When you think about dog carriers, small purse-style carriers are probably the first thing that come to your mind. While these are arguably the most popular style, they aren't the only option available. In this ranking of the best dog carriers on the market, we've picked the top models for small breeds, large breeds, traveling and more!
There are several factors to consider when choosing the right carrier for your pup. What size will you need? Will you be traveling with the carrier? Do you want a hard carrier or one with soft walls? Fortunately, there are models available to meet all of these needs.
We've bought, tried, tested and reviewed many different types of pet carriers for dogs to pick out the best ones out there for different breeds, various occasions and needs.
Choosing the Right Style
If you have a small breed, you'll have a lot more dog carrier styles to choose from. From hard-sided crates with multiple doors to stylish purse-style carriers, there are hundreds of options for small breeds. The larger your dog is, the less options you'll have. Most carriers for large breeds have hard sides and castor wheels to make it easy for you to transport your pet from one place to another.
As far as your dog is concerned, the style of the pet carrier won't make much of a difference. As long as it is the right size, your pooch will be comfortable. The style of the carrier you choose really comes down to your own personal preferences. Think about how you'll be using the carrier, and make your choice based on your needs.
- plastic carriers
- carrier bags
- carrier slings
- carrier backpacks
Dog carrier slings and backpacks are not suitable for every dog or every owner. You need to be strong enough to heft these types of dog carriers. These carriers also keep your pooch very close to you, but some dogs may want their own space. For this reason, I'm focusing on carrier bags and plastic carriers in this article.
If you're just going to be taking your dog to the vet a couple of times per year, you can probably settle for a cheaper dog carrier that doesn't offer a lot of features. But, if you're planning to take Fido along on longer trips and adventures, you'll want to find a high-quality carrier that will meet all of your needs.
Do you need storage space in the carrier to keep food, treats or toys? Would you prefer a carrier with wheels for easier travel? Will you be traveling by plane, train or bus? Consider all of your needs to ensure that you choose a carrier that will be suitable. For example, if you're traveling by plane, train or bus you will need to purchase a carrier that meets the travel company's specifications. Don't worry, I'll discuss this more in a minute.
How to Measure Your Dog for a Pet Carrier
Many of the best dog carriers are returned after purchase because the owner didn't pick the right size. Don't make this mistake! Follow these steps to measure your dog for a carrier properly.
A dog crate that is too small will confine your pet and make him uncomfortable. This will cause him to dislike his carrier, and it's likely that you'll have trouble getting him to climb into the carrier willingly when you need him to. He will be more likely to whine and try to escape the carrier if it's too cramped.
A dog carrier that is too large will cause problems as well. One of the most common problems seen when a carrier is too large is that the dog will use the bathroom on one side of the carrier and sleep on the other. Your dog may also get jostled around in a carrier that is too large for him.
Here are the measuring guidelines that you will need to follow to ensure you purchase the right size carrier for your pet:
- Measuring to find the right length: You'll need to measure the length of your dog from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. Now, add 2″ to that measurement if you have a small/medium breed and 4″ if you have a large/extra large breed. This is the length of the carrier that you will need. It will allow your dog enough space to turn around comfortably.
- Measuring to find the right height: You'll need to measure your pet's height from the floor to the top of his head if he has floppy ears. If he has erect ears, you'll need to measure from the floor to the tip of his ears. Now add 1″. This is the height of the carrier that your dog will need.
- Measuring to find the right width: Measure the widest point across your pet's chest. Now add 4″. This is the correct width for the carrier.
Do You Need an Airline Approved Option?
Flying with a dog is a living nightmare for a lot of pet owners, but the best dog carriers for air travel will make it much easier. An airline approved dog carrier is any animal carrier bag that has specific size dimensions and a few essential features required to comply with airline guidelines. It is also important to note that since every airline has different requirements for traveling pets, some carriers might be “approved” by some airlines and not approved by others.
If you are buying a dog carrier for a specific flight trip and you know which airline you’re going to use, it’s a good idea to buy a carrier that fits that airline's requirements exactly.
