The Best Dog Carrier Backpack Australia - An Overview
We have all been there! Just about to rush out the door for a nice bike ride or hike, only to be struck by the forlorn look of your canine friend. You know that how could you leave me look?
Don’t you wish you could just scoop them up and take them with you?
I’m almost certain that that’s how dog backpacks were invented. They enable you to take your little pup wherever you go. Backpacks also have the benefit of being great for air travel. (1)
If you are in search of a dog backpack for your dog, you are in the right place. We teamed up with veterinarians and dog parents to test out the top dog backpacks Australia has to offer. Our journey took several weeks and nearly 100 (!) different dog backpacks, all to suss out the pick of the litter, so to speak.
This ultimate guide to dog backpacks will break down how to use a dog backpack, what the different types of backpack are, what to look for in a decent dog backpack, and finally, a detailed round-up and review of the best dog backpacks in Australia. This was written to answer as many questions as possible, so we hope you find the best option for you!
Quick Picks - The Top 3
Our Number 1 Pick -
Ibiyaya Double-Decker Two-tier Pet Backpack for Cats & Small Dogs
- Ergonomic design reduces the strain on your back
- Two separable compartments
- Water-resistant fabric
- Doubles as a booster seat
- Safety tethers and mesh windows in each compartment
Runner Up -
K9 Sport Sack
- 60-Day Quality Guarantee
- 8 different designs
- Decent size range
- Comfortable for you and your dog
Third Choice -
Mr Peanut's Backpack Dog Carrier
- Plenty of storage
The Difference Between A Dog Backpack And A Backpack For Dogs
Quick note to start off with. There is a difference between dog backpacks and backpacks for dogs.
A backpack for your dog is a backpack that your dog carries. If you are in search of this, you’re in the wrong place.
A dog backpack is a backpack in which you carry your dog. This is what this article will cover.
What Are The Different Types Of Dog Backpacks?
As with all items in the dog world, there is a lot of versatility in the doggy backpack world. We can split them roughly into four categories.
Front carrier vs Back carrier
So, this is all about how you choose to hold your little fur baby.
Do you want to have a traditional backpack that you wear on your back?
Or do you want a front carrier that you carry around your chest?
It’s fair to say that many dog backpacks are fairly versatile and can be carried both front and back.
Some are better suited to being carried on your back than on your front. Later in the reviews, we have recommendations for both.
Form-fitting vs Box-style
These aren’t official categories. I made them up because it helped to separate the two main form factors of backpacks on the market.
The first is the form-fitting backpack. This is the backpack that hugs and holds your dog. It makes them feel snug and safe. These are the styles that enable your dog to have their legs out, but not always.
The second is the box-style. The box-style is a square capsule that has the same kind of features as traditional dog carriers. They give your dog a bit more space than the form-fitting ones. They are also quite versatile and tend to be safe to fly with.
How To Use A Dog Carrier Backpack
Step 1. Will your dog like being in a backpack?
I am going to burst your bubble for just a second. There’s a chance your dog won’t like the backpack life.
I know doggy backpacks are super cute and in theory, they are a great idea. But it’s not for every dog. For one, dog backpacks are built very small which we will discuss further later.
Beyond that, your dog may not like the sensation. We can both agree that dogs don’t fly right? Well, some dogs can’t be blamed if they don’t want to be floating off the ground for extended periods of time.
That said, some dogs really love it!
If your pup loves to be carried around in your arms, you may have a natural-born backpacker on your hands. The first thing to figure out is if your dog will even like being in a backpack.
Step 2. Make sure you measure your dog correctly
Depending on the style of the backpack you choose, you need to measure different things. Our expert panel shared the following recommendations they learnt after testing out dozens and dozens of packs. By and large, the measurements you need are:
- Your dog’s weight
- Length from head to tailbone
- Circumference around the waist
- Circumference around the neck
Step 3. How to put your dog in a backpack
Once you have bought a backpack, putting your dog inside will depend on the construction.
