The Best Outdoor Dog Kennel for 2021 - Backyard Boss
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The Best Outdoor Dog Kennel for 2021

When you bring a dog into your life, they become an important part of everything you do. Whether you’re relaxing in the backyard, spending time at your favorite campground, or training a new puppy, a dog kennel can be a valuable tool! They keep dogs safely contained, preventing unwanted accidents or injuries.

The dog kennel market includes a variety of different options, each with unique features and benefits. It can make shopping feel overwhelming for newer dog owners and first-time dog kennel users. To help you find the best solution for you and your dog, we have put together this guide, including a list of the five best outdoor dog kennels, based on our experiences and research.

The Backyard Boss Top Outdoor Dog Kennel for 2021

BMS Extra Large Dog Fence Playpen - The Best Outdoor Dog Kennel for 2021BMS Extra Large Dog Fence Playpen
  • 40”H x 62”L x 62”W
  • All Metal Body with Heavy Duty Wire
  • Breaks Down into 8 Panels for Travel
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Midwest Homes for Pets K9 Dog Kennel - The Best Outdoor Dog Kennel for 2021Midwest Homes for Pets K9 Dog Kennel
  • 6’H x 10’L x 10’W
  • Galvanized Steel Frame, Chain-Link Mesh, Polyethylene Fabric Cover
  • Extra Stability to Ensure Years of Use with Little Maintenance
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Advantek Metal Pet Gazebo with Reversible Cover - The Best Outdoor Dog Kennel for 2021Advantek Metal Pet Gazebo with Reversible Cover
  • 60”H x 60”L x 60”W
  • Steel Frame with Polyethylene Reversible Cover
  • Compact Travel Size and Easy Setup
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Lucky Dog Uptown Welded Wire Outdoor Kennel - The Best Outdoor Dog Kennel for 2021Lucky Dog Uptown Welded Wire Outdoor Kennel
  • 6’H x 4’L x 8’W
  • Made from Alloy Steel
  • Heavy Duty Welded with Waterproof Cover
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MidWest Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen - The Best Outdoor Dog Kennel for 2021MidWest Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen
  • 24”H x 24”L x 24”W
  • Black Electro-Coat Wire
  • Breaks Down into 8 Panels for Travel
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Why You Can Trust Us

My husband and I share our lives with two amazing rescue dogs.
Although we have a fenced-in yard in our house, we did not have them in the previous places where we lived. Our last house had a large outdoor dog kennel because we couldn’t put up a full fence to keep our dogs safe in our yard.

The process of choosing a kennel can be challenging, especially if you aren’t familiar with the options available or what exactly you’re looking for. This led us to do a significant amount of research to better understand the kennels on the market. We understood the built-in kennels that were available and selected a portable one for use when camping or traveling.

In this guide, I pull on the information that I collected during that time, combining it with the experience and knowledge of the rest of the Backyard Boss team. This collective knowledge allowed me to take the needs of different sizes and breeds of dogs into consideration.

Best Portable Dog Kennel

BMS Extra Large Dog Fence Playpen
    Highly versatile and easy to set up, this heavy-duty dog playpen allows you to create a safe and secure place for your dog in any space indoors or outdoors.



Why We Like It: This kennel provides you with 8 heavy-duty metal panels that can be confirmed in a variety of different shapes and arrangements to accommodate any space indoors or outdoors. 

If you require a larger space, buy a second playpen, and attach them. Each panel is 32” wide and 40” tall, and they can be attached without any tools in just minutes. This kennel isn’t tall enough for dogs that tend to escape or jump over the fence.

The quick and easy assembly and tear-down process make this a good choice for those who enjoy traveling with their dogs. It allows to set it up at home or the campsite easily. You can use it as a fully enclosed playpen, or as a fence against an existing wall, RV, or travel trailer. When you finish, simply collapse it back down to make it easy to pack away.

Who Should Buy It: It’s a great product for dog owners looking for a highly durable and portable dog playpen that can be used both at home and during their travels.

Best Outdoor Kennel for Large Dogs

Midwest Homes for Pets K9 Dog Kennel
    This spacious and heavy-duty chain-link kennel is designed to offer a secure space for dogs up to 155lbs with little maintenance required.



Why We Like It: A strong and durable outdoor dog kennel designed to last years after installation with minimal upkeep and maintenance, the Midwest Homes for Pets K9 Dog Kennel will keep your dogs securely contained. 

The kennel is built from galvanized steel with chain-link fencing around the perimeter. The kennel is available in four different sizes with two different wall heights (4’ and 6’). The largest size available is 10’L x 10’W x 6’H, allowing for plenty of room for larger dogs to play and exercise. They set up quickly requiring only a set of pliers.

Included with the kennel is a free polyethylene sunscreen that provides 80% sunblock for your dog. On the front of the door, the full entry door makes it easy for you to access your dog while latching securely to prevent escape. You can operate the latch one-handed, freeing your other hand to hold your dog when entering or leaving the kennel.

Who Should Buy It: If you’re searching for a kennel that will comfortably and securely contain a larger dog, this is a great solution.

