An easy way to tote your small breed dog around is something that every dog owner needs, whether you're taking a trip to the vet, the park, or whatever destination you and your Fido have in mind. But what's the best fit for you and your pet – dog carrier backpack, dog carrier sling, or something else entirely? We'll take a look at some of these dog supplies to see what fits you.
Backpacks and carriers for dogs are becoming very popular among pet owners. Women in particular seem to make purses and handbags for dogs the new fashion trend instead of pet carriers, with some choosing dog sling over a purse.
When it comes to ergonomics of dog carriers, dog sling and other options, bulky kennel or cages for dogs aren't the first choice. Usually, dog carrier backpack or a dog carrier sling is most convenient for walking about. So let's take a look at which option out of these – a dog backpack or dog sling – is a better choice for you.
EXAMPLES: The 5 Best Dog Carrier Slings
What are dog backpacks and carrier slings?
Backpack carriers for dogs and dog slings each have their pros and cons, and whether or not either is the right fit for you and your dog depends on several criteria:
- Your dog's breed (personality and size in particular)
- Where you're going to use the pet carrier
- Why you think you need a dog carrier in the first place
No matter which pet carrier you choose, both dog backpack carriers and dog slings are good only for small and toy/teacup dog breeds. In fact, most pet carriers, including slings and dog purses, are only rated to carry pets only between 8-15 pounds.
Similarly to dog strollers, some pet owners oftentimes find these dog products confusing or they feel odd lugging their dog in a “purse.” Fear not, because these carriers are becoming very popular. It's similar to mothers who use kid carriers to tote their infant babies around – it's the same idea, only for your fur babies, dogs and cats.
It's also the primary reason for the weight limit on these dog slings and dog backpacks being so low.
Your pet is either hanging off your shoulders and back, or off your side, and too much weight would be uncomfortable for you and likely do damage to your body. Not to mention, a grown chocolate Lab probably wouldn't be very comfortable in a dog sling.
When you're on the lookout for the right dog carrier backpack for you and your pet, you always have an option to shop in a local pet store so you can bring your dog with you and try the dog products before you make your decision.
There are several things you should consider before buying any dog carrier:
- Is it comfortable for your dog?
- Is it comfortable for you?
- Is the material easy to clean?
- Is the carrier easy to put on by yourself?
- Will the color, style, and material match your typical wardrobe?
- Is it adjustable so you can use it for other pets or someone else in your family could wear it too?
With the above in mind, let's take a look at the pros and cons of the two most popular pet carriers – the dog carrier backpack and the dog carrier sling.
READ ALSO: The Best Backpacks and Saddle Bags for Dogs
Dog Carrier Backpack vs. Dog Carrier Sling
It's All Just a Matter of Convenience
As I mentioned, choosing between a dog carrier backpack or a dog carrier sling is really just a matter of your own personal preference. The superiority of one over the other will depend entirely on what you need to get out of your pet carrier and how you use it.
Both types of pet carriers are only suitable for small dog breeds and they are both used for the exact same purpose. Depending on your own comfort, and the comfort of your dog, you will have to decide which dog carrier or dog sling style you like better.
Pros and Cons of Dog Carrier Backpack
How to use a dog backpack carrier: It's all pretty self-explanatory, actually. Place your dog inside the backpack the same way you would slide an infant into a baby backpack. That means pay attention to your dog's comfort, and do it slowly and carefully.
The key with dog backpack carriers is to get your dog used to them so your dog wouldn't be opposed to get into it after the first experience, which may turn out to be unpleasant.
Dog backpack carriers are different from regular backpacks, and here's how.
First, in order to protect your canine from falling out of the backpack, there is often a leash inside that you can hook the dog’s collar onto while carrying them.
Second, while some simple design backpacks for dogs are only made to contain your pet, others of higher quality are equipped with dog supplies-specific storage pockets, full enclosures with mesh netting for ventilation, and even built-in food and water bowls.
