The Best Dog Carriers

It makes sense to take your favorite four-legged family member along with you on trips and outdoor adventures. However, some pups don’t have the physique or stamina to keep up with a daylong bike ride or hike into the mountains. Other times, like when you’re heading off on an airplane, you need a simple, lightweight way to carry your dog. That’s where dog carriers come into the picture. They’re made in several different types with the ability to hold most dogs under 30 pounds. You’ve got your choice of backpacks, slings, extendable and airline-approved models. It’s a matter of finding what works best for you and your dog.

We reviewed dozens of dog carriers to find the best of the best. There are almost as many dog carriers out there as there are dog breeds. We compared styles, size, and durability. We also thought about your dog’s comfort with features like sherpa liners and adjustable enclosure features. We picked our top five along with 20 other dog carriers worth your consideration.

Best Dog Carrier Overall
Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier
Meet the Sherpa Travel Deluxe, a comfortable, airline-approved pet carrier that comes in three sizes and seven colors.

Your dog deserves to travel in comfort, and the Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier has a plush pad and plenty of ventilation so your dog will feel more at home. It includes a spring-loaded fiberglass frame that maintains the carrier’s shape yet conforms to the under-seat space on an airplane. There’s both top and side entry, so your pooch can peak out or come and go from the side once you’ve arrived at your destination. Of course, he’ll also get a good view through the three mesh panels.

The 5 Top-Rated Dog Carriers

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best Dog Carrier OverallSherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier4.6
Best Airline-Approved Dog CarrierAmazonBasics Soft-Sided Pet Mesh Travel Carrier4.5
Best Budget Dog CarrierX-Zone Soft-Sided Pet Carrier4.7
Best Dog Carrier SlingYUDODO Pet Carrier Sling4.4
Best Dog Backpack CarrierPawaboo Pet Carrier Backpack4.1

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Best Dog Carrier Overall: Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier

The Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier brings comfort and all the right features for traveling with your dog. A soft, sherpa-lined mat gives your dog a place to snuggle down. It’s also removable and machine washable, making it easier to maintain. A spring-loaded, fiberglass frame maintains the structure of the carrier even when you need to slide it underneath an airline seat. And, speaking of airline seats, it meets most airlines’ standards for pet travel. You should, however, check with the airline before flying, as each one has its own guidelines.

You can carry the Sherpa with the shoulder strap or padded handles. We like the wood stability board (wrapped in a waterproof liner) that maintains the overall structure of the carrier. Finally, this carrier offers both top and side entry, so your dog can peak out while you walk around or use the carrier as a kennel while you travel.

The Sherpa comes in three sizes and seven colors. Pick the size based on your dog’s length and height measurements, but before ordering, make sure that your dog does not exceed the bag’s weight limits. If he does, order one size up.

Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier Key Features:

  • Top and side entry
  • Removable, machine washable padded liner
  • Spring-loaded fiberglass support frame
  • Hand and shoulder straps
  • Three (3) sizes
  • Seven (7) colors

Best Airline-Approved Dog Carrier: AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Carrier

Best Airline-Approved Dog Carrier
AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Carrier
You can’t go wrong with a carrier that provides 360-degree ventilation, is lightweight, and comes in three sizes.

The AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Carrier makes air travel as stress-free for you and your dog as possible. First, it’s got 360-degree ventilation, so your dog stays cool and comfortable. We also like the removable, machine washable fleece pad. An interior that’s both comfortable and easy to clean will keep both you and your dog happy.

The soft-sided design holds its shape but also conforms to fit under most airline seats. We always suggest calling the airline beforehand because each airline has its own standards and guidelines when it comes to pet travel.

You can carry this model over your shoulder with the adjustable, padded shoulder strap or use the carrying handles. And, it has both side and top entry. When you’re walking through the airport, some dogs may enjoy sticking their head out the top so they can keep an eye on where you’re going. However, the side entry lets the carrier double as a kennel once you reach your destination.

AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Carrier Key Features:

  • Top and side entry
  • Shoulder strap and carrying handles
  • Machine washable fleece pad
  • 360-degree ventilation
  • Three (3) sizes

Best Budget Dog Carrier: X-Zone Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

Best Budget Dog Carrier
X-Zone Soft-Sided Pet Carrier
Welcome to the X-Zone, an airline-approved pet carrier for dog owners on a budget.

