If adventure awaits you and your dog in 2022, 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.
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.
Best Dog Carriers at a Glance
Best Carrier for Airline Travel: EliteField Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag
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 Purse Carrier: Boulevard Fido Personalized Dog Carrier Tote Bag
Best Hard-Sided Carrier: Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog Kennel
Best Bike Carrier: K&H Pet Products Travel Bike Dog Backpack
Best Dog Stroller: Gen7Pets Promenade Pet Stroller
Best Carrier for Motorcycles: The Rowdy Hound
Best Dog Backpack: K9 Sport Sack Air Plus 2 Forward Facing Dog Carrier 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
1. EliteField Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag
Best Carrier for Airline Travel
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.)
2. K&H Pet Products Travel Safety Pet Carrier
Best Carrier for Car Safety
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.
3. Pet Fit For Life Popup Dog and Cat Carrier
Best Carrier for Long Road Trips
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.
4. YUDODO Pet Sling Carrier
Best Shoulder Bag Carrier
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 and he wants.
5. Boulevard Fido Personalized Dog Carrier Tote Bag
Best Purse Carrier
Not only does this purse carrier come in three colors (black, pink and navy), you can personalize it however you like! We enjoy the mesh opening and head hole (some tote carriers don’t have a space for a dog to poke its head out). There’s also a removable pad and extra pockets for treats or poop bags.
6. Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog & Cat Kennel
Best Hard-Sided Carrier
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.
7. K&H Pet Products Travel Bike Dog Backpack
Best Bike Carrier
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.)
8. Gen7Pets Promenade Pet Stroller
Best Pet Stroller
Whether you have four Chihuahuas who need to share a stroller like the ChiGods or your elderly pup is too arthritic to walk long distances, a pet stroller may be your best bet. This stroller from Gen7Pets has over 600 reviews and 98 percent of owners recommend it. It works well on all types of terrain (gravely trail or smooth sidewalk) and has an optional canopy.
9. The Rowdy Hound
Best Carrier for Motorcycles
Dogs on motorcycles? Hell yes. The number-one priority for The Rowdy Hound team is safety, which is why we chose this as the best dog carrier for motorcycles. Not only does it provide stability and balance for your dog, it protects them from inclement weather and is made of durable plastic that is “resilient to impact and abrasion in case of a crash.” This thing was designed by aerospace engineers, so we think it’s pretty good.
10. K9 Sport Sack Air Plus 2 Forward Facing Dog Carrier Backpack
Best Backpack Carrier
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. K9 Sport Sack also makes an XXL version (with a much higher price point) for large breeds, if your Goldendoodle needs a piggyback ride.
11. Amazon Basics Folding Portable Soft Pet Dog Crate Carrier
Best Foldable Crate/Carrier
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.
12. ELEGX Pet Rolling Carrier
Best Pet Trolley Carrier
Sometimes carrying your pet feels more intense than a series of tricep 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.
13. Everyday Carrier by Wild One
Best Eco-Friendly Carrier
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, that lilac color!
14. EliteField Expandable Soft Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier
Best Expandable Carrier
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.
15. Go Everywhere Backpack by maxbone
Celebrity Favorite Carrier
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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