Whether you need to bring your tiny puppy to the vet’s office or fly your 100-pound dog to a new home across the country, most dog owners will need to find a carrier for their best friend at some point in their dog’s life. Carriers, like dogs, come in all shapes and sizes, but how do you decide which one is right for your dog? That could depend not only on the size of your dog but also on what you need the carrier for.
In these reviews, we’ll help you make sense of all the choices available so you can pick the best carrier for your dog. There are loads of carrier options available, from basic plastic kennels to fancy designer bags for pampered pets. Let’s look at a few of our favorite picks!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (Updated in 2022)
The 10 Best Dog Carriers
1. Frisco Two Door Top Load Plastic Dog & Cat Kennel – Best Overall
|Available sizes:||19 inches, 24 inches|
|Features:||Top and front doors, comes apart for storage|
Our top choice overall is this popular and practical Frisco Dog Kennel. It comes in two color options and two sizes that can accommodate both puppies and small dog breeds. The carrier is a breeze to assemble with two halves that lock together, wire mesh doors, and multiple ventilation holes, for optimum airflow. It’s made of durable recycled plastic making it eco-friendly and easy to clean, and has doors on both the top and the front for easy access.
Some customers reported this carrier was difficult to open and lock as the two halves were hard to properly line up at times.
2. Petmate Soft-Sided Dog & Cat Carrier Bag – Best Value
|Available sizes:||Medium, large|
|Features:||Top and front doors, handle and shoulder strap|
For the best dog carrier for the money, our choice is the Petmate soft-sided bag. This versatile, lightweight dog carrier features mesh sides to promote healthy airflow and keep your pooch cool. It has openings at the top and sides for easy access. You can use it with a handle or a shoulder strap, and it also has a nifty outside pocket for treats and supplies.
While this carrier is lightweight, it’s certainly not for larger dogs. Pooches weighing more than 5 pounds may easily flip the crate over.
3. Sherpa Forma Frame Dog Carrier Bag – Premium Choice
|Available sizes:||Medium, large|
|Features:||Crash tested, straps in for security|
If you’re looking for a premium option for your pooch, this Sherpa Forma Frame Bag is an ideal choice. The bag is soft-sided but framed for extra sturdiness, making it lightweight yet durable. It’s designed for secure car travel and has been crash-tested to 35 pounds for safety. This bag uses standard car seat tether systems with included seat belt-style straps for strength and added protection. The carrier comes in two sizes, and the extra-large size can accommodate dogs weighing up to 35 pounds. While this carrier is certainly on the pricey side, the safety and durability are well worth it.
4. Jespet Soft-Sided Sport Dog & Cat Carrier Bag – Best for Puppies
|Available sizes:||16 x 11 x 10 inches|
|Features:||Removable pad, exterior pockets|
This Soft-Sided Carrier from Jespet is ideal for puppies as well as small breed adult dogs. While the carrier is soft-sided, it’s designed to hold its rounded shape without collapsing, plus it’s waterproof and a breeze to clean. Both the top and sides are made from a tough EVA material with mesh windows for ventilation, and the carrier easily folds flat for easy storage. It also includes a fleece mat, padded handle, outside pockets for treats and supplies, and side and front openings.
Our only criticism with this carrier is the zippers. They are somewhat sticky and difficult to open and close.
5. Frisco Plastic Dog Kennel
|Available sizes:||Extra-small, small, medium, intermediate, large, extra-large|
|Material:||Plastic, stainless steel|
|Features:||Multiple sizes, sturdy hard plastic|
This Kennel-Style Carrier from Frisco comes in six different sizes, and the extra-large size is over 39 inches long and can accommodate large breed dogs. It’s made of hard, 95% recycled plastic with a steel wire mesh door and multiple ventilation holes, plus is a breeze to assemble with two halves that easily lock together. It features a unique interior moat that keeps paws dry in case of accidents or water spills. The plastic is eco-friendly and easy to clean.
Some customers reported that this carrier has a poor-quality latch, and cracks easily under pressure.
6. Pet Gear I-GO2 Traveler Dog Backpack & Rolling Carrier
|Available sizes:||16 x 12 x 15 inches|
|Features:||Convertible design, rolling wheels|
The I-GO2 Traveler from Pet Gear is a multi-purpose carrier that can be used in the traditional tote bag style, or you can use it as a rolling carrier or backpack carrier. It features a collapsible, telescoping handle, expandable side pockets, and comes in four great color options. It also comes equipped with a fleece top liner and removable pad for easy cleaning. It’s suitable for dogs weighing up to 15-pounds and has mesh windows for airflow and ventilation.
While we love that this carrier can be used in multiple ways, it’s not very comfortable as a backpack due to the heavier weight and plastic frame.
7. Pet Life 360° Vista View House Folding Zippered Dog Carrier
|Available sizes:||Extra-small, small, medium, large, extra-large|
|Features:||Multiple sizes, folds flat, 3 color choices|
The Vista View House Pet Life Carrier comes in five sizes to fit all types of dogs, and the biggest carrier can accommodate dogs weighing up to 80 pounds. It’s soft-sided with mesh windows and has a panoramic sunroof with a sturdy frame for support. It folds flat to just 4 inches for easy storage. It’s crafted with thermal heat retention technology to keep your pooch cozy, scratch-resistant ballistic nylon for durability, and comfy Sherpa padding on the bottom.
