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Pets are as precious as children. But like children, if you give them free rein of the house (especially when unattended), there's a risk they'll destroy everything in their paths. Fortunately, the best pet gates offer a solution: They can block certain off-limits areas or keep your pets contained in specific rooms, so you know exactly where they are at all times.
There are a lot of pet gates out there, so the best one for you will depend on several factors. Of course, you’ll want it to be durable so your pet can’t barge right through it, but you also might want to consider how it looks. Some pet gates are made of plastic, while others are finished with wood and blend into your decor more seamlessly. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to how it’s mounted. Pressure-mounted pet gates can pop right on in minutes and don’t require putting any holes in your walls, but those that utilize hardware might be more of a project that you’ll have to prepare for.
Whether you have a large dog, pets that seem to take lessons from Houdini, or need something that can double as a playpen when you’re hanging out with your pups outside, these are the best pet gates for the job.
Best Overall: Cardinal Gates Auto-Lock Gate
Height: 30 inches | Material: Aluminum | Expandable: Yes
Made of durable aluminum
Has an auto latch feature
Height adjustments sold separately
Not recommended for stair landings
The Cardinal Gates Auto-Lock Gate certainly isn’t the fanciest pet gate out there, but it’s easy to operate and durable and works well in many areas, including doorways and the bottom of the stairs. The gate, which is hardware mounted, adjusts from 26 to 40 inches wide and is almost 30 inches high, with the option to add an additional eight to 16 inches with extenders that are sold separately.
It also features an auto-lock system that uses a latch to allow you to pass through quickly in either direction—just swing open and shut, and the gate will lock automatically. In lieu of more flimsy plastic, Cardinal Gates uses aluminum, which is lightweight and durable, so it will likely last longer than other gates on the market.
Best Budget: Regalo Easy Step Extra Wide Walk Thru Baby Gate
Height: 30 inches | Material: Steel | Expandable: Yes
Has multiple safety lock features
Pressure mount design makes it easy to install
Will not fit openings between 34-35 inches
Although marketed as a baby gate, this extra-wide walk-through gate from Regalo doubles as a budget-friendly pet gate too. It’s constructed of durable steel and has a pressure mount design that makes it easy to set up and easy to use. It includes multiple safety lock features and four wall cups for added stability.
Perfect for doorways, hallways, or the bottom of the stairs, it expands to fit openings between 29 and 34 inches or 35 and 38.5 inches wide, and it stands 30 inches tall. If you need to block off a wider opening, you can add two extension kits (sold separately).
Best Walk-Through: Cumbor Auto-Close Pet Gate
Height: 30.5 inches | Material: Steel | Expandable: Yes
Comes in five colors
Opens from both sides
Swings shut and locks automatically
Not easy to move around
Doesn’t work for 36-inch openings
Often, having a sturdy pet gate means you have to sacrifice the convenience of being able to easily move through your house, but with the Cumber Auto-Close Pet Gate, you can have the best of both worlds. It has an ergonomically designed lock and a latch that easily opens from both sides.
After you walk through it, the gate swings shut behind you and locks automatically, so you don’t have to worry about re-latching it when your hands are full. It’s built with a pressure-mounting system that installs in less than 20 minutes and makes it easy to move if you need to block off different areas at different times. The gate adjusts from 29.5 inches to 46 inches and has a 30.5-inch height.
Best Expandable: Cardinal Gates Extra Wide Expandable White Pet Gate
Height: 29.5 inches | Material: Aluminum | Expandable: Yes
Blocks off a large area
Hardware-mounted for extra security
No height extensions available
Many pet gates are expandable, or at least offer the option to purchase extensions separately, but this extra-wide expandable gate from Cardinal Gates (the largest one it offers) comes with everything you need to block off areas up to 90 inches wide. Each panel—it comes with three—is 30 inches, so you can use one or all three at a time. The hardware-mounted gate has an auto-close and auto-lock door that allows you to operate it quickly and easily with one hand. The gate itself is 29.5 inches tall, but the height-adjustable mounts allow you to move it up or down depending on your needs.
Best Indoor/Outdoor: You & Me Convertible Pet Gate and Play Yard
Height: 30 inches | Material: Plastic | Expandable: Yes
Can be used in several configurations
Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
Easy to move
Plastic may be less durable
If you want to take your pet gate from indoors to outdoors the Convertible Pet Gate and Play Yard from You & Me is the ideal way to do it. It comes with six 26 x 30 inch panels that can be built into a gate that expands up to 192 inches, or arranged in a variety of different configurations if you want to create an outdoor (or indoor) play pen. The plastic construction makes it lightweight and easy to transport, but it’s strong enough for keeping your pets contained right where you want them. All of the panels snap together, or you can use the included hardware to mount it to the wall.
