What's the right backpack dog carrier under 20 lbs?
Pet Carriers

Best Pet Carriers for Dogs Up to 20 lbs (Revealed!)

Choosing the best pet carrier for a dog that weighs up to 20 lbs might seem like a daunting task. That’s why you have to know what to look for when you’re performing your product search.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a pet carrier for small dogs are their personality and how you’ll use it. Certain options are preferable for different types of travel. Picking the right pet carrier for flying on a plane, short car trips, walks, etc. will make your much decision easier.

Your dog’s personality should be a consideration when you’re deciding things like material, safety features, and extras. Some dogs prefer warm, soft carriers. Others might be hyper and chew through things like mesh sides, so they’ll need a hard carrier.

The good news is there’s a suitable pet carrier for every dog’s personality type. There’s also an option for just about every form of travel. If you’re anxious to take your small dog with you wherever you go, choosing a product that works for both of you.

Table of Contents:

Pet Carriers for Dogs Under 20 Pounds

This guide will focus on different varieties of pet carriers for dogs up to 20lbs.

We’ll cover their features and how they can benefit you and your pet. Smaller dogs are fun to carry around with you when you have the right transportation for them. Your dog will love being close to you at all times. And, you won’t have to worry about leaving them in a kennel or alone for long periods of time.

From designer ‘handbag’-style carriers to hard-sided kennels, your dog can be comfortable on the go with you at all times! With that in mind, let’s take a look at the different types of carriers you can choose for your dog, so you can decide which will be best for both of you.

pet carriers for dogs that weight less than 20 lbs

Soft-Sided Pet Carriers for Small Dogs

One of the most convenient options for traveling with small dogs is a soft-sided pet carrier. These are versatile and come in many styles. That makes it easy to find one that fits your needs and your dog’s personality. If you have an extremely small dog, you can even tote them around in a designer dog carrier wherever you go.

Soft-sided carriers live up to the name. They are dog carriers in different sizes that don’t have any hard plastic corners or a hard base. They often have mesh windows or sides, which is essential.

Having ventilation in your dog’s soft-sided carrier is necessary. It allows the dog to breathe freely and stay cool. Overheating in a soft-sided carrier would frequently happen if proper ventilation wasn’t available.

One of the best soft-sided carriers is the OxGord Soft-Sided Pet Carrier. It features the mesh sides we talked about above and several extra safety features. These include a zippered door and a safety belt buckle, so your dog won’t get jostled around.

The OxGord Soft Sided Carrier is also an airline approved carrier. This means it can safely go on a plane and slide under the seat. If you’re doing any international traveling, you can keep your four-legged friend on board with you.

Soft-sided carriers are known for their comfort and ease of use. They are ideal for all types of travel. You can take them on a plane or in the car. Some can even be used as kennels, depending on their size. They can be a good fit for dogs who prefer warmth and comfort. They usually come with straps or easy-to-grip handles, too. So, you can tote them around easily by carrying them or holding them over your shoulder.

Soft-sided carriers might not be suitable for a dog who gets nervous easily. While the mesh windows can help to calm them down if they see you, there could still be problems. Scared dogs might try to claw or bite through the mesh sides. If you have a dog that needs something a little stronger, you may want to consider a hard-sided carrier.

Hard-Sided Crate for Dogs Under 20lbs

Hard carriers are usually made from a durable plastic. They can often be used as kennels, but also make for easy traveling.

The benefits of hard carriers are their strength. Some dogs prefer hard-bottomed carriers instead of padded ones. These carriers are usually easier to keep cool, and they don’t have mesh windows. Instead, most of them have metal bars as the ‘door.’ This allows for the same kind of important ventilation and airflow as mesh siding.

The great thing about hard-sided carriers is they can be used for all types of travel. They’re perfect for quick trips to the vet, but they can also be used when you’re traveling by plane across the country.

Our pick for the best hard-sided carrier is the Petmate Two Door Top Load Pet Kennel. This hard carrier features two entry points. You can lower your dog into the crate from the top. If you have a nervous dog, this can make it easier for them to get inside.

Petmate Two Door Top Load Pet Kennel

The Petmate crate can also be used in the home as a kennel, or if you’re in a hotel, at a friend’s house, etc. It’s got a comfortable handle that makes it easy to carry with you wherever you go. While it doesn’t have a shoulder strap like many soft-sided carriers, a small dog should be easy to carry in a hard-sided crate.