On the other hand, if you're looking for a general all-purpose dog carrier that will be suitable for most of your future flights, train trips or bus rides, then consider the requirements of the travel company that you most frequently use. You can also get a bag that satisfies the requirements of most airlines. A majority of popular airlines offer detailed guides on how to travel with pets – take a look at the requirements of American Airlines, Alaska Air, or Delta, for example. You can find similar pages on pretty much any other travel company's website.
Generally speaking, an airline approved dog carrier should be small enough to fit under an airplane seat but be large enough to offer enough comfort and freedom to your dog. Naturally, not all dogs are allowed to fly in airplane cabins. Part of the requirements of many airlines is that the dog should be comfortable and calm while flying. Obviously, not all dogs will fit into this category.
The carrier that you're considering should also be well-ventilated, because dogs tend to get stressed and anxious during travel. When they're nervous, dogs may breath especially heavy and need plenty of fresh air. A built-in leash and an ID tag are other optional features of pet carriers that some travel company's may require you to have. Lastly, keep in mind that a majority of travel company's will count your dog carrier as your carry-on luggage, therefore having enough extra pockets on the bag to hold a few belongings could a great idea.
Which Dog Carrier is Right for Your Pet?
I've done tons of research and testing in my own home with my own dogs to find ten of the best carriers for dogs. This research has helped me to write this buying guide, and I'll be sharing pros and cons of each model from my own first-hand experience. I've picked the best carriers for small breeds, medium and large dogs, as well as options for owners who will be traveling with their canine companion.
You'll see that my overall top choice is the Petmate Two-Door Top Load Dog Carrier. As the name suggests, this carrier has two doors – one on the top and a traditional door on the front. If your pet will walk nicely into his carrier, you have that option. For more nervous dogs, you can set them in the carrier by way of the door on top. It's a sturdy carrier with hard sides that is ideal for traveling, and it's approved by most airlines.
Below I'll explain all about the different features of each dog carrier, including my top Petmate pick. Plus, I'll show you some other great alternatives that may be the best option for you and your pet. Keep in mind that I have tested dozens of dog carriers, but only my top 10 picks made this list.
Top 10 Best Dog Carriers for Different Needs
1 Petmate Two-Door Top-Load Pet Carrier
Best choice for small breeds
As I mentioned, these best dog carriers from Petmate are only for small dogs. They are available in a 19″ length and 24″ length. The 19″ carrier can hold dogs weighing up to 10 pounds, and the 24″ crate can hold dogs weighing up to 20 pounds. My video review below features the 19″ model.
The top and bottom of the crate come apart for easy storage, and as you will see in my video review, it's very easy to assemble. The top and bottom pieces are made of 95% pre-consumer recycled plastic. The bars on the front door are made of steel.
My favorite thing about this carrier is that it has 2 doors. The door on the top allows you to pick your pup up and place him gently inside. This is much easier than forcing your dog through the front door of the carrier. The Petmate Two Door Top Load Pet Carrier also features an ergonomically designed handle that makes it easy to carry around.
I also like the extra ventilation added on all sides and the top of the carrier. No matter where or how you'll be traveling, your pup won't get overheated while riding in this carrier.
The outside dimensions of the 19″ carrier are 19.4″L x 12.8″W x 10″H. The interior dimensions are 16.5″L x 10.5″W x 9″H. The 24″ carrier measures 24″L x 16.8″W x 14.5″H on the outside and 21″L x 14.75″W x 13.25″H on the inside. These best dog carriers are also available in Pearl White, Pearl Honey Rose (the color featured in my review), Metallic Pearl Ash Blue and Metallic Pearl Tan.
You can purchase the Petmate Two Door Pet Carrier for $32.95-$39.99 on Amazon, depending on the size you need. Compared to other similar products, that's a very affordable price. While it's limited when it comes to sizing options, this is definitely a good option for pet owners with small pups.
For a closer look and its buying guide, check out my extensive review here or watch the video below.
2Midwest Homes for Pets Skudo Plastic Carrier
Best choice for large breeds
It is true that most dog carriers are meant for small breeds, but owners of large breeds need carriers too! The Skudo Carrier from Midwest Homes for Pets is available in sizes up to 36 inches long. It is made of durable plastic with a metal door to keep in large dogs that may push on the door or scratch at the sides.
