Best SUV for Dogs: Top Picks and Practical Features for Pet Owners

As a dog owner, finding the perfect SUV to accommodate your furry friend can be a challenging task. With an array of options available on the market, it is essential to consider factors such as space, comfort, and convenience when making a decision. This article aims to provide insights into some of the top SUVs for dog owners, focusing on their unique features and advantages to ensure a smooth and enjoyable ride for both you and your canine companion.

Safety, cargo space, and ease of maintenance are key aspects to consider when choosing the right vehicle for your pet. A good SUV should have ample room for dogs to stretch out, easy access to the cargo area, and durable interiors that can withstand occasional muddy paws or pet accidents. Additionally, it’s essential to look for models with high safety ratings and advanced features that protect all passengers, including your four-legged friend.


Understanding Your Dog’s Travel Needs

When choosing the best SUV for your dog, it’s essential to consider your dog’s specific needs and how they align with the features of the vehicle. This section will discuss factors to take into account, such as dog size, comfort, and safety.

Dog Size

The size of your dog plays a significant role in determining the most suitable SUV. Larger breeds like Great Danes or Saint Bernards require more space than smaller dogs like Pugs or Chihuahuas. When selecting an SUV, consider the following:

  • Cargo space: Ensure there is enough room for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably.
  • Seating configuration: Some SUVs have foldable or removable rear seats, providing additional space for larger dog crates or beds.
  • Vehicle height: Lower vehicles like the Subaru Crosstrek can be easier for dogs to enter and exit, while higher vehicles may require a ramp or steps for larger dogs.

Dog Comfort

Your dog’s comfort during travel is important for a smooth ride. Keep the following factors in mind:

  • Climate control: Ensure the SUV’s air conditioning and heating systems can adequately control the temperature in the cargo area where your dog will be traveling.
  • Interior materials: Easy-to-clean materials such as leather or vinyl upholstery and rubber floor mats help maintain a clean and comfortable environment for your dog.
  • Noise levels: Quieter cabins can reduce stress and anxiety for dogs sensitive to loud noises.

Dog Safety

The well-being of your dog should be a top priority on the road, so consider these safety features when choosing an SUV:

  • Crash safety: Look for vehicles with top safety ratings to protect you and your dog in the event of a collision.
  • Rearview camera and sensors: These features help ensure your dog is safe when moving in and out of the vehicle.
  • Dog-specific accessories: Some SUVs, like the Nissan Rogue, offer dog-specific features such as built-in crates, pet barriers, and even ramps for easy loading and unloading.

Remember to assess your dog’s unique needs and preferences when considering SUV options. By doing so, you can ensure that both you and your four-legged friend have a comfortable and enjoyable traveling experience.

Characteristics of an Ideal SUV for Dogs

Selecting the perfect SUV for you and your canine companion should take into consideration several factors. These characteristics ensure that both you and your dog enjoy a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable journey together.

Cargo Space: One of the essential features for dog owners is ample cargo space. Having a generous area allows you to fit your dog’s crate or let them rest comfortably without being cramped. For example, the Subaru Crosstrek offers over 20 cubic feet of cargo space with seats up and 55.3 cubic feet with the seats down, making it an excellent choice for dog owners.

Ease of Access: A low height is crucial for older dogs or breeds that face difficulties in jumping. SUVs with easy access points, such as the Subaru Crosstrek, are perfect for those looking to accommodate their furry friends without causing unnecessary stress on their joints.

Rear Climate Control: Animals, just like humans, need to maintain a comfortable temperature when traveling. Some SUVs come equipped with rear climate control systems, ensuring that your dog remains comfortable and cool during long trips.

Interior Materials: Many SUVs boast easily cleanable interiors, which are essential for dog owners. After all, our furry friends are known to shed fur, track in dirt, or have accidents. Choosing an SUV with easy-to-clean materials saves time and energy when maintaining your vehicle in pristine condition.

