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Which hard-sided carriers for dogs are best?

For many, a dog is considered a member of the family, no different than a child or a younger sibling. While this bond may be enough to take your pet with you wherever you go, other considerations such as the cost of boarding and the type and length of a trip can put some pet parents in need of proper transportation gear for their pups. Dog carriers come in all shapes and sizes, but for extra protection for your pet, especially when flying, hard-side carriers can provide peace of mind and comfort to your dog in transit. 

If you are looking for a sturdy carrier for the dog on the go, the Petmate Two Door Pet Kennel is the best of the best. 

What to know before you buy a hard-side carrier for dogs


Like at-home dog crates, having a carrier too big or too small for your dog can make for an uncomfortable and stressful experience for your pet. There is a general rule of thumb for dog crates and carriers: The carrier should be big enough that your dog can stand up and turn around in it comfortably. No bigger, no smaller. 

If you prefer not to eyeball it, you can measure your dog from the nape of their neck to the end of their tail (adding a few inches for comfort), and then measure from their shoulders to the ground. Use these measurements to buy a carrier with the right height and width. 


Creating a secure environment for your pet can prevent emotional and physical trauma during travel. Nothing can aid in this better than a durable carrying case. Most carrier cases will be made out of thick, durable plastic. Some may come with additional metal framing. Read customer reviews to see how well a carrier withstands wear and tear. 

Many airlines will not allow you to stow your dog in a soft or fabric carrier during a flight.

Ease of Use

The last thing a traveling pet owner needs is a bulky and inconvenient carrier. Pet owners should consider how easy carriers are to load their pets, the ease and comfort of opening the door and built-in features like vents. 

What to look for in a quality hard-side carrier for dogs


Comfort is a top consideration for pet owners. While it’s common for pet owners to add comfort to carriers, such as a dog bed and toys, pet owners should examine their hard-side carriers for sharp edges on the interior of the carrier. Some brands will explicitly say they design carriers without sharp edges. If it is not listed in the product information, check customer reviews for more information. 

Ventilation and visibility

Imagine being trapped in a small room with no windows. Not very comforting, right? Dogs can feel the same way if their hard-side carrier does not have enough built-in vents for airflow. Vents also allow for a dog to see what’s going on, see its owner and feel reassured by its surroundings. 


Getting your dog in and out of a carrier can make transport and bathroom breaks frustrating, especially when you have to pull a nervous dog out of a small door or encourage them to walk back into their carrier. Many hard-sided carriers now come with doors on the top of the crate to make it easier to move your pet in and out of the carrier. 

How much you can expect to spend on hard-sided carriers for dogs

As far as specialized pet products go, hard-side carriers are relatively low-cost pet accessories, usually costing no more than $100. While soft-side dog carriers will generally cost less, you can find an inexpensive hard-side option for around $30. Be mindful of cheaper dog carriers, which may not be as structurally sound or durable.

Hard-side carrier for dogs FAQ

How heavy are hard-sided carriers for dogs?

A. Dog carriers are typically made out of lightweight plastic, but will obviously get heavier the larger the carrier needs to be. Smaller carriers will weigh around 5 lbs depending on the material but can weigh as much as 25 lbs for larger dogs. 

What are the carrier requirements for air travel?

A. Small pets can travel in their carrier with you as long as they can fit underneath the seat in front of you. Unless you are using the smallest dog carrier, it is unlikely that you will be able to bring your dog with you on the airplane. Every airline has its own specific criteria for how to check your dog, but usually require the carrier to be made out of durable wood, metal or plastic, have proper ventilation, be big enough for a dog to stand up and turn around and be equipped with secure food containers and absorbent materials. 

What’s the best hard-sided dog carrier to buy?

Top hard-sided dog carrier

Petmate Two-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel

Petmate Two-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel

What you need to know: A great kennel with a wealth of positive customer reviews lauding ease of use.

What you’ll love: Carrier is designed with air vents all around the carrier for improved visibility and airflow. The sturdy steel door improves the structure of the carrier and it has an “easy squeeze” door latch that makes it easy to open for owners but secure for pets. This carrier complies with most airline requirements. 

What you should consider: This carrier is limited in its range of sizes and will not be suitable for dogs over 25 pounds. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top hard-sided dog carrier for the money

MidWest Homes for Pets

MidWest Homes for Pets

What you need to know: This is a dog carrier that’s easy on the budget and easy to assemble. It’s a good pick for light travel. 

What you’ll love: It comes with most of the features loved by pet owners, such as air vents for airflow and visibility. The plastic build is easy to assemble with only a few steps and no necessary tools. It has a top-loading door for easy pet access and is available in a variety of sizes. 

What you should consider: It is not as sturdy as other pet carriers and may not be suitable for air travel. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Pet Porter Dog Kennel

Pet Porter Dog Kennel

What you need to know: this is an ideal travel carrier that can stand up to heavy use with its durable plastic shell and metal screws. 

What you’ll love: The steel wire and plastic shell work together to make for a durable and secure hard-sided carrier. The metal door has an easy-open handle that you can use with just one hand. There is ample ventilation around the carrier. 

What you should consider: Not as easy to assemble as other carriers, might require tools. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Daisy Kelly writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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