► The best cars for dogs owners…
► … and cats and other furry friends
► CAR’s guide to pet-friendly vehicles
Amid the unremitting hype around Aston Martin’s new DBX, you probably overlooked one detail. The DBX is offered with a Pet Pack, including a boot partition, bumper protector and – yes, really – potable dog washer. Arguably the aroma of soggy schnauzer is even worse than muddy paw-prints on nappa leather, but we digress. Dogs have become big business for car companies, and you don’t need a DBX to keep your hound happy.
Man’s best friend isn’t especially opinionated when it comes to cars. Your dog’s priorities are a large boot with a low sill and wide opening, plus a ride that won’t involuntarily wag his or her tail. The ability to venture off-road for countryside walks is an added bonus.
Further dog-friendly reading
The cars we’ve selected meet these canine criteria, yet also appeal to those on two legs. From the genteel Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate to the cheap-as-chips Dacia Logan MCV, all make for well-rounded family transport. Whatever your budget, there are no dogs here. So to speak.
Read on for our thoughts on the best cars for dog owners, or click the links below for our full reviews.
Skoda Superb Estate
Land Rover Discovery
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate
Dacia Logan MCV
Best cars for dog owners: a buying guide
Firstly, your choice of car may be determined by your choice of dog. In theory, you could squeeze a maltese into a Mustang, or a dachshund into a DB11. However, the safest option is confining Bouncer to the boot – preferably with a dog guard to securely separate canine from cabin. And that means an estate car or SUV.
You can probably pass on the portable dog washer, but useful accessories – many available new at dealers or aftermarket – may include a dog cage, rubber boot liner and in-car deodoriser. Rear electric windows, to give your pooch fresh air on the go, are desirable too.
By law, you must secure your dog for its own safety. The Highway Code states: ‘When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seatbelt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.’ You could also be stopped by the police for driving without due care and attention if your dog is a distraction. The maximum penalty is £2500 and nine penalty points. Be sensible and be safe.
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Best cars for dog owners
Skoda Superb Estate
In independent tests, eight out of 10 dogs said they preferred the Skoda Superb Estate. Probably. A class-leading 660-litre boot is the clincher here – even a Great Dane can’t complain – and its reversible load floor keeps one side clean for non-dog duties. ‘Simply Clever’ features such as an umbrella in the driver’s door and ice scraper in the fuel flap are ideal for winter walks. And the hard-wearing interior should prove relatively pet-proof, too.
More generally, the Superb is an accomplished family holdall: comfortable, loaded with kit, well-priced and inoffensive to drive. The 148bhp 2.0 TDI diesel engine feels a good fit, although don’t rule out the smooth and efficient TSI petrols. Either way, the dual-clutch DSG auto gearbox is our preference. Skoda doesn’t bring the high-riding Superb Scout to the UK, but regular four-wheel-drive versions are a prudent, less ostentatious alternative to an SUV.
Read our Skoda Superb reviews
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The no-nonsense Citroën works harder than a pack of Huskies hauling Richard Hammond. Sadly, it also has a flattened face like a pug – and no, we don’t mean a Peugeot. Speaking of its PSA partners, the Berlingo is closely related to the Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life, so compare deals and choose your favourite take on the van-with-windows formula. The 108bhp 1.2-litre PureTech petrol is fine for pottering around, but we like the meatier 128bhp 1.5 BlueHDi diesel, particularly with the eight-speed auto ’box.
An enormous tailgate makes it easy for large canines to leap aboard, or simply open the top-hinged rear screen to pop your Chihuahua in by hand. The capacious 775-litre boot swells to 1050 litres (in five-seat guise) if you opt for the longer Berlingo XL. British buyers only get mid-spec Feel and flagship Flair versions, so equipment isn’t as basic as you might think. You’ll discover no fewer than 28 interior storage areas for dog treats and soggy tennis balls, too.
Read our Citroën Berlingo review
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Land Rover Discovery
Picture a couple of C-list reality stars in a Land Rover dealership. Snoop Dogg heads straight for the blinged-up Range Rover Sport, but Dog the Bounty Hunter leaps in the Discovery. Dog is a man on a mission, who needs the best tool for the job. And frankly, he cares not that its lopsided tailgate looks like a dog’s dinner. We’d wager the versatile Disco will also be your dog’s favourite, particularly with the optional Pet Pack, which includes a full-height metal luggage partition and rubber boot liner.