Pet-Friendly Features: Some SUV models come with built-in pet barriers and dog-specific trims. For example, the Nissan Rogue offers an “epic dog-specific trim” that includes a ramp and wash setup, making it an excellent option for dog owners looking for convenience and functionality.

In summary, the ideal SUV for dogs should offer ample cargo space, easy access, rear climate control, easy-to-clean interiors, and pet-friendly features. Considering these factors while shopping for a vehicle ensures a comfortable and enjoyable ride for both you and your beloved pet.

Review of the Top 5 SUVs for Dogs

SUV 1: 2022 Jeep Wrangler

The 2022 Jeep Wrangler is a top choice for dog owners due to its rugged design and spacious cargo area. It offers a comfortable ride for both pets and humans, thanks to its excellent off-road capabilities and versatile interior. The Wrangler’s durable and washable flooring makes it easy to keep clean, even after adventurous outings with your furry companions.

SUV 2: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is an eco-friendly option that is perfect for dog owners seeking fuel efficiency and space. It comes with a generous cargo area for crates and pet accessories, making it an ideal choice for transporting your four-legged friends. The RAV4 Hybrid also features low-loading heights and easy-to-clean surfaces, ensuring a comfortable and convenient experience for both you and your pets.

SUV 3: Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is another excellent SUV option for dog owners. It offers ample cargo space, making it suitable for transporting crates or allowing pets to roam free in the back. The CR-V also features a low cargo floor, making it easier for dogs to jump in and out without difficulty. Additionally, its durable and easy-to-clean interior ensures a pet-friendly environment.

SUV 4: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester is designed with outdoor enthusiasts and their pets in mind. It offers an impressive amount of cargo space, perfect for crates and other pet essentials. The Forester’s all-wheel-drive capabilities allow for off-road adventures with your dog while maintaining a comfortable ride quality. Furthermore, its durable and easy-to-clean cabin makes it well-suited for accommodating pets on the go.

SUV 5: Kia Soul

The Kia Soul is a budget-friendly option for those seeking a pet-friendly SUV. Its unique design provides an ample and versatile cargo area, suitable for accommodating dog crates or leaving room for pets to roam freely. The Soul’s boxy shape also allows for easy ingress and egress, making it accessible for pets of all sizes. Additionally, its easy-to-clean surfaces help keep the interior looking fresh even after adventures with your furry friends.

Choosing the Right SUV for Your Dog

When selecting the ideal SUV for your canine companion, you’ll want to consider factors such as budget, size of your dog, and SUV features that will make your vehicle more dog-friendly. In this section, we’ll explore each of these factors in more detail.


The price range of SUVs can vary widely, and while some models come with dog-friendly features as standard, others may require extra accessories or customization. Some more budget-friendly options to consider include:

  • Subaru Crosstrek: This compact SUV features low height and ample storage space, making it a great option for most dog owners.
  • Honda CR-V: With a starting price below $27K and hybrid versions rated at 40 mpg city, the CR-V is a budget-friendly choice for dog lovers.
  • Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: This model offers excellent fuel efficiency and the convenience of a larger cargo area for your pup.

Size of Your Dog

The size of your dog is an important consideration when selecting an SUV. You’ll want to ensure there is ample cargo space or rear-seat room for your dog to be comfortable during rides, especially for larger breeds. Here are a few SUVs to consider for different dog sizes:

Small to Medium Dogs:

  • Kia Soul: This SUV is not only affordable but offers plenty of space for your small to medium-sized dog.

Large Dogs:

  • 2022 Ford Explorer: The Ford Explorer is a versatile and dog-friendly SUV, providing enough space for large dogs.
  • 2023 Jeep Wrangler: If your dog loves going on outdoor adventures, the Jeep Wrangler offers ample space for your canine companion.