For box style backpacks, you can usually open a zipper from above or the side and pop your pooch inside pretty easily.
Form-fitting backpacks are a little trickier. But after much trial and error, we've found that the easiest way is to follow these steps:
- Lie the backpack on the floor with the zip opened and facing you
- Hold your dog around the stomach with one hand
- Use your other hand to pull on the backpack, inserting their legs through the holes
- Once their legs are through the holes, pull on the backpack and secure with the zip
It is recommended that your dog wears a harness so you can use the leash attachment to keep them secure inside. Please note that this is just a rough guide. Most manufacturers will have a step-by-step guide on how to use the product correctly.
What To Look For In A Dog Backpack
This the probably the most important thing when it comes to any dog carrier, but particularly dog backpacks.
PRO TIP: The first thing to note is that backpacks are for small and extra-small dogs only. Imagine carrying your 35kg Labrador Retriever on your back! It’s a fast track to a lifetime relationship with a chiropractor.
Backpacks are designed with small dimensions and for small weights.
The maximum weight that most backpacks will hold is 5kg. Some will go as high as 9kg. A 9kg dog could be a Shetland Sheepdog for example.
If you follow the measuring guide above and compare against the manufacturer’s guidelines, you should be fine. It is also good practice to check the comments to see if the sizing runs small or large.
If your dog is between sizes, opt for the larger size. (2)
A dog carrier needs to be comfortable for you and your dog.
For you, you’ll want a lightweight backpack that doesn’t hinder your mobility. Nicely padded, adjustable shoulder straps are also essential.
PRO TIP: Wider shoulder straps are better as they distribute your dog’s pressure more evenly across your shoulders and chest. This will make carrying your dog for long periods far more comfortable.
For your dog, it depends on the style of the backpack to the degree. If it is a form-fitting backpack, you’ll want a soft and padded inner lining to make it snug and secure.
If it is a box style, it is nice for your dog to be able to see out as much as possible. If the backpack doesn’t allow for their head to be out, then mesh windows are very welcomed. Our team of vets note that being able to see out will help your dog’s peace of mind.
In any and all cases, the backpack must have adequate ventilation. You don’t want your pup to overheat or get sweaty!
Firstly, you are carrying your dog off of the ground and onto your back. Sturdy, flexible and breathable materials are paramount. It is terrifying to think that the fabric of a backpack could just give way whilst you are on a bike ride and drop your dog at full speed. Terrifying.
Be sure to read reviews and see the materials listed to ensure that you have a durable product on your hands before purchasing.
Secondly, dog backpacks are not cheap. If you are going to make a significant investment, it had better last you a while! Backpacks are definitely one of those things where the price somewhat correlates to the quality, but we have managed to find a good range of options at all price points.
Let’s get into those options now.
The Best Dog Backpacks Australia 2023 Reviewed
Now that we have defined the many aspects of dog backpacks, let’s dive into the very best products on the Australian market as tested by our panel of canine experts and doggy lovers. One thing to note before you review these is that reviews may be mixed when it comes to backpacks.
This is because dog backpacks can be a hard sell to your pooch. As we said previously, dog backpacks are not for every dog. They may just dislike the sensation. Some of our researchers left not-so-great reviews on the merits of their dog not taking to the product. Totally natural but worth remembering whilst you are going through our comments below.
What sets this product apart from the rest?
When it comes to dog backpacks, the designers often try hard to make them comfy for the dogs. What is often forgotten, though, is the comfort of the human who will need to carry the backpack. This backpack from Ibiyaya manages to strike a balance between the two, creating a product that our independent panel of testers found is both comfortable for the human and the canine.
The unique feature of this backpack is that it contains two compartments of equal size. They are both designed as cabins for a small pet, but the separator can also be removed to create one larger compartment. When separated, both compartments are 39 cm long, 29 cm wide, and 28 cm high, which is fairly spacious and enough for many small dogs. Like many of the backpacks we review ahead, each compartment has its own comfy mat and a mesh window that can be opened.