As you'll see in my video review below, the top and bottom are attached with snap-lock buckles. The top nests inside the bottom of the crate for easier storage. The snap-lock buckles allow for easy setup when you're ready to put the Skudo Carrier back together.
The company does state that this crate can be used for airline travel. Just be sure to call ahead to be sure that it meets the airline's requirements. A carrier this large will need to be stored in the cargo area of the plane, and they'll likely have requirements about water, food and labels that need to be attached to the carrier.
In my video review, I demonstrate how easy it is to move this carrier when you attach the castor wheels. Unfortunately, these wheels are not included when you purchase the Skudo Dog Carrier. You can purchase them separately for $28.99 on Amazon.
There are swivel handles on the top of the larger carriers, which make it easy to pull around when on wheels. Obviously, if you have a large dog, you're not going to be able to lift the carrier when he's inside. The smaller sizes have a traditional handle on the top for easy carrying. In my video review, I demonstrate how easy it is for me to pull our 75-pound Labrador around in one of these best dog carriers.
The Skudo Dog Carrier isn't just for large dogs. It's available in 6 sizes:
There is plenty of ventilation all around this carrier. There are also two small compartments on the top that you could use to store your dog's collar, leash or toys.
I like the locking mechanism on the door, but some people may have trouble with it. As you can see in the photo on the left, the yellow mechanism on the door is a safety latch that allows you to ‘lock' or ‘unlock' the door. Once set in the unlocked position, you'll still need to squeeze the little levers together and pull to open the door.
For anyone with weak hand strength or arthritis, this could be an issue. However, having a secure lock is obviously a very good feature. The other yellow locking mechanism in the photo above is a lock for the buckle. Those buckles are placed all around the carrier to securely attach the top of the carrier to the bottom.
I've done a lot of research and tried a lot of different dog carriers. In my opinion, this is the best dog carrier for large breeds. As far as a carrier for small dogs goes, it's pretty similar to other products on the market. No matter what size you need, I think the Skudo Dog Carrier is a good value for the money you'll spend.
At the time of this review, the Skudo Dog Carrier sells for $25.19-$159.99 on Amazon. Of course, when you add on the extra expense of the accessories this carrier does become a little pricey. It is made with durable materials, so I believe this carrier would last throughout the life of your pet. It is definitely a good value for the money, especially if you have a large breed.
For more information, take a look at my detailed product review or watch the below video.
Best airline-approved carrier
This soft-sided dog carrier claims to be airline-approved. Of course, you'll want to check with the travel company you're using to be sure. When the expansions are closed, it measures 11″W x 18″L x 11″H. The expansions add an extra 10″ long space on each side of the carrier. This carrier is recommended for pets weighing less than 15 pounds.
While this is a soft-sided carrier, it's not as flimsy as similar carriers. There is a thick wire frame that provides stability on all sides. Similar to the Petmate carrier in my first spot, these best dog carriers have a zippered door on the top. This allows you to place your dog inside very easily. The added stability from the wireframe keeps the sides from caving in on your pet, too. The wireframe also keeps the sides in shape, allowing you to fold this carrier flat for easy storage.
Every high-quality soft-sided crate should have a safety leash to clip to your dog's collar. The PetsFit Expandable Pet Carrier has one of these leashes, and it's very handy to prevent your dog from jumping out the minute you unzip the door. This carrier also comes with a fleece pad to provide extra comfort for your dog and a collapsible travel bowl. The bowl is handy for providing water to your pet while on the go. The pad is machine washable.
PetsFit carrier for traveling on a plane with your dog, I think it would be a very convenient option (as long as it meets the sizing guidelines for the airline you're flying with). It has a shoulder strap that makes it easy to carry smaller pets, and there is also a side strap that fits over the handle of a standard rolling suitcase.
You can get this dog carrier in black, grey, or red. There is also an option to get a black carrier with an attached play tunnel. I think this option would be best if you're going to travel long distances with your canine companion. You can let him stretch his legs a little without having to worry about him escaping.
