Dog Carrier Bags: What You Need to Know

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Are dog backpack carriers safe? What about dog purses? Small dog carrier bags come in several styles, and it's important to find the best one for your little pooch. While it might be a fun idea to carry your "purse dog" in your actual purse, the most important factors for your pup are comfort and safety.

What Is a Dog Carrier Bag?

Long-haired black and white chihuahua sits in a fashionable dog purse.Dog carrier bags are soft-sided pet carriers designed for small dogs and other small pets. While some include breathable mesh panels and plenty of external pockets for carrying treats, toys and other necessities, many are designed to look more like purses or backpacks. They're usually made of materials like leather or canvas, and patterns and fashionable details can make them indistinguishable from high-fashion handbags or totes. These dog purses nevertheless are typically lined with easy-to-clean material designed with your dog's comfort in mind. They often have a way for your pooch to either be safely zipped inside or to poke their head out and take in the surroundings.

Dog purses are generally intended for small dogs weighing no more than 20 pounds (9.07 kg), says Pet Carrier Verdict. However, these types of dog carrier bags are more suited to tiny dogs weighing 10 pounds (4.54 kg) or less, so be sure to check the weight rating on any bag you're considering. Typically, the best purse dogs are toy breeds such as the Chihuahua, toy poodle, Yorkshire terrier or Maltese. Not only will these smaller breeds put less strain on the bag itself, but if you carry them often, they'll also put less strain on your back.

When Is a Dog Carrier Bag Appropriate?

In general, it's best if your dog is allowed to walk whenever possible. This allows them to get exercise and the mental stimulation that comes with being able to sniff and explore, says Dog Reference. However, there are times when a dog purse is appropriate, including:

  • Flying with your dog
  • Traveling on public transportation

  • Taking your dog to the veterinarian or groomer

  • Taking your dog inside a shop or business

  • Walking longer distances than their tiny legs can handle

  • Transporting elderly or mobility-impaired pets

  • Transporting puppies who are not yet leash-trained

  • Transporting dogs with health problems that restrict exercise

  • Transporting dogs across ice, hot pavement, broken glass or rough terrain

  • Crossing busy streets or parking lots

  • Any situation where you're concerned for your pup's safety on the ground


Scruffy looking Jack Russell terrier poking head out of green mesh dog backpack.Dog purses are great for transporting your dog over short distances or taking them inside places, but they're not ideal for long-distance travel. A soft-sided dog carrier that lets you enclose your tiny pooch inside while giving them plenty of room to stand, turn around and lie down is a better option for bringing your dog on a plane, while hard-sided carriers are generally the safer choice for securing your pup on long road trips. While it might feel fashionable to carry your dog in a purse made just for them, unless they have health or mobility issues that make carrying them a necessity, it's better for their holistic health if they walk on a leash when possible.

Safety Features

While the style of a dog bag might be what appeals to you, your dog's safety and comfort are what matter most. Here are features to look for:

  • A weight rating that's suitable to the size of your dog

  • Enough room inside for your dog to be comfortable

  • Outside pockets for your stuff that won't crowd your dog

  • Sturdy straps and sturdy enough sides that the bag won't collapse and spill your dog out

  • Plenty of ventilation to make the bag breathable when your pooch is zipped inside

  • A way to restrain your dog from climbing out if they're allowed to stick their head out

What about more sporty alternatives? Are dog backpack carriers safe? Having your dog strapped to your back where you can't see them might make you nervous, but a good dog carrier backpack will have all of the above safety features to ensure a safe ride for your pup. Just be sure to use a backpack especially designed for carrying dogs, and not one designed for other uses.

For dog parents, a dog purse or backpack can be a safe and fun way to take your dog out on the town with you in style. Just don't forget to make safety your first consideration when you're shopping for a bag for your pup's well-being. Be sure to consult your veterinarian if you have any further questions or concerns on whether or not a dog purse or backpack might be an option for your little dog.

Contributor Bio

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet lover, freelance writer and novelist. She currently lives in the Ozarks with her husband and their gaggle of four-footed dependents, where she enjoys watching a wide array of wild animals in her back yard while drinking her morning coffee.