Ultimate Guide On Choosing The Best Dog Carrier

All dog carriers are basically the same, right? Not quite! 

Traveling to a far-off land with your canine friend will require a different type of dog carrier than when you go to see a vet. The same applies to taking a stroll with your pooch and when traveling in a car. 

While a dog carrier is undoubtedly a practical addition to your pet collection, there is quite a bit of consideration when choosing the right one for your four-legged friend. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a genius to figure these things out.

This article will help you pick the most suitable option, whether you are looking for airline dog carriers, folding dog carriers, or something to attach to your bike during an evening ride through the neighborhood.

One more thing: remember to read the frequently asked questions at the end of this post. It contains answers to some common questions many pet parents like you often ask.

Types of Dog Carriers

Let’s set the ball rolling with the dog carrier options available. Essentially, you have two options to choose from: hard-sided and soft-sided dog carriers. Here’s everything you must know about these two to help you pick the right one for you and your dog.

Hard-sided Carriers

A hard-sided dog carrier might be your best pick if you are looking for a more durable and rugged option. They are usually constructed from wire or plastic materials. A heavy-duty metal dog carrier is another type of hard-sided option, but this is very rare.

Pros of Hard-sided Dog Carriers

  • Many plastic dog carriers are airline-approved.
  • Wire dog crates are great for humid or hot climates.
  • It is difficult for pets to escape from plastic carriers due to slippery and solid inner walls.
  • Wire options provide excellent ventilation, especially for long fur breeds and other canines that tend to overheat too quickly.
  • Wire crates offer great visibility so that you can see your four-legged friend easily.
  • Both plastic and wire options are easy to clean and dry out
  • Sharp claws or teeth do not easily damage them.

Cons of Hard-sided Dog Carriers

  • Hard-sided carriers are typically heavier, making them unsuitable for strolling, attaching to bikes, and lifting in and out of cars for rides.
  • Plastic options offer poor air circulation.
  • Wires can make a shy dog feel too exposed and even cold. Your dog has a higher chance of whining in a wire carrier.
  • Intelligent dogs can figure out how to escape from wire carriers, especially as the latch systems are usually not difficult to manipulate
  • Wire options can be noisy.
  • Visibility is low in plastic carriers.
  • Both wire and plastic dog carriers do not have very comfortable interiors.
  • Hard-sided dog carriers are not the most attractive things you can put your dog in.

Soft-sided Carriers

Soft-sided dog carriers are more popular among pet parents and for good reasons. They offer more comfort and are the go-to choice when it comes to storage and travel. 

Of course, they have a few downsides, but their advantages make them a preferable option.

Pros of Soft-sided Dog Carriers

  • This is an excellent choice in terms of storage. Many models take up very little space when not in use because they can fold up into small sizes. They are not bulky and won’t take up much space in your home or vehicle when in use.
  • Soft-sided options are incredibly lightweight, making them very portable for both long and short-distance travel.
  • They offer more air circulation compared to plastic option
  • Soft-sided dog carriers are more comfortable, thanks to their padded interiors.
  • These options are usually less expensive, making them easy to replace in case of damages.
  • They are available in a wide range of colors, shades, patterns, and styles. Consider this option if you prefer chic or fashion dog carriers. Whatever your lifestyle, you are sure to find something that matches and also suits your pet’s personality.

Cons of Soft-sided Dog Carriers

  • Cleaning the carrier can be a bit difficult, especially a potty incident. Plus, the fabric and foam in many soft-sided dog carriers do not dry as quickly as hard-sided options.
  • They are somewhat easy to open. A clever canine friend can figure out how to unzip and escape from the carrier. Adding a small lock to a double zipper model can prevent this.
  • They can get damaged easily, especially if your dog chews and claws a lot. A plastic or wire carrier will be your best bet if your pet has a habit of shredding stuff.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Dog Carrier

As you probably already know, dog carriers are not all created equal. Of course, they serve the same purpose, but they don’t fit every occasion, nor do they work for every dog and owner.

Here are some crucial considerations before heading to your local pet supply store or ordering from an online store.

Think About Your Dog’s Needs

While your fashion sense plays some part in the type and style of dog bag you choose, your pet’s need tops the list of things to consider. 

How would you describe your pooch – calm, squirmy, or somewhere between? An easy-going dog may not mind snuggling up in a comfy folding dog carrier

On the other hand, a squirmy dog will typically prefer a breathable carrier with mesh walls. This type of dog bag will allow your cute pet to see you and get a good view of its surroundings. With such reassurances, it is less likely to hate being in the carrier. 

A bag with a built-in leash to secure your dog is also a good pick, especially if your pet tends to be restless.

Consider how easy it will be to tote the carrier if you plan on strolling with your dog inside. Something with a shoulder strap or an adjustable handle should do. Choosing this type of bag will make the leisure walk more pleasurable for you and your pet.

