9 best dog carriers for transporting puppies and older hounds

Dogs love walks, but they can require carrying more often than you’d think. For example, puppies can’t be put down on the ground outside your own garden until they’ve been fully vaccinated.

Even if they’ve had their first set with their breeder, most vaccines require a second set before a dog is protected against diseases that can be picked up from the ground, water and other unvaccinated dogs, so you’ll need some way of carrying them for the first few weeks after you pick them up at 8-10 weeks of age.

Although walks are off the cards when they are very young, puppies also need socialising and exposure to sights and sounds such as traffic and children, so some form of carrier is great for getting them out and about.

Even when they can go outside, puppies shouldn’t walk for more than about five minutes per month of age, once or twice a day, according to The Kennel Club. So, for example, a six-month-old should be walking no more than 30 minutes once or twice a day, even if it’s a larger breed. This is to protect their developing bones and joints, and some smaller or less active breeds can’t walk a long way even once fully grown.

Dogs may also need carrying if they develop an illness or disability that prevents them from either walking at all or walking very far. And, of course, there are just the older hounds that still love a plod and a sniff around the park but go on strike halfway home.

Which type of carrier you choose depends on your needs and the size of your dog. The majority are designed for puppies and smaller breeds, but all will specify a weight limit. If your dog has a health condition or disability, check the suitability of a carrier with your vet before you buy.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Dogs that have been spayed or neutered live longer than dogs who are intact.

We looked at ease of getting the dog in and out, the dog's experience of the carrier, safety features and comfort for the owner before choosing our top selection below.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

SlowTon pet carrier

This sling is a great way to carry a puppy or smaller dog around. Their bottom sits in the sling and their front paws can either rest over your arm or they can have them inside with their head out if they’re happy to. A tether with a clip attaches to their collar or harness to prevent them from jumping out and two buttons help to keep their body inside. We liked this one for its immediacy – the dog is at your front and you can still hold it close while letting some or all of its weight be supported by the sling. A well-placed zipped pocket on the padded shoulder strap holds your phone, card, poo bags etc, and the strap can be adjusted to suit any height. It’s also washable if any little accidents occur…

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K9 Sport sack plus 2

If you love long hikes, chances are you’d like your dog to join you. However, some breeds can’t walk for miles and puppies shouldn’t walk more than the recommended time for their age. That’s where this rucksack steps in – when your hound is tired, it can be put in there to rest (the dog we tested it on fell asleep). The dog’s bottom sits at the base of the rucksack, you zip them in and their paws slot through two slits at the top, with their head sitting behind yours. Two clips around their back and a collar clip add extra security.

The straps are padded, with a sternum strap to give you extra support, the back is breathable and the sides are made from mesh to help prevent your dog from overheating. It has a mini, detachable bag for your belongings – poo bags, treats, and water, for example. A booster block is available if your hound is not long enough for the pack, as you want its head to be out of the top.

This is one of the only options for comfortably and safely carrying larger breeds of dog (there is a 40lb/18kg weight limit). It can be used for walking around town as well, but it isn’t as quick to get them in and out of as a sling or bag.

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Ferplast atlas bike 20 rapid

Bike baskets are a handy way to transport smaller dogs around town or to and from a walk and this is a simple but effective one for those up to 7kg. They can snuggle down on the cushion or feel the wind in their ears by having their paws on the shelf behind the front bar. A tether and hook for their collar/harness secures them in, but make sure they’re happy with being in the basket before cycling off by wheeling the bike around to get them used to it. The basket detaches easily and has two handy pockets for your bits and bobs. The only thing it lacks is a cover so your pooch will get wet in a downpour.

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Ruffwear flagline lightweight dog harness with handle

The ideal accessory for dogs whose owners like outdoor adventures. This is not strictly a carrier but we’ve included it here because it enables you to lift your furry friend – dogs are great hiking buddies, but you’ll find that there are often obstacles that are fine for humans to navigate through or over, but almost impossible for a dog, such as fast running rivers or a scramble up and over a ledge.