If you’re traveling on a budget, the X-Zone Soft-Sided Pet Carrier keeps your dog safe but goes easy on your budget. There’s anti-scratch, breathable mesh on three sides so your dog won’t overheat, and he can see what’s going on around him. The soft-sided design allows it to fit comfortably under most airline seats. However, as always, we recommend talking to the airline before you travel to make sure it meets their specific guidelines.

A shoulder strap or carrying handles let you carry your dog in relative comfort. The top and side entry panels not only give you more than one way to move your dog in and out but also allow him to peek out the top while you travel. However, when necessary, locking zippers keep him contained and safe.

What would a dog carrier be without a removable fleece pad? In a word – uncomfortable. The X-Zone’s pad keeps things cozy but cleaning easy. Finally, one of our favorite extra features on the X-Zone is the side storage pocket. A few dog treats or a favorite toy can work wonders when your dog gets anxious.

X-Zone Soft-Sided Pet Carrier Key Features:

  • Top and side entry
  • Padded shoulder strap and carrying handles
  • Mesh ventilation on three sides
  • Two (2) sizes
  • Three (3) colors
  • Removable, washable pad

Best Dog Carrier Sling: YUDODO Pet Carrier Sling

Best Dog Carrier Sling
YUDODO Pet Carrier Sling
The YUDODO creates a comfortable, cozy pouch so your dog can come along on your adventures.

The YUDODO Pet Carrier Sling offers a different design for carrying smaller dogs. Basically, it’s a crossbody bag with a zippered pouch for your pup. An interior leash helps him safe while riding along. There’s plenty of room for your dog to stick his head out through the zippered opening. For his safety, a self-sticking closure secures the zipper while a drawstring adjusts the opening to custom fit your dog.

Made of leather and mesh, this bag combines durability with breathability. The wide leather shoulder strap won’t break and spreads the dog’s weight across your shoulder to reduce discomfort.

For your convenience, the shoulder strap has a quick access cell phone pouch. The YUDODO is meant for small breeds but comes in two sizes so you can make sure to get a good fit.

YuDODO Pet Carrier Sling Key Features:

  • Made of leather and mesh
  • Adjustable shoulder strap
  • Zippered opening with self-sticking security feature
  • Drawstring opening
  • Two (2) sizes
  • Six (6) colors

Best Dog Backpack Carrier: Pawaboo Pet Carrier Backpack

Best Dog Backpack Carrier
Pawaboo Pet Carrier Backpack
The Pawaboo lets your dog ride along on bike rides and backpacking day trips.

The Pawaboo Pet Carrier Backpack lets you take your dog on adventures he might not otherwise be able to handle. This backpack can be worn on your front or back for a bike ride, hike, or even a long walk. It’s designed with leg and tail holes so your dog stays comfortable for the entire ride.

You can adjust the fit around your dog’s head with hook and loop closure. There are also side zippers so it’s easier to get your dog inside and loaded. The Pawaboo is designed for the comfort of both the wearer and the rider with an interior sponge lining. It pads your body but still allows airflow to prevent overheating. Finally, wide, adjustable straps cross over your body to keep the pack secure.

Pawaboo Pet Carrier Backpack Key Features:

  • Wearable on the front or back
  • Adjustable head opening
  • Side zippers
  • Back padding
  • Wide shoulder straps

Who Should Buy a Dog Carrier

While there are some medium-sized breeds that will fit in a dog carrier, for the most part, dog carriers are designed for small breeds. Little dogs may wear out before their walk is through, be too small to travel over rugged terrain, and sometimes you just want to take him along to the store or a lunch date. In any of these cases, a dog carrier would make it easier to travel with your pup.

Dog carriers also come in handy when traveling by car, train, or plane. Small breeds traveling in the plane’s cabin will need a dog carrier that keeps them safe, well ventilated, and contained. These models can also double as a kennel once you reach your destination. Really, if one of these small breeds is part of your family, at one point or another, there’s a good chance you’ll need a dog carrier.

If you’re looking for extra travel options, consider a dog travel crate or dog stroller.

Best Dog Carrier Overall
Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier
Meet the Sherpa Travel Deluxe, a comfortable, airline-approved pet carrier that comes in three sizes and seven colors.

