Best cars for large dogs

In search of a car big enough for a large dog? Here are eight canine-friendly vehicles, including enormous estates and spacious SUVs.

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Jul 22, 2020

If fitting a dog into your next car is one of your top priorities, you may have already found our guide to the best cars for dogs. We included everything from a city car fit for a Chihuahua to an SUV that’s perfect for a Great Dane. Don't think that all big cars are suitable for big dogs, though. There are even a handful of more compact cars that can cater for colossal canines.

If your dog could talk, it would tell you that there’s more to a canine-friendly car than a big boot. If you have a large dog, it needs room to sit down, lie down and even turn around. This is especially important if you’re going on a long journey, because some dogs get car sick. And trust us, you don't want to have to clean doggy sick from the back of a car.

There are other things to consider, such as having access to tie-down hooks, because you should ensure your dog is suitably restrained in the boot, so they're safe and don't distract you. The last thing you want is for your dog to get injured in the car - espeically if you need to stop quickly - or cause you to have a crash. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard could all help here.

Look for a car with good ride comfort and fine handling. Your dog won’t thank you if he or she is being thrown around the boot like a plastic ball in a lottery machine if the suspension is too firm and bump or if the car rolls around corners like a boat in high winds.

Think about the height of the boot, too - we're not just talking how high the roof is, but how low the floor is. As a dog gets older, they might struggle to jump into a car with a high loading lip - and you won’t enjoy having to give them a lift up every time. Make sure the boot floor is flush with the rear bumper, too, as this will make it easier for the dog to get in and out of the car.

Where possible, we’d recommend fitting a dog cage for maximum safety, so see what options are available for any cars that stand out to you on the BuyaCar website. We’d also suggest buying a rubber boot mat. Not only will this protect the carpet, it will also be easier to remove the remnants of a muddy walk in the countryside.

Here are eight cars that are suitable for large dogs - whether you fancy a large upmarket car for your well behaved dog, a more compact high-riding crossover for a dog that can jump up into the boot or a tough pick-up for your forever muddy mutt.

Best cars for large dogs

1. Kia Ceed Sportswagon

Used deals from £12,790
Monthly finance from £185

Your dog won’t be too interested in Kia’s excellent seven-year warranty, but there are many reasons why the Ceed Sportswagon is ideal for canine transport duties.

The current Kia Ceed Sportswagon was introduced in 2018. Don’t be fooled by the ‘sports’ part of Sportwagon - there’s nothing remotely sporting about this Kia estate. Instead, this is a car that majors on practicality, comfort, common sense and value for money.

The boot offers more luggage capacity than the Ford Focus Estate. In fact, you’d need to splash out on a large SUV or a bigger estate to get more dog room. There’s also a low loading lip, a flush floor, tie-down hooks in the boot and a dual height luggage area floor across the range. You can raise it up to store your dog paraphernalia below, or lower it to give your dog a little more headroom.

Even the entry-level Sportwagon ‘2’ comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, an eight-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital radio, reversing camera and cruise control. Avoid the larger alloys if you want to preserve the car’s ride comfort.

KIA CEED SPORTSWAGON BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Dacia Logan MCV Stepway

Used deals from £7,500
Monthly finance from £123

Ask yourself this question: does your dog care about the badge on the front of your car? We suspect he or she is more interested in a large stick, a squeaky tennis ball and a long run in the park. Which brings us on to the Dacia Logan MCV Stepway.

This is Britain’s cheapest estate car. What it lacks in glamour and overall quality, it more than makes for in terms of space, practicality and pure value for money. You could save money by opting for the standard Logan MCV, but we think the Stepway’s raised ride height and chunky styling is worth the additional expense. Besides, you get more for your money, with the Stepway offering a more generous level of standard equipment.

The boot is massive. Although 573 litres is a meaningless figure in isolation, that’s actually around 50 litres more than you’ll find in the far more expensive Peugeot 3008 SUV. It’s even 13 litres more than you’ll find in the Volvo V90 - a much larger and significantly more expensive estate car.

There’s loads of headroom for your dog, plenty of space for lying down, and you can even order an all-in-one boot liner for protecting the boot and bumper. Your dog will definitely appreciate the low loading lip and the amount of daylight in the boot.

DACIA LOGAN MCV BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Citroen Berlingo

Used deals from £13,490
Monthly finance from £213

As a dog lover, you’re probably aware that the tallest dog ever is Zeus, a Great Dane measuring 44 inches tall. That’s one inch taller than the previous record holder, the aptly-named Giant George. Dogs like these need a big car, which is where the Citroen Berlingo comes in.

It’s based on a van, but Citroen has done a top job of disguising its commercial vehicle roots. Squint and it looks a little like an SUV. But here’s the thing: you won’t find this much space and practicality in an SUV. There are two versions available, ‘M’ and ‘XL’, with up to 4,000 litres of load capacity and three metres of length available. Indeed, the ‘XL’ is large enough to carry a kayak - inside the car.

So it’s ideal for your dog. Highlights include a load area that’s large enough to create a mobile kennel, a very low loading lip, plus a rear window that opens independently from the tailgate, so you can put stuff in the boot without the fear of Giant George making a bid for freedom. You even get a luggage shelf that can be configured in two positions, dividing the boot into compartments. It can even support a load of 25kg. Not enough for Zeus, but it might be enough for your dog.

