” and “security,” all positive associations that do not sadden your dog or harm your relationship with him.

Key Takeaways

Dog crates are a great tool to establish boundaries and give your German Shepherd the comfort of closed quarters proportionate to his physique. A size 48-inch crate is exactly what you need for your German Shepherd.

Be aware that prolonged confinement can cause issues, and you must be cautious not to crate your German Shepherd beyond the maximum advisable limit. Above all, make sure you understand that limits vary for puppies of different ages up until adulthood.

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