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How to find the best dog box for your ute

This dog box, by Queensland's DMW Industries, is a fine example of Australian custom fabrication. (image credit: DMW Industries)

Buying a dog cage for your ute is one of the best things you can do for your furry old mate. If you have a ute and a dog, transporting him or her as safely and securely as possible in your vehicle should be a top priority.

Fitting out your ute with a dog cage, dog box, dog pod, dog box canopy – whatever you want to call it – is a great way to make sure your dog is properly restrained and sheltered from the elements.

Old furry mate is very happy but he might be even happier in a dog pod. (image credit: Matt Campbell) Old furry mate is very happy but he might be even happier in a dog pod. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

A ute dog box comes in many shapes and sizes – well, not really, but each one can differ a bit in terms of materials used, its structure and dimensions.

But while your dog box options may be many and varied, the decision on whether to spend the money should be a simple one – do it.

A dog canopy for your ute can help to transform your work-and-play vehicle into an all-round family-friendly mode of transport. 

And your dog will thank you for it.

For our tips on how to track down the best dog box for your ute, read on.

Different types of dog cage / dog box / dog canopy

  • Jesse Engineering, based on the Gold Coast, has developed the K9 TravelSafe dog safety cage for utes. (image credit: Jesse Engineering) Jesse Engineering, based on the Gold Coast, has developed the K9 TravelSafe dog safety cage for utes. (image credit: Jesse Engineering)
  • Jesse Engineering, based on the Gold Coast, has developed the K9 TravelSafe dog safety cage for utes. (image credit: Jesse Engineering) Jesse Engineering, based on the Gold Coast, has developed the K9 TravelSafe dog safety cage for utes. (image credit: Jesse Engineering)
  • Jesse Engineering, based on the Gold Coast, has developed the K9 TravelSafe dog safety cage for utes. (image credit: Jesse Engineering) Jesse Engineering, based on the Gold Coast, has developed the K9 TravelSafe dog safety cage for utes. (image credit: Jesse Engineering)

A dog box is basically a lockable shelter for your dog while your pooch is in transit – between your job sites, or between home and the beach for a daily walk, or on its way to a holiday destination.

It can be very temporary – as in, a travel cage that’s not fitted to your ute tray, only secured by ratchet straps – or it can be a more-permanent solution which is bolted to your ute so it’s there for the long haul.

Materials used may vary from commercial-grade shade cloth – as part of something as basic as a ute tray dog shade – through to steel or preferably aluminium. 

The ute dog box dimensions will vary depending on which ute model and variant you have, how much space you want to dedicate in that tray to a ute tray dog box, and how big your dog actually is.

Some dog cages have a traditional cage-like appearance; others may have a covered section – all should allow for maximum ventilation via Amplimesh-type sides or something similar.

A dog cage or pod may have a single door and compartment for your dog, with a divider separating your dog from whatever is loaded into the other side of the tray-wide canopy; or it may be one cage divided into two sections, so it can accommodate two dogs.

Some dog cages have forward-opening doors (like a regular door); some have straight or bent gull-wing doors that open out to the sides of the cage itself and the ute’s tray. Look for gas struts on each door.

Some cages may even have a canvas tent-like zippable flap over the sides that can be unzipped and opened – to give your dog even more fresh air, or zipped up to protect your dog from nasty weather.

What are your dog cage options?

An MRT dog cage with an open-air and covered section. (image credit: MRT) An MRT dog cage with an open-air and covered section. (image credit: MRT)

There are plenty of dog cages / boxes /pods for sale, and your options range from a basic off-the-shelf cage, through to a custom-made dog cage for your ute. Remember: the same rule applies when buying a dog house as it should to any purchase: if a product is so cheap it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Look elsewhere. Spend the money and get something great, rather than suffer a ‘false economy’ scenario.

Most canopy fabricators of note will give you the option of going for one of their standard models (which suits your vehicle, of course), or having one custom-made to exactly meet your needs – and those of your dog. Ute dog box designs and ute dog box plans may, as a result, be quite different between customers.

A few quick tips: look for a ute dog house that has mill finish or power-coating options; has top-quality lockable latches, hinges and stainless-steel striker plates (which guide the lock into place); and a dog-storage solution that blends in well with your ute. You don’t want it to look like a prisoner-transport vehicle.

How much does a dog cage / dog box / dog canopy cost?

It pays to spend more and get a top-quality dog pod, like this one from DMW Industries. (image credit: DMW Industries) It pays to spend more and get a top-quality dog pod, like this one from DMW Industries. (image credit: DMW Industries)

This is a tricky question to answer because your dog box will be very specific to your ute and your needs.

For a broad idea of pricing, a ute tray dog shade (made from commercial-grade shade cloth) costs $150 and a removeable aluminium double-door dog crate (not waterproof) costs $250.

It’s upwards of $800 for a more substantial dog cage. 

For a proper, top-quality, fixed-to-your-ute dog cage – perhaps one that’s part of a larger all-tray canopy – prices are more in the range of $3000 and up.

If you’re looking to get your canopy and dog pod done all at the same time, one of Norweld’s basic dog pod canopy package (a whole-tray canopy including a two-door, full-length ventilated two-dog pod, as well as dry storage, full floor, spare-tyre mount, jerry can holder, dual-stage ladder, and either a tradie roof rack, multi roof rack, or roof top tent frame) costs from $9350.

Do your thorough research, work out a realistic budget, approach well-respected brands and manufacturers for an accurate quote and you’ll be on the right track to finding the perfect ute dog house for your hound.

Who are the leading brands & manufacturers? Best places to buy?

Dog cages, like this one from MRT, can be highly functional but also look pretty good. (image credit: MRT) Dog cages, like this one from MRT, can be highly functional but also look pretty good. (image credit: MRT)

The good news is there are plenty of Australian companies that are well known for producing well-designed, top-quality custom fabrication work and making dog-storage solutions is part of their skill-set. 

Some of those companies, such as MRT, have branches in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane; some, such as Norweld, have branches in Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, SA and WA.

Visit DMW Industries here

Visit Jesse Engineering here

Visit MRT here

Visit Norweld here

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