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Best cars for dog owners 2024

  • Pooch perfect: the best cars for dogs revealed
  • Rules and regulations explained
  • What's the best way to transport a dog?

Written by Alan Taylor-Jones Published: 1 September 2023 Updated: 26 March 2024

According to research by Skoda there are an estimated 9.6 million dog owners in the UK and seven million of them travel with their dog in the car at least once per week. So it’s only fitting that people might want some help in researching the best car for dog owners.

Before we get into the car advice, we have a warning for all dog owners. According to the Highway Code, dogs need to be suitably secured so they avoid distracting the driver and prevent injury in the case of a sudden stop. Failing to secure your dog can lead to a fine of up to £5,000, so a car harness is well worth considering.

Interestingly, just 51% of people polled in the research said they always correctly secured their dog while driving, with 14% only doing it some of the time and 9% admitting that they have never secured their dog safely in the car. Below, Parkers picks 2024’s best cars for dogs and their owners, naming the finest vehicles on sale today, in a variety of sizes and price points for every need and budget.

Best estate cars for dogs

Dog-friendly car boots are often found in estate cars. These family workhorses have the advantage of being lower to the ground than SUVs, which makes it easier to climb in and out of for our canine chums. Smaller breeds, in particular, may not find it easy to leap into a boot high from ground level. Any boot opening 60-70cm off the ground should make for easy dog access. 

Estate cars typically have a boxier, more upright rear end for a voluminous bootspace and we find that dogs can easily get comfortable in most wagons. We often recommend that the best car for large dogs is an estate car for that reason, and you can usually fit a divider so you can carry your pet and your possessions without your shopping being at risk of being eaten on the run back from the supermarket.

Huge boot and very comfortable ride

The Skoda Superb has long been a great choice for those with dogs, and this latest version of the firm's flagship estate car is even better than ever. Growing further in size, the boot now measures a significant 690 litres with the rear seats in place, giving it the largest boot of any estate car currently on sale.

With a load loading lip, it's ideal for easy access for dogs, with the boot large enough for multiple large pooches. A range of useful boot storage elements are ideal for pet owners, too, while the Superb's comfortable ride is another big advantage. The new Superb also continues to be available as a plug-in hybrid, though the boot in this version isn't quite so spacious.

To find out more, read our full Skoda Superb Estate review


  • Largest boot of any estate car
  • Very comfortable
  • Generous equipment levels


  • Boot in the plug-in hybrid isn't as large
  • Not the bargain it once was

Great to drive and classy inside

Assuming your dog isn't the size of a small pony, the 3 Series Touring is a great choice. For a start it isn't the size of an aircraft carrier and for seconds it's one of the best handling estate cars available. There's even a ridiculously potent M3 Touring for those in a real rush for walkies.

Clever touches such as load rails and an opening tailgate window boost day-to-day practicality and up front it's standard 3 Series. That means a high quality and easy to use interior with adequate space for four adults and plenty of more sensible petrol, diesel and hybrid engine options.

To find out more, read our full BMW 3 Series Touring review


  • Great to drive
  • Quality interior
  • Practical boot features


  • Doesn't have the largest boot
  • Pricey

Loads of space given its footprint

For years the Volkswagen Golf Estate was the go-to compact estate car. Unfortunately for VW, its sister brands have caught up and overtaken the Golf. This Leon estate is a great example, offering similar space but at a cheaper price and with just as much choice of engines.

Those after something totally sensible are best served by the regular SEAT Leon Estate, while those who want something fast (or fast-looking) should look at the Cupra Leon Estate. Both are generally available with terrific finance terms.

To find out more, read our full Seat Leon Estate review


  • Huge boot for its size
  • Great legroom
  • Hotter Cupra models available


  • Frustrating infotainment system
  • People will ask why you didn't buy a Golf

Best SUV for dogs

The best cars for big dogs are often SUVs (short for sports utility vehicles). These are raised-up 4×4 style cars whose proportions are bloated outside and in, making them a popular choice for families seeking extra space.

