What Size Crate For A Shih Tzu?

What size crate for a shih tzu?

What Size Crate For A Shih Tzu? Perhaps Smaller Than You Think!

If you are wondering what size crate for a shih tzu, it is important to remember not to buy one too large. If your shih tzu occupies a crate big enough for him to walk around in, he will inevitably sleep in one corner and will use the opposite corner to do his business.

Generally, a healthy dog will not defecate where he sleeps, so what is needed is a crate that is just large enough for the shih tzu to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably in with no spare space to be designated as a toilet. This may sound cruel to some but a shih tzu will be quite happy with this and will feel safe in his own, snug, little space. It replicates the pack animal instinct to sleep in the relative safety of a small, inconspicuous den. 

Of course, this does mean you need to take your shih tzu to the place where you want him to pee and poo at regular intervals or, if he is already potty trained, leaving the door open so that he can make his way there himself.

To learn more about potty training a shih tzu using the crate method, see our post:

Crate Training A Shih Tzu Puppy – Cruel Or Kind?

A Growing Problem

If you are considering buying a crate for a shih tzu puppy, you may be wondering, with such a snug fit, what happens when the puppy grows too big for the crate?

The answer is to choose an adult shih tzu sized crate that features a movable divider that will allow you to adjust the depth of the crate incrementally as the puppy grows into a fully grown adult. That way, the crate can be maintained with the correct amount of access for the dog at all stages of life to avoid “accidents”.

So, for the average-sized adult shih tzu, look for a crate with internal dimensions close to 13” (33cm) wide by 22” (56cm) deep. The actual height is not all that important subject to a minimum of 13” (33cm), enough for a shih tzu to stand up without hitting his head on the roof.

Quality Of Build

A delightfully scruffy looking shih tzu in a crate.
ID 123951183 © Niti Wongthai | Dreamstime.com

There are a variety of plastic, metal and wooden constructions of crates available in many different designs. At Shihtzuandyou, we prefer the wire cage type so that we can see our boys at all times and, perhaps more importantly, they can see us.

A crate should never be used for punishment purposes, it should be a place where a shih tzu is happy to go to and happy to be. Having said that, there will be times when the door is closed, you are not there and he will try and get out. For that reason, the crate should be of sturdy construction with doors that cannot be prized open and bars that cannot be forced apart by a 15 lb (7kg) canine. 

A thickish gauge steel wire, coated to avoid corrosion, will suffice. Stainless steel would be ideal but that material is usually reserved for the top end of the market. Any doors should have dog tamper-proof bolts fitted on them. Shih tzu are very intelligent dogs and can soon work out how to open lesser quality doors.

Other Features To Look For

Double Doors

To enable you to place your crate in various settings within your home or vehicle, look for a crate that has one door at the front and another at the side to ensure you have access however tight the available space.


A crate that will pack flat when not in use for storage or travel is a good feature, as long as the collapsibility does not affect the sturdiness of the unit.

A comfortable carry handle is also very useful for moving the crate around when occupied.


As you can probably imagine, having food and water bowls in such a tight space can lead to much spillage and mess! Food bowls and water bowls that clip on to the side of the crate go a long way to preventing this.


Lying down on a wire mesh for two or three hours at a time would prove uncomfortable for a shih tzu, so a dedicated bed that fits in the cage is essential for his well-being. Some crates come with this as standard and as an extra with others. Don’t worry too much about a waterproof or leak-proof bed as the idea of the crate is that your shih tzu does not pee or poop in the crate. Put the emphasis more on comfort when choosing a bed for the crate.


If you will be resting your chosen crate on a wooden floor, to avoid unsightly scratches appearing you might like to consider one mounted on soft rubber wheels or, failing that, place a rubber-backed bath mat or a piece of lino between the crate and the floor.

A rear-facing shih tzu in a crate.
ID 123951121 © Niti Wongthai | Dreamstime.com

Is There A Crate That Shihtzuandyou Recommends?