The PetsFit Expandable Pet Carrier sells for $54.99 on Amazon. Compared to other similar products made of the same quality, this is a reasonable price. Keep in mind that soft-sided carriers are not for every dog. If your dog is going to scratch or chew to try to get out, he will easily ruin this (or any other) soft-sided carrier.
4IBIYAYA EVA Wheeled Dog Carrier
Best wheeled carrier
You won't find another dog carrier like this option from IBIYAYA. I've never seen a design quite as unique as this one. In my video review below, you can see how easy it is to convert this carrier from a shoulder bag carrier to a backpack carrier, to a wheeled travel carrier, and finally to a pet car seat. This is absolutely the most versatile dog carrier that I have ever used.
The carrier itself weighs less than 5 pounds, but the total weight of the carrier and the wheeled cart is 6.3 pounds. It's light enough to carry around through airports or bus terminals, and the carrier is light enough for most pet owners to carry their pooch comfortably on their back or over their shoulder.
The IBIYAYA EVA Wheeled Dog Carrier is made of EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) material on the outside, which is lightweight and waterproof. This material is also very durable and is proven to be stress crack resistant. This carrier has even passed a stress crack test!
- apple green
- hot pink
- royal blue
There is plenty of ventilation, and the IBIYAYA EVA Wheeled Dog Carrier also has a small storage pocket on the front. The patented 4-in-1 design features a removable and padded shoulder strap, and the wheeled cart has a telescoping handle. The carrier itself also comes apart and collapses for easy storage, which you can see in the photo below.
The sides of the carrier are secured with zippers. Once removed, the sides become the outer shell of the carrying case, and the middle of the carrier can be folded and placed between the inside. The outer shell can then be zipped together to create a convenient carrying case that is just a few inches tall.
I wish this carrier was available in a larger size, but if your dog can fit inside it's a great option. If you will be using this as a backpack carrier most of the time, you may need to get a different strap. The one that comes with the carrier is just a woven nylon strap, so there is no padding. If your dog is close to the 17-pound mark, you'll probably appreciate having a little padding on your shoulders.
Unfortunately, the price won't fit into everyone's budget. The IBIYAYA EVA Wheeled Dog Carrier can be purchased on Amazon or on the IBIYAYA website for $92.95. Obviously, that's pretty expensive for a dog carrier, but since it's a 4-in-1 product I believe it's still a good value for the money.
For more information on these best dog carriers, read my full product review or watch the video below.
5Aspen Pet Porter Heavy-Duty Pet Carrier
Most durable pet carrier
You will notice a lot of similarities between this carrier and the Petmate carrier in the top spot on my list. They are similar styles, but this option has a few different features and seems to be more durable than the Petmate choice.
The top and bottom of this carrier are made of durable plastic. As you can see in my video review above, there are plastic latches around the sides of the carrier that snap the two halves together. The halves also nest inside each other, which makes it easy to store the Aspen Pet Porter Carrier when not in use.
The door is made of metal and features a latch with a locking mechanism that you have to pinch together to open. This carrier can keep in dogs that scratch and chew, and it would be extremely unlikely that your dog would be able to maneuver the lock open from the inside.
The company does claim that the Aspen Pet Porter Kennel meets “most” travel requirements. Still, you should always check the travel company's website or give them a call to ensure that you purchase a carrier that meets their specific guidelines.
I always worry about our pets getting plenty of ventilation when in a travel carrier like this one. These best dog carriers from Aspen Pet offer 360° ventilation, so you won't have to worry about your pooch overheating while traveling. They are also available in 9 sizes:
- 19″L x 12.6″H x 10″W for dogs weighing up to 10 pounds
- 23″L x 15.2″H x 11.8″W for dogs weighing up to 15 pounds
- 24.1″L x 16.7″H x 14.5″W for dogs weighing 15-20 pounds
- 26.2″L x 18.6″H x 16.5″W for dogs weighing 20-25 pounds
- 28″L x 21″H x 22″W for dogs weighing 25-30 pounds
- 32″L x 23″H x 24″W for dogs weighing 30-50 pounds
- 36″L x 25″H x 27″W for dogs weighing 50-70 pounds
- 40″L x 27″H x 30″W for dogs weighing 70-90 pounds
- 48″L x 32″H x 35″W for dogs weighing 90-125 pounds
Aspen Pet Porter Carriers are also available in 8 colors. Depending on the size and color that you choose, the Aspen Pet Porter Carrier sells for $27.97-$104.99 on Amazon. The prices for the smaller sizes are very reasonable compared to similar products, but the larger sizes are in the middle of the price field.