Best Outdoor Kennel for Small Dogs

Advantek Metal Pet Gazebo with Reversible Cover
    An open wire gazebo with an included rain and weatherproof umbrella roof, this kennel offers a safe an secure solution for small to medium-sized dogs.



Why We Like It: Designed both to keep your dog safe and secure while fitting into any décor or aesthetic, this indoor/outdoor pet gazebo is a great solution for dogs under 80lbs. 

The gazebo is made from durable, rust-free galvanized steel and can be set up easily without any tools. It features a spring-loaded safety latch to prevent escape, a drop-down window, and elevated legs with nylon feet to protect your flooring. The top of the kennel is covered by a rainproof, UV-protected umbrella canopy to protect your dog from the elements.

There are two sizes available, measuring 3’ wide and 5’ wide. If you’re trying to accommodate multiple dogs and need more space, you can connect gazebos easily to create an extended play area. The kennel is compact and portable, weighing only 55.5lbs. You can use it at home, in the backyard, at the campsite, and more.

Who Should Buy It: The Advantek Metal Pet Gazebo with Reversible Cover is a reliable and aesthetically pleasing kennel solution for smaller dog owners.

Best Outdoor Dog Kennel with Roof

Lucky Dog Uptown Welded Wire Outdoor Kennel
    A strong welded steel kennel with a heavy-duty, UV-resistant, and waterproof cover, your dog will be securely contained and safe from the elements.



Why We Like It: Constructed from heavy-duty steel bars and wire mesh, the Lucky Dog Uptown Welded Wire Outdoor Kennel is welded and coated to create a strong and reliable structure with both rust and corrosion protection. 

It comes with a waterproof and UV-resistant cover to protect your dog from the elements including sun, rain, snow, and other debris. Unlike many other covered kennels, the roof is pitched to allow water and light snow to run off rather than accumulating and creating unnecessary pressure.

There are three different sizes available. The smallest is 4’H x 4’W x 4.5’L. However, if you’re looking for the additional height for a larger dog, there are two different 6’ high sizes including 4’W x 4’L and 4’W x 8’L. The increased wall height combined with the secure cover work to keep dogs that tend to escape regularly. You can set it up easily with its modular panel design using hand tightening clamps without using any tools.

Who Should Buy It: The Lucky Dog Uptown Welded Wire Outdoor Kennel is a great choice for dog owners that are looking for an outdoor kennel that will keep their pet safe from the elements.

Best Dog Exercise Pen

MidWest Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen
    Lightweight and compact, this exercise pen can be used both indoors and outdoors to keep your dog secured while folding flat for convenient storage when not in use.



Why We Like It: Highly portable with its lightweight, fold-flat design, the MidWest Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen is a great solution for those trying to contain a small dog or new puppy at home or on the road. 

The 2’ x 2’ panels attach easily without the need for tools, allowing you to set up in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and configurations. You can also tie it to a wire to create an extended safe place during the early training process. One panel contains a step-through door with two slide-bolt latches to give you easy access to your dog while preventing escape.

This exercise pen can be extended by buying a second kennel and attaching them. The company also offers an optional wire pen top or sunscreen top that works seamlessly with the kennel. The provided corner stabilizers help to maintain your set configuration while the ground stakes work to keep the kennel securely in place when outdoors.

Who Should Buy It: If you’re searching for a simple, lightweight exercise pen for use with a new puppy or small dog, this metal pen from MidWest Homes for Pets is a great option.

Types of Outdoor Dog Kennels

A gold lab looking through a chain fence
Image Credit: pgbsimon on Pixabay

The phrase dog kennel is often associated with a single image of a chain-link fence securing a rectangular area. However, there are many different options available to suit all your dog’s needs from large, secure metal kennels to smaller portable exercise pens. The first step to finding the right dog kennel for you and your dog is to understand your options.

Dog Crate Kennels

Often referred to simply as dog crates, dog crate kennels are smaller secured areas most often made from aluminum, plastic, or fabric. These are used for training purposes as well as to keep a dog safe and secure while traveling. However, not all dog crate kennels are suitable for every situation. For example, if you plan on flying with your dog, check the rules for the airline regarding what kennels are considered acceptable.

These kennels come in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes for each situation. Many aluminum or wire kennels also include an additional removable divider, allowing you to adjust the space available while training a growing puppy.

Dog Playpens and Exercise Pens

This style of the kennel is designed to offer your dog a little more space than a crate kennel, allowing them to move about comfortably. They’re also suitable for use over longer periods. You can use them in different ways including as a standalone kennel, against a wall or travel trailer, or as an extended dog gate for larger doorways and spaces.

These kennels are built to be quick to set up and tear down, making them a favorite of campers and RVers as a physical alternative to a wireless dog fence or tie-out while at the campsite.

Exercise pens are often made with a wire, aluminum, or steel construction in individual panels that are then joined together without the need for tools. This allows them to be set up anywhere. If you wish to extend the space, you can connect the panels from multiple pens.

Outdoor Dog Runs

A larger and more fixed set up in your yard, outdoor dog runs are long kennels that allow your dog to exercise outdoors without being loose in your yard. They’re available both as a built-in exercise area or a lower-cost portable run. However, even the more portable runs aren’t designed for travel in the way that exercise pens and playpens are, as the panels used are significantly larger. They usually stay in one place but can be removed or relocated easily if necessary.