SUV Features

Many SUVs come with useful features that cater to dog owners. When searching for a dog-friendly SUV, look for features such as:

  • Rear climate control: Ensures your dog stays comfortable during rides
  • Cargo area with tie-down hooks or anchors: Helps secure your dog’s crate during travel
  • Easy-to-clean upholstery or flooring: Facilitates cleaning pet hair and dirt
  • Rear cargo area with a flat load floor: Makes it easier for your dog to enter and exit the vehicle

Additionally, some automakers, like Nissan with their Rogue model, offer dog-specific trims that include features like a ramp and wash setup to make traveling with your dog even more convenient.

By considering your budget, the size of your dog, and the features offered in various SUV models, you can find the perfect vehicle to accommodate both you and your canine companion.

Benefits of Having a Dog-Friendly SUV

A dog-friendly SUV provides several advantages for both dog owners and their pets. These benefits make it easy to travel with your furry friend, ensuring a comfortable and safe experience.

Ample cargo space: Dog-friendly SUVs typically offer generous cargo space, allowing owners to accommodate their pets and other essentials with ease. With the seats down, some SUVs provide over 50 cubic feet of space, perfect for dogs and cages, such as the Subaru Crosstrek.

Safety features: Many dog-friendly SUVs prioritize safety, incorporating features specifically designed for pet owners. For instance, Subaru Ascent is known for its great safety scores and all-wheel drive, making it a reliable choice for transporting pets.

Convenient access: Lower vehicle heights such as the Subaru Crosstrek mentioned earlier, enable easy entry and exit for dogs. This is particularly helpful for older or injured dogs that may struggle with jumping or navigating steps.

Specialized pet amenities: Some SUVs offer dog-specific trims and accessories, like the Nissan Rogue, which includes a ramp and wash setup. Such features help make traveling with pets hassle-free and enjoyable for both the owner and the pet.

Economical and eco-friendly options: Choosing a dog-friendly SUV does not mean sacrificing fuel efficiency or environmental concerns. Models like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid provide excellent fuel economy while ensuring ample space for pups, making it an award-winning hybrid choice for pet owners.

In summary, owning a dog-friendly SUV makes traveling with pets more comfortable, safe, and convenient. These vehicles cater to the unique needs of pet owners and provide an enjoyable experience for both the owner and their furry companions.

Consequences of Not Having a Dog-Friendly SUV

Traveling with a dog is a joy for many pet owners. However, not having a dog-friendly SUV can result in several negative outcomes for both the pet and the owner. In this section, we will discuss the consequences of not having a dog-friendly SUV.

Safety concerns: A dog-friendly SUV typically includes features that ensure the dog’s safety during travel. Without these features, such as cargo space, anchor points, or barriers to prevent the dog from moving into the driver’s area, your dog may be subject to injury or distress during travel. This can result in accidents or unsafe driving conditions, putting all occupants in danger.

Limited mobility and discomfort: A lack of space in non-dog-friendly SUVs can leave your dog with limited mobility and discomfort. Dogs need space to stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably during longer rides. Insufficient space may result in anxiety, stress, and physical discomfort for your furry friend.

Dirty interiors and damage to the vehicle: A non-dog-friendly SUV may lack easy-to-clean surfaces, seat covers, or floor mats, making it difficult to keep your vehicle clean. Additionally, a lack of proper restraints or cargo space can result in the dog moving around or scratching the surfaces, leading to costly repairs and decreased resale value for your vehicle.

Difficulty in loading and unloading: Dog-friendly SUVs often come with features like low entry points, ramps, or other amenities for easy access. Without these features, owners may find it difficult to load or unload their pets, especially in the case of larger dogs or dogs with mobility issues. This can result in stress for both the dog and the owner.

In summary, traveling with a dog in a non-dog-friendly SUV can lead to a myriad of issues, including safety concerns, discomfort, vehicle damage, and challenges in loading and unloading. Investing in a dog-friendly SUV can significantly improve the travel experience for both you and your canine companion.