For more information on these carriers, read my full product review or watch the video below.
Here we have another airline-approved dog carrier. I know I've said it before, but it's important that you check the guidelines of the travel company that you'll be using before embarking on your adventure. It's better to be safe than sorry.
This carrier is only available in one size, which is disappointing. It's made with reinforced polyester and claw-defense mesh. It's durable, for a soft-sided carrier, but it would be nice to see it available in a few different sizes.
The morpilot Pet Travel Carrier Bag measures 17.5″L x 11″H x 10″W. The inside is plush and comfortable, and there are 2 fleece padded mats included with these best dog carriers. The mats can be hand washed and hung out to dry, so while you're cleaning one you'll have another to use inside the carrier.
I was impressed that this carrier features a waterproof liner for easy cleaning if your pup has an accident. In the photo above, you can also see that this carrier has 2 doors – one on the front and one on the top. The top-load door is very beneficial for dogs that aren't exactly cooperative when being placed in a carrier. Instead of trying to push them through the front door, you can just pick him up and place him in the carrier through the top.
The morpilot Pet Travel Carrier Bag is equipped with reflective strips and storage pockets. There is also a seat belt buckle attachment that can secure this carrier during car travel. However, my favorite feature is the mini buckles on the zippers. You don't see this feature on most similar products, but it ensures that your dog cannot escape the carrier by unzipping it from the inside. There is also a tether on the inside that clips to Fido's collar to prevent him from jumping out when you open the door.
This dog carrier is available in Black, Grey, Purple, and Blue. It's currently available for $33.95 on Amazon. Compared to other similar products made with high-quality materials, this is a very affordable price. All in all, I think the morpilot Pet Travel Carrier Bagis a good value for the money.
Another foldable pet carrier, this choice from Pet Magasin has a very interesting design. It is similar to the IBIYAYA design found in the fourth spot on my list, but this one doesn't offer as many options.
The top and bottom consist of a hard shell covered with fabric. The middle is a soft piece of material that is easily folded. As I demonstrate in my video guide below, the top and bottom attach to the middle section with zippers. If you detach them, the middle section folds up easily and can be stored inside the two outer shells. Then, you can zip the shells together to form a circular case that can be stored easily in a closet or taken along while traveling.
When it's assembled, the Pet Magasin Hard Cover Pet Carrier measures 17.5″L x 13″H x 14″W. The hardtop and bottom are waterproof, which means they are easy to clean if your pup has an accident. Best of all, these best dog carriers only weigh 2.2 pounds! You could pack one in a suitcase or easily stow one away while riding in the car.
I was pleased to see that this carrier is also equipped with a zipper lock. This prevents your pup from being able to paw at the door and accidentally slide the zipper open from the inside of the carrier. There is also a soft, fleece-covered bed that comes with this carrier to keep Fido comfortable.
Because it is lightweight and folds flat, the Pet Magasin Carrier is ideal for traveling. Unfortunately, it is only available in this one size, so it will only be suitable for very small breeds. While the company doesn't provide a weight limit, I wouldn't recommend this carrier for a dog weighing more than 15-20 pounds at most.
I do like the mix between a hard and soft carrier. Again, this design is very unique. In fact, it's the only carrier I've ever seen that has soft sides and a hard top and bottom. The hardtop and bottom add stability to the carrier, while the soft sides make it more comfortable for your dog.
Keep in mind that this carrier is not going to be a good choice for pets that like to chew or scratch. If your dog tries to escape when he's enclosed in a crate or carrier, you should purchase a hard-sided carrier (like the Petmate option at the top of this list) instead.