What’s Your Dog’s Size?

You need to measure your dog to know the correct carrier size for it. A snug, smallish carrier is fashionable, but you want to choose something with ample room for your pet.

The proper way to measure your dog’s length is to start from the collar on its back to the base of its tail.  From the top of your fur baby’s shoulder to the ground is its height measurement. 

Now, add two to three inches to the length and height measurement to get the correct carrier size.  

Make sure your dog can comfortably stand on all fours inside the carrier. It should be able to lie down and turn around without any difficulty. 

The weight of your dog is another thing to keep in mind when choosing the carrier size. This holds especially true if you are thinking of getting a sling or backpack carrier. Manufacturers often list the maximum weights for these fashion dog carriers, so it is essential to know your dog’s weight before choosing one. 

Always opt for the larger size if your canine friend is between sizes. For example, Fido weighs 50 pounds, and you are torn between two equally fantastic travel dog carriers rated 40 lbs and 60 lbs, respectively. The 60 lbs travel dog carrier would be a better choice.

What Do You Need the Carrier For?

Consider an easy-to-carry, comfy dog carrier if you want something to contain your dog when you go out together. Usually, this type of carrier falls into the soft-sided category. 

This option may be lightweight, but it is surprisingly a sturdy dog carrier that won’t disappoint during your outing. To take portability to the next level, you can also consider choosing one of the many folding dog carriers. They are fashionable, practical, and also great for car trips.

A hard-sided dog carrier might seem like the logical option if you plan to travel with your dog. But it is usually best to check with the airline to know their requirements for pet travel. Airlines may vary in construction and size specifications, and the last thing you want is to be turned back at the last minute because you brought the wrong carrier.

Choosing a Style

Image source: Pexels

After considering the above factors, the next logical thing is to choose a dog carrier style that will work for both your dog and you. 

There are many styles designed with different owners’ fashion sense in mind. But here’s the most important thing to remember. Regardless of the style, you end up with, it is crucial to pick a sturdy dog carrier. 

Never put fashion sense above functionality when it comes to your canine pal.

Think about it: it doesn’t make much sense to spend money on a fashionable pet carrier if it comes apart midway through your trip. You don’t want to risk your animal companion’s comfort either. 

With that said, here are the common styles to pick from:

Folding Dog Carriers

Folding dog carriers are a great option if storage seems to be an issue for you. These options are designed to collapse into smaller bags for convenient storage.

Many suitable carriers in this category are tear-proof, so your dog won’t easily damage the bag. Look for options with a perforated design that allows for better ventilation. 

To keep your dog secure in its comfy folding carrier, consider an option with a leash. Keep your dog’s weight in mind when choosing a size. Thankfully, you can find collapsible models rated for up to 80 lbs load capacity.

Travel Dog Carriers

If you plan to go on car rides with your dog, you want a carrier that can resist shocks and bumps.

You want to look for models with extra-strong outer shells, preferably one constructed with PVC material. A military-grade carrier will provide nearly the same protection for your pet as a traditional dog crate.

Other features to look for in a travel dog carrier include tear-resistant foam and flexibility. A lightweight carrier is more convenient to haul around, especially if it has over-the-shoulder straps. 

If you prefer a collapsible or folding option that can fasten to your car seat, look for car seat carriers.

Airline Dog Carriers

Airline dog carriers are designed to do what their names suggest. While you can use just about any dog carrier for any purpose (even if it is ill-advised), you can’t do so if you plan to board a plane with Fido.

You need to buy an airline-approved option if you want to travel by air.

Your dog will spend extended periods in an airline dog carrier, so you want to look for models with features that will make Fido’s time in the bag enjoyable.

A netting or mesh entrance is an excellent feature. This will allow for adequate air circulation during the trip. 

An airline dog carrier with a side or front pouch is a great option, too. Your dog’s personal belongings or products can go in the pouch.

Bike Dog Carriers

Are you going on a bike ride? You don’t have to leave Fido behind. A good-quality bike dog carrier attaches to your bicycle, allowing your dog to catch a full view of the beautiful outdoor scenery.

Bike dog carriers are most suited to smaller dogs. In any case, it is essential to look for models with extra-durable bottom construction when choosing this type of carrier. This will provide adequate support for your dog’s weight. 

Make sure to pick one with durable straps that won’t easily come off your bike. Nylon and Velcro straps are great options. 

A safety leash to secure your dog is also an excellent feature to look for in a bike dog carrier.

Fashion Dog Carriers

This category is for you if you prefer chic and modern dog carriers. Manufacturers design these options to combine functionality with class. Who says you can’t look good with a dog carrier?

Consider a multi-purpose model if you plan to use the fashion dog carrier for car rides, air travel, and strolling with your dog. 

