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Top four cars for dog owners

Why do you ask, Two Dogs? Tim Robson's own Poppy and Tin Tin pictured here.
Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist
CarsGuide

27 Apr 2017 • 13 min read

If you're a dog person, then quite often your choice of car comes a long way down the order of priorities. But what if you could go car shopping with the sole notion that all your new ride had to do was look after the fur children? For example, the small Kia Rondo wagon is a massive hit with furry friend fiends.

We thought the same thing, so here's a list of the four best cars we reckon go with dog ownership – and we've also applied our patented (not really) CarsGuide Dog-O-Meter score to each.

We'll also list the cars in rough order of size – your giant Schnauzer isn't getting into a Mazda MX-5 after all… or is it?

Of course, it goes without saying that you need to carry your dog in a safe and legal manner at all times and they should never drive the car. Okay, maybe sometimes.

Best for toy dogs

Honda Jazz

  • 2015 Honda Jazz 2015 Honda Jazz
  • 2015 Honda Jazz 2015 Honda Jazz
  • 2015 Honda Jazz 2015 Honda Jazz

It's stable, it's cute, and it's got a good quality cloth interior with clever functionality that allows for an owner to carry their Pomeranian, Papillon or Pug, a pooch carrier and more in its load space.

A dark interior also helps hide stains, and it's a doddle to park at the pet shop.

7/10 paws
7/10 paws

Best for small dogs

Citroen Cactus

  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus manual 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus manual
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus semi-automatic 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus semi-automatic
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus semi-automatic selector 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus semi-automatic selector
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus
  • 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus

Especially now as those crazy French have added an auto petrol version of the quirkiest of quirky Citroens, the Cactus has surged to the front of the pack (see what I did there?) when it comes to lugging poodles. And cavoodles, moodles, St Berdoodles, cadoodles and spoodles.

So why the Cactus? Easy – there's no real room for normal-sized humans in the back seat, so small pups are going to love it. 

And on a safety side, the rear windows doesn't open in the traditional sense, so your wee best mate is not going to try and jump out of your car – like this naughty little guy did.

It's also pretty simple and robust in its use of materials for seats and interior.

8/10 paws
8/10 paws

Honourable Mention – Volkswagen Golf wagon

Even though your little mate will easily fit in a regulation sized Golf, the wagon drives just as well and fits more stuff in the back. Like more dogs.

Best for medium dogs

Nissan X-Trail

  • Nissan X-Trail ST 2015 Nissan X-Trail ST 2015
  • Nissan X-Trail ST 2015 Nissan X-Trail ST 2015
  • Nissan X-Trail ST 2015 Nissan X-Trail ST 2015
  • Nissan X-Trail ST 2015 Nissan X-Trail ST 2015

If your taste in pooches runs to something a little bit larger, you might want to look at a medium sized SUV, and the Nissan X-Trail jumps straight to the top of the queue.

It's not just that it's a competent five seat, five-door SUV with a third row of seats for the mere humans. It's mainly because Nissan's European arm has already led the way in showing other car companies just how to build the ultimate dog-friendly car.

As you can see in this video, Nissan engineers – and dog lovers, obviously – have outfitted an X-Trail with an array of ingenious additions designed to make the car safer for the fur babies and easier on their humans.

There's an automated food dispenser, a fixed water bowl, warm air ducting straight into the boot section and even a screen and speaker so your dogs can see and hear you.

Nissan engineers have outfitted an X-Trail with an array of ingenious additions designed to make the car safer for the fur babies and easier on their humans. Nissan engineers have outfitted an X-Trail with an array of ingenious additions designed to make the car safer for the fur babies and easier on their humans.

Combine that with a hidden shower hose, doggy ramp and quilted wipe-down leather interior and we have a clear winner.

9/10 paws
9/10 paws

Honourable Mention – Skoda Yeti

Even though it's set to disappear from our roads in the next 12 months, the boxy, airy Yeti's clever seat configurations make life easy for pooch and handler. You can even remove the rear seats if your Appenzeller Sennenhunde needs more room.

Best for large dogs

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

  • 2009 Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited 2009 Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited
  • 2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
  • 2001 Jeep Wrangler with WW II Willys Jeep 2001 Jeep Wrangler with WW II Willys Jeep
  • 2007 Jeep Wrangler Sport with Jeep Compass (red) 2007 Jeep Wrangler Sport with Jeep Compass (red)

If your taste in doggos runs to the larger size, you need something that's correspondingly large. Big hounds like mastiffs and Rhodesian ridgebacks also have a propensity to shed more hair than a beauty salon on a busy Saturday, and their big paws – and claws – also make short work of any car interior that's even vaguely orientated towards humans.

Enter the Jeep Wrangler, the Swiss Army knife of dog carriers.

Sure, it's not the greatest thing to drive on road (though it's far from the worst), but its ability to be configured in a variety of ways gives you the ability to build a large dog carrier par excellence. Want to take the roof off? There are plenty of places to attach harnesses to keep Fido in the back. 

There's also a great range of accessories available for the Wrangler, including this great netting system that keeps things inside the car when things get rough.

Add to that an interior that's designed to get dirty, and the Wrangler is a prime choice for canine fans.

8/10 paws
8/10 paws

Honourable Mention – Isuzu MU-X

While 4x4 utes are a logical dog lugger, a 4x4 wagon is more comfortable and offers more security for that furry family member. The MU-X has a great ride and a bomb-proof interior to boot.

What's your best dog carrying tip? Tell us in the comments below.

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