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The 10 Best Dog Carry Kennels

A dog carrier is often the safest and most comfortable way to take your pooch on a trip. BestForPets (bestforpets.org) asked 17 vets, trainers, and owners for their picks for the best dog carry kennels you can buy online.

What we're on the lookout for

Dog carriers range in style (and price) from soft-sided duffel-bag-shaped carriers that fit under an airplane seat to backpacks that allow you to carry your pup hands-free to casual canvas tote bags. Many dog owners, particularly those with small dogs, end up purchasing multiple carriers to use in various situations. However, before purchasing any carrier, consider its function. If you and your Yorkie are moving from one coast to the other, you’ll need something that meets airline size requirements, preferably with a strap that attaches to your rolling suitcase. If you’re going on a road trip with your Cavalier King Charles, you’ll need a crash-tested carrier to keep them safe. If you’re looking for something more casual to bring your dog with you while doing everyday activities like riding the subway or riding a bike, you might consider a tote bag or a backpack-style carrier. And if your dog enjoys going for long walks but does not enjoy walking for very long distances, dog strollers are ideal.

Looks: According to Parisa Fowles-Pazdro, the founder and owner of luxury dog-gear store Maxbone, the most popular type of carrier among her customers is a “super-simple bag that fits into their everyday lifestyle, like a dog tote.” They want it to be safe for their dog, but they also want it to be stylish so they won’t be embarrassed to be seen holding it.” While tote-bag-style dog carriers are more fashionable in general, we considered aesthetics when selecting every carrier on this list, with several carriers recommended in large part due to how nice they look.

Size: Short legs and a long body, a brawny chest and thick thighs, skin and bones but covered in voluminous fur — these are just a few of the size and shape combinations that dog carriers must accommodate. Not all carriers, especially those designed to meet airline size specifications, come in multiple sizes, but they should all have easy-to-find dimensions and weight limits listed online. To find one that fits your dog, first measure them from nose to tail and around their widest part. Knowing their current weight will also assist you in selecting the best carrier for their size.

Comfort: A comfortable carrier will keep your dog calm and seated while you drive, ride your bike, or carry them around town. When you’ve found the right size carrier, look for padded interiors, plush bedding, ample ventilation, and a sturdy base to make them feel at ease. You’ll also want to make sure the carrier is comfortable for you. Padded shoulder straps, lightweight materials, and an ergonomic design make transporting your best friend both enjoyable and practical.

Carriers can be expensive, so you’ll want to make sure the one you buy is made of durable, easy-to-clean materials. It should be made of tough materials, such as heavy-duty canvas or nylon, but it should also be simple to clean, with removable, machine-washable bedding and a water-resistant interior lining in case of spills.

Reviews

Overall, the best dog carrier: Original Deluxe Sherpa Pet Carrier 

Soft-sided with mesh panels | Three sizes to accommodate weights up to 22 lbs | Padded cross-body strap and handles | Machine-washable sherpa bedding | Water-resistant lining and exterior

Sherpa’s Original Deluxe pet carrier has been recommended to us more than any other pet carrier in the last few years. It’s a favorite of veterinarians, cool dog owners, and at least four Strategist employees, including myself. I own a small Sherpa carrier that I’ve used on several cross-country flights between New York and Los Angeles. It’s easy to transport, fits under the seat in front of me, and is cozy enough to keep my dog Uli calm. The soft faux-sheepskin bed insert is easy to clean, and the whole thing folds down to save space when I’m not using the carrier. Veterinarian John Iovino, who writes for the Wildest, has also flown with the Sherpa and likes how the top and front openings make it easy to get your dog in and out. He also likes how the mesh-paneled carrier allows for good ventilation and allows him to “see your pet to make sure everything is okay.” Alison Waszmer, the director of Dogtown, a homeless dog sanctuary at Best Friends Animal Society’s Utah headquarters, is also a fan, describing the carrier as well-made and comfortable.

