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Dog bicycle trailers vs. dog bicycle carriers

Comparing dog bicycle trailers and dog bicycle carriers

Dogs love to get out and enjoy the day just as much as humans do. If you are going for a bike ride and your dog doesn’t have the energy to run, you don't need to leave them at home. Instead, equip your bike with a trailer or carrier.

Both are suitable options for bringing along your pooch. However, their vastly different designs may make one superior for your needs. 

Dog bicycle trailer

Dog bicycle trailers are fully-enclosed carts that get towed behind you as you ride. They sit low to the ground and feature several large mesh panels that allow for plenty of air flow. Some of these may be openable for access or to let your pooch stick its head out. Most trailers are also equipped with tether attachment points and pockets, and cost between $150-$400. 

Dog bicycle trailer pros

One of the biggest advantages to bike trailers is they can accommodate medium and large dogs that would be impossible to put in a carrier. Some models are designed for dogs up to 125 pounds, whereas carriers are only suitable for dogs weighing less than 25 pounds. You can also put two smaller dogs in a trailer together, making them a good choice for those with more than one furry family member.

Because trailers sit so low to the ground, they are easy for dogs to enter and exit without assistance from their owner. This design also makes them very safe and stable. In the unfortunate event of a crash, your dog is more likely to come out uninjured in a trailer because they won’t end up falling very far. Plus, the full enclosure on bike trailers means your dog can’t unexpectedly jump out to chase a squirrel.

Dog bicycle trailer cons

Many of the downsides of dog bike trailers stem from their size. They can be heavy and difficult to tow, especially with the added weight of their precious cargo. Don’t be surprised if your rides suddenly become much more tiresome when towing a trailer. 

Trailers can also be problematic when biking through crowded areas with a lot of pedestrians or other cyclists. Some are nearly 3 feet wide, so they require more space on trails and sidewalks than a bike alone. 

For those who live in apartments or small homes, the size of bike trailers can make them difficult to store. To mitigate that, many trailers fold up and/or have removable wheels. This can be a bit of a hassle, though, since you’ll need to remove the trailer from your bike every time you want to do this.

Best dog bicycle trailer

PetSafe Happy Ride Aluminum Dog Bike Trailer

With a sturdy aluminum frame and 110-pound weight capacity, this is a good choice for owners of large dogs. It features several mesh panels for airflow, two openings for easy access and has reflectors on the back to help motorists see you. There are also several pockets on the outside to carry treats, toys and anything else your furry friend needs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best dog bicycle trailer for the money

Retrospec Rover Waggin' Pet Bike Trailer

This affordable trailer is ideal for those who have dogs weighing up to 50 pounds and want an affordable option. To keep your pooch safe, it has a nonslip floor, internal tether attachment point and reflectors on the back and wheels.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Dog bicycle trailer worth considering

Schwinn Rascal Bike Pet Trailer

The Rascal is available in two sizes and three bright colors. Conveniently, it can be decoupled from your bike without any tools. The top has a zippered panel with both mesh and solid covers. This will give your dog extra airflow or protect it from the elements as needed.  

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Dog bicycle carrier

Dog bike carriers are baskets that you attach to your handlebars or the rear cargo rack. They are often modified for both comfort and safety, with features such as adjustable openings, tether attachment points, padding and sometimes even full enclosures. Many also have small pockets to carry valuables, water bottles and other items. Carriers come in a range of styles, from modern nylon and mesh to classic wicker, and cost between $20-$100.

Dog bicycle carrier pros

Dog bike carriers are more versatile than trailers. Many are equipped with removable shoulder straps so they can be used as standard carriers when walking around with your four-legged family member. They also attach to and remove from bicycles quickly, without the need for any tools. This makes them a good choice for those who like to ride solo just as often as they do with their dog.

Bike carriers also keep your dog closer to you, which lets you reach over to pet or comfort them. Also, because of their small size, storage is rarely an issue with carriers.

Dog bicycle carrier cons

The biggest issue many people have with carriers is safety. They are mounted very high off the ground, which can be dangerous in a crash, and most don’t have a full enclosure. The tether and adjustable openings mitigate this issue somewhat, but it still doesn’t make them as safe as trailers. 

Carriers are only suitable for small dogs, too. If you have a medium or large breed, they aren’t an option. They may also not be an option for people who have trouble bending over or picking up their pet. Most dogs cannot enter carriers on their own, so you’ll need to be able to lift them up and place them inside the basket. They shouldn’t be taught to jump down on their own either.  Otherwise, they may be more likely to do it unexpectedly in the middle of a ride.

Best dog bicycle carrier

Travelin K9 Pet-Pilot Wicker Max Bike Carrier

This charming wicker carrier features a plush sherpa lining and a removable metal enclosure with a sunshade to keep your best friend comfortable on long rides. It’s equipped with a flip-up handle, too, so it can also be used for off-bike carrying. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best dog bicycle carrier for the money

Pet Lovingly Bicycle Basket

This bike carrier has all the features your pooch needs for a safe and comfortable ride yet costs much less than other carriers. It has an adjustable opening, two slip pockets and removable plush inner padding. However, it can only accommodate dogs weighing up to 10 pounds.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Dog bicycle carrier worth considering

Travelin K-9 Pet-Pilot Original

Though it's a bit pricey, the Pet-Pilot Original has a strong steel frame and stays securely in place without swaying as you ride. It also comes with six inserts that let you change its accent color based on your mood.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Should you buy a dog bicycle trailer or a dog bicycle carrier?

Choosing between a trailer and a carrier often comes down to the size of your dog. Those with small dogs will want to opt for a carrier because they are more affordable and convenient. Owners of large dogs, or those who want to take two small dogs on a ride together, will need to buy a trailer.


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

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