Important Features to Consider

A dog carrier should do several things well and have a few key features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a dog carrier:

  • Type. Backpacks, slings, purses, and expandable are just a few of the available dog carrier options. Think about the kind of activities on which you’d like to take your dog. Do you want to go on day hikes into the mountains? If so, a hiking backpack or sling is probably the best choice. Do you hop on a plane for weekend vacations? Expandable and airline-approved dog carriers should be on your shortlist. Where you would like to take your dog and how you would like to carry him can help you decide what type of dog carrier would be best for you.
  • Size. Most dog carriers come in a few different sizes. Read the manufacturer’s sizing guide. Most of the time, you’ll need to measure your dog’s length and height. However, most dog carriers also have a weight limit. Even if your dog fits within the carrier’s measurements, if he weighs too much, you may need to get a size up or get a different carrier.
  • Ventilation and breathability. Dogs easily overheat. Your dog should be able to get his head into the open air or have access to ventilation through mesh panels. Ventilation on at least three or four sides provides the best ventilation. For backpack and sling carriers, look for breathable fabrics like cotton.
  • Cleaning ease. Dogs make messes. That’s a simple fact of dog owner life. Machine washable dog carriers are by far the easiest to manage. Just make sure all components are at least hand washable.
  • Strap width. Whether you’re carrying the dog over your shoulder or using the carrying handles, wide straps make things more comfortable. A wider width spreads out the weight and pressure of the dog’s body on your shoulders, which reduces fatigue. Look for carriers with wide, adjustable straps to get the most comfortable fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size pet carrier do I need for my dog?

Your dog should be able to stand up and turn around in an airline-approved carrier. Slings, backpacks, and purses are a little different. Your dog should be able to fit and ride comfortably in these designs with room to sit or lay comfortably. Measure your dog’s length and height and compare it to the manufacturer’s sizing guide. Weigh your dog as well to make sure the carrier is sturdy enough to hold him.

Do dogs have to be in a carrier on a plane? 

Dogs have to be inside of a carrier while on an airplane, whether they travel as a carry-on in the cabin with you or checked into the luggage compartment in a hard-sided carrier. He cannot be removed from the carrier while in flight.

Should a dog be able to stand in a carrier? 

For the most part, yes, a dog should be able to stand inside the carrier. Some purse carriers are designed for the dog to stand with her head out of the purse. The reason you want your dog to be able to stand in most carriers is so that he can turn around and get comfortable. The exception would be with slings and backpacks. With these types of carriers, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions and sizing guide to make sure your dog fits and is carried safely.

Are dog slings safe?

They are as long as they’re used correctly. Your dog should fit snuggly into the carrier, but his breathing should be in no way restricted. Give your dog a chance to get himself adjusted before you zip or adjust the sling on your body. Keep an eye on your dog’s temperature. If he starts panting, he may be getting too hot. Slings, after all, keep your dog close to your body, where it’s easier to overheat. And, you don’t want to forget to let your dog out for a bathroom break. Dogs with mobility issues or joint pain may not be comfortable in a sling. A more traditional, airline-approved carrier may be more comfortable for these dogs.

Other Products We Reviewed

Best Dog Carrier Overall
Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier
Meet the Sherpa Travel Deluxe, a comfortable, airline-approved pet carrier that comes in three sizes and seven colors.

We looked at the 20 other dog carriers. These models didn’t quite make our 5 best dog carriers list, but they’re still some excellent carriers worth considering. We’ve included the information you need to compare each model in our listing.

Airline-Approved Dog Carriers

Akinerri Pet Carrier

Akinerri Pet Carrier

The Akinerri has a slide side strap that allows the carrier to fit on the handle of rolling luggage, perfect for trips through the airport.

Key Features: 

  • Top and side entry
  • Removable, hand-washable mat
  • Slide strap

Cost: $20

EliteField Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

EliteField Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

Two sizes, storage pockets, and excellent ventilation make this soft-sided carrier a great choice for the frequent flier.

Key Features:

  • Two (2) sizes
  • Removable fleece bed
  • Internal leash

Cost: $26

Paws & Pals Pet Carrier

Paws & Pals Pet Carrier

Built-in seatbelt safety buckles make it easy to go from your car to the airport and back again with this well-ventilated carrier.

Key Features:

  • Machine washable
  • Removable, washable fleece pad
  • Two entry points

Cost: $15

PetAmi Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

PetAmi Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

Ventilation panels on four sides keep your dog cool while you both travel in style.

Key Features:

  • Thirteen (13) color options
  • Sherpa padded liner
  • Two (2) side entry points

Cost: $31

Dog Sling Carriers

Alfie Chico Reversible Pet Sling Carrier

Alfie Chico Reversible Pet Sling Carrier

The adjustable shoulder strap makes this a great sling for a multi-user family.