Having scoured what is available in the pet crate market, I have come to the conclusion that there is no single crate available that meets all of the criteria discussed in this article but there is one that comes close.

The Petmate Provalu Crate, manufactured by Precision Pet Products, is a crate of quality design and build while at the same time representing great value for money. Petmate has been in the dog kennel business for over fifty years, so they have plenty of experience in this field and should know a thing or two about what makes a good, sturdy and safe training crate. The Provalu has certainly been designed with your pet’s safety and security in mind.

Sturdy, Well-Finished Build

The crate is constructed of a heavier gauge wire than other products in the same price range making it much sturdier and unlikely that your shih tzu is going to be able to bend the bars and get out. 

The wire is coated in a polymer which means it will not rust, increasing the life of the crate compared to uncoated, rival products and this coating also means that you can use the crate outdoors if you so wish. 

These other, inferior products often have sharp edges at the ends of the wires and intersection points, which can injure a shih tzu. The Provalu has nicely finished, rounded edges, largely reducing the chances of any snagging injuries to your shih tzu.

Double Doors That Shut Tight

A wire construction double door dog crate, both doors with a five point secure locking system.
ID 29305687 © Luckydoor | Dreamstime.com

The Provalu has two doors, one at the front and one at the side, making it possible to place the crate in many situations and still have access for your shih tzu. It’s true that comparable products have this feature but what they don’t have is a secure, five-point locking system like the Provalu. This system closes the door tight up against the frame with no gaps all around making it almost impossible for a dog to prize it open.

Despite the difficulty this system makes for a dog to open the door, it is still very easy for a human to close, lock and open again.

The five-point locking system closes so tightly that it actually increases the strength and sturdiness of the crate.

A Size To Suit Your Shih Tzu

Whereas the Provalu is not available in the exact recommended dimensions in this article, it does have crates slightly smaller and slightly larger. The “extra small”, at 19” x 12” x 14” (48cm x 31cm x 36cm) may prove to be a little too small when your shih tzu reaches maturity, so I would choose the next size up, “small”.  Although slightly over the recommended maximum size at 24” x 18” x 19” (61cm x 46cm x 48cm), you can leave in the divider panel to maintain the maximum recommended depth of 22” (56cm). 

If you have dogs of larger breeds, the Provalu is also available in four more progressively larger sizes.

Adjustable Divider Panel Included

A sturdy divider panel, made to the same high-quality standards as the rest of the crate, comes with the Provalu. This means that you can buy just the one crate for the entire lifetime of your shih tzu. This is important if your shih tzu becomes attached to his “den”. Use the divider to make the internal dimensions of the crate suitable for a puppy to lie in, without leaving any room to be designated as a toilet. Then gradually move the divider back as the puppy grows until he reaches full-sized adulthood when the divider can be completely removed.

Easy Assembly And Transportation

The crate is easy to assemble without the use of any tools and is equally as easy to fold down flat for transportation. It folds down to around 2” (5cm) thick. This is possible with the integral, leakproof and break-resistant polypropylene tray in place in the base. The tray can be removed for easy cleaning, though. The only drawback is that there is no handle to carry the cage fully assembled with dog inside. 

Great Value

All of these features and quality of build and design comes in at a lower price than you may expect. When I last checked, the small was selling for 32.99 USD on Amazon, while the extra small was selling for 19.69 USD, again on Amazon. Both come with a 1-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects, as do all Petmate crates.

You can take a look at the Petmate Provalu crates here.

(This link takes you away from Shihtzuandyou to the Amazon website.)

When you have received your crate, remember that Shihtzuandyou has tips on crate training here.

I hope that you and your shih tzu enjoy your crate training experience.

If you have any questions or thoughts relevant to dog crates and crate training, shih tzu in general, or this website, please leave a message below or, if you prefer, use the contact us form.

Until next time,

Shih Tzu Steve.

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