Best for Large Dogs: MyPet Extra Tall Petgate Passage Gate with Small Pet Door
Height: 42 inches | Material: Steel | Expandable: Yes
Extra tall for large dogs and escape artists
Door swings in both directions
Built-in small pet door for cats
Small dogs can fit through the door
Time consuming to put together
Standard size pet gates might not be enough to keep really large—or really smart—dogs contained, but even the largest dog isn’t getting past this 42-inch tall option from MyPet. It has a heavy-duty steel construction and a locking Grip-n-Twist latch that keeps the door securely fastened when you want it to be. When unlocked, the gate swings in both directions so you can easily move around the house no matter which direction you’re coming from. It also has a small pet door built-in, so if you have cats that are free to roam, they can pass through without difficulty. This pressure-mounted gate adjusts from 29.75 inches to 38 inches with extensions that are included in the box.
Best Freestanding: Carlson Pet Products Design Studio Freestanding Extra Wide Pet Gate
Height: 20 or 28 inches | Material: Wood with steel bars | Expandable: Yes
Easy to step over
Comes in two height options
High-end wood finish
May not be tall enough for large dogs
Freestanding pet gates offer more versatility than mounted ones since you can put them anywhere and aren’t necessarily limited to an area with side walls. This extra-wide freestanding gate from Carlson Pet Products is especially top-notch because it has an adjustable width—it can fit areas from 40 to 70 inches wide—and a step-over design that makes it easy for you to pass through, but will keep your pooch right where you want them. Plus, you have two height options—20 and 28 inches—so you can choose the one that works best for you. With its wood finish and steel bars, it also looks high-end, so it becomes an intentional piece of your decor, rather than an afterthought.
Best Looking: Primetime Petz 360 Configurable Gate with Door
Height: 24, 30 or 36 inches | Material: Wood | Expandable: Yes
Freestanding and easy to move around
High-end wood finish
Comes in three height options
Could get knocked over by a larger dog
No option for additional reinforcement
If you want to contain your pets but don’t want a pet gate that stands out too much, this wooden option from Primetime Petz looks like it was meant to be there. Available in two wooden finishes—white and walnut—it blends into your home decor and looks intentional. It can serve as a freestanding pet gate, or you can arrange it in a square pattern that acts as a small wooden pen. It’s easy to walk through, and has 360 degree hinges and feet with rubber pads that help keep the gate in place and protect your floors. Plus, it comes in three heights—24, 30, and 36 inches—so if you have a large dog that can clear standard pet gates, you have the option to go a little taller.
What To Look For in Pet Gates
Durability is high on the list of things to look for when shopping for a pet gate. After all, if your large dog can plow right through it, it won’t do you a lot of good. Steel pet gates are usually considered the most durable, but they can be heavy and cumbersome. Aluminum is another durable option that offers a lot of strength in a more lightweight design. Other options are wood and plastic. Plastic is considered the least durable of the bunch, but if you have a pet who won’t try to jump up on the gate, it’s still a good option.
Materials don’t just matter for durability. They also play a big role in the aesthetic of your pet gate. If you’re blocking off an out-of-the-way area, you might not care much about how the gate looks, but if the pet gate is going in a main area of your home, you might want it to blend in with your decor a little more. Wood and steel gates have a higher-end look, while plastic and aluminum may stand out a little more.
Another important thing to consider is how it’s mounted. Pressure-mounted pet gates are wedged into place by putting pressure on the door frame or walls around them. They don’t require drilling and don’t put holes in your walls. They work best for the bottom of stairways or in doorways, but can’t block off a room without something to hold onto. Hardware-mounted pet gates are similar to pressure-mounted in that they need walls or a door frame to secure to, but they’re installed using screws and are generally considered sturdier than pressure-mounted. We recommend hardware-mounted gates for use at the top of stairways.
Another option is freestanding gates, which have feet that allow them to stand up in any room, without the need for a door frame or walls to mount to. Freestanding gates aren’t as secure as either pressure-mounted or hardware-mounted gates, but they give you more flexibility since you can use them to block off any room, with or without a door frame.