Whether you’re traveling across the country with your Chihuahua or taking your Corgi to the local grocery store, a dog carrier is a great accessory to have.
Dog slings and dog backpacks have gained a lot of popularity over traditional dog carriers—and for good reasons.
They’re more convenient and comfortable, and they allow you do much more with your dog than a traditional carrier—like going on adventurous hikes!
Written by Becca Choi, a passionate dog person and proud plant mom living in sunny Los Angeles.
Her first ever pet was a lovable Husky-Shepard mix named Marley, but her favorite breed will always be Dachshunds!
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But when it comes down to it, the showdown of dog sling vs. dog backpack isn’t as clear.
That’s why I’m going to break down the pros and cons of dog backpacks and slings to help you decide which option is best for you and your pet.
Dog Sling Carriers: Is a Dog Sling Right for You?
Dog slings are not as common as dog backpacks, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a great option for traveling with your small dog.
Different Types of Dog Slings
There are several different types of slings, but they all follow a similar idea!
One or two straps support your dog’s weight as they rest in a tight-fitting section that supports their midsection.
Three Most Common Dog Slings
Dog slings that wrap around your body with one thick strap that goes from your shoulder to your hip, supporting your dog’s entire body in front of you
Two-strapped dog slings designed like baby slings, where your dog’s limbs dangle as they sit upright in front of your stomach or chest
Support slings that support your dog’s midsection while their feet dangle or rest on the ground, and you hold two straps above them with your hands
Here I’ll introduce the first two dog slings since these are best for traveling with your small dog.
The Pros of Dog Sling Carriers
Using a dog sling carrier instead of a dog backpack gives you more freedom to use your arms without the fear that Fido might slip off your shoulders.
Dog slings are generally better for dogs with anxiety.
Because they keep your dog snug against you as if they were being cuddled or hugged.
In addition to that soothing feature, dog slings are almost always front-facing, so your pup can look up at you to calm their nerves.
These are the biggest pros of using a dog sling:
- Dog slings allow better use of your arms.
- Dog slings keep your dog comfortable and snug.
- Front-facing designs can calm anxious dogs.
The Cons of Dog Sling Carriers
Of course, there’s always a downside to every option.
Most dog slings are rated for pets under 10 pounds, which means you generally need to have a teacup or toy breed.
Although some pet slings are made for larger dogs, you should always measure before buying.
Many pet owners report that their dogs were too long.
Dogs who fidget or wiggle around can also escape dog slings fairly easily since these carriers usually do not feature leash clips.
Like dog backpacks, dog slings can also worsen bone and joint problems in your dog.
Here are the biggest drawbacks of using a dog sling:
- Dog slings are usually weighted for smaller dogs under 10 pounds.
- They’re not great dogs with longer body shapes, like dachshunds.
- Dog slings are not ideal for hyper or energetic dogs.
- Dog slings can increase pain in dogs with bone and joint issues.
Dog Sling vs. Backpack: Who Should Use a Dog Sling Instead of a Dog Backpack?
A dog sling is a better option if you:
- own a dog under 10 pounds
- have an anxious dog who prefers to see you and be near you
- plan on doing many activities with your dog
- suffer from back pain when carrying a backpack
Dog Backpack Carriers: Is a Dog Backpack a Good Option?
Dog backpacks are what they sound like: a backpack made especially for your dog.
The Pros of Dog Backpack Carriers
When you use a dog backpack, most of the weight is on your back, so your arms, shoulders, and legs will experience less strain.
Open mesh designs often allow your dog to see from every angle, giving some pets a sense of security.
If one of your main concerns is storage, the question of dog sling vs. backpack is easy.
Dog backpacks often contain more pockets than dog slings, and those storage spaces also tend to be more generous.
Dog backpacks also offer more space for your dog than a sling.
Here are the biggest pros of using a dog backpack:
- Backpacks put less strain on your shoulders, arms, and legs.
- Open mesh designs let your dog see everything.
- Dog backpacks have more storage pockets compared to dog slings.
- They also give dogs more space than a sling.
- Some dog backpacks offer special features, like rolling or front-facing backpacks.
- Backpacks can hold slightly more weight than dog slings (about 15 pounds).
The Cons of Dog Backpack Carriers
Even the smallest of small dogs are limited when it comes to how they can sit or relax in a dog backpack.
So, if your small breed suffers from bone or joint pain, dog backpacks may not be the best choice.
Although most dog backpacks come with a leash clip inside, some cheaply designed ones don’t. In this case, it’s possible for doggie escape artists to jump out of their enclosures.
Since dog backpacks give your pet a bit more space than a dog sling, they tend to be bulkier.
While most dog slings can fold up for easy storage, the same can’t be said for most dog backpacks.
Dogs with anxiety may feel insecure if they can’t see you.
So, the biggest cons of using a dog backpack are that:
- They can worsen problems like osteoporosis, arthritis, or hip dysplasia in dogs.
- Dogs can jump out if not clipped in.
- Backpacks are bulkier than dog slings and can’t be folded up.
- Dogs can’t see your face.
Dog Sling vs. Backpack: Who Should Use a Dog Backpack Instead of a Dog Sling?
Dog backpacks are better than slings if you:
- own a dog over 10 pounds (but less than 15 pounds)
- have a dog who prefers to move around or might escape
- care about having more storage for pet accessories and belongings
- want a rolling backpack to take the weight off your back when you need to
Interested in more solutions for traveling with your furry friend?
Consider getting a dog stroller!