Traveling with your dog can be a rewarding and fun experience. Your furry friend gets to explore new places with you and be with the humans he loves most. But to keep him protected during travel, you might need to find a dog carrier that helps him feel safe and secure while containing him for a drive or flight.
Sometimes, having a dog carrier can help you tote your small pooch around the neighborhood if she’s not into walking long distances. A dog carrier can also be beneficial for making safe trips to the veterinarian. We’ve reviewed several dog carriers in different shapes and sizes to find the best of the best. Some of the features we looked at were durability, airline approval, comfort for dogs, and ease of use by their people.
The Pet Peppy Expandable Pet Carrier stood out as a clear winner to us because it’s versatile, well-ventilated, and extremely comfortable for your canine pal. You can easily get your dog inside without making her feel anxious, and it has tons of extras like carrying handles and storage pockets, plus it folds up for convenient storage.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Dog Carriers
|Best Overall||Pet Peppy Expandable Pet Carrier||4.3|
|Runner Up||PetLuv Happy Pet Crate & Carrier||4.7|
|Best Budget Buy||Paws & Pals Airline Approved Pet Carrier||4.0|
|Best Dog Carrier Bag||EliteField Soft Sided Pet Carrier||4.3|
|Best Airline Approved Dog Carrier||Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Pet Carrier||4.5|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top Pick: Pet Peppy Expandable Pet Carrier
The Pet Peppy Expandable Pet Carrier is one of the most versatile carriers you can find, making it a great choice for many pet parents. When traveling, you can keep the expandable sides folded in to save space and make the carrier easier to hold. Once you get to your destination, the sides can fold out to give your pup more room to roam while still feeling secure in his den-like crate. The expandable sides include windows for excellent ventilation.
To make travel with your furry friend even easier, this carrier comes with handles, a side pocket for storing accessories like a leash or treats, and a collapsible food and water bowl. Most top airlines will also accept this dog carrier for pet travel.
This carrier comes in just one size for pets up to 14 lbs., but small dog owners say that, when expanded, their dogs have plenty of space to move around comfortably. After they’re done using it, you can fold it up for convenient storage.
Pet Peppy Expandable Pet Carrier Key Features:
- Expandable on both sides
- Fleece padded bottom
- Easy-to-carry handles
- Wire frame to prevent sagging
Our Runner Up Pick: PetLuv Happy Pet Crate & Carrier
The PetLuv Happy Pet Crate & Carrier is both functional and comfortable for dogs. This carrier is one you can put in the car for safe travels. It attaches to your car’s seat belts with adjustable loops, offering extra security for your furry friend. He can still get a good view of everything going on around him with large mesh windows on all sides, and he’ll enjoy the comfort he gets from the plush pillow insert which is removable for easy cleaning.
This carrier is available in various sizes to suit a wide range of breeds. The largest size also has wheels to make it easier for you to transport a heavy dog. When not in use, the carrier folds down flat to save space.
The PetLuv Happy Pet Carrier has more than 1,400 reviews on Amazon, and its average 4.7 rating proves that it’s a top contender for many dog owners. Several owners appreciate how sturdy the carrier feels even though it’s collapsible.
PetLuv Happy Pet Crate & Carrier Key Features:
- Adjustable seat belt loops
- Windows on all sides
- Ventilated with heavy-duty mesh
- Padded top-carry handles
- Removable pillow insert
Best Budget Pick: Paws & Pals Airline Approved Pet Carrier
Don’t break the bank with a travel-friendly dog carrier when you can buy the Paws & Pals Airline Approved Pet Carrier. With prices starting as low as $10, this dog carrier fits within most budgets, yet doesn’t make you feel like you’re sacrificing important features to keep your pet comfortable and safe.
The Paws & Pals carrier has top-carry handles for easy transportation, a padded shoulder strap, a removable fleece bed, and mesh windows for adequate ventilation. It also folds down when not in use and can be put in the washing machine for easy cleaning. Its dimensions even fit within the guidelines of most airlines, so you and your dog can travel together.
This carrier comes in two sizes – small and large – and multiple colors to meet your needs. With more than 4,300 Amazon reviews and an average 4-star rating, it’s safe to say that many pet owners are pleased with everything this carrier has to offer for its affordable price.
Paws & Pals Airline Approved Pet Carrier Key Features:
- Breathable material for ventilation
- Machine washable
- Top door opens for access to dog
- Reflective strips
- Velcro-enclosed storage compartment
Best Dog Carrier Bag: EliteField Soft Sided Pet Carrier
There are a lot of dog carrier bags on the market, but the EliteField Soft Sided Pet Carrier is one of the best, getting an average 4.3 rating from more than 500 Amazon reviewers. A dog carrier bag should be comfortable for your dog to rest in and comfortable for you to hold, and this bag meets both of those needs.
The EliteField carrier comes with padded handles and a shoulder strap, so you can hold it whatever way feels more natural to you. Its lightweight material won’t add unnecessary weight, either, when you’re holding your dog in the carrier. On the bottom of the bag is a hard support to help it hold its shape while you carry it.