With all seven seats up, the 258-litre boot is better suited to a spaniel than a St Bernard, but there’s a whopping 1137 litres in five-seat guise. And creating more space for Rover (it has to be Rover, right?) is easy: just use the Intelligent Seat Fold system to lower each chair via the touchscreen or your phone. For more adventurous dog-walkers, the Discovery is almost unstoppable off-road, while its standard air suspension serves up a cosseting ride. We’d go for the 237bhp SD4 diesel.
Read our Land Rover Discovery review
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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate
Are you the proud owner of 2.4 children and a pedigree pet? Then may we humbly suggest the E-Class Estate? This thoroughly middle-class Mercedes has been transporting families and their dogs for decades, majoring on comfort, practicality and understated style. Its interior blends luxury and technology with stylish élan, while its spec sheet – and lengthy options list – is awash with safety, driver-assistance and connectivity systems. Your Crufts contender will appreciate the smooth ride and huge boot, too.
Sound too sedate? Perhaps Sir or Madam would prefer the Mercedes-AMG E63 S? It has a ferocious 603bhp twin-turbo V8 in the front, plus the same 640-litre carrying capacity out-back. Perfect for making your pooch feel, er… sick as a dog. Did we mention there’s a Drift Mode? We suspect Bella will prefer the 191bhp E220d diesel, our pick of the real-world E-Class range.
Read our Mercedes-Benz E-class Estate review
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If you’ve had a dog of a day, little beats wafting home in a Volvo V90. For humans, sinking into its soft, ergonomically excellent seats feels more relaxing than a Scandinavian sauna. For canines, its 560-litre boot offers ample space for a stress-busting snooze. Handy accessories include a removable plastic loadbay liner and stainless steel rear bumper plate to prevent claw scratches, plus a bolt-in dog cage to keep Fido contained. There are worse places to be behind bars.
In 401bhp Ttwin Engine T8 guise, the V90 is whippet-quick, hitting 62mph in 5.3 seconds. If you can afford £60,000 upfront, its 46g/km CO2 emissions mean cheap tax, too. The downside for many CAR readers will be a chassis that doesn’t seem overly interested. Calm and predictable is the Volvo’s modus operandi, backed up by a veritable arsenal of active safety technology. This sensible Swede is more loyal than Lassie.
Read our Volvo V90 review
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Skoda Octavia Estate
Whether you’re a fare-paying passenger or a pampered pet, the back of an Octavia is a pleasant place to be. Rear passengers enjoy loads of legroom and USB sockets, while the 590-litre boot is large and well-shaped. Skoda’s official accessories include seatbelts for dogs and a hammock-style rear seat cover. As for those up front, an intuitive touchscreen offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, complemented by simple switchgear and Volkswagen-quality trim.
A broad spread of engines stretches from 113bhp 1.0 TSI to 242bhp vRS. There’s also a likeable 181bhp vRS diesel, plus the four-wheel-drive Scout with beefier bumpers and added attitude. We sampled the minicab-spec 148bhp 2.0 TDI, praising its ‘planted feel’ and ability to ‘demolish a 500-mile journey in one shot’.
If you like big mutts (and you cannot lie), the Octavia is a reassuringly level-headed choice.
Read our Skoda Octavia reviews
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Dacia Logan MCV
Perhaps we’ve been barking up the wrong tree. Because, let’s be honest, Lucky the labrador doesn’t care which car you buy. So long as he has a window and an old blanket, he’s happy. A 573-litre boot with wipe-clean plastics suits him just fine. Dogs are unpretentious creatures, and so is the Logan MCV. Think of it as a Renault Clio without the va-va-voom.
Lucky may not value creature comforts, but you do. So avoid entry-level Access trim, which lacks air-conditioning, electric windows or a DAB radio. The Logan is workmanlike and utterly forgettable to drive: its suspension set up for comfort, its engines geared for economy. We’d prefer a three-year-old Octavia for the same outlay, but if you insist on a new car (with a three-year factory warranty), nothing comes close. Even the top-spec Stepway Techroad costs less than a basic Ford Fiesta.
Read our Dacia Logan MCV review
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We’ll be updating this page regularly, so keep checking back for our latest thoughts on the best cars for dog owners.
Be sure to add your own suggestions in the comments below.
An alternative view: best cars for dog owners, as voted for by our sister website Parkers