We’re a nation of pet lovers and dogs need a lot of attention. The bigger the pooch, the more exercise and days out it requires for good health and vitality. Walks in the county and on the beach are great, but you’ll need a sturdy and spacious vehicle to get you there.
Whilst we’ve looked at how to keep dogs safe in your car during the heat of the summer, what about the best vehicles for keeping them comfortable on the road? In this article we explore the top cars that offer for a smooth ride on long journeys with robust interiors so you and Rover can arrive in style, where-ever you’re going.
What to look for in a dog friendly car
The following attributes are non-negotiable in our opinion when it comes to carrying dogs in your car:
- Hard-wearing – dogs can chew and scratch upholstery and surfaces, and even a good tail wag can sometimes be quite damaging to more fragile interiors. Ideally you’ll want a strong cabin space preferably lined with vinyl that can be wiped clean. Leather is the next best option, but this isn’t quite as scratch proof as vinyl.
- Size – your dog will want to be able to move around, pad out, curl up and sit around in the back of your car. Ideally you want a large enough space for bigger dogs like Labradors and Huskies, whilst you may want to consider a dog carrier if your pug or dachshund is dwarfed by your cavernous boot.
- Comfort – it’s not only us humans that enjoy features like heating and climate control. Wet dogs on cold days will love the warmth, and air con will help them breathe easy on the hottest days. Believe it or not even tinted windows can help keep your dog cool by reflecting the sunshine away.
According the Highway Code, Rule 57 states that animals in vehicles must be restrained in such a way that they cannot cause a distraction to the driver or injure themselves if the vehicle stops suddenly at speed. It goes on to state that seat belt harnesses, pet carriers, dog cages, dividers and bars are the best way of achieving suitable restraint.
If your driving is erratic and dangerous because of a dog in the car, then the police can stop you, fine you up to £2,500 and award 9 penalty points for driving without due care and attention. And if your dog causes an accident whilst you’re behind the wheel this could even invalidate your insurance.
Our choice of cars
We’ve used our motoring skills and knowledge of the market to hunt down the best cars out there for pooches. Naturally we’ve gone for those rugged rides with spacious boots to handle trips to the country with room for man’s (and woman’s) best friend in the back. Here’s the list…
This rather punchy SUV can take up to 7 passengers and has a luxurious interior to match the sleek lines of the exterior’s profile. You’re looking at a fuel-efficient engine to help with those trips out to the beach and rear climate control can help keep the car cool on the warmest days for the panting passenger in the back. And speaking of the boot, there’s an optional divider to separate the cargo area, which is a welcome break from the dog bars.
A real big car favourite that packs a 430 litre boot, which whilst not the most spacious on our list, still gives you plenty of room for Rover. You can lower or raise the boot to help the dog jump into the car, and the boards can be flipped to expose easy wipe surfaces. It’s comfortable, a joy to drive, and as a mid-sized MUV this means it can handle the country car parks on even the wettest days following a good walk. Optional extras include a rather useful dog guard.
This boxy Honda has plenty of storage pockets, allowing you to keep leads, dirty balls and towels stashed away. Get more space for the bigger hound with folding rear seats, which is useful if you own a Great Dane. The long flat floor is generous to say the least, and the low boot sill will allow even the littlest hobo to jump up on its own legs into the vehicle.
One of the Ford family’s largest vehicles and a great option for couples with kids. You get 7 big seats and even with a bum popped on each one there’s still 285 litres in the back for a large woofer or two small sub woofers – and yes, we’re not talking about speakers. More dogs than kids? No problem simply fold down two seats and increase the space to 700 litres or get rid of the seating in the back for over 2000 litres. Perfect for a whole husky pack. Then when you’re out on the road, the soft comfortable ride is great for humans and animals, and a low boot sill completes the picture.
Perfect for taking out the pedigrees to the country home estate. It’s a bit more on the wallet than others on our list, but you will feel like a lord or lady riding out with the hounds in this classy, refined and well equipped motor that’s a hell of a lot of fun to drive. Believe it or not, the 2.0 diesel that forms the heartbeat of the 520d is powerful and cheap to run. The 570 litre boot has no lip giving dogs a little more ease when it comes to entering the vehicle, and space for 2 good sized doggies.
A definite favourite among dog lovers who like a quality car. We’re talking a comfortable ride, luxury finish, great manufacturing and cutting edge technology. Great for long journeys and a very relaxing drive, with a 670 litre boot space that’s big enough for most dogs, featuring a big opening for easy access. Some models even benefit from air powered suspension, which makes lowering the rear even easier for older and more tired paws. Get a diesel for the best cash to power ratio.
This French Estate car has a whopping 660 litre boot, perfect for Alsatians, Rottweilers and other big dogs. In fact there’s more room in the back for hounds than humans. The optional rubber floor is perfect when you don’t want to worry about transporting Rex after he’s jumped in the river or pond. Low running costs mean more cash in your pockets for doggy chews, and a great safety rating and good ride keeps man and canine alike safe from harm.
Affordable choice. Loads of car for your cash and rugged choice for a dog loving family. 573 litres in the standard boot or over 1500 litres with the seats down gives you enough room for a St Bernard. Easy to clean and robust for the wildest dogs, if you are worried about the odd bite mark or a bit of slobber on the seats. Good comfort levels as long as you don’t push the speed too much, and best of all there’s an optional pet kit that comes with boot-liner, divider and even a foldable dog bowl.
Get out and about in the country with ease to find those picturesque walk spots right through the year in the Discovery – although you’ll find many of these fine cars simply escorting poodles and pugs around Chelsea. A big car for the biggest dogs with over 1,000 litres in the back, air suspension and a split tailgate makes it the perfect choice for dogs that might normally struggle to get in the back. And with the HSE and HSE luxury trim you can even lower back seats with your phone to give man’s best friend even more room. Finally there’s options a plenty with boot-liners to protect from muddy paws and even dog ramps for littler legs.
Eastern European engineering that could carry a wolf with ease, whilst still giving you an interior on par with a BM3 series or Audi A4 Avant. The 610 litre boot could hold 2 dogs with comfortably, and you can even get a dog seat belt as an optional extra. Price holds well so expect to pay a little more on the second hand market. And if you want great fuel economy for those UK based holidays with the doggy then the 150hp diesel is the best bet.
There’s plenty of choice out there for good boys and girls to travel round and get the exercise you and they both need. Which means there no reason to ever get hung up on a particular second hand car as there’s always another you can purchase.