Some dog runs will include a roof or covering to protect your dog from the elements, while others are open but include a doghouse that they can retreat to. They’re commonly made from chain link fencing, wood fencing, ornate metal fencing, or plastic-coated wire fencing. The right material for you will depend on your dog as well as the aesthetic of your yard.

Dog Breeding Kennels

These specialty kennels are created for professional breeders, allowing them to safely contain their dogs while providing enough room to move around comfortably. The state of these kennels is regulated by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, along with every other aspect of the breeding industry. 

If any aspect of the kennel doesn’t meet the requirements in terms of providing the dogs in their care with adequate living conditions, it can lead to denial of the registration papers provided with puppies that come from a registered breeder or even animal cruelty charges.

Dog Boarding Kennels

Boarding kennels can be used as temporary housing for your dog, whether indoor or outdoor. They must be large enough to provide adequate room for your dog to move around and exercise freely as well as a comfortable place to relax or sleep. They are common at boarding facilities or animal shelters as they will hold the dogs until they return home or are adopted out.

They most often serve as a safe place to keep your dog when you are away from home. You can use them outdoors in a yard where you’re unable to build a physical fence or install an alternative, like an invisible fence, to keep your dog contained. This allows your dog to spend time outdoors in the fresh air without the risk of escape or encountering other dangers.

Boarding kennels can be made from a wide variety of different materials including chain-link and wire, and they’re almost always permanently built-in. If you’re planning on leaving your dog in an outdoor kennel for an extended period, it should include adequate shelter from the elements.

How to Choose an Outdoor Dog Kennel

A small brown and white sitting in a black exercise pen in the grass
Image Credit: MidWest Homes for Pets on Amazon

With so many different outdoor dog kennels on the market, it’s sometimes overwhelming to choose the right option for you and your dog. You have to look at the specifics of your dog as well as the benefits of the various options to find the best fit.

Size of Dog

The first thing to consider is your dog’s breed and size. The purpose of the kennel is to provide your dog with enough space to stand up and move around freely. For a travel kennel, this is enough space to turn around and get comfortable. In other kennels that your dog will stay longer, it has to have enough room to play.

Yard/Home Space

Another important factor is the amount of space that you have in your home or yard. Before purchasing a kennel, take the time to measure the available area. A commonly overlooked area that many dog owners are now leveraging is the side yard. This space is often large enough to support a dog run or kennel, however, the narrow space often isn’t used for anything else.

Take Your Local Weather into Account

When choosing a dog kennel, be sure not to choose one that is only suited for the current season. Think about the weather in your area of the country and the ability of each option to provide suitable shelter in the rain, snow, wind, and more. 

Quality and Security

The quality of your dog’s future kennel has to be a priority. However, there is more to consider than just the build quality itself. Some dogs are more passive, while others try to escape every time they’re contained. Take the time to look at the security measures that are in place on any kennel that you consider. You want to find a pen that can stand up to the weather in your area, shelter your dog from the elements and prevent it from escaping.

There are many cheap kennels and pet playpens on the market, however, most of these low-cost options won’t hold up if your dog decides to break free. It’s worth investing to keep your dog safe.

Installation Requirements

Look at the work required to install the dog kennels that you’re considering. While many dog kennels now are easily assembled with little or no experience required, this isn’t true for all options currently on the market.

Another consideration in terms of installation is the ability for you to move the kennel as needed to another location. Some types of outdoor dog kennels you can easily relocate and set up in minutes. Others, however, are designed to buy permanently built-in to a single location. Consider your needs for the kennel and which options will best suit that lifestyle.

Look to the Future

If you’re purchasing a kennel for a puppy or young dog, don’t forget to look at the use of it in the future. Puppies grow quickly, especially large or giant breed dogs. You don’t want to invest all of your money into a high-quality dog kennel only to find that it’s too small to accommodate your dog in a couple of months.

How We Picked

To narrow this list down, we started by looking at the different situations in which an outdoor kennel is used, including everything from a large built-in steel kennel for the backyard to a smaller, lightweight exercise pen for the frequent traveler. From here, we considered several different factors including size, durability, safety measures, protection against the elements, and versatility.

The kennels included were chosen based on not only their features. We also took the time to read the reviews of other customers to have a better idea of how they were working in a real-life situation. In the end, five kennels stood out that we’re confident will fit your lifestyle and keep your dog safe.

Choosing the Best Kennel for Your Dog

The best kennel will depend on the size of your dog, the number of dogs that you will be using it for at any given time, and the purpose of the kennel. With all of this in mind, you may require different kennels for different situations. It’s not uncommon for a dog owner to have a built-in kennel at home and a portable kennel for travel.

While each of the products that we included stands out for different reasons, the BMS Extra Large Dog Fence Playpen is our top choice. This heavy-duty metal playpen offers the security that’s common in larger built-in kennels with the portability needed when you’re on the go. It’s also highly customizable in terms of space available and configuration. While the kennel doesn’t include a cover, you can add it by affixing it to the top bars of the panels.