Look for models with rubberized wheels and extendable handlebar if you do a lot of strolling with your dog. You are less likely to feel fatigued from dragging your dog’s weight around with these features.

Although not necessary, an over-the-shoulder strap will make a fashion dog carrier easy to carry around (if you don’t plan to get one with wheels).

A tough-shell option can provide extra protection similar to a traditional dog carrier. Some models are collapsible, allowing for convenient storage when not in use.

Backpack Dog Carrier

You can travel with your dog on your back, thanks to backpack dog carrier designs. These options typically feature durable straps and some form of ventilation to keep your pup comfortable on your back.

The great thing about these types of carriers is that many of them can work as backpacks and duffle bags. The carrier can hang on your back like a backpack with adjustable straps, and the reinforced handlebars convert it into a duffle bag. 

Keep an eye out for models with durable zipper closures. This will ensure that your canine friend stays put in the bag. Also, a mesh design will increase breathability. Make sure a backpack dog carrier has this feature if you plan to use the bag for travel.

Consider a model with waterproof construction if taking your dog out during the rainy season is something that appeals to you.

Handbag Dog Carrier

A handbag style might be what you are looking for if you prefer designer bags for your dog. Similar to chic dog carriers, handbags help you retain your chic style while carrying your four-legged friend.

Options with mesh side entrance offer improved breathability. In addition to air circulation, your dog can see what’s happening outside the carrier.

Some models come with adjustable sun-roof closure, so your dog won’t feel trapped inside the bag.  If you prefer the handbag style, look for models with built-in leash holders. This feature will keep Fido from jumping or falling off.

What to Look for in Good-Quality Dog Carriers

Image source: Pixabay

It’s easy to get carried away by chic and eye-catching designs, but you don’t want to spend money on a dog carrier only to go shopping again after a couple of outings. 

A durable and sturdy dog carrier is not difficult to spot if you know what to look for. To help you out, we’ve outlined some of the most important things to keep an eye out for when you go shopping. This list is specific to soft-sided carriers only.


Pay close attention to the construction materials of the carrier. You want to choose something that can withstand wear and tear for a reasonable period. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to keep an eye out for durable materials, such as polyester and fleece.   

It is best to pick a dog carrier crafted with breathability in mind. This is especially true during the warmer months. Remember that your pet will stay inside the bag for extended periods, so make sure you select something that will offer outstanding comfort.

Although this is not necessary, a machine-washable material can make cleaning more accessible and convenient. 

While we are still on the subject of washing your dog’s product, you need to be careful in washing Fido’s bed.

Built-in Leash

A built-in leash helps secure your dog in its carrier. Even if you have a high-spirited pup, a leash ensures your pet won’t fall, slide, or jump out of its holder. Importantly too, you won’t have to worry about your hyperactive canine friend staging an escape.


Keeping your dog safe while inside its comfy carrier is crucial. An agitated puppy might jump out or fall out of the bag while in motion. This is not something any dog owner would want their pet to experience. 

In addition to a built-in leash, closures offer extra protection. They can come in a few different forms, including zippers, buttons, or Velcro. These help to keep the bag partially closed while your pet is inside the bag. 

If your pet has long fur, it’s better to skip zipper closures to avoid catching and pulling the hair.  

On the other hand, energetic dogs can easily break free from carriers with buttons and snap closures. This is why it is critical to understand your dog’s personality before choosing a carrier.

Adjustable Straps

Carrying your dog around all day can cause fatigue, but bags with adjustable straps can lessen the weight you feel while lounging your dog around. 

Look for brands that offer options with adjustable straps. These will usually have metal rings or plastic buckles that let you change the length and height of the straps from time to time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a dog crate and a dog carrier?

Dog carriers and crates are often generally called kennels. Even though they are both places where dogs are kept, they are not the same. A dog crate is not designed to be moved around or picked up, at least not when your four-legged friend is inside. On the other hand, a dog carrier is usually a soft-sided pet containment product for transporting your dog.

Are dog carriers safe?

Yes, high-quality dog carriers are good and safe for pets. It keeps the animal safe during travels and can be used to take your dog on planes.

Does a dog carrier count as a carry-on?

A dog in its carrier (or any pet for that matter) is generally considered a carry-on bag. A sturdy dog carrier that can fit under an airplane seat is a great option. But the spaces under airplane seats are not all the same. If you have a bigger dog, it may have to fly as cargo. In any case, it is best to check with the airline first before booking your flight. Also, talk with your vet for helpful advice before flying with your dog.

What is the most comfortable dog carrier?

It isn't easy to choose only one dog carrier as the most comfortable out of the plethora of options out there. A soft-sided carrier is more comfortable than other types. A few of our best recommendations include Panoramic Circular Travel Pet Dog Carrier, Travel Fashion Pet Dog Carrier, Over-The-Shoulder Fashion Backpack Pet Dog Carrier.





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