If adventure awaits you and your dog, you better have a reliable dog carrier. Dog carriers come in many shapes, sizes and colors. There are enough out there to make even the most informed consumers overwhelmed by options. Keep in mind, the best dog carrier totally depends on your pup’s dimensions (including weight) and where the carrier will go. After you gather that information, the rest falls into place.
The 16 Best Dog Carriers of 2023
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How to Measure Your Dog
According to the American Kennel Club, a carrier needs to provide enough space so your dog can turn around and curl up or stretch out and lay down. Wearable carriers like backpacks obviously don’t need this much space; they are supposed to be more like harnesses than carriers. Now, there are definitely more options out there for small- and medium-sized dogs (due in part to the fact that large dog breeds are less likely to be actually carried). But it’s good to know your dog’s measurements anyways for things like vet visits and kennel purchases.
The measurements you need are:
- Neck (where the collar sits) to base of the tail
- Top of shoulders to the ground
The AKC says it’s wise to add a few inches to these measurements when determining which carrier size to buy. When debating between two sizes, go for the larger version. It's better to have extra room than for your dog to feel cramped.
How Will You Use the Dog Carrier?
Every dog carrier is designed for a specific purpose. Some are multi-purpose, which is awesome. Others are only meant to be used in certain circumstances (the motorcycle carriers, for instance). Don’t veer off-course! If your dog carrier doesn’t have seat belt connectors, don’t use it in the car.
Always read the instructions that come with your dog carrier. We know! We know. Who reads the instructions for a soft-sided glorified bag? You should! Find out what your carrier does and doesn’t do. Get familiar with it before tossing your dog in it and heading out the door. You should know how to lengthen the straps, open and close the carrier, clean it in case your dog has an accident and know how to make any adjustments in a pinch—before you use it.
Take Your Dog’s Personality into Account
Does your dog enjoy looking out the window during car rides or does she prefer a cozy, dark, quiet space in which to hide? Does your dog move around a ton or generally mellow out while in transit? Think about these personality quirks when choosing a dog carrier. A carrier can completely change a dog’s outlook on travel depending on its design.
The Best Dog Carriers at a Glance
- Best Carrier Overall: EliteField Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag
- Best Carrier for Airline Travel: Diggs Passenger Travel Carrier
- Best Carrier for Car Safety: K&H Pet Products Travel Safety Pet Carrier
- Best Carrier for Road Trips: Pet Fit For Life Popup Dog and Cat Carrier
- Best Shoulder Bag Carrier: YUDODO Pet Sling Carrier
- Best Hard-Sided Carrier: Petmate Two Door Dog Kennel
- Best Bike Carrier: K&H Pet Products Travel Bike Dog Backpack
- Best Dog Stroller: Dog Quality Dogger Stroller
- Most Versatile Carrier: Lesure 2-in-1 Travel Carrier
- Best Dog Backpack: K9 Sport Sack Air Plus 2 Backpack
- Best Carrier for Large Breeds: K9 Sport Sack Kolossus Backpack
- Best Foldable Carrier: Amazon Basics Folding Portable Soft Dog Crate
- Best Dog Trolley: Kennel ELEGX Pet Rolling Carrier
- Best Eco-Friendly Dog Carrier: Everyday Carrier by Wild One
- Best Expandable Dog Carrier: EliteField Expandable Soft Airline-Approved Carrier
- Celebrity Favorite Carrier: Go Everywhere Backpack by Maxbone
Best Carrier Overall
- Why We Love It: Seat belt and luggage straps, budget-friendly
Flying with a dog can be anxiety-inducing for all parties involved. A comfortable carrier like this one should have soft sides, a plush bed-like cushion and plenty of ventilation. We like this one because of its seat belt loop and luggage strap. (Psst: Always make sure to check with the airline prior to your flight to make sure your carrier meets their requirements. )
Best Carrier for Airline Travel
- Why We Love It: Five-star crash test rating, pee pads
Diggs really went above and beyond with their travel carrier. Its five-star crash-test rating and built-in pee pad slot makes long trips much easier on your and your pet. This carrier has seat belt clips for the car, a detachable cross body strap for lugging your pet between terminals and a plush bed that one reviewer says her pup sleeps on, even at home.
Best Carrier for Car Safety
- Why We Love It: Collapsible
A best-seller, this car-safe carrier comes with seat belt straps and can be installed in the front or back seat (we recommend the back). This one comes in three sizes and collapses for easy storage. You could even keep it in the car to use on an as-needed basis. Mesh sides offer plenty of ventilation and opportunities to watch the world go by.
Best Carrier for Long Road Trips
- Why We Love It: Works in and out of the car
Long road trips call for more space for your dog and less distractions for you. The Pet Fit large carrier is great because it can be safely secured with seat belts and has both top-loading and side zipper doors. It’s collapsible and comes with its own accessories like a water bowl and liner. PLUS! You can set it up outside with small stakes at each corner to prevent it from falling over or blowing away.