Future SUV Trends for Dog Owners

As technology and design continue to advance, future SUV trends for dog owners are expected to focus on providing a safer, more comfortable, and more convenient experience for both dogs and their human companions.

One potential trend could be integrating pet-specific features into standard vehicle designs. This may include building in dog-friendly amenities, such as:

  • Built-in dog ramps: Making it easier for dogs to enter and exit the vehicle without the need for additional equipment.
  • Washable and scratch-resistant materials: Durable materials that can withstand wear and tear from pet paws and make it easy to clean up after messy adventures.
  • Climate-controlled pet compartments: Ensuring the comfort and safety of pets during long journeys by providing separate temperature controls for their designated areas.

Another possible trend is developing advanced safety systems designed specifically for dog safety. These features may incorporate elements such as:

  • Dog-specific airbags and seatbelts: Providing better protection during collisions or sudden stops by taking into account the unique size and shape of dogs.
  • Pet monitoring systems: Allowing owners to keep an eye on their pets using integrated cameras and displays in the vehicle, potentially connecting to smartphone apps for remote monitoring.
  • Driver alert system for pet safety: Integrating technology that alerts drivers when their pet may be in danger, such as if they are left in a hot car, or if the pet is moving around the vehicle while it’s in motion.

Additionally, automakers could increasingly prioritize SUV models that offer ample cargo space and flexibility for accommodating dog crates, pet carriers, or even multiple dogs. This focus on space may also include:

  • Foldable and removable rear seats: Allowing owners to quickly and easily create additional space for their pets and their supplies when needed.
  • Configurable cargo areas: Enabling owners to customize the layout of the cargo area to suit the specific needs of their pets, including creating separate spaces for multiple dogs or storing pet-related gear.

Ultimately, the future SUV trends for dog owners will likely center around providing a more pet-friendly experience by incorporating technologies and features that cater to the unique needs of dogs and their human companions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What SUVs are suitable for large dog breeds?

The Subaru Crosstrek and Nissan Rogue are excellent SUVs for large dog breeds. With ample cargo space and features designed for dog owners, they offer both comfort and convenience on the road. The Subaru Crosstrek, in particular, has over 20 cubic feet of cargo space and 55.3 cubic feet with the seats folded down, making it suitable for large dogs and cages.

Which vehicles are ideal for families with multiple dogs?

Families with multiple dogs should look for SUVs with spacious interiors and features tailored for pet owners. The 2023 Subaru Forester is one such option with its roomy cabin, great safety scores, and standard all-wheel drive. Additionally, vehicles like the Nissan Rogue, with its dog-specific trim, provide added convenience for families with multiple pets.

What SUV features should dog owners look for?

When selecting an SUV, dog owners should prioritize features like ample cargo space, easy access to the cargo area, durable cabin materials, and safety features. Look for vehicles that offer foldable seats, low height for easy entry, and a spacious interior that accommodates both pets and their owners. Additional features such as dog-specific trims, ramps, and wash setups can be particularly attractive to dog owners.

Which hatchbacks are best for transporting dogs?

While SUVs are often the go-to choice for dog owners, hatchbacks can also provide suitable transportation for pets. When selecting a hatchback, prioritize cargo space, accessibility, and cabin durability. Keep in mind that SUVs and crossovers typically offer more space and pet-friendly features compared to most hatchbacks.

Are there any dog-friendly trucks?

Trucks can be an option for transporting dogs, but they might not be as convenient or comfortable as SUVs. If considering a truck, look for features such as secure tie-down points, bed liners to protect against damage, and a spacious cabin, so the dogs can ride inside with their owners.

What minivans are suitable for dog owners?

Minivans offer spacious interiors, which can be suitable for dog owners. Look for models with ample cargo space, foldable seats for versatility, and easy access to the rear of the vehicle. Keep in mind that minivans might not offer some of the specialized dog-friendly features found in SUVs, so it’s essential to choose a model that can accommodate the specific needs of your pets.

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