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13 Best Dog Carriers for Your Next Trip

Here are the best carriers, backpacks and slings for hitting the road with your pup—even if it's just to the vet.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

Rd Ecomm Dog Carriers Ft Via Merchant 4RD.com, via merchant (4)

On top of supplying your pooch with the best dog harnesses and a dog car hammock, a dog carrier is key for traveling. Dog carriers provide a safe, comfortable place for dogs to travel, but not all carriers are the same. Even if the only trip your pup is taking is to the vet, finding a dog carrier for their size is important. The best dog carriers double as a bed and private dog domain at home or on the road. Cat parents know that learning how to get your cat in a carrier is a feat, and the same goes for some dogs who aren’t familiar with carriers.

We found the best dog carriers, including ones for jet-setting on the best airlines for traveling with dogs, staying in pet-friendly hotels and riding in the car. Dog carriers are an essential dog item for the car, airplane, home and beyond.

What to look for when buying dog carriers

Comfort, safety and function are top priorities when buying a dog carrier. Narrow your search by determining what type of travel you need the carrier to suit. Then, pay attention to overall construction, like if it contains proper space and ventilation to keep your pooch cool. Special features like extra storage compartments and overall aesthetic should follow.

Dogs often have a hard time accepting the carrier, making their comfort a top priority. Comfy can mean a cozy, plush fabric interior, or a cave-like hard plastic container that your pup considers his den. Wire crates allow dogs to see outside, but aren’t as cozy or mobile. When you pick up the pet carrier with your dog inside, the base must provide a stable footing that won’t buckle or tip if the they roll over. Wire or plastic crates should include a mat to reduce slip, thus helping dogs feel more confident.

If traveling by plane, make sure the carrier is airline-approved and contains mesh windows for ventilation, leakproof materials and is sized for in-cabin travel or as extra baggage. The best dog carriers have more than one opening, which is important for loading them in and breathability. Every opening should securely close to keep pets from accidental escape. If your dog is a tough chewer, opt for gnaw-proof zippers.

FAQs

What kind of dog carriers are best?

The best carrier depends on your dog and your individual needs. It should feature proper ventilation, sturdy construction, fail-safe door fasteners and offer easy access to your pet. Make cleaning a breeze by opting for washable materials. A soft-sided tote that fits under airplane seats is best for toy dog breeds traveling as a carry-on, and they double as everyday carriers, too. Your dog must stay inside the carrier for the duration of the flight, so comfort is vital. Hands-free options like backpacks and front slings are convenient for everyday trips to the store or for a walk in the park.

Are dog slings a good idea?

Dog slings and backpacks work best for short distances, when hiking or shopping, for example. They aren’t as comfortable for dogs during long periods of travel. They aren’t airline-approved or safe for car travel, either.

How big should a dog carrier be?

A dog carrier should be big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around. Therefore, it must be tall, long and sturdy enough to hold their weight. Measure the length of your dog from nose to the base of their tail, then add about five inches. For a soft carrier, add two or three inches to your dog’s shoulder height. For hard-sided carriers, add three to five inches to their height. Slings and backpacks can fit a bit more snug.

Are dog carriers safe for dogs?

Airline-approved carriers are safest for air travel. Some dog carriers boast passing crash-tests when riding in cars. For optimal safety, secure your dog carrier with a seatbelt.

Evaluation criteria

We chose the best dog carriers based on high user reviews, overall ease of use and consideration of special features, like extra storage compartments for pet accessories. We considered:

  • Quality of materials
  • Overall construction
  • Durability
  • Ease of use
  • Safety features
  • Price

Henkelion Pet Carriervia merchant

Best overall dog carrier

Henkelion Pet Carrier

As the top-ranking soft pet carrier on Amazon, the Henkelion Pet Carrier boasts 32,000 total ratings and rave reviews. Available in two sizes, the medium size is TSA airline-approved for pets up to 15 pounds traveling as an in-cabin carry-on. It’s also sized to fit under the seat. The two connecting loop handles keep the carrier balanced while you carry your pet, and it’s easily secured in the car with a seatbelt. A shoulder strap offers hands-free toting, or you can slip the bag’s strap over the handle of your roller bag. The interior contains a safety tether to keep your pet in place. The large size is ideal for pets up to 25 pounds. Though this size isn’t airline-approved, it’s a top-notch pick for car travel.

