When you have a pup that loves to be near you at all times, a dog backpack may be the best product you can buy. Though some “back” packs can be worn in the front as well, your dog primarily be on your back, giving them a good view of the world. When your dog goes with you everywhere, you’ll develop a stronger bond. Your pup also becomes more socialized, possibly leading to a happier, well-behaved, and well-rounded dog.
Our vet advisor, Dr. Jamie Whittenburg, looked at all types of dog backpack carriers to determine which is the best option to keep your pet with you, looking at factors like safety, weight capacity, and comfort. She chose the Lekereise Expandable Pet Carrier Backpack for its efficiency and its convenience. You’ll love the way it expands to accommodate more stretches and room for your pup. Read how she chose the top 5.
It’s important to remember that the backpack carrier isn’t for all dogs. Dogs who are too large won’t be comfortable, and neither will you. But if your pup just needs to lose a little weight, making them walk with you may help them a great deal! You may want to bring the backpack along, though, just in case your pup plops and can’t be coerced to continue on the way back. And if you have more than just your dog, don’t forget that you can carry your cat with you on your outings, too!
Our Vet’s Top 5 Dog Backpack Carriers
Here are the top picks from our veterinarian. Compare the ratings and features of different models to find the right one for you.
|Editor’s Picks||Brand||Rating||Weight Capacity||Expandable||Escape-Proof|
|Best Overall||Lekereise Expandable Pet Carrier Backpack||15 lbs|
|Best Budget||Texsens Innovative Traveler Bubble Backpack Pet Carrier||15 lbs|
|Best for Small Dogs||WOYYHO Pet Dog Carrier||10 lbs|
|Best for Airline Travel||Petsfit Pet Backpack Carrier for Small Dog and Cats||N/A||22 lbs|
|Best for Walking and Hiking||FUR CADET Plush and Comfy Dog Carrier Backpack||35 lbs|
*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers
In This Article
Who Should Buy a Dog Backpack Carrier
- Active pet parents – When you’re constantly on the go – hiking, traveling, kayaking – you may be especially pleased with the flexibility that a dog backpack carrier provides. You can still do all the things you want, and you won’t have to leave your dog behind.
- Old dogs – When you have a dog who can’t keep up with you like he used to, then it may be time to invest in a dog backpack carrier. Because you’re carrying them, they can still go with you without risking overexertion or injury.
- Road trips – If your pup is good in the car, then you don’t necessarily need a crate for them (though you should keep them secure in case of an accident, of course). But sometimes, a leash isn’t appropriate when out with your pup, and crates aren’t very portable anyway. With a dog backpack carrier, your dog can continue to be part of your travels every step of the way.
Who Should Not Buy a Dog Backpack Carrier
- Airline travel – For some smaller breeds, on some airlines, it’s ok to travel with your dog in a backpack. But that’s still not the norm, so don’t rush into a purchase or show up to your flight without confirming that the airline allows it.
- Large breed parents – While it would be nice if you could carry a dog of any size in a backpack, you’re not going to walk for very long with a Saint Bernard on your back. Not to mention, finding a backpack that safely carries 200 pounds of dog will be near impossible.
Research Tips (From a Veterinarian)
A dog backpack carrier must be suitable for your pup’s size, comfortable to wear, and have features designed for health and safety. Here’s what to consider when choosing a dog backpack carrier:
- Comfort – The most important factor when choosing a dog backpack carrier is to consider both your comfort and your dog’s comfort. Carriers that are small, easily collapsible, lack a rigid bottom, or have poor ventilation will be uncomfortable for your dog and should be avoided. Likewise, it’s important to look for wide, padded shoulder straps and a snug-fitting chest strap for the wearer’s comfort.
- Find the right size – Measure your dog and ensure they will fit comfortably inside the backpack. Medium and large-sized dogs should not be carried in these types of carriers. Even if you can find the type that is sturdy enough for them, you shouldn’t attempt to carry them this way; it will only end in pain for you both.
- Escape-proof – Because you will be unable to see your pet while you are carrying them, it is also essential to ensure the backpack is made of sturdy materials and cannot be escaped. That means secure zippers are mesh that is durable enough that their claws won’t damage it.
- Skip the legs out – Due to discomfort and possible strain on the dog’s body and joints, I do not recommend backpack carriers that fit around the dog with holes for their legs. This is an unnatural position for a dog, and it can lead to distress and injury to your pet.
How Much Do They Cost?
Dog backpacks may be the least expensive carrier there is. No matter how robust, or flexible the design, you can pretty much count on it being under $100. In fact, the bulk of the carriers will be between $30 and $70. You’ll get more features and durability with the high-end backpacks, but even the lower-cost versions will more than get the job done.
Our Methodology: Why Trust Pets Digest
As a veterinarian, I’ve been faced with several questions about dog carrying. I also have my own dogs, so I understand the desire to take your pups along with you whenever you can. You need to make sure you’re doing so safely, though, and that’s where my (and your vet’s) education can help you along the decision-making process. You’ll need to make sure your choice is the right fit, so your dog is comfortable and you are, too. Keep in mind that a dog backpack isn’t the same as a baby carrier; all legs and arms must be secured within the backpack or you can cause serious bone and joint strain on your pup. If you’re ever concerned about your choice, pick up the phone and make the effort to talk to your vet. – Dr. Jamie Whittenburg
The Best Dog Backpack Carriers: Full Reviews
The Lekereise Expandable Pet Carrier Backpack is labeled as a “cat backpack carrier” but is actually my overall favorite for dogs as well. It’s made of quality materials, is airline-approved, and has padded straps for the comfort of the pet owner. One great feature of this backpack is the expandable back that gives your pet more room when opened up.