Just be mindful that the raised driving position that affords that usefully elevated view out also means that the loadbay of an SUV is typically higher from the ground (this type of car can have the boot floor 80cm off the ground). Can your dog jump in unaided? Or will you constantly have to lift your pride and joy in and out? This could become mucky after winter walks in Mudfordshire…

Like a Superb Estate but taller and with more seats

Available with five or seven seats, the Kodiaq's giant boot trumps even the Superb Estate's. Being an SUV the boot floor is higher which won't suit some older dogs, although solutions such as dog ramps are available. A new Kodiaq is just around the corner, so Skoda should have some great deals to clear stock.

Petrol and diesel engines of varying power outputs are available, and there's even the option of four-wheel drive - not always a guarantee with SUVs. A warmed-up vRS version using the Volkswagen Golf GTI engine might sound interesting, but it's not much fun or that quick.

To find out more, read our full Skoda Kodiaq review


  • Seven seats available
  • Huge boot
  • Skoda offers a range of dog accessories


  • About to be replaced
  • The vRS model isn't much fun

Posh SUV maximises space

If a premium badge is important, the GLB crams an awful lot of space and practicality into a plush but compact SUV. It gets close to the Kodiaq for boot space and matches it for seat count despite being usefully smaller on the outside.

Petrol, diesel and electric versions are available, along with the all-electric Mercedes EQB. You can have front or four-wheel drive too, although don't expect to go that far off the beaten track. An updated version of the GLB has been announced, so expect discounts on the outgoing model.

To find out more, read our full Mercedes GLB review


  • Petrol, diesel and electric models available
  • Sporty AMG version offered
  • Decent standard equipment


  • The best tech costs extra
  • Third row isn't the most spacious

Dacia Jogger

The most bang for your buck

Essentially an extended Dacia Sandero with more seats, the Jogger is an excellent choice on a budget. Even with the third row left in the car, there’s nearly 600-litres of boot space and the loading lip is lower than in most other SUVs, too. While more of an MPV than an SUV, the rugged styling will appeal to those who like more tough styling. Don’t expect luxury motoring, but it’s not bad to drive and has most of the equipment you actually need.

As it’s based on a regular hatchback, four-wheel drive in’t an option (you’ll need a Dacia Duster for that) and nor is a diesel engine. Instead, there’s the manual only 1.0-litre turbo that’s a pretty good fit but doesn feel a little underpowered when you’re fully loaded. Alternatively, there’s the auto-only Hybrid which is a bit punchier and more efficient.

To find out more, read our full Dacia Jogger review


  • Very low price
  • Huge boot
  • Efficient petrol and hybrid engines


  • Low Euro NCAP score
  • Not in any way luxurious

Best hatchbacks for dogs

Your typical hatchback can normally carry most dogs in reasonable comfort, but bootspace is inevitably smaller than in an equivalent SUV or estate car. More compact breeds of dog should be fine in here, but larger dogs may get a little claustrophobic. Be sure to measure up before you decide.

Hatchbacks have the advantage of being cheaper and more plentiful, so can be a smart buy, especially if you don’t need acres of space. The best options for dogs on our shortlist are:

A boot bigger than some estates

Since the late 1990s the Skoda Octavia has been one of the most practical hatchbacks out there, and this version is no different. Its vast 600-litre boot is bigger than some estate cars and rear seat space isn't bad, either.

Petrol, diesel and hybrid power is available, while some versions can even get four-wheel drive. It's not the sportiest thing to drive, Octavia vRS included, but it is comfortable especially if you stick to small wheels.

To find out more, read our full Skoda Octavia review


  • Massive boot
  • Comfortable ride
  • Good value


  • Glitchy infotainment
  • The vRS could be more fun

Far roomier than you might expect

With even the Vauxhall Corsa starting at nearly £20k, or possibly over by the time you read this, you'd think finding an affordable yet dog-friendly hatch would be impossible. Thankfully, Dacia once again has a back-to-basics solution that not only costs thousands less, it's bigger than you might expect, too.

The Sandero is based on the Renault Clio and offers surprising space inside especially if you fold down the rear seats. The unprotected painted load lip might show a few claw marks especially as it isn't the lowest, but it's still a better bet than most smaller superminis.