You can purchase the Pet Magasin Hard Cover Pet Carrier on Amazon for $33.48 at the time of this review. For a carrier of this size, it's a little bit more expensive than other products. However, I expected the price to be slightly higher due to the unique design and added features.
For more information, take a look at my detailed product review or watch the below video.
As the name suggests, this is a soft-sided carrier. This carrier style is great for well-behaved dogs, but it's not going to be appropriate for every dog. Soft carriers are only an option for mellow, well-trained dogs. If your dog scratches or chews to try to escape containment, he'll ruin this (or any other) soft-sided carrier.
EliteField states that this carrier is approved for most airlines, but be sure to double-check. The outside of the EliteField Soft Pet Carrier is made with waterproof material. There is also a removable bed with a fleece cover that has an insertable support board to give the carrier its shape.
The interior of the carrier is soft and plush, thanks to the fleece-covered bed. There is also a tether that attaches to the dog's collar to ensure he can't jump out when you open the door. As I demonstrate in my video review below, there are belt loops on the outside of the carrier that allow you to secure it while in the car. If you travel frequently with your dog, this is a feature that you should definitely look for with any carrier that you decide to purchase.
One of the benefits of side-sided carriers is that they are lightweight. This one only weighs 2 pounds! The one thing that sets this carrier apart from other similar products is that it unzips to fold completely flat (as you can see in the photo below). It only takes a few moments to unzip the sides and fold the carrier flat. This is especially handy for traveling or storing when not in use.
This dog carrier is available in two sizes:
- 18″L x 10″W x 11″H
- 20″L x 11″W x 11″H
EliteField is a great company to do business with. I've purchased a number of products over the years, and their customer service is always top-notch. They also offer a 3-year warranty, a 100% money-back guarantee, and a satisfaction guarantee.
The smaller size of the EliteField Soft Pet Carrier is currently selling on Amazon for $31.99, and the larger size sells for $29.99. For a soft-sided carrier of this size, this is a great value for the money. The waterproof material and fleece bed are higher quality than many similar products, but the price is still very affordable.
For more information on these best dog carriers, read my full product review or watch the video below.
Similar to the EliteField carrier above, this is a soft-sided crate. The outer shell is waterproof and made of breathable 600D oxford material. One end zips open for your pooch to make his way inside. The other end features a half-zip opening, which allows you to easily access your pet if needed. On the front side is a multifunctional pocket for a leash, collar, or any other supplies you may need to bring along.
This carrier weighs just over 1 pound, making it the lightest carrier on this list. It is only available in one size, measuring 15.7″L x 11.8″W x 7.9″H. It can only hold pets weighing up to 10 pounds.
Inside you'll find a removable fleece mat to keep your dog comfortable during travel. Speaking of carrying, there is a carrying handle and adjustable padded shoulder strap. It's also available in blue and pink colors.
You can purchase the ZaneSun Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier on Amazon for $17.99, which also makes it one of the cheapest pet carriers on this list. The company even offers a 30-day 100% risk-free satisfaction guarantee and a 12-month warranty.
The Gorilla Grip Original Pet Carrier Bag rounds off my list of the best dog carriers. It features 4 soft mesh doors – 1 on the top, 2 on the sides, and 1 on the front of the carrier. All 4 of the zippered exits have safety clips, and this bag also has an internal leash to ensure your pet stays put. It is suitable for dogs weighing less than 15 pounds.
There is a front storage pocket to keep a leash or collar, as well as an adjustable padded comfort strap with rotating metal hooks to prevent tangles. There is a soft, removable, washable Sherpa bed included to keep your dog comfy. Plus, these best dog carriers come with a free travel bowl to help you provide food and water while on the go. The bowl even fits in the storage pocket.
Safety is always a priority for me, and I really like the zipper-lock clips that keep each zipper secure. You won't have to worry about your dog sliding the zippers open while trying to escape. This carrier measures 17.5”L x 11″W x 11.4” H, and the company says that it is airline-approved.
The Gorilla Grip Original Pet Carrier Bag can be purchased on Amazon for $24.99. It's slightly more expensive than other similar carriers, but the company also offers a 10-year guarantee on the purchase.