Of course, carrying two pets is not what everyone wants or needs. In this case, simply remove the separator to create one larger compartment that can be home to larger pets too (but keep in mind that the weight limit is 12 kg). This weight limit is actually one of the higher ones on this list and for dog backpacks in general.
My dog is on the smaller side, so I was able to just use the upper compartment. This way, my dog could also stick his head out of the additional window on the top of the backpack, which seemed more his style. If you use the backpack like this, you’ll have the lower compartment free to store anything you need to carry with you besides the dog.
Now, this is quite a large backpack, and with your canine companion inside it can get quite heavy. To make this more comfortable for you, Ibiyaya made this backpack similar to large hiking backpacks. Namely, there is a hip belt that helps distribute weight evenly as well as a sternum strap. Combine that with the adjustable shoulder straps and you’ve got yourself one comfy dog-transporter.
Full of clever design features, our panel of experts also loved how this backpack features two webbing loops on the backside. These loops are there to allow you to turn your backpack into a car booster seat. To use this backpack as a booster seat, simply pull the seatbelt in your car through those loops and buckle it.
What sets this product apart from the rest?
This veterinarian-approved backpack is the best of the best on the market. K9 makes some incredibly high-quality products, and we are pleased to say this is one of them.
We love the design options. A great range of 8 colour schemes makes this a bit more of a personalised product.
The K9 Sport Sack being tested by our independent expert team.
As for sizing, there are four in total, though they are all quite small. As we discussed before, backpacks are mainly for small dogs anyway. Carting around your German Shepherd on your back is probably going to end in injury for you or them...most likely you, let’s be honest.
The extra-small size is perfect for toy breeds like Chihuahuas and Teacup Yorkshires. It will suit dogs up to 33cm.
The largest size is suitable for dogs up to 58cm in length. So, think Beagles, Corgis, French Bulldogs and perhaps a Shetland Sheepdog.
The shoulder straps repel moisture and are well ventilated for extended comfort as you carry your dog around. The sides of the main section of the bag are also well ventilated so your dog doesn’t feel too sweaty when tucked up tight in the backpack.
The backpack is made of a patented durable fabric and form-fitting inner mesh to ensure a comfortable fit for your dog, no matter how slim or portly they may be.
Safety is paramount when it comes to backpacks as you have little control here. K9 have thought about that and use 5 different modes of safety to give you peace of mind. There is an adjustable collar closure at the top to keep your dog snug. There is also a collar attachment with a strong D-ring. There are buckled straps that clip around the back, hold your dog in place.
As the cherry on top, K9 offers a 60-day satisfaction guarantee. Whatever issues you may have in the first couple of months will be heard by the manufacturer which is fantastic. If you have never used a dog backpack before and are not sure if your dog will like it, this guarantee is a good failsafe.
Mr Peanut’s make some incredibly stylish and well-built dog carriers in general. And as our research team quickly discovered during the testing phase, their backpack does not disappoint.
This backpack is airline approved and the perfect candidate as a carry-on bag for the plane. That said, please do check the airline’s guidelines before purchasing if the goal of this backpack is to carry your dog during air travel.
The Mr Peanut's Backpack Dog Carrier being tested by our independent expert team.
This dog carrier is jam-packed with features. It is incredibly lightweight for its size and security. It is versatile enough to carry in a variety of ways. I was able to carry it like a traditional backpack, a front carrier or a side carrier. It may be a bit bulky as a front carrier though because of its boxy shape. It would be like strapping a delivery box to your chest, but you are welcome to experiment!
In terms of sizing, this is a one-size-fits-all kind of deal, which is not our preferred style as we like variety. It measures 43cm x 30cm x 30cm and suits dogs that measure 35cm x 22cm. It is designed for your dog to be lying down and not standing up so bear that in mind. The construction is also a little different to the other backpacks on this list as it is less about “hugging” your dog. It more like a traditional box-shaped carrier than a form-fitting backpack.