This carrier is not designed for use in cars, and the larger sizes won’t fit in the backseat of a car in any case.
8. HDP Paw Style Dog & Cat Carrier Purse
|Available sizes:||Small, medium|
|Features:||Head opening, interior tethers|
This carrier from HDP is a good option if you’re looking for a cute, purse-style carrier. The design allows your dog to get a good view of the world with their head outside the carrier while safely secured inside with tethers for collar or leash. The medium size has two openings—one on each end—to allow for a second pet. It comes with a comfortable shoulder strap, waterproof bottom, and a removable pillow on the inside.
While this carrier is great for casual use, it’s suitable for toy breeds only and is not very secure unless you’re carrying it the entire time.
9. Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog Kennel
|Available sizes:||Small, medium|
|Material:||Plastic, stainless steel|
|Features:||Top and front loading, carry handle|
This Two-Door Top-Loading Carrier from Petmate is a practical, hard plastic carrier. It comes in two sizes to accommodate small to medium-sized dogs weighing up to 20 pounds. It has securely-latched doors on the front and top for security, and easy, versatile access with plenty of ventilation. The doors feature durable steel wire to keep your canine friend safe while providing a great view outside. The carrier has a heavy-duty, ergonomic handle for comfort and safety.
This carrier has several poor-quality components, from the top and bottom pieces not aligning together properly to cracking easily from the slightest knock.
10. Paws & Pals Dog & Cat Carrier Bag
|Available sizes:||small/medium, medium/large|
|Features:||Shoulder strap, removable pad|
This soft-sided carrier from Paws & Pals is approved for airline travel, plus is easily secured with vehicle seat belts. It can fit dogs weighing up to 22 pounds and has a removable fleece bed for easy cleaning. It also has convenient storage pockets for treats and accessories, and mesh panels for ventilation and airflow. You can comfortably carry it with the carrying handle or padded shoulder strap, and it comes in your choice of two colors and sizes.
Several customers reported that the zipper on this carrier is of poor quality and breaks easily. Also, there’s no option for top loading and the design is flimsy overall and collapses easily.
Dog Carrier Buying Guide
While there are plenty of carriers to choose from if you have a small dog, choices become more limited if you need to transport a larger dog in a carrier—the number of carrier options goes up as the size of your dog goes down! For large dogs, hard plastic kennel carriers are the primary option, but for smaller dogs, you have a wider range of material and design choices.
How do you narrow down the options when choosing a dog carrier? It can be helpful to determine exactly how you’ll be using the carrier. Are you planning an airplane trip? Will you be mostly transporting your dog in the car? Maybe you want a stylish bag to tote your best friend around with you wherever you go? If your dog is on the smaller side, there are plenty of choices.
Airline Carriers for Dogs
If you’ll be transporting your dog by plane, the type of carrier you choose becomes especially important. There are pet carrier guidelines for air travel that you’ll need to follow if you want to take your dog with you in the cabin or as cargo.
Check with your airline before purchasing a travel carrier to make sure that it is compliant with that company’s guidelines. Most airlines have an outline that describes the types of carriers that are approved. Generally, for in-cabin use, a carrier must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. In-cabin pet carriers can be either hard or soft-sided, but they need to be small enough to fit under a seat.
If your dog is too large to fit in a small carrier for in-cabin travel, you’ll need a hard-sided kennel carrier that’s approved by your airline for pet travel in the cargo area of the plane. Whether your dog travels in the cabin or the cargo section, the carrier must be large enough for it to fit comfortably, with enough room to stand up and turn around.
How to Choose a Dog Carrier
There are some important considerations when choosing a carrier for your dog. Make sure that your dog can fit comfortably in the carrier by measuring both your dog and the carrier, and verify that your dog’s weight is within the range specified by the manufacturer. Remember, your dog needs room to change positions, especially in a hard carrier, which has less flexibility than a soft one.
The carrier needs to be comfortable for you too! Look for features like ergonomic handles and comfy shoulder strap carrying options. You may also want to consider a carrier with wheels and a telescoping handle like a suitcase. You can also find carriers that work like purses, backpacks, and baby slings, depending on your needs.
Plastic kennel-type carriers don’t have too many bells and whistles, but soft carriers can be a good choice if you are looking for options like exterior pockets and expandable sides. Many carriers also come with a removable interior cushion that fits into the bottom for added comfort. The carrier should be easy to clean and made from high-quality materials. It should also have good ventilation and airflow.
We hope these reviews have helped you narrow down the choices of dog carriers and find the best option for your needs! Here’s a quick recap of our favorites:
For a practical, hard-sided carrier, the Frisco Two Door Top Load Plastic Dog Kennel is a great option and our top choice overall. If you’re looking for a premium dog carrier, the Sherpa Forma Frame Dog & Cat Carrier Bag is a sturdy, soft-sided carrier that’s been crash tested for safe car travel.
Featurd Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock