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8 Best Dog Carriers for Safe Travel and Everyday Use

Here are the best dog carriers for hitting the road with your pup—even if it's just to the vet.

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8 Best Dog Carriers For Your Next TripRD.COM, VIA MERCHANT (3)

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On top of pet accessories, dog carriers are key for traveling. They provide a safe, comfortable place for dogs to travel, though not all carriers are the same. Even if the only trip your pup is taking is to the vet, having your pup secured in a dog carrier helps protect your pup from any unforeseen accidents. And finding a carrier for their size is important. The best ones double as a bed and private dog domain at home or on the road. Cat parents know that learning how to get your cat in a carrier is a feat, and the same goes for some dogs who aren’t familiar with carriers.

We found the best dog carriers, including ones for jet-setting, staying in pet-friendly hotels and riding to the dog park. Dog carriers are an essential for the car, airplane, home and beyond. With one of these mobile kennels, your dog will be a travel pro in no time.

The best dog carriers

Diggs Passenger Carrier
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Best overall

Diggs Passenger Carrier

Whether you and your furry friend are traveling by plane, train or automobile, the Diggs Passenger Carrier is a favorite for pet parents. This car dog item is crash-tested for safety, and custom seat belt clips and buckle straps keep the carrier secure in the vehicle. If you’re flying, the carrier fits underneath most airplane seats and meets most airline requirements for pet travel. Animals prone to accidents on the go can use the Pee Pad that attaches to the bed inside. Easily swap it out without bothering your pet.

Three different access points make it easier to reach your travel buddy at all times. Closable mesh adds ventilation and privacy and extra pockets offer storage for more treats and toys. It holds dogs up to 18 pounds, but for larger breeds, try the Diggs inflatable crate.

Pros

  • Inclusive carrier for planes, trains and cars
  • Holds animals up to 18 pounds
  • Comes with seat belt clips and buckle straps
  • Three access points
  • Ventilated mesh and privacy windows

Cons

  • Pricier than other models on our list
  • Pee Pads are sold separately

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Morpilot Soft Sided Pet Carrier
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Best value

Morpilot Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

With over 13,000 Amazon ratings, the Morpilot folding fabric pet carrier is one of our favorite pet products on Amazon. The top and front zipper openings make it easy to load and unload your small dog into the cozy carrier. A fluffy, removable and washable mat turns the bag into your dog’s happy place for naps or enjoying a dog treat.

The exterior polyester material is a breeze to spot clean and tough enough to resist chewing pups. The top leather handle makes it easy to tote around, and the carrier easily secures in the car. It also comes with a collapsible travel bowl for water or food.

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Breathable mesh material
  • Two openings
  • Machine washable wool mat
  • Safety interior tether
  • Four colors and two sizes available

Cons

  • Some reviewers say it doesn’t fit under some airline seats
  • Only holds pets up to 15 pounds

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 Roverlund Out Of The Office Pet Carrier
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Most durable

Roverlund Out-of-Office Pet Carrier

The Roverlund Pet Carrier is made with marine and mountaineering fabric, designed to last during all travel adventures. It comes in two sizes: small (up to 15 pounds) and large (up to 25 pounds). With a leak-proof bottom and washable inner fleece bedding, your pup travels in comfort. The carrier opens on the top and front for easy access, contains a safety tether to clip to the dog’s collar and features a sturdy carrying handle. The shoulder strap doubles as a leash, too. When your pup isn’t in it, the carrier folds flat for easy storage.

Pros

  • Heavy-duty material stands up to wear and tear
  • Ideal for all types of travel
  • Airline-friendly
  • Convertible strap/leash
  • Available in two sizes
  • Two openings
  • Folds flat when not in use

Cons

  • Because of the high-quality materials, this dog carrier is on the pricey side
  • Chewers may gnaw at the bed liner

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Wild One Travel Carrier
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Best for small pets

Wild One Travel Carrier

Available in three trendy colors, the Wild One Travel Carrier suits small dogs up to 16 pounds. Perfect for the jet-setter with a pooch by their side, the modular carrier is airline-friendly and fits under airplane seats. The zippers snap together for extra security inside. When not on the road, the interior cushion folds out as a comfy dog bed (no calming dog treats needed with your pup this carrier!) and is machine washable. The exterior is best cleaned by hand and dried flat. With a comfortable double handle and a shoulder strap that doubles as a leash, you—and your dog—will enjoy stylish travel with this carrier.

Pros

  • Stylish, airline-friendly pet carrier for small dogs
  • Rolls out into a dog bed
  • Extra storage compartments
  • Lightweight
  • Luggage strap and adjustable carrying strap
  • Machine washable interior cushion
  • Three colors available

Cons

  • Ideal for small pets only
  • Some reviewers find the zippers are difficult to maneuver at times

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Petmate Vari Dog Kennel
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Best hard-sided

Petmate Vari Dog Kennel

This hard-sided Petmate pet carrier lasts for years thanks to its durable construction. Available in six sizes, the smallest option suits pets up to 10 pounds and is airline-approved. The 24-inch size suits pets 10 to 20 pounds and is airline-adaptable. The largest size holds large dog breeds up to 90 pounds and is airline-approved for cargo. The front steel wire door opens in two directions, and the solid construction keeps dogs safe during any adventure.