This extremely durable but lightweight harness has a handle that sits over the dog’s back, which allows you to lift them easily. It also has a panel running underneath the dog’s body so that its weight is evenly distributed across the harness when you lift them. There are several points of adjustment for the perfect fit and three lead attachment options. Sizing goes from XXS up to XL for larger breeds – if you’ve ever tried lifting a bigger dog up and over anything, you’ll know why this harness could make a difference.

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Pet Gear pet stroller

If your dog has health/mobility problems that make walking difficult or you have mobility problems that make it hard to carry a dog, this stroller is just the ticket. Pushing a pooch around in what looks like a baby buggy might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they can be great for people whose dogs can no longer walk far but still want to be out of the house in comfort – they can sit/lie down in it or rest their paws on the bar for a good view of the outside world. It keeps them dry in a shower and folds down easily if you want to store it or put it in the car boot. They can see through the mesh, which can completely enclose them or be left open. It can house up to a medium-sized dog.

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Mutts & Hounds forest green tweed dog carrier

At the stylish end of dog carriers, this British-made bag is a cosy, fleecy bolthole for your furry companion. A tether and clip inside keeps them secure, and you can zip them in with their head poking out. Even so, the thickness of the bag makes it hard to restrain a puppy that doesn’t want to be in there but a dog that likes being carried will love it, especially in autumn/winter. The straps aren’t padded but they’re fine if your dog is light.

Celebrate Your Pet at Every Age. Everyone loves a new puppy or kitten, says Dr. Becker. “They’re wildly kinetic, and humorous. An older pet is thinner, bonier. Their coats aren’t as soft, they might have bad breath.” But, like people, a pet’s needs change with age. They may be less active, preferring a leisurely stroll to a rollicking tug-of-war. “Our old retriever, who’s blind, still wants to retrieve.” Adapting to their changing needs will ensure your old friend remains a healthy and happy member of your family.

It’s an expensive investment if it’s just for a few weeks of puppy carrying, but a durable and beautifully made choice if you have a smaller breed that you’ll always carry at some point. It also worked nicely as a portable bed on the pub floor. It comes in small and medium.

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Pet Gear car seat carrier

This is a great carrier for that slightly nerve-wracking first car journey home with a new puppy and a safer alternative to carrying them on your lap. It’s small enough for them to feel secure but gives them enough room to move about. The carrier itself can be secured to a seatbelt, the mesh means they can see out and there’s a tether inside for hooking onto their collar so that they can’t leap out when you unzip it. The soft material is a nicer, more friendly option than hard plastic carriers.

It has carry handles and it’s much lighter than a plastic carrier, so it will also serve well for short spells of carrying such as getting them to the vets for their vaccinations/check-ups. If you have a small dog, it will suffice as a lifelong car carrier but anything bigger than, say, a Jack Russell would be too big for it once fully grown.{{#hasItems}}

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Nicrew legs out front-facing dog carrier backpack

Like a dog stroller, you might get some amused looks while carrying your pup in this, as it sits facing out with its back legs hanging down, like a baby in a sling. But if you’re willing to style that out, it gives the dog a good view of the world and it’s especially good for wrigglier pups that try to climb out of a bag. It’s quite hard to get the dog in by yourself, but easier with two of you – it unzips down the sides so that you can open it out. It’s breathable and the straps are comfortably padded.

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Outward Hound pooch pouch front carrier

A rucksack that's carried on your front so that you can both see your dog and they get a good view of the world. It's easy to get them in and out with an adjustable toggle opening and there's a padded base for them to settle on, although you can put a blanket in there to boost them up a bit if needed. A tether and clip inside attaches to their collar to keep them secure and there's a handy pocket at the front for treats and other bits and bobs. The shoulder straps are padded and comfortable, and a waist strap helps to balance the load – the medium version can carry a dog up to 20lb. It’s coming from the US, so check postage before you buy.

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The verdict: Dog carriers

The SlowTon sling is a simple but effective solution to carrying a dog for short spells out and about – it’s quick to get them in and out of and you can hold them close while they’re exposed to new sights and sounds. For a more technical carrier, the K9 rucksack is a well-made and secure choice for having a younger or less active dog along on long walks/hikes.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: A study at UCSD claims that your dog can genuinely get jealous when they see you display affection for another creature.