REVIEW: K9 Sport Sack Dog Backpack
PROS of Dog Backpack Carriers
The dog also isn’t encumbered by the walls of a crate or kennel, both of which can be nerve-wracking for puppies. This way your pooch is able to see everything going on around him while also being protected.
There's a huge variety of dog backpacks available for purchase – from very fancy high quality ones to cheap dog backpacks. Most of them come with different set of features that will change the way you use them.
For example, there are rolling backpacks you can buy that take the weight off your back whenever you need to do so (perfect for travel and flights). Rolling dog backpacks can be converted into carrying backpacks for dogs by simply pushing the handle down. You can also find backpacks that allow you to carry your pet on your front instead of your back.
Unlike a dog sling, pet backpacks often have a lot of storage pockets specifically for dog supplies so you can place all the other things your traveling dog may need on a trip — dog treats, toys, water. And as noted above, you will often find an attachment leash inside dog backpacks that will secure your dog inside the pet carrier by his collar.
CONS of Dog Backpack Carriers
For example, if your dog has bone or joint issues such as arthritis or osteoporosis, the backpack may not provide adequate support for the dog. It may be uncomfortable for your pet to sit in the position that the backpack puts him in, and it could put unnecessary stress and pressure on his bones and joints.
That said, neither will a dog carrier sling. It's best to avoid any pet carriers if you dog has any joint problems, struggles with canine arthritis of hip dysplasia.
In addition, a dog carrier backpack that doesn’t have some sort of leash or harness inside of it (usually cheap ones do not) opens the dog up to the possibility that he may jump out while you’re carrying him, while it's not the case with a dog sling.
In order to avoid your pet sneaking out of your backpack, be sure to check the brand and features that accompany the backpack you’re purchasing. You want your dog to be snug and secure but not too cramped, as that could cause muscle or joint discomfort.
When compared to dog carrier slings, the main drawback of backpacks is that they are bulkier and take up more space. You cannot fold them and hide them away, so you really need to commit to carry a dog backpack with you and decide whether you need it.
Key takeaway on dog backpacks:
Storage pockets, dog attachment leash and wheels (on some) are the main advantages of dog carrier backpacks over pet carrier slings. You don't get any of these three features with a dog sling. For this reason, backpacks are usually preferred over dog carrier slings by consumers that like to travel with their small dogs.
Travel isn't the only reason to consider these backpacks, however. Dog carrier backpacks can be used for your daily regular trips to the local grocery store or for more rugged hiking adventures. Remember that smaller breeds will get more tired on lengthy hikes than larger dogs, which is where these dog backpacks are extremely helpful.
The only drawback of backpacks when compared to dog sling is that they are bulkier. Also, not all dogs may enjoy not being able to see your face when they're in the back.
Here is one dog owner's experience and outlined benefits of using a dog backpack daily. She talks about the pros and cons, and how she uses her doggy backpack with the pet.
Pros and Cons of Dog Carrier Slings
Another way to carry your dog is a dog sling, but these are not as popular as backpacks or even handbags and purses for dogs. They're rare to see.
Most types of dog carrier slings are made of sturdy fabric that wraps around your pet’s midsection and has handles near the top for you to carry him.
These doggy slings are typically used with older dogs or dogs recovering from an injury that need assistance getting around. They're still not the best way to carry your arthritic dog, however.
Even though it doesn't seem like it, most dog carrier slings are reinforced with strong material that allows for your dog to be held up securely. The sling doesn’t cover your canine's limbs, but it doesn’t allow him to dangle.
These types of midsection dog slings are also very useful for dogs who need their spinal columns to remain straight or who have a rib injury, but you would need to consult with a veterinarian to see whether a carrier sling will fit well your specific dog.
Most pet slings are easy to carry dogs because they have two handles, the way your average grocery bag does. They will stress a certain part of your body more, however. Hoisting larger small dogs is no mean feat, and you need to be cleared for lifting before thinking about purchasing this type of a dog carrier sling.