Pros

  • Hard side carrier has durable construction
  • Easy to assemble
  • Great for home or travel, including airplanes
  • Easy to clean
  • Approved as extra baggage for large dogs
  • Available in six sizes

Cons

  • No extra storage compartments
  • Heavy to tote around with large pets

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Editor Tested Sherpa The Original Dog Carrier Bag
Madi Koetting/RD.com

Best airline-approved

Sherpa The Original Dog Carrier Bag

The Sherpa Dog Carrier Bag offers style and meets the airline-approved “Guaranteed On Board” program for small and medium-sized bags. The patented steel wire frame allows the rear to push down and compress several inches to fit beneath the airplane seat without constricting your dog’s head room. The bag also features mesh windows for proper ventilation, two strong closures with locking zippers, a sturdy top handle and a shoulder strap. The washable faux lambskin pad provides a cozy bed for your pet on the road.

Sherpa, a quality brand in the pet space, receives glowing reviews from dog lovers traveling with their pets. Our Editor Madi Koetting is one such reviewer, saying, “I could go on and on about this airline-friendly pet carrier. But what really impresses me is the ‘Guaranteed on Board’ certification. My pup and I are frequent flyers, so a pet carrier that meets every airline’s requirements is a must. The Sherpa was the only one I found that checks all the boxes. My mini Aussiedoodle puppy fits perfectly in the medium size, and I feel confident knowing I can fly anywhere with her in a cinch.” 

Pros

  • Airline-approved guarantee
  • Durable mesh construction
  • Locking zippers
  • Rear storage compartment
  • Folds for easy storage
  • Available in two sizes

Con

  • Some reviewers find that this carrier runs small, so you may want to size up

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Sherpa Ultimate On Wheels Dog Carrier
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Best rolling

Sherpa Ultimate on Wheels Dog Carrier

Comfort meets airplane-friendly travel with the Sherpa Ultimate On Wheels Dog Carrier. As with the other Sherpa dog carriers, the patented spring steel frame offers flexibility and durable structure. Ventilated mesh panels provide privacy and breathability. Pets enter from the top opening and rest on a machine-washable, faux-lamb lining while they ride. The travel options are endless with this carrier and getting through TSA will be simple. Roll it on the ground, use the padded carrying straps or opt for a detachable shoulder strap—the choice is yours.

Pros

  • Wheels make for easy, lightweight transportation
  • Airline-friendly and fits under most airline seats
  • Mesh windows have privacy panels
  • Flexible frame
  • Leak-proof material
  • Washable bed liner

Con

  • Height is smaller than expected to adjust for wheels, so measure your dog accordingly

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Pet Gear Signature Dog Car Seat & Carrier Bag
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Best for car seats

Pet Gear Signature Dog Car Seat & Carrier Bag

This Pet Gear Bag doubles as a car seat and travel carrier. Perfect for dogs up to 20 pounds, the mesh top and sides offer plenty of ventilation. The shape offers your dog lots of space to sit up and poke their head out or curl up during trips. A safety tether keeps dogs from escaping and attaches to seat belts for extra security. Pet essentials ride along, too, thanks to exterior pockets. Stash a portable dog water bottle in there to keep your pup hydrated on the go.

Pros

  • Durable, comfortable carrier for car travel
  • Doubles as a carrying bag
  • Top and front openings
  • Carrying strap
  • Machine washable interior fleece pad cover
  • Exterior storage pockets

Cons

  • Not waterproof or water-resistant
  • Not airline-approved

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What to look for when buying dog carriers

Comfort, safety and function are top priorities when buying a dog carrier. Narrow your search by determining what type of travel you need the carrier to suit. Then, pay attention to overall construction, like if it contains proper space and ventilation to keep your pooch cool. Special features like extra storage compartments and overall aesthetic should follow.

Some dogs have a hard time accepting carriers, so comfort should be a top priority. Wire crates let dogs see outside but aren’t as cozy or mobile as soft-sided carriers. When you pick up the pet carrier with your dog inside, the base must provide a stable footing that won’t buckle or tip if the they roll over. Wire or plastic crates should include a mat to reduce slip, thus helping dogs feel more confident.

If traveling by plane with your dog, make sure the carrier is airline-approved and contains mesh windows for ventilation, leakproof materials and is sized for in-cabin travel or as extra baggage. The best dog carriers have more than one opening, which is important for loading them in and breathability. Every opening should securely close to keep pets from accidental escape.

How we chose the best dog carriers

As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.  

FAQ

What kind of dog carriers are best?

The best carrier depends on your dog and your individual needs. It should feature proper ventilation, sturdy construction, fail-safe door fasteners and offer easy access to your pet. Opt for washable materials to make cleaning a breeze. Comfort is vital for longer trips. Hands-free options like backpacks and front slings are convenient for everyday trips to the store or for a walk in the park.

Are dog slings a good idea?

Dog slings and backpacks work best for short distances, like when hiking or shopping, for example. They aren’t as comfortable for dogs during long periods of travel. They aren’t airline-approved or safe for car travel, either.

How big should a dog carrier be?

A dog carrier should be big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around. Therefore, it must be tall, long and sturdy enough to hold their weight. Measure the length of your dog from nose to the base of their tail, then add about five inches. For a soft carrier, add two or three inches to your dog’s shoulder height. For hard-sided carriers, add three to five inches to their height.

Are dog carriers safe for dogs?

Yes, dog carriers are safe. Airline-approved carriers are best for air travel. Some dog carriers undergo crash-tests for riding in cars. For optimal safety, secure your dog carrier with a dog seatbelt.

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Amy Shojai, CABC
Amy Shojai, CABC is the Affiliate Pet Editor at Large for Reader's Digest. She's also an award-winning pet journalist and the author of 35 pet titles. She specializes in translating pet medical jargon and shopping information into information pet parents easily understand. Amy shares animal behavior and care information on her blog, and lives in North Texas with her furry muses.