Another great feature of the Petmate carrier is that it is also airline-approved. Because of its hard plastic and durability, it won’t get damaged on a plane, and your dog will remain secure.

Keep in mind that hard carriers aren’t the best option for every dog. Dogs that are incredibly hyper or anxious may try to bite through the metal bars on the doors. It’s hard to break those bars, but your dog could damage their teeth in the process.

Pet Slings for Smaller Dogs

One of the easiest ways to tote your smaller dog around at home is with a sling. If your dog likes to be close to you all the time, that can make it hard to get things done around the house!

A sling allows your little dog to be close but keeps your hands free. Pet slings are perfect for small dogs because it makes them easy to carry and doesn’t hurt your back or shoulders.

Pet slings are also great for older dogs or pets who can’t get around quickly. If your little fur baby has started to slow down but you know they love exploring around the house, they’ll enjoy sticking with you in a cozy, comfortable sling!

One of the best slings on the market is the Alfie Pet by Petoga Couture Pet Sling. It goes around your shoulder and crosses over your body to rest against your hip. It can hold a dog up to 12lbs comfortably.

When you’re looking for a good pet sling, you’ll want to choose something that is comfortable for you. Otherwise, you’ll never want to wear it! The Alfie Pet sling features a padded shoulder strap that makes it easy to wear around the house, or even on walks outside.

A pet sling isn’t usually the best option for a car or air travel. But, if you want to keep your hands free at home while carrying around your dog, it’s perfect!

Are Designer Dog Carriers Practical?

We mentioned it earlier, but small dogs are ideal for toting around with you wherever you go. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that designer dog carriers are nothing more than purses for your pet.

It’s true that some are designed strictly for fashion purposes. But, some designer carriers have many extra features that will keep your dog safe and comfortable wherever you go.

If you do want to be able to take your small dog with you everywhere, a designer bag is a great option. But, it’s a good idea to expand those options to other forms of travel, too. One of the best designer carriers for dogs up to 20lbs is the Argo by Teafco Petagon Pet Carrier.

Argo by Teafco Petagon Airline Approved Pet Carrier

The Argo carrier is airline-approved and is great for all types of travel. It looks great, so you can use it as a handbag. It also has five external pockets so you can keep your dog’s belongings as well as your own. But, it also serves more than one purpose. Not only does it look good, but it makes for a wonderful carrier!

There’s an opening on the top of the Argo pet carrier. Not only does this make it easier to get your dog inside, but they can poke their head out to see their surroundings. More safety features like mesh windows and a sturdy car strap make this a double-duty carrier that looks great and has all the features of a non-designer carrier.

So, are designer dog carriers practical? They can be! It’s understandable to want to tote around something that looks good. But, you still need to make sure your dog is safe and comfortable, no matter what type of carrier you choose. Thankfully, designer carriers are starting to include more of these features.

What Should I Look for in a Dog Carrier?

We’ve briefly covered some of the best features of different types of dog carriers. But, you might still be confused about which carrier would work best for you or what features you should look for, in general.

One thing to keep in mind is your dog’s personality. What works for one small dog may not be the best option for another. Is your dog hyper? Are they calm? Do they enjoy traveling, or do they get nervous?

Take all these characteristics into consideration. That will make it easier to decide on the type of carrier that will work best.

With any type, though, there are features that will make things safer for your pet and more comfortable for you:

  • Safety: Safety should be the most critical thing in a dog carrier. Hard and soft carriers have different safety features. But, as long as your pet can’t escape from the carrier or hurt themselves, they should be suitable. Many carriers have extra safety features to take into account. These include things like harnesses or safety belts.
  • Comfort: Comfort should be a significant factor in your selection. That includes comfort for both you and your dog! Again, you’re less likely to use a carrier all the time if you don’t enjoy using it or it’s uncomfortable to hold. But, it also needs to make your dog feel good, so they can travel in it for more extended periods of time. Dogs can have different preferences on what they find comfortable. Most soft-sided carriers are lined with plush material. Hard carriers are not, though you can add things like a towel or blanket to make it softer.
  • Travel use: When choosing the right carrier for your small dog, you’ll need to decide where it will get the most use. Some people want a fashionable bag that can show off their tiny dog around town. Others want something durable for air travel. Choose a carrier that is most practical for your most common method of travel. It’ll make it easier on you and your dog.
  • Convenience: A carrier should be easy to clean in case of accidents. It should also be easy to store, and easy to operate (zippers, locks, etc.). This is another instance where if you feel inconvenienced, you won’t use it as much. So, be sure to look at the ‘extra features’ offered by different carrier brands. They can make a difference in how much you enjoy using it.

