Best Dog Hard-Sided Carriers in 2020



Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog Kennel - Assorted Colors Review:


About a year ago, my boyfriend and I adopted a six month old kitten and of course, we needed a carrier for her, so we got a smaller Petmate carrier. As she grew, we realized it was getting a little small for her. We took her on a trip to Florida in it and although she could lay down fine, there was absolutely no room for her to stand. When we adopted our second kitten last September, we knew that we had to get something bigger so we could put both of the cats in it if we needed to.

At the end of November, we decided we were going to Minnesota for Christmas and were bringing the cats with us, so I got on Amazon and started looking at carriers. We were debating between this and the Aspen Pet Taxi Fashion Kennel, also by Petmate, because it was a bigger version of our old one. Both of the carriers we looked at were of the larger size, NOT small. The size of this carrier was the 24". We liked the Aspen Pet Taxi because it had two compartments on the top for holding treats, which was great, but we ultimately decided on this carrier because of the two door option. I must say, this was absolutely the right choice. The top door allows more light in and makes the carrier feel more open instead of a cramped little compartment. Also, the two door option allows us two different ways to put the cats in, which we have found using the top door makes life much easier (not as much struggling!). The biggest plus is that not only can a cat sit up in this carrier, both of our cats fit comfortably in it with plenty of room to move around. The cats stayed in the carrier for the majority of the trip to Minnesota, but I think that had to do with them feeling more comfortable in the carrier than out in the open car since we would leave the carrier open at home and let them explore as they wanted.

I bought this carrier for only $28, which was an absolute steal in my opinion, and am waiting for the price to come down closer to $30 to buy another one since it would be nice for each cat to have her own. The only downside is that because it is so large and the cat has room to move around, it is very unsteady to carry it since the cat moves her weight back and forth from the front to the back. However, this is a very small issue that does not affect my rating of this carrier. As far as the price goes on Amazon compared to other stores (PetSmart, PetCo, Walmart, etc.) it is about the same everywhere I looked, maybe a little cheaper on Amazon. Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend this carrier, not only for cats but for smaller dogs as well. Even at $36, it is still a good deal.

UPDATE:
Since I've had some comments about having two cats in one carrier, I thought I'd clarify a little in my review. The one cat was a year and a half and the other a six month old kitten who wasn't full grown yet. We only had the carrier doors closed when we were getting in and out of the car and when we were in high traffic areas. Other than that, the cats had free roam of the car and access to a litter box but chose to sleep in the carrier together most of the time. Once our kitten had reached adult size, we bought another one of these carriers and currently use both when traveling or taking the cats to the vet. We could probably manage to use one carrier for both cats when making short trips, the vet's office for example, but the carrier can get quite heavy and hard to carry with two cats inside.



Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog Kennel - Assorted Colors Review:


About a year ago, my boyfriend and I adopted a six month old kitten and of course, we needed a carrier for her, so we got a smaller Petmate carrier. As she grew, we realized it was getting a little small for her. We took her on a trip to Florida in it and although she could lay down fine, there was absolutely no room for her to stand. When we adopted our second kitten last September, we knew that we had to get something bigger so we could put both of the cats in it if we needed to.

At the end of November, we decided we were going to Minnesota for Christmas and were bringing the cats with us, so I got on Amazon and started looking at carriers. We were debating between this and the Aspen Pet Taxi Fashion Kennel, also by Petmate, because it was a bigger version of our old one. Both of the carriers we looked at were of the larger size, NOT small. The size of this carrier was the 24". We liked the Aspen Pet Taxi because it had two compartments on the top for holding treats, which was great, but we ultimately decided on this carrier because of the two door option. I must say, this was absolutely the right choice. The top door allows more light in and makes the carrier feel more open instead of a cramped little compartment. Also, the two door option allows us two different ways to put the cats in, which we have found using the top door makes life much easier (not as much struggling!). The biggest plus is that not only can a cat sit up in this carrier, both of our cats fit comfortably in it with plenty of room to move around. The cats stayed in the carrier for the majority of the trip to Minnesota, but I think that had to do with them feeling more comfortable in the carrier than out in the open car since we would leave the carrier open at home and let them explore as they wanted.

I bought this carrier for only $28, which was an absolute steal in my opinion, and am waiting for the price to come down closer to $30 to buy another one since it would be nice for each cat to have her own. The only downside is that because it is so large and the cat has room to move around, it is very unsteady to carry it since the cat moves her weight back and forth from the front to the back. However, this is a very small issue that does not affect my rating of this carrier. As far as the price goes on Amazon compared to other stores (PetSmart, PetCo, Walmart, etc.) it is about the same everywhere I looked, maybe a little cheaper on Amazon. Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend this carrier, not only for cats but for smaller dogs as well. Even at $36, it is still a good deal.

UPDATE:
Since I've had some comments about having two cats in one carrier, I thought I'd clarify a little in my review. The one cat was a year and a half and the other a six month old kitten who wasn't full grown yet. We only had the carrier doors closed when we were getting in and out of the car and when we were in high traffic areas. Other than that, the cats had free roam of the car and access to a litter box but chose to sleep in the carrier together most of the time. Once our kitten had reached adult size, we bought another one of these carriers and currently use both when traveling or taking the cats to the vet. We could probably manage to use one carrier for both cats when making short trips, the vet's office for example, but the carrier can get quite heavy and hard to carry with two cats inside.



