What Are the Different Types of Airline Dog Carriers?

When it comes to choosing your airline pet carrier, you have a variety of options. There are carriers for dogs large and small. There are carriers which are built for the comfort of your pet, above all else. And there are carriers which are super-easy to cart around with you on your travels.

This list is of the basic kinds you’ll be able to find in most online stores:

Kennel Style

Hard-sided plastic pet carriers are the traditional kind. The benefit of having this model is that they’re sturdy enough to withstand traveling. They’re also capable of keeping rowdy dogs inside if they try digging their way out. This is something to bear in mind if your dog is particularly strong.


Soft-sided, fabric carriers are the main alternative to plastic models. Fabric carriers, while not as sturdy as plastic ones, can still be strong. They are often made with heavy duty microfiber, which can withstand scratches and tears with ease.

Soft-sided carriers a great solution if you don’t want a bulky, plastic model that can be difficult to hold or store comfortably. Ventilation is provided by mesh side screens which allow in air. Another benefit is that the vast majority of them are sealed with zips, which can be useful.


Some soft-sided pet carriers can be expanded, which means that it can be stored away easily. This is because they have zips, which can be unzipped to expand collapsible sections. These kinds can often be collapsed completely for convenient storage and transport, too.

It also means that a carrier that may have fit your puppy just right can also be adjusted to your grown dog. So when your dog grows up, you won’t have to buy a new dog carrier. This saves you money, even if your pet carrier is more expensive, to begin with.

Front Opening

The most common kind of pet carrier is that which opens from the front. Kennel style carriers typically have a wire gate that opens from the front. Some soft-sided carriers also have an opening at the front, and at the back, using zips.

The opening is normally quite large, easily large enough to accommodate your pet. Front opening dog carriers are typically sturdier than other kinds, especially if the carrier is kennel style. This is because the sides, top and back of the carrier can be sturdy and reinforced.

Multiple Opening

Carriers which can open from either the top, the side, the front or all three allow for great convenience. It is unusual to find a kennel-style carrier which has top and side gates, which makes these kinds a rare find. By contrast, soft-sided carriers can have zips at both ends and on the top, almost like a duffel bag.

Top and side opening carriers allow you to open them from whichever angle is easiest. This can prove to be convenient, for instance, if the carrier is in your lap. It comes at the cost of the sturdiness of a hard-sided, kennel style carrier.

Carrier with Wheels

An airline pet carrier with wheels can come in either the hard or soft-sided varieties. This can be exceptionally convenient. When carrying your luggage by hand, the fact that your carrier has wheels allows you to travel in comfort.

Not all carriers have wheels. In fact, the majority of carriers don’t. Those that do are typically more expensive, but that’s the price of paying for convenience. It may be a good option if you are older, have arthritis, an injury or you just want to make life a bit easier.

Over the Shoulder

Some dog carriers can be worn over the shoulders, like a backpack or a baby carrier. These can be used for day trips and camping, or for transporting your pet to and from the airport. Not only that, but a puppy or toy dog looks adorable when you carry them in one of these.

Of course, these carriers are intended only for small dogs, toy dogs, and puppies. Carrying around a Great Dane or a Labrador on your back will likely give you a hernia. But if your dog fits, this might be an excellent choice for you.