“Pleasantly surprised with the quality of this bag,” shares verified Amazon reviewer, CiCi. “Comes with a shoulder strap, regular carrying handles, pocket and slides onto the handles of a rolling suitcase. Lasted through a round trip flight from New York to the West Coast and Canada and my pup slept the whole way!”

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Deluxe zippers and interior tether for safety
  • Four breathable mesh entrances
  • Machine washable wool mat
  • Folds for convenient storage
  • Adjustable shoulder straps and luggage strap
  • Six colors and two sizes available

Cons

  • Entire carrier isn’t machine washable
  • Mesh can become easily damaged by claws or gnawing

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 Roverlund Out Of The Office Pet Carriervia merchant

Most durable soft-sided dog carrier

Roverlund Out-of-Office Pet Carrier

The Roverlund Pet Carrier is made with marine and mountaineering fabric, designed to last during all travel adventures. It comes in two sizes: small (up to 15 pounds) and large (up to 25 pounds). With a leak-proof bottom and washable inner fleece bedding, your pup travels in comfort. The carrier opens on the top and front for easy access, contains a safety tether to clip to the dog’s collar, and features a sturdy carrying handle. The shoulder strap doubles as a leash, too. When your pup isn’t in it, the carrier folds flat for easy storage.

Pros

  • Heavy-duty material stands up to wear and tear
  • Ideal for all types of travel
  • Airline-friendly
  • Doubles as a pet bed
  • Convertible strap/leash
  • Available in six colors and two sizes
  • Top and front openings

Cons

  • Because of the high-quality materials, this dog carrier is on the pricey side
  • Chewers may gnaw at the bed liner

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Wild One Travel Carriervia merchant

Best dog carrier for small pets

Wild One Travel Carrier

Available in three trendy colors, the Wild One Travel Carrier suits small dogs up to 16 pounds. Perfect for the jet-setter with a pooch by their side, the modular carrier is airline-friendly and fits under airplane seats. The zippers snap together for extra security inside. When not on the road, the interior cushion folds out as a comfy dog bed (no calming dog treats needed with your pup this carrier!) and is machine washable. The exterior is best cleaned by hand and dried flat. With a comfortable double handle and a shoulder strap that doubles as a leash, you—and your dog—will enjoy stylish travel with this carrier.

Pros

  • Stylish, airline-friendly pet carrier for small dogs
  • Rolls out into a dog bed
  • Extra storage compartments
  • Lightweight
  • Luggage strap and adjustable carrying strap
  • Machine washable interior cushion
  • Three colors available

Cons

  • Ideal for small pets only
  • Some reviewers find the zippers are difficult to maneuver at times
  • Because of its extra features, this dog carrier is on the pricey side

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Petami Premium Soft Sided Pet Travel Carriervia merchant

Best dog carrier for medium-sized dogs

PetAmi Premium Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

The PetAmi Pet Travel Carrier is available in 13 colorways and two sizes suitable for dogs up to 18 pounds. The sherpa-lined bed is inviting for timid pets and is ideal for comfortable travel. Both ends feature zipper openings for easy loading, with a mesh top for added ventilation. A side zipper opening is perfect for curious pooches who like to peek their head out, while the interior security strap tethers dogs to prevent accidental escape. The zippers include safety buckles, too. The carrier is airline-friendly while seat belt loops make it safe for car rides.

With over 7,000 five-star ratings, this dog carrier is one of Amazon’s favorite pet products. Here’s what verified Amazon reviewer, Marie, says: “This sturdy, attractive case is the perfect size for my Yorkie. I love the pocket for his leash and ‘poop bag’ and the collapsible water/food dish is a thoughtful add-on that I haven’t had with prior travel cases.”