Best Shoulder Bag Carrier
- Why We Love It: Gives you hands-free, multi-tasking capabilities
Heading out for a jaunt and want to keep your pup close by? Toss on this shoulder bag carrier for a snuggly ride. This is a sling designed with pet safety in mind: breathable fabric, reinforced buckles and a safety feature that prevents the sling from unzipping mid-walk. It comes in three sizes and has an adjustable opening so your pup can expose as much or as little of his head as he wants.
Best Hard-Sided Carrier
- Why We Love It: Durable, no-nonsense design
Hard-sided carriers are often good ideas for puppies who want to chew their way through everything and anything. This one comes with a top-loading door which may make it easier to get your pup into the carrier. It may be wise to buy a fleece insert if your dog has arthritis or doesn’t like the feel of a hard carrier on her bum.
Best Bike Carrier
- Why We Love It: Versatility—attach it to a bike, wear it as a backpack or switch between the two
The best part about the K&H bike carrier is the backpack feature! If you run errands on your bike frequently or your tiny pup gets tired easily, this carrier swiftly turns into a backpack with extra pockets for supplies. (K&H also makes a basket-only bike carrier for dogs who like a little more wind in their fur.)
Best Pet Stroller
- Why We Love It: Fits multiple dogs, lightweight
The Dogger Stroller holds up to 60 pounds of dog, so feel free to let several small- to medium-sized breeds in there if they fit! Its aluminum frame and 360-degree maneuverability make it manageable and lightweight. The rear wheel suspension means going over bumpy sidewalks won’t jolt your sleeping pup awake. Though it doesn’t come with a cup holder, you can buy one separately for maximum convenience.
Most Versatile Carrier
- Why We Love It: TSA-approved design and tons of versatility
Heading out on a cross-country trip that will involve trains, planes and automobiles (and lots of walking)? Do not leave home without the Lesure 2-in-1 Travel Carrier. This thing has a 100 percent microfiber Sherpa fabric bed for maximum comfort, self-locking zippers so escape artists can’t wriggle out and is TSA-approved. You can fit it on a roller suitcase with a designated sleeve, buckle it into cars, fit it under airline seats, use it as a backpack and sling it over your shoulder. It will make you want to travel with your BFF more, that’s how easy it is to use this carrier.
Best Backpack Carrier
- Why We Love It: Ergonomic shoulder straps and the detachable storage bag
Hiking and outdoor fests are great with dogs in tow, but once your pup gets tired, it’s nice to have a backpack to pop them into. The K9 Sport Sack was designed based on real customer feedback (aka, more comfortable straps and a detachable bag for goodies). It’s ventilated so hot days won't give your pup heatstroke. It only holds dogs up to 40 pounds, but don’t worry. K9 Sport Sack also makes an XXL version for large breeds.
Best Carrier for Large Breeds
11. K9 Sport Sack Kolossus Backpack
- Why We Love It: It can hold pets up to 80 pounds
K9 gets it! Sometimes large breeds need to be carried. If this is the case, you better have their Sport Sack Kolossus nearby. This thing is decked out with weight distribution straps, ergonomic shoulder straps, a sternum strap, lap belt and so much more to ensure you and your dog are comfortable. Plus, there’s a detachable mini backpack for treats (for you and doggo).
Best Foldable Crate/Carrier
- Why We Love It: Space saving capabilities
Anyone who doesn’t travel with their pet often or only uses a carrier for sporadic vet visits could benefit from a foldable carrier. It saves space when not in use and offers both a shoulder strap and handle for versatility. It’s soft-sided with a fleece lining and comes in four sizes.
Best Pet Trolley Carrier
- Why We Love It: Easy to use, collapsible, comfortable for dogs
Sometimes carrying your pet feels more intense than a series of triceps dips. Enter: pet trolleys. This trolley carrier not only offers a wheeled option, but a hand-held option as well should you decide today is arm day. A seat belt feature makes this carrier even more versatile. Plus, unlike some roller carriers, this one doesn’t force your pup to lean back at an angle as you wheel them around. It holds pets up to 35 pounds.
Best Eco-Friendly Carrier
- Why We Love It: Stylish, eco-friendly and functional
Unfortunately, finding a fully plastic-free eco-friendly dog carrier is very difficult. Please text us if you invent one! In the meantime, we like the Everyday Carrier from Wild One. The body of the bag is made from 80 recycled plastic bottles. (The interior lining is 100 percent cotton, and the lining and base contain polyester and spandex.) Plus, it now comes in two bright colorways as part of Wild One’s collaboration with Isaac Mizrahi.
Best Expandable Carrier
- Why We Love It: Makes long layovers easier on pets who like to stretch
Dogs who are happier travel partners when they have some room to really stretch out will love this expandable airline-approved carrier (especially when a flight is delayed, and you’ve got to keep your pup under control). It’s lightweight, it’s waterproof and it’s got a removable plush bed.
Celebrity Favorite Carrier
16. Go Everywhere Backpack By Maxbone
- Why We Love It: Looks like a chic backpack, is actually a condo for your pup
Said to be a fave among celebs like Paris Hilton, Mariah Carey and Priyanka Chopra, this backpack from Maxbone is chic and functional. Made from super soft neoprene, it also has a chest strap for added support while you’re out and about with your dog on your back. It comes with two liners and can be totally unzipped to lay flat as a doggy lounger.
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