Key Features:

  • Holds up to 12 pounds
  • Security leash
  • Six (6) colors

Cost: $20

iPrimio Dog Sling

iPrimio Dog Sling

Reversible, machine washable fabric makes this an easy carrier to wear and maintain.

Key Features:

  • Holds up to 12 pounds
  • Reversible fabric
  • Four (4) colors

Cost: $16

RETRO PUG Pet Carrier

RETRO PUG Pet Carrier

A wide, adjustable shoulder strap keeps this sling comfortable for long treks.

Key Features:

  • Two (2) colors
  • Waterproof fabric
  • Holds dogs up to 20 pounds

Cost: $30

Slowton Pet Carrier

SlowTon Pet Carrier

A padded, adjustable shoulder strap, storage pocket, and security leash are only three of the features that make this sling a pleasure to wear.

Key Features:

  • Zippered front storage pocket
  • Made of breathable cotton
  • Padded, adjustable shoulder strap

Cost: $23

TOMKAS Carrier Sling

TOMKAS Carrier Sling

A sling that’s both reversible and machine washable makes taking your pup along easy and comfortable for you both.

Key Features:

  • Reversible design
  • Security leash
  • Meant for dogs up to 10 pounds

Cost: $19

Dog Backpack Carriers

K9 Sport Sack

K9 Sport Sack

If you’re a hiker, this is the carrier for you. It has side ventilation, compression straps, and a chest strap to keep it comfortable on long treks.

Key Features:

  • Storage pocket detaches
  • Fourteen (14) colors
  • Holds up to 30 pounds

Cost: $90

NICREW Pet Backpack Carrier

NICREW Pet Backpack Carrier

The NICREW’s straps can be worn in two configurations, giving you multiple ways to get comfortable.

Key Features:

  • Four (4) sizes
  • Built-in security leash
  • Zippered side openings

Cost: $16

Outward Hound PoochPouch Front Carrier

Outward Hound PoochPouch Front Carrier

Take your pup on long walks and hikes with a front carrier that keeps him snug and safe.

Key Features:

  • Two (2) sizes
  • Two (2) colors
  • Interior safety harness

Cost: $25

PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier Backpack

PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier Backpack

This large backpack gives your dog a little extra space when you head out together.

Key Features:

  • Two-sided access
  • Side storage pockets
  • Sherpa lined pad

Cost: $40

PetAmi Premium Pet Carrier Backpack

PetAmi Premium Carrier Backpack

Hip and chest straps provide a snug fit that keeps the harness in place, and the dog’s weight evenly distributed.

Key Features:

  • Sherpa pad
  • Nine (9) colors
  • Ventilation on four sides

Cost: $29

Pet Gear I-GO2 Roller Backpack

Pet Gear IGO2 Roller Backpack

This backpack can be wheeled through the airport as easily as it fits on your back. It’s also roomy enough for your pup to get comfortable.

Key Features:

  • Four (4) sizes
  • Six (6) colors
  • Telescoping handle

Cost: $76

Whizzotech Adjustable Pet Carrier Backpack

Whizzotech Adjustable Pet Carrier Backpack

The Whizzotech can be worn as a front or backpack. With four sizes and six colors, this pack gives you lots of options for packing along your pooch.

Key Features:

  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Four (4) sizes
  • Six (6) colors and patterns

Cost: $19

Ytonet Backpack Carrier

Ytonet Backpack Carrier

The flexible but sturdy construction of the Ytonet leaves extra room for your pup.

Key Features:

  • Two (2) side storage pockets
  • Removable pad
  • Security leash

Cost: $34

Expandable Dog Carriers

Jet Sitter Expandable Pet Carrier

Jet Sitter Expandable Pet Carrier

Mesh top and side entry panels provide easy access and excellent ventilation.

Key Features:

  • Two (2) expandable panels
  • Soft, fleece liner
  • Seatbelt strap buckles

Cost: $45

Pet Preppy Expandable Pet Carrier

Pet Preppy Expandable Pet Carrier

Pet carriers can double as kennels, especially when they expand on two sides like the Pet Preppy.

Key Features:

  • Soft, fleece liner
  • Top and side entry
  • Interior security leash

Cost: $40

X-ZONE Pet Carrier

X-ZONE Pet Carrier

Top and side entry panels provide easy access. A comfortable fleece bed makes sure your pup stays cozy while you travel.

Key Features:

  • Two (2) sizes
  • Four (4) colors
  • Security leash and self-locking zippers

Cost: $36

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