Choosing a carrier for your dog is a very important task – one that will ensure yours and your pet’s comfort and safety when traveling. But there are lots of available models on the market varying in size, materials and design, so selecting one from the many can be a bit overwhelming. How can you narrow down your options?

The most important thing about the carrier you will purchase is its size. Get your dog to sit still and measure it entirely – from head to tail, from floor to top of head, from floor to shoulders. No dog enjoys being confined in a carrier, but you are obliged to make them as comfortable as possible. In order to do that, you must ensure that your dog can stand, lie down and turn inside the carrier. If you have a small dog, like say a pug or a Pomeranian, the size shouldn’t be a problem. You can get a big enough carrier that is easy to handle and has enough room for the dog. If your dog is medium sized, however, like a Chow Chow, it will be harder to get a carrier that has all the extra room. That’s why it was said you should measure the height from floor to shoulder above – that is the minimum carrier height that will make your pet feel okay inside. As pets usually curl up when they are placed inside the carrier, the ability to stand up straight is not mandatory.

The next thing to consider is the material of the carrier. There are two main types – soft and hard carriers. Soft carriers are the ones that resemble a shoulder bag and are made of some kind of fabric. These are only good for small dog breeds, because a dog that is bigger will not feel comfortable, and you will also not be able to handle its weight on your shoulder. Hard carriers look like boxes and are made of plastic. They are good for all dog sizes and are preferable if you want to make sure your dog stays inside. It is very important to make sure that the locking mechanism is fully operational and that the plastic used is very durable and shows almost no bending when handling the weight before you make the purchase. There is also a third type which is a combination between soft and hard carriers – hard construction with soft lining. This will of course be more comfortable for your dog, but you shouldn’t buy it if your dog is still in training – getting rid of the stains on the lining can be extremely hard, if not impossible.

Last but not least – the ventilation. As mentioned above, you should ensure the pet’s comfort as much as possible and ventilation is very important in that regard. The carrier should have openings on all sides except the floor and ceiling. These openings contribute to the pet’s comfort not just by providing them with fresh air, but also by giving them the chance to see what is going on around them and where are you taking them, plus to see you so they don’t feel as nervous.

If you are going to be traveling with your pet by plane and that is the reason for buying a carrier, check the airline’s requirements before you make a purchase. You may find that your carrier does not fit them when it is already too late to buy another one.

Pet carriers for dogs run the gamut from fun to functional and everything in between. If you have a large dog you are more or less restricted to using a traditional crate of some kind when you travel; but owners with small and Toy dogs have many more options when it come to choosing a dog carrier. Here’s a look at some of the types and styles you and your dog can choose from.

Deluxe Rolling Pet Carrier Deluxe Rolling Pet Carrier

Deluxe Rolling Pet Carrier

For the serious pet traveler

If you and your small dog are flying then you have a couple of choices. Dogs on planes have to fly in an airline-approved carrier. However, if your dog or puppy is small enough and you make arrangements in advance, dogs in their carriers can fly in the cabin as long as the soft-sided carrier will fit under the seat in front of you. Each airline has slightly different requirements about the size of the carrier but as long as it is soft-sided and you can slide it under the seat with your dog inside it, it should be all right. It’s best if the carrier has mesh sides or openings to allow good airflow for your dog. Pockets on the side are also a plus so you can keep important papers and your leash in them. Be sure to call ahead and speak to the airline before you travel to make sure your carrier is approved and they have room for your dog in the cabin. Airlines limit the number of dogs that they allow to fly in the cabin on each flight.

Carriers for this kind of travel can be shoulder bags, carry-on style travel bags, or duffle-style bags. They can even match your luggage.

Your dog can also fly in a small airline-approved kennel as baggage when you travel together. These kennels are made of hard plastic and have a wire door. They will keep a dog secure during the flight. Pets fly in a pressurized, heated compartment of the plane with other pets. Many pets fly this way each year and it is normally safe. However, if you have a brachycelphalic (short-nosed) breed, most airlines will not accept your breed for flights during summer months because of the higher risks to them.

Fun carriers

There are all kinds of fun carriers for small dogs when you just want to zip around town.


Handbag-style carriers. One popular type of pet carriers is made like a handbag or shoulder bag for women. Small dogs can easily fit inside these bags with room to spare. You often see their heads poking out when they are having a look around.

Shoulder bags and slings make good carriers for dogs. Some of these bags are sherpa-lined for extra comfort for your dog. These bags can be as deluxe as you like. They can have side pockets, handles, and shoulder straps. Bags can be made of leather, canvas, faux croc, and other designer styles.

Baskets are another popular kind of carrier, especially if you like to ride your bike with your dog. Baskets can fit between your bike handle bars. Or you can use a basket that you carry with your dog inside. Baskets come in many attractive styles.

Backpacks also make popular pet carriers. You can walk, hike, jog, go shopping, or do anything you normally do with  your small dog secure in  your backpack carrier.

There are all kinds of styles of carriers for dogs. If you haven’t seen the kind of carrier you like yet, you can probably improvise one. As long as it keeps your dog safe and secure, then it will probably make a good carrier.