Best cars to keep your dog safe
Dogs are the now a key factor when it comes to buying a new car.
As with our beloved canines, cars come in all shapes and sizes, and some will suit your pooch better than others. Larger dogs are better suited to SUVs, while small breeds will find it easier to climb aboard a hatchback. If you've got a kelpie or border collie, then you won't find a better fit than a work ute.
Mum-to-be Caitlyn Elks has a six-month-old staffordshire terrier pup called Bobby so she is on lookout for a car that will fit her growing family.
Like buying a baby seat for a newborn, pet owners are focused on the best ride for their dog.
Caitlyn says: "For me the biggest thing is boot space, we need to be able to fit Bobby, and pram in the future. We are looking at mid-size SUVs and having a rubber boot protector is a must."
Skoda Australia spokesman Kurt McGuiness said: "For many of us, our pets are a part of the family - keeping them safe and secure while we're driving is as important as any other passenger. Unrestrained pets can also be distracting to the driver, which is why Skoda offers its range of pet accessories for owners and their furry friends."
Here's the pick of the bunch in dog transport.
FORD FOCUS WAGON - FIVE STARS
Ford's little wagon had a secret weapon during its development. Designer Rene Berns, conscripted the help of his pooch Emil to design the cargo area with dogs in mind.
Berns made sure that even the largest dog transport cages could fit into the boot of the Focus wagon, claiming that even an Irish wolfhound - the world's tallest dog - could be carried.
The Focus wagon is also better suited to smaller and older dogs, with a lower boot height than SUVs. The Focus wagon is only available in the ST-Line grade, which is priced at about $35,000 drive-away.
SKODA SUPERB WAGON - FIVE STARS
Skoda might not be a household name in Australia, but its cars represent seriously good value. The Czech brand's cars are built on the same platform as Volkswagens but are generally cheaper and come with more standard equipment.
The Superb wagon is the brand's biggest vehicle and has an enormous cargo space, which is likely to be able to hold the biggest of dogs. There are also several smaller wagons including the mid-size Octavia and little Fabia.
Skoda also offers several pet accessories including seat belt harnesses and boot and rear seat protectors.
Prices start at $45,690 drive-away for the Superb wagon.
LAND ROVER DEFENDER - FOUR STARS
If you and your dog have a sense of adventure then the new Defender is one vehicle to look at.
Land Rover has one of the most extensive ranges of pet accessories covering all vehicles in its stable.
These include nifty items such as spill-resistant water bowls, full height boot partitions and even a pet ramp to help dogs of all sizes get up and down with ease. And one of the best items could be the portable rinser allowing owners to hose off the dog before getting into the vehicle.
Prices for the Defender start north of $100,000.
SUBARU XV - THREE AND HALF STARS
If the Land Rover is beyond your budget, Subaru is another brand to consider. The Japanese brand is focused on the outdoorsy types.
The XV is somewhere between a hatchback and an SUV. It isn't as high as traditional SUVs but gives owners more lift than hatches. And all-wheel drive gives owners confidence when heading down unsealed roads to secluded getaway spots.
But if the XV is too small then the larger Outback wagon or Forester SUV will suit. Subaru also has a range of accessories including a cargo area barrier and hard wearing boot protectors.
The XV is priced from about $33,500 drive-away.
NISSAN NAVARA - FOUR STARS
No tough tradie ute is complete without a working dog in the back. All utes should have plenty of tie-down points in the tray but the Nissan Navara has an advantage over other utes when it comes to man's best friend.
The Navara has a sliding window giving access from the back seat to the tray. The window allows the dog to see its owner and for any back seat passengers to interact with the pooch.
Nissan's range of dual-cab utes start from about $36,000.
1. Make sure your dog is properly restrained in the car. You could cop a big fine, or worse still your pet could injure itself or your children in a crash. If they are going to ride in the rear load area, a see-through cargo barrier is a must.
2. If your dog is going to ride in the tray of a ute make sure they are secured by a leash that won't allow them to leap out.
3. Buy washable seat covers or a protective rug. Leather seats are easier to clean than cloth, which retains hairs and doggie odours, but leather will scratch. Also be mindful of the fact that claws will scratch the plastic on your rear doors.
4. Invest in a rubber boot protector that is easy to hose out. Dogs will slide on plastic ones.
5. As with kids, make sure your dog can see out of the windows, otherwise they could get car sick. They'll also feel more at ease if they can see you.
Originally published as Best cars to keep your dog safe