CITROEN BERLINGO BUYERS' GUIDE

4. BMW 3 Series Touring

Used deals from £10,495
Monthly finance from £183

The BMW 3 Series Touring isn’t the most practical estate car in its class, but it’s more than up to the challenge of carrying a couple of large dogs. The 495-litre boot is reasonable, but you can extend this to 1,500 litres with the rear seats folded down.

But there’s more, because all models get an electric tailgate, so the boot opens and shuts at the touch of a button. Find a 3 Series Touring with the optional Comfort Access system and you can open the boot by waving your Hunter wellies beneath the bumper. Be warned: as with all electric tailgates, your dogs will have ample time to make a run for it if they're not well behaved.

Fortunately, the 3 Series Touring comes with tie-down hooks on the floor, bag hooks for the dog lead on the side, plus a folding floor mechanism. You also get a handy independently opening window, so you can load the shopping without worrying about the dog getting out.

Because it’s a BMW, the 3 Series Touring corners with very little body roll when cornering, so your dog will approve of the driving experience. We’d recommend the SE trim for its dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

BMW 3 SERIES TOURING BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

Used deals from £9,500
Monthly finance from £149

The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is the crossover you forgot about. Or maybe it’s the crossover you didn’t know existed. Either way, we think it’s worth a second look, particularly the facelifted version introduced in 2016.

‘Facelifted’ is a bit of a red herring, because the front end styling is still a bit of an acquired taste. Not that your dog will care, because the boot offers the same amount of space as you’ll find in a Nissan Qashqai. Sure, the boot is a little on the high side, but there’s no lip for your dog to jump over.

There’s a secondary boot floor, which you can remove if your dog requires more headroom. You can also get a Suzuki boot liner, a dog guard for above the rear seats and a longitudinal partition grille for separating two parts of the boot.

The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross offers exceptional value for money, with prices starting from around £10,000. For that you get a car that’s still under warranty, powered by a choice of powerful and efficient petrol engines, and loaded with the kind of gear that would cost extra on most rival vehicles.

SUZUKI SX4 S-CROSS BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Land Rover Discovery Sport

Used deals from £16,995
Monthly finance from £257

If you can’t bear the thought of a supersize SUV but want the off-road ability and chunky styling, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is just the ticket. Although it offers the option of seven seats, the Discovery Sport is about the same length and width as the Skoda Octavia, which makes it relatively easy to park and manoeuvre.

With the third row of seats folded down, the boot offers 754 litres of luggage space, which is easily enough for a couple of large dogs. There’s a bit of a leap to get into the boot, but the flush loading lip ensures the dogs will be comfortable in no time at all.

To keep your dog really happy, you should consider one of the optional premium pet packs. Available for every model in the Land Rover family, there are three different packs, each one designed to make your dog’s life just that little bit easier.

There’s a space protection pack, comprising a quilted load space liner, full-length luggage partition and spill-resistant water bowl. A transportation pack, which includes a foldable pet carrier, spill-resistant water bowl and load space rubber mat. Finally, there’s a care and access pack, which includes an access ramp and portable shower.

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Jaguar XF Sportbrake

Used deals from £22,871
Monthly finance from £330

You could buy the Jaguar XF Sportbrake on the strength of its looks alone, and we wouldn’t blame you. But when you’ve finished drooling like a Saint Bernard, there’s the small matter of its suitability for your dog to consider.

We’ll start with the numbers, because the XF Sportbrake offers 565 litres of boot space. That’s more than you’ll find in the Volvo V90, about the same as you get in the BMW 5 Series Touring, but down on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate. That said, even an Amazon warehouse feels less cavernous than the E-Class.

An electric tailgate is fitted as standard, plus you get some handy tie-down points, a power socket and rear seats that can be folded down via a lever in the boot. It’s worth mentioning the ease at which your dog can step up into the boot - there’s no SUV-style high jump required here.

You can also choose from a couple of pet packs. One features a full height luggage partition and rubber loadspace mat, while the other exchanges the mat for a liner tray. Either way, your dog will feel right at home in an XF Sportbrake.

JAGUAR XF BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Mitsubishi L200

Used deals from £19,295
Monthly finance from £470

We end with a wildcard and a chance to visit the van section of the BuyaCar website. Visit a rural area of the country and it won’t be long before you spot a pick-up truck earning its keep. These things are incredibly popular, thanks to their go-anywhere toughness and cavernous load area that’s separated from the cabin.

What’s the appeal? Well, a modern pick-up is as good to drive as a family SUV, with many of them offering similar levels of safety technology. Running costs tend to be higher, but there are tax benefits associated with running a commercial vehicle. And you can get a load cover to keep dirty dogs separate from the cabin but protected from the elements.

We’re recommending the latest Mitsubishi L200, as BuyaCar prices have crept below the £25,000 mark. This is a much-improved L200, especially in Barbarian and Barbarian X trim. Opt for the Barbarian X and you get the likes of a heated steering wheel, heated seats, Apple CarPlay and the latest driver assistance systems.

Best of all, if you order a separate hardtop with opening side windows, you can create a kind of dog kennel on wheels. After a muddy walk, your dog jumps into the load area, leaving the cabin free of mud and smells. Perfect.

MITSUBISHI L200 BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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