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The Best Cars For Dogs

Dog lovers know that not every car is a sensible choice for carrying canines so it makes sense to consider your four-legged friend when choosing your new car. Fortunately, many car manufacturers offer a range of pet-friendly accessories and features to help keep your dog happy on the road. The main consideration when shopping for a pet friendly new car which is capable of carrying your canine companion are:

  • Spacious and flexible cabin. Interior space should be on the top of your list when looking for a car suitable for carrying your dog. Look for cars with 60/40 split rear seats or a large interior with plenty of room to easily place a dog cage in the back of the vehicle so your dog can travel safely.
  • Big boot. If you’re thinking of fitting a dog guard in your new vehicle, it's best to pick a car with a sizeable boot that's easily accessible and spacious enough to allow your dog to turn around and get comfy.
  • Low loading sills. Cars with a low loading sill in the boot area will make it easier for pets to jump in and out of the car unaided, this will be especially important as your dog gets older and less agile.
  • Easy clean materials. While plastic seat covers will help protect your car from stains and pet fur while vehicles with easy clean materials will make your car interior even easier to manage.
  • Comfortable ride. A smooth drive will not only benefit the driver but will help keep your pet calm and relaxed throughout the journey. When choosing your vehicle, look out for models with soft suspension, light steering and a raised driving position. These features will ensure your new car is comfortable while on the road.

Top 5 Cars for Dogs

  1. Black Ford Kuga side view

    1 Ford Kuga

    At a whopping 4.5 metres long, the Ford Kuga is big enough to fit in the family, the weekly shop and your four-legged friend thanks to its spacious and versatile interior.

    Inside, the split 60:40 rear seats offers increased flexibility and is capable of holding up to 442-litres with the rear seats in place and an impressive 1,928-litres with them folded down.

    In terms of drive quality, the Kuga’s suspension has been tweaked for comfort while its light electric power steering make it one of the best cars to drive in its class.

    What’s more, Ford also offer a wide range of pet accessories such as Travall+ dog guards which are easy to fit and remove, securing your pet safety in the vehicle and allowing the driver and passengers to travel in safety and comfort.
    FROM £201.45 Personal price per month Incl VAT
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  2. A Rear View of a Red Volkswagen Tiguan

    2 Volkswagen Tiguan

    When it comes to dog-friendly features, the Skoda Superb Estate is hard to beat. In addition to the enormous 660-litre boot with low boot floor, the Superb Estate's front passenger seat can also be moved forward to allow for items up to 3.3 metres long (such as a dog cage) to be carried.

    In terms of drivetrain, the Superb Estate is available in two or four-wheel drive, making it ideal for dog owners who want to take their pet on long winter walks whatever the weather.

    Skoda also offer a wide range of dog safety features including a dog seatbelt adapter, a backseat hammock, a dog guard, a luggage compartment divider and a protective liner for the boot, to help keep your dog safe and happy whilst on the road.

    FROM £234.28 Personal price per month Incl VAT
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  3. Volvo V90 Exterior Silver Back 2

    3 Volvo V90

    When it comes to boot space, the Volvo V90 boasts more than enough space for your four-legged friend to spread out and enjoy the ride.

    Its square shaped 560-litre boot allows you to make full use of all the space on offer while Volvo’s wide range of pet options including a handy dog guard, a load liner and a dog harness, help keep your pooch safely restrained whilst you’re on the road.

    As expected from a Volvo, the V90 is also one of the safest cars around so you can rest assured that your canine companion – along with your passengers – are in safe hands.

    FROM £267.84 Personal price per month Incl VAT
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  4. Land Rover Discovery side profile

    4 Land Rover Discovery

    Last but certainly not least, on the higher end of the scale is the Land Rover Discovery.

    This 5-seater SUV is 4,956mm in length, has a towing capacity of 3,500kg and has a total interior volume of 1,137 litres so you’ve got the perfect amount of space to transport your whole family, including your furry friend and all their accessories – such as a dog crate.

    The Land Rover Discovery has also been designed with clever stowage options and the panoramic roof increases the natural light and spacious feel to the car. Plus, with Dynamic Stability Control and Electronic Power Assisted Steering technology as standard you’ll be pushed to find a better driving experience.

    FROM £539.94 Personal price per month Incl VAT
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We have also put together some top tips on how you can travel safely with your dog in the car.

Travelling safely with dogs

Dog car safety isn’t just about keeping your dog protected, it’s also about taking care of the driver and passengers too. Many modern cars aren’t designed with dogs in mind so it is important to ensure that your dog is safe and comfortable in the car before setting off so they don’t distract the driver or bother the other passengers in the car.