However, our expert panel notes that the boxy shape has its benefits. It means it can have the features and benefits of a traditional carrier. For example, this has a removable fleece bed, so when the bag is not on your back, your dog can rest peacefully on their side. There are mesh windows for breathability and ventilation, and a leash tether for security, similar to our number one pick. This backpack is ultimately very customisable in its use.
As this is certainly a travel dog backpack, there are plenty of storage spots to hold a water bottle, documents and identification for you and your dog during your adventures.
This may be one of the pricier options on this list, but it is well worth the price point.
For a cheaper option that still packs a punch, the PetAmi is a decent low-cost dog backpack.
Similar to the Mr Peanuts backpack, it is more of a boxy style that seems like a regular soft-sided backpack, as opposed to a form-fitting backpack.
This backpack is made of a high-grade polyester (which I promise you exists!). It is built to last which makes it even more value for money.
The PetAmi Premium Dog Backpack Carrier being tested by our independent expert team.
Unfortunately, our team of experts were saddened to learn that the PetAmi carrier comes in only one size. It measures 29cm x 23cm x 40cm. Therefore, it is only suitable for very small dogs up to 3.5kgs in weight. The PetAmi is certainly one of the smallest on this list, so bear that in mind.
With mesh windows for ventilation and soft sherpa fleece lining, comfort is king with this product.
We also love that there are 7 colour schemes to choose from; Black, Dark Grey, Light Grey, Royal Blue, Light Blue, Red, Pink.
Overall, for the price, this backpack has a lot to offer. It is safe, durable and comfortable. The triple threat that will work perfectly fine for extra-small dogs.
Some prefer a back carrier, and some prefer a front carrier. The PETCUTE dog backpack is fully flexible and capable of both.
This model is also somewhat the intermediary stage between a box-style and a form-fitting backpack. It is still snug to your dog’s body but not quite as much as the K9 backpack for example. This may work better for dogs who don’t like to be wrapped up quite so tightly. They have a bit more space to move their limbs with this design.
The material is extremely durable. A tough, breathable polyester supports your pup whilst keeping them well ventilated. This is a head out design too so your pup can watch the world go by during your adventures.
Unlike our number four choice, there are three sizes in total but the only two that would work for dogs are the medium and large sizes. The medium size is suitable for a dog weighing 2 to 3.5 kg. Chihuahuas fit that bill. The larger size is suitable for a dog weighing 3 to 5 kg. Shih Tzus are around that weight. So as you can see, both sizes are still only going to work with very small dog breeds.
The base of the backpack is removable for easy cleaning. As for safety, there is a leash attachment to prevent your dog from jumping out.
Economical, sturdy and comfortable, this is a versatile option that will suit you however you want to wear it.
For those who want a front carrier backpack for your dog, this is the one for you.
This backpack has more of a sling kind of construction which keeps your dog’s legs and head out. Very much like a baby carrier.
There is only one size, and like our number four choice, it is perfect for small dogs and puppies. However, the manufacturer claims it will hold a maximum weight of 9kilos. A 9kg dog would be a Pug or French Bulldog for reference.
Despite a limited size range, there is a nice range of colours. The four colourways are grey, red & blue, green & blue, and finally red & blue with stripes.
A common criticism from our expert panel of independent testers is that the straps aren’t very wide. This means that the weight is more concentrated across a smaller surface area. Therefore, with the heavier dogs, this backpack may be quite uncomfortable for long-term wear. Therefore, we only recommend this model for the mid-range weight of around 5kg. As we learned from our numerous trials, extra-small dogs are best suited for this particular model.
For your comfort, the back is fully padded with foam. It is also very lightweight which is vital for comfortable wear.
For your dog’s comfort, the canvas fabric is flexible and soft. The central band is made of a breathable mesh which allows gentle ventilation around your dog’s tummy. Having their legs and head out will also help them to stay cool whilst strapped to your chest or back.
The final thing to say is that this backpack is quite low-cost, but it does compromise on quality slightly. This is one of those products where you kind of get what you pay for. That said, if you take good care of it and ensure you only use it with extra-small dogs, it should hold up fine over time.
