Which dog carrier is best for car rides?

Crates, Carriers, & Containers

Dogs who are secured properly while riding in a vehicle are far less likely to sustain injuries in the event of an accident.

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What is the best dog carrier for cars?

Dog owners go to great lengths to keep their pups healthy and safe. This is especially crucial while traveling by vehicle. Pets who are unrestrained are far more likely to be hurt in the event of an auto accident. One of the best ways to prevent injuries is to secure your dog in a highly-rated dog carrier.

Prior to purchasing a dog carrier for the car, there are critical considerations to make. We’ve selected the 4×4 North America MIM Safe Variocage Single Dog Crate as our top pick because, it is easily the safest and most innovative carrier on the market.

What to know before buying a dog carrier for car rides

Many individuals are unaware of the importance of safely transporting their beloved pets. While driving, even the most loving of owners allow their dogs to roam about the back or front seat without proper restraint. Few dog owners use some type of restraint system while on the road with their pets. Unfortunately, failing to properly secure one’s dog while driving can lead to a harmful or even fatal incident.

Whether heading to the vet or embarking on a road trip, a dog carrier is the most effective way to prevent injury. Even though seat belt leashes provide pets with an added level of protection, well-built crates can shield dogs far better. There are several categories of dog carriers available, making it effortless to find the right fit for every pup.

What dog carriers for car rides are available?

Dog owners will quickly find that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to dog carriers. Companies have constructed unique designs to accommodate varying needs. There are two main styles of carriers available: soft carriers and hard carriers.

Soft carriers

As the name suggests, soft carriers are built primarily using soft materials. Oftentimes, these carriers look more like purses or duffel bags. Because of this convenient design, soft carriers are best suited for puppies and small dogs. They can easily be secured to the back seat using a seatbelt and are reinforced with metal wiring. Additionally, it is easy to find soft carriers that are approved for use in both the car and for air travel. 

Hard carriers

People who have medium to large dogs should consider hard carrier options. Those who have small dogs or puppies can also use this style if desired. Made from metal, strong plastic or a combination of both, these are fantastic for car journeys. Hard carriers are ultra durable and are usually available in large to extra-large sizes. One major benefit of using this type of carrier is ease of cleaning. Instead of having to wash the entire carrier, owners can wipe down surfaces with a pet-safe cleaner and wash all bedding separately. The best hard carriers are designed to drain water to central collection points to keep dogs dry.

Things to consider before buying a dog carrier for car rides

Size of the dog

The size of your pet is perhaps the most essential factor when choosing a dog carrier. Soft carriers typically accommodate dogs up to 30 pounds. Beyond that weight, a hard carrier will likely be needed.

Vehicle size

In addition to the size of your dog, another important consideration is the size of your vehicle. Spacious SUVs, minivans and trucks can hold nearly every carrier size. Individuals who have a compact vehicle will need to purchase a smaller carrier that still comfortably fits their dog.


Dogs who like to chew on everything will need to be placed in a durable carrier. Mesh screens and certain fabrics can quickly be destroyed by powerful chewers. In cases like this, it is best to opt for a carrier with a hard exterior. 


Another important factor to consider when purchasing a dog carrier is comfort. From short drives to long excursions, dogs should always feel at ease and cozy. The base of the chosen carrier should have a built-in bed or be able to fit a crate liner or bed. Most hard carriers are roomy enough to accommodate some kind of padding to make each trip comfortable.

Best dog carriers for car rides

Top dog carrier for car rides

4x4 North America MIM Safe Variocage Single Dog Crate

4×4 North America MIM Safe Variocage Single Dog Crate

What you need to know: The world’s first and only dog carrier to pass every kind of crash test including front, rear and rollover.

What you’ll love: This is easily the safest and most innovative carrier on the market. It is available in 14 adjustable sizes, making it perfect for every dog and vehicle size. The carrier also comes with an emergency escape hatch.

What you should consider: It is one of the most expensive vehicle carriers on the market.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Top dog carrier for car rides for the money

Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier

Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier

What you need to know: A comfortable, secure and budget-friendly soft carrier for small dogs.

What you’ll love: The Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier keeps dogs cozy and safe while on the road. This carrier is designed with a patented spring wire frame and locking zippers for extra safety. It can easily be secured by using the seat belt strap.

What you should consider: While this carrier is available in three sizes, they only accommodate smaller breeds.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Top large dog carrier for car rides 

SP Travel Kennel

SP Travel Kennel

What you need to know: A hard and durable carrier that is perfect for large breed dogs.

What you’ll love: Available carrier sizes range from medium to XXX-large. A comfortable dog bed can easily be inserted into the crate. It comes with food and water bowls that attach to the metal front door.

What you should consider: It is heavier and larger than many standard dog carriers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy


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

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