While it doesn’t have many extra features, it does come in a variety of sizes to accommodate dogs weighing up to 22 pounds. My current one was given to me by a friend who had used it for her cat for several years; I’ve had it for about five years and it still looks brand-new. I also like how light it is and that it has a side strap that you can slip over a rolling suitcase handle or use to secure the carrier in the car with a seat belt. The carrier is not only crash-tested, but Sherpa also collaborates with several major airlines (including Southwest, United, and Delta) through a program called Guaranteed on Board, which functions as a sort of insurance program for pet owners traveling with their dogs and cats. “The small and medium sizes of the Sherpa Original Deluxe pet carrier are included in Guaranteed on Board, so you can be confident that your pet’s travels will go off without a hitch,” says Samantha Schwab, former Chewy resident pet expert.

Mia Leimkuhler’s dog Reggie adores his Sherpa carrier so much that it has become his daily bed and a safe haven when he is feeling overwhelmed. “It’s become Reggie’s little safe space, similar to how a crate functions for other dogs,” she says. “We leave it unzipped under our bed and that’s where he falls asleep every night.”

The most effective backpack-style dog carrier: Backpack K9 Sport Sack Trainer

Backpack with mesh panels | Available in four sizes for weights up to 30 lbs | Padded interior and support strap | Padded shoulder straps | Water-resistant

A backpack-style dog carrier is ideal for avid cyclists and hikers (or for dogs who are unable to keep up on long adventures). However, not all dog backpacks are the same. In fact, the K9 Sport Sack is the only backpack carrier that veterinarians and dog owners have ever recommended to us. Kokoro, the dog of influencer Emily Wang, prefers it to tote-style carriers. “My American Eskimo prefers the backpack style from K9 Sport Sack.” Her proportions are just right for her to sit upright and place her paws on my back as I carry her.” Risa Miyamoto, a makeup artist and dog owner, owns the black K9 Sport Sack and uses it to transport her Pomeranian, Mokutan, on long hikes in hot weather. Candy Godoy, the owner of a pug named Boogie with over 30,000 Instagram followers, uses it when she needs to be truly hands-free, such as while hiking or biking. “Because we travel frequently and are very active, we rely heavily on the K9 Sport Sack,” Godoy says. Logan Mikhly, owner of dog café Boris and Horton, says this backpack is the one she ends up talking about the most with customers because it’s unique, with slots for the dog’s front paws up top. “It looks really cute,” she says, “like the dog is hugging its owner from behind, with its head on the owner’s shoulders.”

The Sport Sack Trainer is the most popular among our experts among the various backpack styles offered by the brand. It is available in four sizes, each of which can carry up to 30 pounds. Instead of listing the dimensions of the bags, they measure each backpack by the appropriate size of dog. There is a padded support at the bottom of the backpack for your dog to stand on, as well as a lumbar support strap to keep them upright and comfortable. You can also purchase a booster block for shorter dogs. The bag has padded ergonomic shoulder straps for your comfort and peace of mind, as well as dog-safety features such as a carabiner clip, cinch straps, and a collar buckle to prevent your dog from jumping out to chase a squirrel.

The most effective collapsible dog carrier: Pet Carrier Sleepypod Air in-Cabin

One size with a maximum weight of 17.5 lbs | Padded cross-body strap and handles | Machine-washable plush bedding | Water-repellent lining

When we asked Nicole Ellis, the training and product expert at dog-sitting website Rover, about her favorite car seat for dogs, she recommended this one from Sleepypod. She likes the brand because it crash-tests all of its pet restraints to meet child-safety-seat standards in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The Sleepypod Air is a dog car seat as well as a plane-friendly dog carrier that is approved by the Center for Pet Safety and meets airline requirements for flying with your pet. Ellis has used it both on the ground and in the air, and he reports that it is both convenient and comfortable in both situations. It has straps on both sides that secure your car’s seat belt around the carrier, as well as a breathable mesh panel that lets pets see what’s going on outside. It comes in a single size that measures 22 inches by 10.5 inches by 10 inches and can accommodate dogs weighing up to 17.5 pounds. Additionally, the length of the carrier can be compressed from 22 to 16 inches to help it fit into tight spaces when flying. It also includes a padded, adjustable shoulder strap and a trolley pocket that can be slid over the handle of rolling luggage for hands-free transportation. When not in use, the entire carrier collapses and buckles flat for easy storage. It comes in nine different colors and can accommodate Sleepypod’s electric warmer pad, which you must purchase separately.

