Brand: Dakota 283
Purchase Date: 11/5/2018
Store: Dakota 283
Price: $499.00 From the website: The kennel for ultimate pet protection. It is created in one solid piece to hold up on all the adventures you and your dogs take, with our ultra-secure lock for peace of mind.
I purchased my first Dakota 283 kennel back in November, so I have been using it for over 4 months at the time of this review. I also use a Ruff Tough/Ruff Land Kennel regularly, so this review will include comparison to those, as well.
Prior to purchasing my Dakota 283, I had only used wire crates. These have worked well for my dogs that don’t chew/try to escape, but they are really frustrating to have in the car. They are big, noisy, and unsafe. As much as I travel with my dogs, safety is a real concern. When I was looking for a safer kennel, the Dakota 283, Ruff Land Kennels, and Gunner Kennels are at the top of the list.
I went with Dakota over Gunner for a few reasons. For one, I preferred the air vents on the Dakota. Living in North Carolina, I really worried about kennels getting hot (which is why I stuck with wire crates in my car for so long, because I thought they had the best airflow). Compared to the Dakota kennel, the Gunner kennel seemed dark and HOT. The Gunner kennel is double-walled for safety, but that comes at the price of good airflow. So although the Gunner Kennel has a seriously good safety rating, preventing overheating was a huge concern of mine. Cost also came into play when comparing these two; the Dakota is more affordable than the Gunner Kennels.
One of the features that sold me on the Dakota kennel was the built-in handle on the top. Not only does that make transporting it easy, but also gives you a solid way to ratchet the kennel into your car. By running the straps through the built-in handle, there is no way for the kennel to come unattached from the straps in case of an accident (compared to the Ruff Land Kennels that do not have built in attachments, you have to buy them separately). It is going to stay put wherever it is! I also appreciate that it is one-piece construction with premium plastic. This kennel is built to withstand pressure and built to last!
Compared to the Ruff Land Kennels, the Dakota is certainly higher quality. You can feel the difference in the plastic, as well as the quality difference in the door. The Dakota door also has the ability to be locked, which is an advantage for leaving the car open at events. A big difference between Dakota and RLK (RTK) is the width. The RLK is much more narrow; I like that the Dakota offers more space, but the RLK is easier to fit in the car. My Honda Pilot would not fit two large Dakotas side-by-side, but I can fit one Dakota and one RLK.
Over the past 4 months, I have used my Dakota Kennel almost daily: everything from teaching dogs how to load to a 1,200-mile journey across the country. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with it! The kennel (size large) is big enough for a bulky German Shepherd or a tall German Wirehaired Pointer to fit in easily; something I wouldn’t say about my large RLK. It’s super convenient to clean out, too. The surface is flat and smooth so it can easily be wiped down and kept very clean. For when it really gets dirty, it can be hosed out and drains easily out the back. I, thankfully, haven’t had to put the safety of it to the test, but it certainly hasn’t budged in my vehicle.
The bottom line: I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the Dakota, Gunner, or Ruff Land Kennels. All 3 are well-made, quality kennels that will get the job done. It comes down to what you’re specifically looking for in each kennel. I am thrilled with my Dakota 283 and so is Blitz!
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