If you are in search of a puppy backpack that is sturdy and versatile, Apollo Walker makes a great option.
This is one of the box-style backpacks which works quite well for fidgety puppies. You may find that they feel more at ease having a bit more freedom with their limbs.
There are mesh windows so your pup can see the world go by. These windows can open independently if need be. The interior is nicely padded to make your dog feel more comfortable.
The Apollo Walker Dog Backpack being tested by our independent expert team.
For your comfort, the shoulder straps are padded, and the back is spongey. There are also adjustable straps that clip around your chest and waist for extra security. Immediately after donning this pack, I realised it's going nowhere.
As for sizing, the dimensions are 45cm x 34cm x 8cm. This will suit very small dogs and puppies. Like many of the other choices on this list, we think it's a shame there are no larger sizes.
Finally, one special feature this backpack has is collapsibility. Yep, you can completely fold this down into a handy flatpack making it super portable and easy to store.
The Apollo Walker backpack is the perfect option for taking your young furbaby on your travels and hikes. Remember if you intend to fly with this, it should be up to scratch but do check the airline’s requirements.
Finally, for extra-small dogs who want to see the world, we have this adorable little capsule from Petseek to recommend to you. This backpack is like a little space bubble. We love the design. So, space-age-y and different!
This is a box-style backpack that is too bulky to carry on your chest but is perfectly lightweight for your back. The clear plastic windows give your dog a clear view of the outside world as you go about your travels together.
The Petseek Dog Backpack being tested by our independent expert team.
As for sizing, the dimensions are 40cm x 29cm x 5.50 cm. It can hold a dog of up to 7.7kg. Puppies and extra-small dogs ready for taking off will love this unique view of the world.
The Petseek is made of scratch-proof, durable material that is built to last. Like our number seven backpack, there is plenty of padding on the shoulders and back to ensure your comfort as you cart your pup around.
Best of all, the Petseek backpack follows many airline guidelines so it should be safe to travel with (after checking with your specific airline).
Overall, I definitely think that this well-priced, durable and unique model is worth exploring!
The Final Verdict: Best Dog Backpacks
Choosing the best dog carrier for your dog can be tricky whichever style you choose. (3) We hope this selection of backpacks has been helpful.
Our panel of independent experts were able to agree that the best overall is definitely the K9. It's a traditional dog backpack that does everything you need it to. If you prefer the box style, the Mr Peanuts backpack is a premium product that we absolutely think is well worth the splurge!
In general, dog backpacks are not cruel. It is all a question of your dog’s comfort. If they are in distress, then it is cruel to keep using the backpack for your convenience. You will know instantly if it is not for them.
Likewise, dogs with disabilities and joint issues have different needs.
“If your dog has bone or joint issues such as arthritis or osteoporosis, the backpack may not provide adequate support for the dog. It may be uncomfortable for your pet to sit in the position that the backpack puts him in, and it could put unnecessary stress and pressure on his bones and joints.” – Diana Miller from Top Dog Tips
- Meltzer, M. Lagrave, K. Kuta, S. “Everything to Know About Flying With A Dog”. October 7, 2022. Conde Nast Traveller. Retrieved February 23, 2023. https://www.cntraveler.com/story/flying-with-a-dog-everything-you-need-to-know
- Reisen, J. August 2, 2021. “How to Choose the Best Dog Carrier for Your Canine Friend”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved February 23, 2023. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/how-to-choose-the-best-dog-carrier-for-your-canine-friend/
- “What Type of Dog Carrier Do You Need?”. January 14, 2019. PetMD Editorial. Retrieved February 23, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/pet-lover/what-type-dog-carrier-do-you-need
- Miller, D. October 12, 2022. “Pet Carriers: Dog Backpack or Dog Sling? It’s a Matter of Convenience”. Top Dog Tips. Retrieved February 23, 2023. https://topdogtips.com/dog-backpack-or-carrier-sling/