The most suitable expandable dog carrier: Petsfit Expansion Dog Carrier Cat Carrier

Soft-sided with mesh panels | Three sizes to accommodate weights up to 18 lbs | Non-padded cross-body strap and handles | Machine-washable plush bedding | Waterproof-PVC exterior coating

The Petsfit expandable carrier features an accordion-style mesh window that zips open to create a screened-in porch for your dog. Conrad Russo, owner of Pet Gear Lab and blogger, recommends it for flying with nervous dogs. “Dogs on planes can be anxious, so giving them a little more space makes all the difference,” he says. The case meets airline size regulations when the expandable window is zipped up. Once your dog has been boarded and settled, you can expand it to allow him to stretch out. This carrier is available in three sizes, the medium of which is likely to fit on most planes and measures 17 inches by 11 inches by 11 inches with a maximum weight of 13 pounds.

The most effective dog stroller: Foldable Nova Dog Stroller for Pets

Collapsible stroller with removable mesh window | One size with a maximum weight capacity of 33 lbs | Padded foam bottom | Cushioned handlebar | Water-resistant Oxford cloth

Wendy Wells, a dog owner and the mother of Strategist audience growth director Stephanie Downes, purchased this stroller after her aging Maltese-Shih Tzu mix named Chandler began to struggle on even short walks. “He wants to go everywhere with us, but he’s too heavy to carry for long periods of time.” So now we walk him in the stroller every day, and he loves it,” she says. Unsure whether a stroller would work for Chandler, she purchased this inexpensive one to begin with and says it has worked out well. “With Chandler in a stroller, it’s much easier to get into restaurants and stores that don’t allow dogs,” she says. Even though she wishes the wheels were “a little bit more substantial,” she says she is “overall very happy with it.” When in use, the stroller measures 33 inches by 17.5 inches by 39.5 inches and can accommodate dogs weighing up to 33 pounds. It measures approximately 29 inches by 15 inches by 8.5 inches when folded. It comes with a cup holder, a cargo basket, a mesh window, and a foot brake.

The best on-wheel carrier: Sherpa Ultimate Dog & Cat Carrier Bag on Wheels

Soft-sided with mesh panels and four wheels | Three sizes for weights up to 22 lbs | Padded pull strap and carry handles | Machine-washable sherpa bedding | Water-resistant lining and exterior

This rolling Sherpa carrier is a great option if you want a dog carrier that functions like a stroller but does not look like one. It has all of the same features as the Sherpa Deluxe Original, but with wheels and a cute little flag to help you find your way around crowded airports. Ian Patterson, the owner of Tuna, a famous rescue Chiweenie with 2.1 million Instagram followers, says it’s a good option for transporting dogs that are too heavy to comfortably carry around in a tote or a backpack. “We usually transport Tuna in this Sherpa wheeled airplane bag, which he adores.” Patterson describes it as “his little man cave.” This carrier, like the non-wheeled Sherpa carrier, is available in three sizes to accommodate dogs weighing up to 22 pounds.

Last Thoughts

There are many safe and comfortable ways to keep your best friend by your side, whether you are looking for an airplane carrier for your bichon frise or a cargo crate for your husky.

Finding the right model for you and your dog, from hard-sided crates to soft and flexible carriers, will allow you both to enjoy many miles of adventures together.

We sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this far. BestForPets (bestforpets.org) hopes this post will help you choose the best dog carry kennels for your pet.

Frequently asked questions

How do I train my dog to use a travel crate? 

Begin slowly and patiently when introducing your dog to a travel crate.

Leave the door open and line the crate with your dog’s favorite blanket and even a piece of your clothing to make them feel at ease.

To create a positive association, use a lot of treats and positive reinforcement.

Is it safe to transport a dog in a crate? 

Crates are a great and safe way to transport your dog in cars or on planes. Look for crates with strong zippers, clasps, and doors.

What size travel crate should I get for my dog? 

Measure the length of your dog from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail.

Your dog’s travel crate should be no longer than their height plus 6 inches. Also, make sure your dog has enough space to sit, lie down, and turn around.

How should I go about selecting a travel crate for my dog? 

When selecting a travel crate for your dog, there are several factors to consider. Safety and comfort will be high on your priority list.

It’s also critical to get the right size for your dog, and weight is an important consideration, especially for air travel.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher

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