To find out more, read our full Dacia Sandero review


  • Decent boot
  • Cheap to buy or finance
  • Frugal


  • Not the best for big dogs
  • Limited engine choice

A great hybrid option

Where once the Civic was a whole family of cars including three and five-door hatchbacks, an estate and coupe, there is now just the one five-door hatch. Still, it's grown over the years and is now something that could happily take a dog or two along with passengers.

The roll-up parcel shelf is a neater alternative than removable ones and the plastic boot mat should make cleanups easier. With a high quality, easy to use interior up front, a fuel-sipping but punchy hybrid system and sharp handling, it's a car you and your faithful companion can enjoy.

To find out more, read our full Honda Civic review


  • Enjoyable to drive
  • Great on fuel
  • Useful boot


  • Quite expensive to buy
  • Only one engine available

Which type of car is best for dogs?

Let’s cover the basics. It sounds blindingly obvious, but you’ll need a vehicle with a decent-sized boot. Your furry friend won’t appreciate being bundled into a tiny loadbay. Good cars for dogs will have a boot commensurately sized for the animal in question, and of course you’ll want something that has durable materials.

Use a dog grille to keep your pet safe in the car
Use a dog grille to keep your pet safe in the car

We’re looking for a large opening, typically found on a hatchback, estate car or SUV (sometimes called a crossover or 4×4). Sports cars, convertibles and saloons are less practical in this regard, and you’ll be forced to carry your dog in the passenger compartment in these types of car. You should never shut a dog in a boot with no window, and this rules out a surprising number of popular makes and models, including saloon cars.

Just remember to unlatch the luggage cover or parcel shelf; you’ll need to leave these at home, so your dog can see out and watch the world go by.

Read on for our FAQ with advice on the best dog guards and national rules about transporting dogs safely.


Can dogs travel in the boot of a car?
Yes, but you must do so safely and humanely. The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 and The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (Wales) Order 2007 dictate that you must not transport your dog in a way that may cause injury or suffering to the animal.

Consider using a harness to keep your dog safe
Consider using a harness to keep your dog safe

How to transport a dog in a car in the UK
The Highway Code instructs drivers to make sure any pets are sufficiently restrained, so that they won’t distract or injure the driver and occupants of the car in an emergency stop. This is why we recommend the use of a dog crate or harness, or a simple divider to keep your hound safely in the boot.

My dog finds it hard to climb into the car. What do you recommend?
Look for a boot that’s lower to the ground. Take a tape measure to the showroom with you, so you can compare access. More expensive cars with air suspension often let you lower the car for ease of loading – look out for a button in the boot for this. Alternatively, consider a dog ramp for cars – we list the best here in our handy round-up.

How much space does my dog need in a car?
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) says: ‘When transporting your dog in a crate or container, you should ensure that it has enough room to sit and stand up at full height, turn around easily and lie down in a natural position. You should also ensure that your dog is able to see out of the container and that there is enough ventilation and airflow. Suitable bedding should be placed on the floor to prevent the dog from slipping around during the journey.’

The best cars for dog owners 2021
The best cars for dog owners 2021

Can I leave my dog in the car when parked up?
Yes, but only for short periods of time. Always leave a window ajar for fresh air, remember to disable your alarm’s interior motion sensor (read the handbook) and never leave your pet in a hot car. Interiors can quickly become stifling and dangerous to dogs on a hot sunny day. This is cruel and illegal.

Car manufacturers are making use of electric propulsion to help keep dogs safe, though. Tesla now has a dog mode that leaves the climate control running while the car’s locked, for instance.

What else do I need to carry my dog in the boot?
Prepare the space. We’d recommend a plastic boot liner, widely available for most models, to keep muddy paw prints, water and any accidents off your carpet. This will make it easier to keep your car clean – and pay dividends come resale time, so you don’t have to sell your vehicle with that soiled, doggy smell. It’s useful to have a dog bed that you can keep in your car: somewhere your pet can call home and snooze in while you drive off on adventures anew. And don’t forget a supply of treats, dog poo bags and a portable water bowl so you can look after pup on his or her travels.

Alan Taylor-Jones is the New Cars Editor for the Bauer Digital Automotive Hub, working on both Parkers and sister title CAR. He’s been reviewing cars for nearly a decade, so really knows his onions.