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the right type of carrier. Use these suggestions to find one that will be a good fit for your lifestyle and will keep your dog happy. The right pet carrier can make life easier for both of you when it comes to regular travel.

How to Measure My Small Dog for the Right Carrier

Most carriers come in more than one size. It’s easy to assume that if you have a dog under 20lbs, you should automatically get the smallest size. Some people tend to go the opposite route, thinking a larger size would give their dog more room to move around. Unfortunately, both of these ideas have their setbacks.

Some small carriers only hold dogs up to 10lbs. Some will hold dogs up to 20lbs, but they may not be long enough for your dog. Carriers that are too large can indeed give your dog more room. But, that isn’t always a good thing. They can get jostled around and could hurt themselves.

The best way to avoid problems like these is to measure your dog before selecting a carrier.

Most crates and carriers will go by weight, which can be helpful. But, you also need to look at the dimensions and make sure your dog will fit inside comfortably. Your dog should be able to turn around and lay down in a carrier but shouldn’t have too much extra room.

  • Important: Measurements should be taken from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail for length. For height, measure from the top of their head to the floor. Then, compare those measurements with the interior measurements of your carrier. There should be a couple of inches of extra space between your dog and the carrier, but not enough for them to get jerked around.

You may be surprised to find that even for small dogs, a ‘small’-sized carrier isn’t always the best option. You can save yourself from buying the wrong size or trying to use something that makes your dog uncomfortable by taking a few minutes to measure them the right way.

Tips for Getting a Dog Used to a Carrier

Some breeds of small dogs are known for being a bit more nervous, like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Jack Russel Terriers. Most of their nervous tendencies come from separation anxiety.

So, you’d think they would be happy to be with you in a carrier, going wherever you go. Unfortunately, if they aren’t used to the crate or they’re not sure what it is, it can be somewhat traumatic for them.

Thankfully, there are tips and tricks you can use to get your dog used to a carrier and feeling comfortable in no time. Once they’re more familiar, there’s a good chance they’ll love it! Most dogs love having a space of their own, and they may even eventually see their carrier or crate as a ‘safe haven.’ So, what can you do to get your dog used to a carrier?

Follow these tips:

  • Start slowly: You should never rush or force your dog into a carrier. Let them explore it for themselves. Leave the carrier in your home for a few days to let them get used to it. Their natural curiosity may eventually lead them to walk inside on their own. If you plan on doing any traveling in the future, be sure to let your dog get used to the carrier on their own time before using it on a trip.
  • Use persuasion: If your pooch doesn’t want to go inside the carrier after a few days, you can use a bit of coaxing. Place a treat or one of their favorite toys inside. This will help them to associate the carrier with something positive.
  • Take short trips: Once your dog is comfortable with the carrier, take them on a short trip. This could be something as simple as going around the block in the car. It will give you a better idea of how well they will handle being in the enclosed space. You don’t want to be far away from home only to find out your dog can only handle the carrier for a few minutes at a time.
  • Exercise: One trick to make your dog less anxious and hyper in a carrier is to make sure they exercise before they go inside. Try going on a long walk before you plan on putting your dog in their carrier. The walk can help to calm them down, and they may be so tired they fall asleep inside. Again, that can create a positive association with the carrier itself.

Different training methods can also be used to get a dog used to a carrier. But, these tips can help, especially if you have a dog who is anxious or hasn’t been exposed to a crate/carrier before.

As you can see, there are many different options when it comes to pet carriers for small dogs. Dogs under 20lbs are more comfortable to tote around with you, so that brings a variety of styles, features, and designs. The most important thing you can do is to choose a carrier that works for both you and your four-legged friend. Comfort, safety, and convenience are critical!

Whether you’ve used a carrier for your dog before or not, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task to find the right one. We hope this guide has given you some insight into which type of carrier will work best for your dog. They’ll love being able to travel with you, and you’ll like having the ability to take them wherever you go!