From dainty Chihuahuas to glossy Great Danes and all the glorious, scruffy, slobbery variants in between, four-legged friends come in every shape, size and colour – a bit like cars. And just like any other beloved member of your household, you want them to travel in comfort and safety.
But if you’re planning on bringing Rocky, Della or Ozzy Pawsborne along for the ride, you’ll need to consider a few important factors first. Is there space for them to travel comfortably? Will it be easy for them to jump into the boot? Are the materials going to stand up to scrabbling claws and the dreaded shedding season? These and other canine considerations will be answered, so paws for a moment and bone up on our ruff guide to the most dog-friendly cars.
Planning on transporting a big breed like a Deerhound or St Bernard? The Peugeot Ruffter – sorry – ¬¬Rifter is up to the task. This versatile MPV is actually built on a van base. Its big, chunky silhouette and high ceiling mean you won’t have to worry about cramping your pedigree chum’s style. As for loading up soggy hounds after a particularly wet walkies, its colossal tailgate will swing up completely, leaving plenty of room for your furry friend to happily bound in (just put a towel or two down first). If you want to create more space, the back seats flop down completely flat – though you’d have to be transporting some sort of small horse to need it. There’s even a tiered parcel shelf, so you can have a dog or two sitting comfortably on the top deck, and stash an entire weekly shop underneath. Which is handy when you’re buying ten-kilo sacks of dry dog food.
Have a growing brood that extends to a pooch or two? The Volvo V60 can help you sail from the school run to puppy training classes without breaking a sweat. Its plush, leather-trimmed interior might be off-limits to canine claws, but the practical 658-litre boot means your doggos won’t mind in the slightest. If you’re often juggling children, prams, blankets and tangling leads, you’ll appreciate the V60’s hands-free tailgate, which is included with the Inscription Pro trim. Wave a foot under the back end of your Volvo and the boot yawns open, revealing a completely flat load lip with space to slide in a dog carrier, suitcase – or even small chest of drawers – with ease. And you’d be right to expect exceptional safety – a 5-star Euro NCAP rating is great reassurance that every species of passenger is protected.
If you love setting off on a weekend adventure with the dogs and kids, consider a dauntless SUV like the Outlander for your next jaunt. With its four-wheel driving mode, it’s perfect for country rambles, offering plenty of practical space to stash boots, bags, hampers and camping gear. If you opt for the plug-in hybrid model, it’s kinder to the environment than most SUVs, too, with emissions of just 42g/km that’ll appease your inner eco-warrior. Thanks to its plug-in hybrid technology, it’s leading the charge (ahem) in economy, too, delivering 156mpg to help you and your puppers tour the length and breadth of the country without pausing the fun for a refuel.
If your Yorkie starts retching as soon as it sets eyes on the family vehicle, it could be time to find one with softer suspension. Cue the BMW 5 Series. Offering a notoriously supple ride, the standard 5 Series is honed for sailing serenely over lumps, bumps and humps in the road – there’s even a comfort button to help you undulate softly over potholes. For an even ride, you could spec the variable damper control, which should be enough to soothe the most sensitive of doggy dispositions. It’s quiet, too, meaning your pup will be able to curl up in the 530-litre boot for a snooze without being disturbed by the roar of the asphalt when you hit the motorway. Or, if they prefer to snuggle down on the back seats, there’s always dual-zone climate control, so you can keep your collie cool when the weather gets balmy.
Cute, compact and brimming with charm, the MINI Clubman is the vehicular equivalent of a French Bulldog. But while it’s purebred MINI at first appearance, it’s actually unexpectedly roomy. What’s more, the unusual six-door configuration has double doors that swing open for boot access and a range of handy hooks and lashing points, meaning even bigger friends can travel securely. Its slick, obedient voice control system makes navigating new places a pleasure, and the Clubman’s driving temperament is on the gentler end of a notoriously nippy range.
Dog hair getting you down? Check out these clever cleaning hacks to get your car looking as good as new.