To keep your pet more secure, you can attach his leash to the inside of the carrier. There’s also buckle loops on the outside to allow seat belts to restrain the carrier. And, to make sure your pooch stays comfortable during travel, the bag has a fleece bed cover to lay on.
EliteField Soft Sided Pet Carrier Key Features:
- Leash attachment
- Two storage pockets
- Adjustable straps
- Waterproof material
- Three-year warranty
Best Airline Approved Dog Carrier: Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Pet Carrier
The Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Pet Carrier is an excellent choice for dog owners who love to travel with their four-legged friends and prefer airplanes as their travel mode. It can be challenging to find a dog carrier that fits within the requirements of each airline you use, but this carrier from Sherpa meets many airline guidelines for size and weight, all while keeping your dog safe.
This carrier has a wire spring frame that allows you to push it down to fit comfortably under seats, as required by some airlines. It still keeps its shape during regular use and won’t twist or cave in when you hold it with your dog inside. The Sherpa travel carrier is also safe for your dog with its locking zippers, seat belt strap, and mesh windows.
For your comfort and convenience, Sherpa includes a side pocket to hold all your dog’s small goodies, and a padded, adjustable shoulder strap to make carrying your canine more comfortable. This carrier has an average 4.5 rating with more than 4,700 reviews on Amazon, proving that it is one of the most-loved dog carriers for travelers.
Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Pet Carrier Key Features:
- Fits under most airline seats
- Privacy flaps
- Adjustable shoulder strap
- Locking zippers
Who Should Buy a Dog Carrier
Not all dogs need dog carriers, but one could come in handy for pet owners who travel a lot with their dogs. Dog carriers provide a safe temporary home for your dog while you transport her in a car, bus, airplane, or another form of transportation. Many of them come with straps that you can put a seat belt through to keep your dog secure during your travels.
Dog carriers can also be beneficial for owners with dogs who get anxiety going into the car or to the veterinarian’s office. A carrier can act much like a crate would at home, giving your dog a sense of security during an otherwise anxiety-producing situation.
Dog carriers come in a variety of styles and sizes to meet the needs of you and your dog. Many of them have straps to carry in your hands or over your shoulder and some even have wheels for transporting large dogs. Others you can use as a backpack or sling to bring your dog along on almost any adventure.
Important Features to Consider
A dog carrier should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a dog carrier:
- Travel safety. If you plan to travel with your pup, you’ll want to make sure that your carrier has some safety features to keep your dog secure on an airline or in a car. Some carriers come with safety straps that can attach to seat belts to keep them in place while in transport.
- Airline approved. Dog carriers must meet the size requirements of the airline with which you’re traveling, and the requirements are often slightly different between airlines. Before you purchase a carrier, double check with your airline to be sure that it falls within the guidelines.
- Material. Dog carriers can come in a variety of materials that can make them hard-sided or soft-sided. Soft carriers tend to be more lightweight and easier to carry than hard carriers, but hard carriers can provide more protection for your pet. It’s up to you to decide what kind might work better for your needs.
- Size. Always be sure to measure your dog, particularly his height, length, and weight, before purchasing a carrier. You can check with the manufacturer’s size guidelines to see what size you might need for your pooch before buying a carrier.
- Style. Dog carriers come in many styles, such as bags, rolling carts, backpacks, and slings. Depending on your primary reason for wanting a carrier, you might choose one style over another. Dog backpacks and slings can be excellent for small dogs, especially puppies, to tote them around, but a rolling carrier might come in handy for traveling with large dogs.
- Storage. Some carriers can collapse and fold down when they aren’t being used, which is helpful for saving space if you don’t need to use one frequently.
- Ventilation. A good dog carrier should always be well-ventilated so that your dog has plenty of airflow while she’s contained. Look for a carrier with mesh windows, preferably on all four sides and, if possible, the top, to allow for plenty of access to fresh air.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I choose the right size dog carrier?
Since dog carriers come in various sizes, it’s important to choose one that can house your dog comfortably, but not give him so much room that he gets jostled around when you move it. You can size your carrier similarly to how you would a crate.
First, measure your dog from his neck to his tail. Then, measure his height from his feet to the top of his head. Check these measurements against sizing recommendations provided by the carrier’s manufacturer. Ideally, you want your pooch to have enough room to stand up, turn around, and stretch out comfortably.
How much does a dog carrier cost?
Dog carriers are available in several shapes, sizes, and price points. The cost depends mostly on the style of carrier you choose. You can find dog slings, which wrap around your shoulder and hold your dog in front of you, for just a few dollars, but a hard-sided dog carrier made for large dogs might run closer to $100 or more.
However, there’s most likely a dog carrier in your preferred style to suit your budget; it just might take some searching to find exactly what you want. Take some time to look for a carrier with the features you need at the price you want, so you won’t feel like you overpaid.
What size dog carrier can I take on a plane?
