How to Choose the Right Dog Carrier

small terrier peeking out of a soft-sided dog carrier

A dog carrier can be an essential addition to your dog supplies. If you are traveling, moving, or just going to the vet, a dog carrier can be a useful tool to have on hand. Here’s how to choose the right dog carrier:

Do I Need a Dog Carrier?

A dog carrier helps to secure and contain your dog. They can particularly useful during transport because they tend to be light and easy to carry. Plus, they often have enough room for your dog inside and plenty of storage pockets on the outside for everything you need. If you have a large or giant dog breed, you may not need a dog carrier as you won’t be able to carry them and their crate likely offers better security for your dog.

3 Considerations When Choosing a Dog Carrier

There is a lot to think about when choosing a dog carrier. To make sure you get the right one for your dog, here are some things to consider:

1. Your Dog’s Height and Length

You need to know the size of your dog in order to get the right-sized carrier for them. The most important measurements are your dog’s height and length. For your dog’s height, you want to measure from the top of their shoulders down to the ground when your dog is standing. Then, you want to add a few inches to that measurement. You’ll add about 2-3 inches to the height if you’re considering a soft-sided dog carrier and 3-5 inches if you’re considering a hard-sided dog carrier.

For your dog’s length, measure them from their collar, or where a collar would sit, to the base of their tail, not the tip. Then, add a few inches to the length. If the dog carrier is not a wearable carrier, these measurements will help you get the correct carrier size and ensure it is large enough for your dog to turn around, lie down and stretch out, or curl up. The height and length of your dog without the added inches can help you determine the right size for a dog backpack or sling. You don’t need the extra space as these wearable dog carriers aren’t supposed to allow freedom of movement.

2. Your Dog’s Weight

Your dog’s weight is another consideration for a dog carrier. For wearables, you need to know that it makes sense for you to carry them and that the backpack or sling will be able to support them. Soft-sided or hard-sided dog carriers will have weight limits. So, you will want to check your dog’s weight against the manufacturer list size. Because this deals with weight capacity, you want to go a size up if your dog is between sizes.

3. Purpose of the Dog Carrier

There are a lot of dog carrier options available and it can be hard to determine the right type for you. To help narrow it down, you can consider the purpose of the dog carrier. What are you planning to use it for? Will you be using it on a car trip or flying on a plane? Is it just for easier trips to the vet?

Identifying how you’ll be using the dog carrier can help you determine what to look for in a dog carrier to ensure it suits your needs. Using a carrier and the right type of carrier are some car safety tips for dogs.

For example, if you just need something for car trips or trips to the vet, you want to look for a lightweight dog carrier. Something that is easy to pack, easy to carry, and is comfortable for your dog will work well in these situations and can even help keep your dog calm on car rides.

If you’re planning to fly, you’ll need to check in with the airlines you usually travel on. Flying with a dog can get complicated because airlines will have specific requirements. And, the requirements may vary from airline to airline and will often include the size of the carrier, construction of the carrier, and more.

5 Types of Dog Carriers

There are a ton of different dog carrier options out there, but they will tend to fall into basic styles or types. Here are 5 common types of dog carriers:

1. Soft-Sided Dog Carrier

Although hard-sided dog carriers are a popular option, soft-sided dog carriers are the most popular carrier style with owners of smaller dogs. These dog carriers are lightweight, made of fabric, and built to be portable. Because they are fabric, they fold up when not in use for easy storage. Plus, there are several brands that are approved by some airlines.

2. Hard-Sided Dog Carrier

Hard-sided carriers are durable and rugged. They’re built to be strong and stand up to heavy use. Because these have a hard shell, they offer a little more protection for your dog, especially during travel. They are also easy to clean because they are plastic and not fabric. There are also carriers that have a top loading door in addition to the standard front door.

3. Wheeled Dog Carriers

Wheeled dog carriers are usually soft-sided. Although you can’t take them on rugged off-road adventures, they are useful for transporting your dog on smooth ground. With a wheeled carrier, your arms get a break and your dog doesn’t get bounced around too much either. Some wheeled carriers are approved for airline use, but airlines will have different requirements and regulations regarding them if they are allowed at all.

4. Wearable Dog Backpack

If you would rather carry your dog by supporting them with your body instead of using a carrier, you can get a wearable dog carrier like a front pack or a backpack designed for carrying dogs. There are adjustable straps to help you get the right fit and holes for all four of your dog’s legs. These allow you to carry your dog on your front or on your back similarly to the way young children can be carried.

5. Wearable Dog Sling

Wearable dog slings are similar to baby slings. It’s a fabric sling that goes over your shoulder and gives your dog a pouch to nestle into. It can be a great place for a nap for a relaxed small dog breed or a fun way for them to travel with you on errands. Because dog slings are fabric, they’re made to be lightweight and washable. Many of them also come with zippers to help secure your dog and outer pockets to help you carry small items.

Dog carriers can help you contain your dog during a car trip, secure them during travel, or just carry them around when they get sick of walking. For some dogs, they can even help reduce motion sickness and car sickness. With these tips, you can confidently choose the right dog carrier for you and your pup.