Another type of dog carrier sling is made of cloth that wraps across your body and allows you to situate your small dog inside the carrier in front of you, like a baby sling carrier. These slings differ in shapes and sizes depending on what you need them for.
This cross-body doggy sling is situated from shoulder to hip, and formulated using a sturdy, reinforced fabric much like the above discussed version of the carrier sling.
RELATED: How to Measure for and Choose the Right Dog Harness (Video)
PROS of Dog Carrier Slings
The main advantage of dog carrier slings is that they allow you to keep your arms free while you’re carrying your Fido.
Whether you're carrying your small dog and walking your large breed on a leash, or you just want your hands free to talk on your cell phone, or hold a cup of coffee, a dog sling for your pet will certainly help in all those respects.
Also, this type of carrier dog sling is secure enough to ensure that your dog is both comfortable and snug. Since these doggy sling carriers rest on your side, your pet is pressed directly against your body.
That physical closeness helps many dogs feel more comfortable and fosters the bond between you and your dog during a trip.
As an example, rear facing dog backpacks can be scary for dogs that aren't used to them because they cannot see you. With a dog sling, it hangs on your side and your dog is able to stick his head out and see the owner whenever he wants. This will give him a feeling of safety and security that your pooch may not get while riding in a doggy backpack.
READ: How to Measure a Dog for Clothing (Video Guide)
CONS of Dog Carrier Slings
Cross-body dog carrier slings are best for the smallest breeds of dogs or puppies only. Usually, their carrying capacity is not expansive, many only rate for dogs under 10 pounds, if that.
Likewise, even if your dog is under the weight limit but they are longer in size, like a Dachshund for example, they still may not have enough room in this type of pet carrier to be comfortable.
After reading a lot of dog carrier sling reviews, I've also noticed that many pet owners made a good point that although their dog met the weight requirements, they were still too long to fit comfortably in a cross-body sling. This was a very common issue with carrier slings.
Case in point: When buying a dog carrier slings, don't go by weight alone – measure.
Another downside to these pet sling carriers is that there is more leeway for your dog to move around, so if you have an energetic puppy or a hyper dog, you may not want to carry them in a carrier sling to avoid trouble.
For hyper dogs, it's best to use a dog backpack that will enclose the pet completely so there is no chance of escape, while with a sling he will have more freedom to move around and either constantly try to escape or fidget so much that it's uncomfortable for you.
Finally, similar to a doggy backpacks, older dogs with joint issues or dogs recovering from an injury would likely find these types of pet carriers uncomfortable and unhealthy. In order to tuck a dog into a sling you would have to bend the legs, which causes discomfort.
Moreover, the gravity weighing down on their already uncomfortable bones and joints would make it even worse. So avoid carrier slings for pets with these health problems.
RELATED: How to Make and Use A Rear Leg Sling for Dogs (DIY Video Guide)
Key takeaway on dog sling:
The main advantage of dog carrier slings is that they may look more stylish. They also are more comfortable in some cases, while not as comfortable in other ways.
Another pro of carrier slings is that most of them allow your pet to see you and look at you whenever he wants, whereas a dog backpack will keep your pooch in the back, facing the back of your head and not being able to see you.
That said, there are more disadvantages of carrier slings when comparing them to dog backpacks. Slings are less sturdy, do not provide clip attachments or storage pockets, and they can only host very small dogs, both in size and weight (usually up to 6-10 lbs).
Take home message
So which one, dog sling or dog backpack? It all depends what you're trying to do.
The bottom line on our comparison of dog carrier slings versus dog backpack carriers is that you must put your pet's comfort first. Measure and weigh your dog, and consider how you're going to use your pet carrier, and then pick the right type for that.
Remember to take into account your dog's physical health condition as well. Either dog backpack or dog sling that's supportive around the dog's midsection is most suitable for dogs that have physical mobility problems or joint pain but is still not recommended.