The answer to this depends mostly on your airline, as they each have their own requirements for dog carriers. Generally, an airline approved carrier should be soft-sided so that it can fit conveniently in small spaces assigned by the airline, which is typically underneath a seat. Usually, they’ll need to be no larger than 18 inches long, 11 inches wide, and 11 inches high. It’s always a good idea to check with the airline with which you plan on flying before you book a flight to learn their specifications for dog carriers.
Are dog slings safe?
A dog sling is a type of carrier that sits over your shoulder and comes across the front of you to cradle your dog, keeping you hands-free as your pup sees the world. These carriers are typically made for small dogs and puppies, as large dogs might be too heavy and big to hold safely.
Dog slings are generally safe to use if you take care to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using it. Read through any included material before using the sling with your dog to make sure you understand how to safely put your dog in, and take him out, of the sling and how to wear the sling.
Other Dog Carriers We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other dog carriers. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best dog carriers list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your dog. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.
Dog Carrier Slings
This cozy dog sling cradles your dog while the wide shoulder strap can be adjusted to your comfort needs.
- Machine washable
- Collar hook
- Holds dogs up to 12 pounds
This stylish sling has reversible fabric, giving owners two designs to choose from while holding their pooch hands-free.
- 8 designs
- Collar hook
- Safely carries dogs up to 13 pounds
This dog carrier sling is made of a blend of polyester and cotton to make it durable, breathable, and comfortable for your dog.
- Measures 29 by 12 inches
- Reversible fabric
The Tomkas carrier sling is made with comfortable and breathable fabric to keep your dog secure and cozy while he gets carried.
- Carries dogs up to 10 pounds
- Security lock to hold dogs in place
- Breathable fabric
This sling has a unique design to keep both you and your dog comfortable while the snug opening allows him to peek around as he enjoys his adventure.
- Two sizes available to carry dogs up to 12 pounds
- Mesh fabric for breathability
- Adjustable strap
Dog Carriers for Hiking
Hikers and travelers can keep their small dogs close by their sides with this durable backpack with mesh windows for your dog and comfortable straps for you.
- Two side storage pockets
- Fits dogs up to 13 pounds
- Double top window offers extra ventilation and privacy
The K9 Sport Sack has several compartments for dog owners to store all their belongings – plus their dog – while they travel.
- Three sizes
- Padded back panel
- 60-day guarantee
This dog backpack keeps your dog secure and comfortable inside with its padded interior and is lightweight for easy carrying.
- Interior clip for added security
- Padded dog compartment
- Lifetime warranty
A stiff bottom keeps this backpack in firm shape to hold your dog securely during your adventures.
- Chest strap
- Breathable mesh windows
- Side and front pockets
The small head-out design of this backpack can help anxious dogs feel safe while they join you on your travels.
- Padded shoulder straps
- Fits dogs up to 20 inches in length
- Interior clip to keep dogs in place
Ventilated Dog Carrier Backpacks
This backpack stays airy with its unique design and mesh windows, allowing your dog to stay cool and comfy wherever he goes with you.
- Waist and chest buckles
- Structured frame holds shape
- Available in nine colors
This carrier backpack offers your dog optimal ventilation with mesh windows on almost all sides, giving her plenty of visibility to also enjoy her surroundings.
- Padded on the bottom
- Ventilation on sides, front, and top
- Non-collapsible construction
Keep your dog close to you while allowing him to have a comfortable space to move around in with plenty of breathability from windowed areas on all sides of this backpack.
- Holds dogs up to 20 pounds
- Two storage pockets
- Internal safety strap
Dogs who prefer to stick their heads out of a carrier might enjoy this backpack with a flap that opens near the middle to allow them to enjoy the view and get fresh air.
- Sized perfectly for small puppies
- Three designs
- Adjustable shoulder straps
This backpack has mesh windows on the sides, front, and top to keep things airy for your four-legged friend.
- Dual-layer top rolls up for extra ventilation
- Durable polyester construction
- Two-entrance design
Front-Facing Dog Carriers
Your pooch’s legs can face out comfortably in this front-facing carrier that has a mesh front to give his body some breathability.
- Four sizes
- Wide, adjustable straps
- Mesh ventilated front
Let your dog see the world as you carry her in this forward-facing carrier that holds dogs up to 22 pounds.
- Straps can be worn crossed for extra support
- Shoulder padded-straps
- Four sizes
Your dog will stay well-ventilated in this carrier, which has a legs out and tail out design and mesh panels for maximum airflow.
- Has opening for tail
- Release buckles for easy on and off
- Side and front mesh panels
Both you and your pup can stay comfortable with this front-facing carrier that has wide shoulder straps and soft fabric.
- Two color choices
- Velcro neck straps
- 1.5-inch wide straps
This carrier not only looks stylish with its various pattern options, but it also keeps your dog secure with its legs-out design and elastic chest enclosure.
- Snug fit for security
- Four sizes; holds dogs up to 22 pounds
- Six designs
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