Best cars for dogs

Find the ideal pup-mobile with the right accessories for your pooch: these are the best cars for dogs

BuyaCar team
Oct 3, 2017

Rover may be an extinct make of car but its canine namesake is alive and well – and most love the prospect of a ride in the family motor.

But is not as simple as opening the back door and letting your pooch leap in. Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that animals must be restrained to avoid distracting you, and to reduce the risk of injury in a crash.

So if you want to avoid ending up in the doghouse, you’ll need to make sure you get the right car and the right equipment.

Read on or jump straight to the best cars for dogs


Best cars for dogs: the requirements

As well as looking for a car with a big boot, you might want to avoid three-door cars, which can make it more difficult to coax your dog into the back. It's probably best to avoid suede-effect upholstery too. Another problem can be found with taller car that are too high for dogs to jump in. 

Nissan’s solution (below) is a car with an integrated ramp that slides out from under the car so you can walk your dog up and into the boot.

The firm’s X-Trail 4Dogs also has a pull-out shower so you can wash the mud off after a long walk and a drier, too, so they can snuggle down in a comfortable bed in the car’s easy-clean, leather-trimmed boot. There’s also a two-way camera so you can check up on each other and an electronic treat dispenser with accompanying no-spill water bowl.

Unfortunately the Nissan X-Trail is a concept car - built with creativity and imagination - but not with the aim of selling it to customers.

However, it does have one feature that’s the starting point of every good pup-mobile: a harness.


Making your car fit for a dog

For a comfortable and safe journey for you and your dog, the RSPCA advises securing your dog tightly and in the passenger compartment if possible. Here are its top tips

  • Ensure your dog is wearing its collar and ID tag in case you are involved in an accident and the dog escapes.
  • Think twice about letting them into the front seat because the airbag could severely injure them if it inflates. 
  • Consider using a crate to contain your dog. Larger crates will need to go into the boot, but this is a crumple zone designed to collapse and absorb crash energy in an impact, so your dog may be less safe in a crash.
  • If you carry your dog loose in the boot, safety bars will prevent them being launched into the passenger compartment but they could still be injured by flying into them, so use a harness to secure them to the car.
  • The most secure harnesses clip into the seatbelt lock or - even better - connect to a car’s Isofix child seat points, such as the Sleepypod Clickit. A system such as the Kurgo Auto Zip Line allows your dog to move around the back seat while still being secure. 
  • To be doubly safe, fit a tough, barrier between the front seats.


Best cars for dogs

Every car in the list below is especially pooch-friendly, offering easy access for dogs and a range of accessories to safely and efficiently transport them.

Skoda Citigo

Best car for dogs like Chihuahuas

The Citigo and the Chihuahua were made for each other. Both are small, nippy and light (on your pocket, in the case of the Citigo).

What’s more, every Skoda is available with items from the company’s dog safety and comfort range of harnesses, hammocks, seat covers and boot liners. The Citigo gets the option of the Dog Safety Belt. With a simple clunk-click of this specially developed belt, available in a range of sizes, even the cheekiest Chihuahua will be restrained on the back seat where they belong. And it handily clicks into a lead for seamless car-to-walk manoeuvres.

Read the Skoda Citigo buying guide

Paws up Comes with optional harness.
Paws down Boot too small, making it uncomfortable and dangerous for a dog.

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Mini Cooper ALL4 Countryman

Best for dogs like Border Collies

Like a Border Collie, the Mini Countryman is great at rounding up families and heading for the hills. The dog may be able to scramble over craggier outcrops and scoot around smaller sixpences but the Mini ALL4 Countryman won't be far behind.

The interior’s probably too smart to allow your dog to muddy it but the boot is as practical as they come, and big, too. With the back seats in place there’s 450 litres of space, 70 litres more than a VW Golf, but fold them down and there’s 1,390.

The boot lip is relatively low, although the ALL4’s off-road design means the vehicle is slightly more raised than the standard car. However, that won't be an obstacle for an agile Border Collie.

Holding a lead with one hand and opening the boot with the other can be risky, as well as a chore. The ALL4 has that covered, too, with gesture-control of the bootlid on higher-spec models. Just waggle your foot below the rear bumper and it opens. A tough, optional floor mat for the boot keeps muddy paws off the trim.

Read the Mini Countryman buying guide

Paws up Bootlid gesture control
Paws down Like all SUVs, a bit high off the ground for smaller dogs

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Ford B-Max

Best cars for dogs like whippets

It’s not much longer or wider than a Ford Fiesta, but the B-Max’s sliding doors, and tall roof make it much more practical, as does the lack of a central pillar between the front and rear seats when you open the door.

It means you can really lean in and secure your mischievous whippet. When you’re in the front seat, you’ll be able to keep an eye on them, thanks to a mirror that’s trained on the rear seats. A dog guard (also known as a load-retention guard) that sits between the front and rear seats is available.