Pros

  • Durable, larger construction for medium-sized pets
  • Zipper locks
  • Storage compartments
  • Airline-approved
  • Nine colors and two sizes available
  • Includes travel water bowl

Cons

  • Some reviewers find the soft sides may collapse in on smaller pets

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Petmate Vari Dog Kennelvia merchant

Best hard-sided dog carrier

Petmate Vari Dog Kennel

This hard-sided pet carrier lasts for years thanks to its durable construction. Available in six sizes, the smallest option suits pets up to 10 pounds and is airline-approved. The 24-inch size suits pets 10-20 pounds and is airline-adaptable. The largest size holds dogs 70-90 pounds and is airline-approved for cargo. The front steel wire door opens in two directions, and the solid construction keeps dogs safe during any adventure.

Pros

  • Durable construction
  • Easy to assemble
  • Great for home or travel, including airplanes
  • Easy to clean
  • Approved as extra baggage for large dogs
  • Available in six sizes

Cons

  • No extra storage compartments
  • Heavy to tote around with large pets
  • Some reviewers find that the door latch on larger carrier sizes is difficult to use

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Morpilot Soft Sided Pet Carriervia merchant

Best fabric dog carrier

Morpilot Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

With over 21,000 Amazon ratings, the Morpilot folding fabric pet carrier is one of the most popular dog carriers. The top and front zipper openings make it easy to load and unload your small dog into the cozy carrier. A fluffy, removable and washable mat turns the bag into your dog’s happy place for naps or enjoying a dog treat. The exterior polyester material is a breeze to spot clean. The top leather handle makes it easy to tote around, and easily secures in the car. It also comes with a collapsible travel bowl for water or food.

Pros

  • Breathable mesh material
  • Strong zippers keep pets safe
  • Two openings
  • Machine washable wool mat
  • Safety interior tether
  • Four colors and two sizes available
  • Front pocket storage

Cons

  • Some reviewers find that this carrier needs to air out before use
  • Dogs may chew or gnaw at mesh material
  • Some reviewers say it doesn’t fit under some airline seats

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Yudodo Small Dog Sling Carriervia merchant

Best sling dog carrier

Yudodo Small Dog Sling Carrier

For on-the-go pet parents taking their pooch on walks or everyday trips to the store, the Yudodo Pet Sling gets high marks from Amazon shoppers. A top-seller with over 26,000 ratings, this hands-free carrier comes in three sizes and 12 colors. Made from breathable mesh and leather, the sling offers durability and doubles as a fun, aesthetic dog product. Reinforced buckles, upgraded zippers, a safety clip and an adjustable neck cinch keep your pup in place while allowing a great view of your trek together.

Pros

  • Durable safety zippers
  • Adjustable neck opening
  • Comfortable wide shoulder strap
  • Safety interior tether
  • Available in 12 colors

Cons

  • Size appropriately, as the opening may constrict the pet’s neck
  • Only ideal for smaller dogs and everyday errands

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Pet Magasin Collapsible Pet Travel Kennel

Best collapsible dog carrier

Pet Magasin Collapsible Pet Travel Kennel

Portable and lightweight, this travel kennel is a great option for taking your small pet to the veterinarian or groomer. It boasts features of both soft- and hard-sided carriers, with flexible sides and a solid top and bottom for stability. And because it’s collapsible, storing it in the car or home is convenient. Large ventilation holes surround the carrier, while the extra strong zippers and heavy-duty, breathable mesh make it safe for your pet.

Pros

  • Collapsible design
  • Innovative and durable structure
  • Ventilation on all sides
  • Spacious top opening
  • Sturdy carrying handle

Cons

  • Beware of weight limitations; heavy pets may pop the top zipper open
  • Not available in multiple sizes, making this carrier ideal for small pets
  • Carry by hand only

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sherpa The Original Pet Carriervia merchant

Best airline-approved dog carrier

Sherpa The Original Pet Carrier

The Sherpa Dog Carrier Bag offers style and meets the airline-approved “Guaranteed On Board” program for small and medium-sized bags. The patented steel wire frame allows the rear to push down and compress several inches to fit beneath the airplane seat without constricting your dog’s head room. The bag also features mesh windows for proper ventilation, strong closures with locking zippers on the front and top openings, a sturdy top handle and a shoulder strap. The washable faux lambskin pad provides a cozy bed for your pet on the road. Sherpa, a quality brand in the pet space, receives glowing reviews from dog lovers traveling with their pets.