Before You Leave

Before you hit the road, there are some things we recommend you consider to keep your dog happy:

  • Take your dog for a walk. Try and take your pet for a walk before you set off, this will encourage them to rest for the duration of the journey.
  • Avoid feeding your pet before the journey. Don’t feed your dog for at least two hours before you travel as many dogs suffer from motion sickness.
  • Pack plenty of food and water. Bring along a sufficient supply of dog food, as well as plenty of water too.
  • Check with the vet. If this is your dog's first trip in the car, you may want to briefly discuss your plans with your vet.
  • Bring blankets and waste disposal bags. Bring blankets for bedding and don’t forget waste disposal bags for rest stops.
  • Protect your interior. Consider putting plastic seat covers or old sheets on your seats to protect your car from stains and fur. It’s also a good idea to keep plenty of paper towels and cleaning supplies to hand to wipe away muddy paw prints and clean up after any accidents.
  • Don’t forget the lead and collar. Make sure your dog is kept on the lead in public areas and make sure you keep their collar and ID tag on at all times.

Follow the law

Research by the RAC found that more than one in four (27%) dog-owning motorists may be unwittingly breaking the law when transporting their pets by not keeping them restrained when their vehicles are on the road.

Rule 58 of the Highway Code states, drivers need to ensure ‘dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so that they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop too quickly.’

Whilst breaching the Highway Code is not necessarily an offence in itself, there are a number of offences that could potentially arise as result of driving with an unrestrained pet. A motorist could be considered to be driving ‘without due care and attention’ if their pet is allowed to move around the car freely. Gocompare.com also revealed that drivers who don’t restrain dogs and cats while on the move could also be invalidating their car insurance.

There are many ways to comfortably and safely restrain your dog while you’re driving – including a seat belt harness, dog cage or dog guard. These inexpensive and faff free devices will keep you and your furry friend safe in the event of an accident.   

Now, let’s take a closer look at the options available.

Dog Cage

Dog cages are a great way to transport your pet safely while in the car. When choosing a cage for your dog, make sure it is large enough to allow the dog to stand up and turn around, but there is not too much room that the dog could slide around when the car is moving. We also recommend, the cage should be well-ventilated and securely fastened.

For small dogs such as Boston Terrier’s, Dachshund’s or Pug’s, the minimum height required for a crate needs to be around 14/16incs or 36-41cm. For medium-sized dogs such as Border Collie’s, Dalmatian’s or Whippet’s, the minimum height required for a crate needs to be around 23/24ins or 58-61cm. For larger dogs such as Great Dane’s, Bullmastiff’s or Bernese Mountain Dog’s the minimum height required for a crate needs to be around 30/32ins or 76-82cm.

Dog Car Seatbelts and Harness

A dog car seatbelt is simple to use, all you have to do is insert the end with the seat belt clip into the seatbelt holder and attach the other end with the clasp to the dog’s collar. Similarly, with the harness you insert the end with the seat belt clip into the seatbelt holder and put the harness on your dog. The belts work by providing the dog with enough freedom to remain comfortable, but also restraining the dog’s body without damaging their neck in the event of an accident. We’d also recommend getting your dog used to the harness if they aren’t already. You can do this by putting the harness on your dog while at home and give them lots of praise when wearing it.

Dog car harnesses vary in size and are generally based on the weight and girth (the widest part of your dog's chest). A rough size guide is below:

  • XX SMALL – For dogs up to 5 lbs such as a Chihuahua or Teacup Yorkshire Terrier.
  • X SMALL – For dogs between 5-10 lbs such as a Dachshund (miniature), Maltese, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle or Yorkshire Terrier.
  • SMALL – For dogs between 10-25 lbs such as a Cavalier King Charles, Pekingese, Miniature Schnauzer, Pug or Scottish Terrier.
  • MEDIUM – For dogs up to 55 lbs such as a Beagle, Border Collie, Boston Terrier, English Bulldog or French Bulldog.
  • LARGE – For dogs up to 75 lbs such as a Boxer, Dalmatian, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever or Weimaraner.
  • X-LARGE – For dogs 75+ lbs such as Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Dane, Mastiff, Rottweiler or St. Bernard.

Dog Guard

If putting your dog in the boot of your car is your preferred transportation choice, a dog guard is perfect for you. A dog guard works by providing a wire mesh or tubular partition between your car seats and the boot of your car. This ensures your dog cannot climb into the passenger area of your car, and in the case of a head-on collision a dog guard will protect both the occupants in the vehicle and the dog from hitting one another.

When shopping for a dog guard, be sure to check the guard can be securely attached to the interior framework of your vehicle and it can support the weight of your dog in the event of an accident.

Take Regular Breaks

Just as you would with small children, it is also important to take regular breaks when travelling in the car with your dog. Frequent toilet breaks and opportunities to burn off pent-up energy will ensure your dog a happy traveller. When you do stop for a break, be sure to never leave your dog in the car as this could lead to dehydration. Also make sure you keep the car cool by using sun blinds, air conditioning or by opening a window to make sure your dog doesn’t get overheated.

If you are taking 'paws for thought' and considering a new car that is capable of carrying your four-legged friend, contact Nationwide Vehicle Contracts today to discuss your leasing options.

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