The B-Max isn’t too high, so a medium-size dog such as a whippet can easily jump up into the car; you won’t have to lift a finger.

Read the Ford B-Max buying guide

Paws up Easy access to the rear seats.
Paws down Rear visibility is limited even without a floppy-eared head in the back.

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VW Tiguan

Best car for dogs like poodles

Understated style with intelligence - and that’s just the dog. The latest hi-tech Tiguan is closer to the ground than its predecessor, making it easier for small but chic dogs to climb aboard with dignity.

But what really sets this model apart is the Tiguan Pet accessory package. It includes a sturdy grille that separates the boot from the passenger compartment. There’s also a flexible boot liner perfect for the Tiguan’s variable-height boot floor. It has a raised edge, too, that prevents dirt and liquids slopping over the sides.

There’s a transparent film to protect the rear bumper from scratchy claws as your dog climbs aboard and tie-down hooks for attaching a harness

As well as the pet kit, you can also link some GoPro cameras to your car’s dashboard display, helping you to keep an eye on your pet while you’re driving.

Paws up Clever Pet accessory package.
Paws down You need to buy a harness in addition to the Pet pack

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Volvo XC90

Best for dogs like Great Danes

A Volvo XC90 and a Great Dane: if only the dog were called a Great Swede, they’d be perfectly matched. The male can grow to 86cm in height and weigh up to 90kg; too much for the back of a Skoda Citigo but well within the limits of the boot of a Volvo XC90, which, for the record is 451 litres with all seven seats in place. However, you’d probably want to lower the third row to give the poor animal stretching room.

As you’d expect, the big XC90 has ample power but more impressive are its safety features, there primarily to keep human occupants safe but along the way, their canine companions, too. The XC90 has multiple airbags extending to the rear, cameras that can detect pedestrians as well as animals (including Great Danes) ahead of you and warn of their presence, and automatic braking.

There’s an optional accessory gate to keep your dog safe and secure, and which is easy to open and close from outside the car. Combined with the optional protective grille and load compartment divider, you can create one or two separate dog compartments.

Read the Volvo XC90 buying guide

Paws up Clever dog gate and compartment package
Paws down It’s not Danish

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Citroen Berlingo Multispace

Best for dogs like labradors

The Berlingo was designed for mutts like Labradors, who love to bring the countryside home with them.

Its twin, electric sliding doors mean your hands are free to keep a firm grasp on the lead. Meanwhile, the hard-wearing interior will withstand a scrub if you forget to cover the seats.

The floor of the car is low, so a large labrador can just wander in, and there’s enough space in the back to get comfortable.

There’s plenty of space in the boot, and the back window of the boot opens separately, so you can poke through treats without worrying that your dog will leap out. Secure, underfloor storage cubbyholes are perfect for snacks, while the optional Modutop overhead locker is ideal for the other canine essentials, from harnesses to plastic bags.

Paws up Tough, convenient and practical
Paws down Ride can be bumpy – watch that travel sickness

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Dacia Duster

Best car for dogs like Irish Setters

When your dog needs its daily bound through a forest, then you need to ensure you can navigate muddy car parks come rain or shine.

A brand new four-wheel drive car could be yours for under £12,000 with some recent Dacia Duster deals, and you can pick up a second-hand Duster for half the cost. They should get you to the least crowded end of a boggy country car park.

At that price, you may not be too worried about your dog leaving a trail of mud through the car, but you can order a Protection Pack, which includes a tough plastic boot liner and extra protection from scratches on the top of the bumper and boot opening. You’ll also get parking sensors in case your dog distracts you while reversing.

Read the Dacia Duster buying guide

Paws up Tough, cheap and available with four-wheel drive
Paws down A bit ordinary for a sophisticated Setter

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Land Rover Discovery

Best for dogs like St Bernards

A large working dog bred to rescue people from some of Europe’s highest mountains will feel right at home in one of the best hill-climbing cars.

The new Land Rover Discovery uses the latest technology to ford rivers, scrabble up rubble-strewn slopes and navigate deep muddy ruts, no matter that it’s toughest test in real life may only be through a downpour on the M1.

A standard powered bootlid makes opening the car slow but handsfree, and there’s plenty of space - with two of the seven seats folded - for a big St Bernard to settle down.

The back of the car is perfect for a snooze, thanks to the Discovery’s comfortable ride. There’s an optional protective kit that’s perfect for keeping dog paws off the leather and carpets. It includes washable rubber mats, a large boot liner with retaining lip to keep it secure, as well as protective and wipeable seat covers.
For smaller pups, you can divide the boot space into two with a special guard: half for your dog and the other half for luggage.

Paws up Conquers those dog walks other cars cannot reach
Paws down Its price would buy a lifetime’s supply of Pedigree Chum – and then some.

Search for new and used Land Rover Discovery deals


Dog images: GlobalP/


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