In its carrying state, this backpack has four mesh windows to allow your pet good air circulation as well as an unobstructed view. In the expanded state, there are seven. This eases pet anxiety, prevents overheating, and makes being carried a more enjoyable experience. This backpack is easy to store, too as it collapses down into a small size.
- 2 size, 3 color options
- Plenty of ventilation
- Folds flat for easy storage
- You can’t wear it when extended
- No buckles to secure zippers
Slightly larger than most, the Texsens Innovative Traveler Bubble Backpack Pet Carrier can hold dogs up to 18 pounds. All three exposed sides are made up of large mesh panels, which allow for good ventilation and view for your pup.
This backpack is equipped with padded shoulder straps and a chest strap that are both comfortable for the wearer and add security for the pet. Made from strong materials that will keep your pet safe, along with a removable bottom pad that makes cleaning easy, this backpack is a great basic model.
- 180-degree sight
- Mesh offers plenty of ventilation
- 5 color options
- Mesh construction is less durable
- Doesn’t expand
If you have a small dog and are looking for a backpack carrier that is comfortable for both you and the dog, the WOYYHO Pet Dog Carrier is an excellent option. This carrier is designed for small dogs and only accommodates up to a 10-pound dog. The carrier backpack has the ability to be adjusted to fit the wearer comfortably – both the shoulder straps and the chest strap can be adjusted for fit.
The bottom of this backpack is solid and rigid, which keeps the backpack from collapsing onto your pet and makes it easy to clean. For safety, the backpack features a built-in security leash, as well as both waist and chest buckles to prevent the backpack from falling off of the wearer.
- Front or back carry
- 2 size options
- 13 color choices
- No top cover – for only well-behaved dogs
- Doesn’t expand
The Petsfit Pet Backpack Carrier for Small Dogs and Cats is perfect for traveling, especially on airplanes. The most important feature that makes it a good choice aboard the airplane is the steel rim construction that prevents any part of the carrier from collapsing. This is a must when placing your pet under the seat in front of you. It’s made of extra durable PVC Oxford cloth and claw-resistant mesh, so you can rest assured that your pet is safely contained in the backpack while traveling. Locking zippers add to the security.
Labeled for pets up to 22 pounds, this is also a large carrier with a spacious interior, but it is airline-approved. Also a plus for the air traveler, this backpack comes with multiple side storage pockets as well as a D ring for hanging small travel supplies.
- Front and top entry
- 22 lb weight capacity
- Secures in car/airline seat
- Doesn’t expand
- Doesn’t collapse
When hiking or walking, it’s important to find a dog backpack carrier that is comfortable for both the dog and the wearer. The FUR CADET Plush, Comfy Dog Carrier Backpack is both. Equipped with a plush interior for your dog as well as thick, padded straps for you, this backpack is a great choice for hiking with your small dog. Made of durable and waterproof nylon, this backpack also comes with a lifetime replacement policy should the backpack not hold up to regular use.
The backpack comes with a collapsible dog bowl and easy-access waste bags to keep you prepared for your hike or walk. A nice addition to purchasing this backpack, the company donates a portion of its profits to humane shelters and pet adoption/rescue centers.
- 2 size, 2 color options
- Includes potty bags and collapsible dog bowl
- Soft design for comfort and support
- No top cover – for only well-behaved dogs
- Claims effective for larger sizes than reality
Frequently Asked Questions
Are dog backpacks safe?
However, the right fit with the right padding and construction makes a dog backpack a good way to ensure your pup stays secure and that you don’t strain your back carrying them. When your pup is in a comfortable position, you won’t need to worry about panic and all the ways they exhibit that fear.1
Can I use a regular backpack as a dog carrier?
What is the best way to carry your dog?
If you do want to carry them in your arms, though, make sure you’re doing it right. Place your arm under the dog’s chest, grabbing a back leg, and place the other arm around them, grabbing their collar. This will give them the support their body needs and give you the control you’ll need to keep him from jumping or squirming too much.3
How long can a dog be in a backpack?
The same rules for any confinement of your dog apply to backpacks. You can push the time spent cooped up a bit because he’s near you, which may keep him settled and relaxed longer, but he’ll still need to use the restroom and stretch his legs from time to time. Younger dogs will need to work those issues out more frequently than older ones, but you can generally expect only a couple of hours in the backpack before they’ll need out. Don’t worry about knowing when, though – your dog will show you signs like whimpering, repositioning, and even barking to indicate they’re ready for some more space.
Pets Digest uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- Sung W, MS, PhD, DVM, DACVB. Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Dogs. petMD.com. Published August 6, 2019. Accessed April 6, 2022.
- Tiira K, Lohi H. Early Life Experiences and Exercise Associate with Canine Anxieties. PLoS One. 2015;10(11):e0141907. Published 2015 Nov 3. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141907
- Williams S. How to Pick up a Dog Properly. WikiHow.com. Updated March 29, 2019. Accessed April 6, 2022.