Pros

  • Airline-approved guarantee
  • Durable mesh construction
  • Locking zippers
  • Rear storage compartment
  • Folds for easy storage
  • Available in two sizes

Cons

  • Some reviewers find that this carrier runs small, so you may want to size up

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Petami Dog Pursevia merchant

Best purse dog carrier

PetAmi Dog Purse

Fashion conscious dog parents adore this PetAmi Dog Purse Carrier. Airline-approved and sized for convenient travel, this purse carrier turns heads while on-the-go. The top opens wide for loading, featuring both a solid and mesh cover. The zippers include safety buckles and an interior tether clips to the dog’s harness or collar. And the sturdy, double carrying strap is like carrying your favorite purse, only your pup is along for trips now, too.

Pros

  • Adorable design
  • Airline-approved
  • Zipper locks
  • Opening for pet’s head
  • Includes portable water bowl
  • Side storage compartments
  • Nine colors available

Cons

  • Accommodates pets up to 12 pounds only
  • Be careful to check that inside tether does not accidentally wrap around dog’s neck
  • Dogs may chew or gnaw at mesh windows

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Cinf Pet Backpackvia merchant

Best backpack dog carrier

Cinf Pet Backpack

The Cinf Pet Backpack comes in a small size for six-pound pets or a medium size for 12-pound pets. The design allows your dog to sit upright, making them less enclosed and more comfortable. The stylish bag, made with breathable mesh and polyester fiber, allows your dog a pup’s eye view of your walks together. The interior tether hooks to the dog’s collar or halter for safety, and the adjustable cinched opening ensures they don’t jump out. Side mesh panels provide ventilation while the rigid bottom offers support. Wear it as a backpack or front pack to tote your pooch around indoors and out. It’s especially useful when the ground is muddy to keep paws clean.

Pros

  • Backpack design is ideal for outdoor adventures like hiking
  • Durable materials
  • Safety tether
  • Cinched opening adjusts to pet’s size
  • Adjustable shoulder straps

Cons

  • One size available
  • Not ideal for airplane travel

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Sherpa Ultimate On Wheels Dog Carriervia merchant

Best rolling dog carrier

Sherpa Ultimate on Wheels Dog Carrier

Comfort meets airplane-friendly travel with the Sherpa Ultimate On Wheels Dog Carrier. As with the other Sherpa dog carriers, the patented spring steel frame offers flexibility and durable structure. Ventilated mesh panels provide privacy and breathability. Pets enter from the top opening and rest on a machine-washable, faux-lamb lining while they ride. The travel options are endless with this carrier. Roll it on the ground, use the padded carrying straps or opt for a detachable shoulder strap—the choice is yours.

Pros

  • Wheels make for easy, lightweight transportation
  • Airline-friendly and fits under most airline seats
  • Mesh windows with privacy panels
  • Flexible frame
  • Leak-proof material
  • Washable bed liner

Cons

  • Height is smaller than expected to adjust for wheels, so measure your dog accordingly
  • Ideal for pets up to 22 pounds only

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Pet Gear Signature Dog Car Seat & Carrier Bagvia merchant

Best car seat dog carrier

Pet Gear Signature Dog Car Seat & Carrier Bag

This Pet Gear Bag doubles as a car seat and travel carrier. Perfect for dogs up to 20 pounds, the mesh top and sides offer plenty of ventilation. The shape offers your dog lots of space to sit up and poke their head out or curl up during trips. A safety tether keeps dogs from escaping and attaches to seat belts for extra security. Pet essentials ride along, too, thanks to exterior pockets. Stash a portable dog water bottle in there to keep your pup hydrated on the go.

Pros

  • Durable, comfortable carrier for car travel
  • Doubles as a carrying bag
  • Top and front openings
  • Carrying strap
  • Machine washable interior fleece pad cover
  • Exterior storage pockets

Cons

  • Not waterproof or water-resistant
  • Not airline-approved
  • Ideal for dogs up to 20 pounds only

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Amy Shojai, CABC
Amy Shojai, CABC is the Affiliate Pet Editor at Large for Reader's Digest. She's also an award-winning pet journalist and the author of 35 pet titles. She specializes in translating pet medical jargon and shopping information into information pet parents easily understand. Amy shares animal behavior and care information on her blog, and lives in North Texas with her furry muses.