Building a Custom – Wood Pet Shipping Crate

So you’re relocating overseas and your Giant Sized Dog ( Great Dane, Mastiff, Newfoundland, Irish Wolfhound )  is way too Large for a traditional plastic travel Kennel even with a height extension kit, now what? The next step might be to look into a custom made pet shipping crate. But, Where should you start and What option are available?

Custom Built Wood Airline KennelsBUYing a Custom Dog Crate: You can custom order your dog a crate from a professional pet shipper who sells and builds wood dog shipping crates to fit any size dog. Or you can purchase a Ready to Assemble wood crate from Pet Travel Vendors such as CR8-2Fly. The advantages are they have first hand knowledge of airline’s requirements or size restriction and how much space your sized dog will absolutely need. Also they are well aware of what type of wood to use to avoid having issues with custom agents and border control officers which could potentially get your dog held up in customs or rejected for entry. The disadvantage is they can be quite expensive and cost a fortune to get them shipped to you. So try and find a pet shipper who is located near you if possible. Maybe even plan to pick the crate up in person rather than having it shipped, it can potentially save you a lot of money.


cr82 custom crate


BUILDing a Custom Dog Crate: You can build one yourself from scratch. Not really the best solution if you are not extremely handy. But for the folks who are handy and have all the right tools not impossible. Might be a good idea to contact a Pet shipper or two first – who offer custom made dog shipping crates and pick their brains a little. Send them your dogs measurements and let them tell you what size they would recommend and why. Also if traveling overseas do your best to avoid using  any “solid wood products” only plywood.


heat treated wood stamp
Heat Treated Stamp Required for International Shipping SOLID WOOD
plywood footing
TIP: Avoid using Solid Wood Products by using layers of plywood to make blocks for footing like on this international rated Pallet

Plywood is exempt from the solid wood import export rules since it is many thin layers of wood adhered together which cuts down on the risk of accidentally importing invasive bugs which can hide in a solid raw piece of wood like a 2×4. The only exception is if the “solid wood product” has been heat treated and stamped, but once you cut that lumber into pieces, questions could arise unless the heat treated stamp is clearly marked and visible on all pieces or sections of the solid wood. Can be extremely tricky.


CONVERTing a Standard Wood Shipping Crate into a Dog Crate:You can easily modify a wood shipping crate

wood shipping crate
Standard wood shipping crate

made for shipping products or military supplies and equipment into a custom dog shipping crate. First you need to purchase a wood crate made for International shipping. Any company who sells shipping crates will offer a crate rated for international shipping. This will insure it is made with wood products that are 100% approved for importing and exporting internationally. You might also want to try and find a wood shipping crate company in your area as they can cost a ton to ship unless you purchase the break down type. They cost way less to ship since they can be shipped un-assembled and also have the advantage of being much easier to store away before and after use.  The break down crate I find intriguing is the QuickCrate their crates snap together in a matter of minutes. (video) Once you have the correct sized crate rated for international shipping converting it is very simple. All you need to do is purchase a replacement door from a Large or Giant sized plastic Kennel.

replacement kennel door
Kennel door for wood crate

They are readily available online at,  you may even find one at a garage sale on a used kennel, or you might have one lying around from an old Kennel your dog has outgrown. Just be sure it is large enough for your dog to enter through. Once you have the door you can use the door as a pattern by lying it on the end panel of the crate and tracing around it to know what size hole to cut. Then cut the door out by first drilling a pilot hole then use a electric jig saw to finish cutting the hole. Be sure and save the left over wood piece.

barrel strike plate
Barrel Strike Plate for creating hinge holes to hold door in place

For creating hinge holes you can drill 4 channels around the door hole then cover the channels once the door is installed with the left over piece of wood cut to make the door opening. Or you can use hardware like

barrel strike plates to cover the hinges and hold the door in place. Then drill

boring bit to modify pet airline carrier
wood bore bits

ventilation holes on the remaining 3 sides panels of the crate with a 1″ wood bore bit (but not the top or bottom panels – airlines require the top and bottom panels to be solid). Add a 1″ wood or metal rail down the entire left and right side of the kennel to help prevent other cargo from being pushed or shifting directly next to the crate which could block the ventilation holes. Stencil 1″ green letters to spell LIVE ANIMAL with directional arrows pointing up on left, right and back side of the crate, clip-on the metal door the food and water serving dishes and you have a custom airline dog crate.


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4 Responsesso far.

  1. We have altered a Skyy crate for our dog to flt from USA to Germany. We used a 2×4. Will that work?

    • Hi Kyle, domestically yes but for international you will possibly have issues with customs since 2×4 is solid wood and potential for carrying pests. You can make a 2×4 from plywood then make your extension rails but solid wood is not an option for international destinations unless EACH piece has a wood burned seal proving it has been heat treated to kill any possible bugs.
      Great question and Thanks for posting.
      Lisa Kelly

  2. Hi there.

    I just came across this blog and found it very helpful.I’m just wondering;IATA LAR 2014 says that wooden kennels need to be build of a plywood that is no less than 120mm thin.What if I have an older wooden kennel and the plywood does not meet the standards of the current LAR?Thanks

    • I think you mean 12 mm not 120 mm. That would be over 4 inches thick. Where are you looking at that?