Most SUVs will transport your dog from Point A to Point B without problems. However, not all SUVs are the same when it comes to dog-friendly features. When choosing an SUV, you must pick the best SUV for your dog so that they stay comfortable and safe when traveling with you and your family.
Learn what makes an SUV dog-friendly and what features to look for when choosing an SUV that can safely transport your furry friend.
What Makes an SUV Dog-Friendly?
At a glance, the spaciousness and versatility of SUVs make them seem like the perfect vehicle for dogs. However, SUVs are designed for human passengers, so not all of them comfortably accommodate canine friends. A good SUV for dogs will provide space and comfort for animal and human riders without sacrificing either one’s safety.
1. Tie-down hooks
When it comes to dog-friendliness, safety features come above all else. Any SUV you purchase should have tie-down hooks that allow you to secure your dog’s harness, crate, and belongings. It’s easy for your dog to get loose in the car or their crate to move around during the ride without these fastenings.
Your dog is just as important to you as the rest of your family, so opting for a model with tie-down hooks is vital to keeping your dog safe in the event of a tie blowout or collision.
2. Lots of interior space
You’ll need to fit your dog’s crate inside your SUV, so look for a vehicle with lots of interior space. A spacious backseat allows your dog to stretch outside the crate and gives you room to bring fun supplies like tennis balls, treats, and rope toys.
Ideally, your SUV should have dedicated cargo space where your dog can rest during the ride, so you don’t need to sacrifice the back seat. However, that’s not an option for everyone. The next-best solution is a model with a foldable back row of seats. When the seats are folded flat, you’ll have much more room for your dog.
3. Low ride height
Ride height is the space between your SUV’s tires and body. An SUV with a higher ride height will make the ride much more bumpy, which isn’t a pleasant experience for your dog.
A low ride height means a smooth ride, making the drive more comfortable and less stressful for your pup. Opt for an SUV with a ride height of around 173 mm to 176 mm, which is available on some Kia and Hyundai models.
4. Accessible rear hatch
Getting your pup or their crate into the car through the side doors can be tough. A wide rear hatch makes it easier for you to put your dog’s belongings inside and for your dog to get in.
In addition to width, you’ll want your SUV’s rear hatch to be low in height. The height might not seem like a big deal if you have a young, big dog, but smaller and older dogs could have difficulty hopping up into the trunk and benefit from it being closer to the ground.
Easy access to the hatch isn’t just for your dog. SUVs with hands-free hatches can make your trips much more convenient since you can still open the hatch with full hands.
5. Water-resistant interior
If your dog goes for a romp in the river, you’ll want an easy-to-clean SUV interior. The majority of cars don’t have water-resistant upholstery, but some are easier to clean than others. Depending on how messy your dog tends to get, you may want to choose an SUV with an interior that’s easy to clean off, like leather or vinyl.
Of course, even if the interior is easy to clean, you’ll likely still want to take steps to protect your car. Lining your cargo hold with a waterproof cargo liner provides shielding from saliva, accidents, or other messes your dog may make. You might also consider seat covers to guard the seats against dirt, loose hair, and scratch marks.
6. Temperature control
Almost all cars have dedicated heating and cooling systems these days, but they don’t always cover the full interior of the car. Ensure your SUV has an efficient temperature control system so your dog can warm up when it’s chilly and cool off when it’s hot out. Temperature control is critical in a warm climate since it’s always hotter inside a car.
When looking into an SUV, check the temperature control in the spot where your dog typically rides. For instance, if your dog rides in the cargo hold, ensure the heat and air conditioning reach the cargo hold.
The Most Dog-Friendly SUVs
Below are three of the most dog-friendly SUVs based on features like spaciousness and easy cleanup.
1. Volvo V60
Whether driving to the dog park or taking your canine companion on a road trip, the Volvo V60 is a dog-friendly car. The V60 is spacious and has a stabilizer, easing bumpiness and giving you and your dog a much more comfortable ride. As a bonus, the V60 has a touchless rear hatch, so you don’t need your hands free to pop open the trunk for your dog.
Keep in mind that the V60 isn’t built for rough rides. Dog owners who plan on hiking, camping, or taking other trips that put you and your dog on rugged terrain might want to look into an SUV better equipped for off-roading.
2. Kia Soul
The Kia Soul is a small but mighty SUV that dog owners will appreciate. It has a dedicated cargo hold, but you can fold down the rear seats for more room if it doesn’t have enough space. Since the car is also a bit shorter, the rear hatch is lower to the ground, making it easy for dogs of any size to get inside.
However, the Soul is a compact SUV, so it’s better suited for one dog. It won’t have the space for multiple big dogs and people.
3. Jeep Wrangler
If you’re planning on venturing into the great outdoors with your dog, the Jeep Wrangler is your best bet. Designed for more rugged landscapes, the Wrangler has plenty of room for your dog and hooks that allow you to secure your dog and their crate inside. It’s also much easier to clean than other SUVs.
While it’s not waterproof, the interior can be easily wiped down, and you can spray the floor with a hose if it gets messy.
Since the Wrangler is an off-roader, it has a reasonably high ride height, which means a bumpier ride for your pooch. The open-air aspect may not appeal to dog owners who fear their dog getting loose.
Finding the Most Dog-Friendly SUV with SUViews
Once you’re well-versed in the world of SUVs, you’ll have no trouble picking out the best model for you and your canine companion to ride comfortably and in style.