AmazonBasics Two-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel Review:


 I got this to replace an older soft-sided carrier which my cat has just about outgrown. I wanted something sturdier, with more space for her on the inside, especially for the potential of going on longer car trips with her. This carrier is a breeze to assemble, and comes with optional nuts and bolts for those who want a more permanent assembly. They're not really needed, though, as the four clips on the side each seem to have a good strong grip, and click firmly into place once set. This allows the crate to still be easily disassembled and packed for storage if need be. To make this carrier more comfortable for my cat, I also got the AmazonBasics Padded Pet Bolster Bed - 22 x 15 inches. The bed just barely fits into the crate, as it seems a tad larger than advertised. It's a tight squeeze to get it settled into the bottom of the carrier, but my cat does seem to like it just fine, so no worries there.

Putting the door on is as easy as just fitting a peg into a hole, then flexing the opening just so to insert the opposite peg. I don't understand the difficulty reported in some of these reviews about getting the door on, because I had the whole carrier, with door, assembled in less than ten seconds (without using the extra hardware). The top door works just fine, as well. The struts that lock it into place are each tensioned with a strong spring, and there's plenty of room to reach in and flip the release tabs up. I saw one review here that mentioned having to use a knife or other tool to flip up the tabs, but that person must have seriously thick fingers, because I am a grown man and I have no problem using my fingers to flip the release tabs up. The door also seems secure enough once properly latched shut. You can see how both doors work in my attached video.

Overall, I'm pleased with my purchase, and glad that I didn't spend twice the amount of money on an inferior product from my local PetSmart. My cat has decided that she really enjoys napping in her cozy new "hideout;" and meanwhile, I just hope that her first trip to the vet in it doesn't scare her away from it entirely. :P



AmazonBasics Two-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel Review:


 I got this to replace an older soft-sided carrier which my cat has just about outgrown. I wanted something sturdier, with more space for her on the inside, especially for the potential of going on longer car trips with her. This carrier is a breeze to assemble, and comes with optional nuts and bolts for those who want a more permanent assembly. They're not really needed, though, as the four clips on the side each seem to have a good strong grip, and click firmly into place once set. This allows the crate to still be easily disassembled and packed for storage if need be. To make this carrier more comfortable for my cat, I also got the AmazonBasics Padded Pet Bolster Bed - 22 x 15 inches. The bed just barely fits into the crate, as it seems a tad larger than advertised. It's a tight squeeze to get it settled into the bottom of the carrier, but my cat does seem to like it just fine, so no worries there.

Putting the door on is as easy as just fitting a peg into a hole, then flexing the opening just so to insert the opposite peg. I don't understand the difficulty reported in some of these reviews about getting the door on, because I had the whole carrier, with door, assembled in less than ten seconds (without using the extra hardware). The top door works just fine, as well. The struts that lock it into place are each tensioned with a strong spring, and there's plenty of room to reach in and flip the release tabs up. I saw one review here that mentioned having to use a knife or other tool to flip up the tabs, but that person must have seriously thick fingers, because I am a grown man and I have no problem using my fingers to flip the release tabs up. The door also seems secure enough once properly latched shut. You can see how both doors work in my attached video.

Overall, I'm pleased with my purchase, and glad that I didn't spend twice the amount of money on an inferior product from my local PetSmart. My cat has decided that she really enjoys napping in her cozy new "hideout;" and meanwhile, I just hope that her first trip to the vet in it doesn't scare her away from it entirely. :P



MidWest Homes for Pets Spree Travel Carrier Review:


I ordered this for trips to the Vet for my cat and it is perfectly adequate. I saw that someone was complaining about the door. You don't have to take the whole grate off, simply unlock whichever side you want to open the door, unlock one of the locks from the top and one from the bottom and it swings open. I thought I was missing 2 pieces for the 2 holes in the back of the carrier so I called Customer Service and she explained to me that those are predrilled by the mfg as some of the airlines require actual metal bolts be used when transporting. So, turns out I am not missing any pieces. The instructions were partially covered by a sticker but the carrier was very easy to assemble, no problems. I gave it 4 stars only because I had to take time to look around and make sure I had not thrown away 2 pieces for the holes in the back of the carrier (which don't exist) and I then had to take time to call Customer Service, who was actually very pleasant. They should make a sticker to add on instructions or to carrier itself explaining the holes and lack of screws for said holes, I think that would save time for all. Their number is listed in the description of this item. Unless you are going to drop kick this carrier, hopefully with no animal in it, all the way to your destination, for the money, this carrier is a good buy.



MidWest Homes for Pets Spree Travel Carrier Review:


I ordered this for trips to the Vet for my cat and it is perfectly adequate. I saw that someone was complaining about the door. You don't have to take the whole grate off, simply unlock whichever side you want to open the door, unlock one of the locks from the top and one from the bottom and it swings open. I thought I was missing 2 pieces for the 2 holes in the back of the carrier so I called Customer Service and she explained to me that those are predrilled by the mfg as some of the airlines require actual metal bolts be used when transporting. So, turns out I am not missing any pieces. The instructions were partially covered by a sticker but the carrier was very easy to assemble, no problems. I gave it 4 stars only because I had to take time to look around and make sure I had not thrown away 2 pieces for the holes in the back of the carrier (which don't exist) and I then had to take time to call Customer Service, who was actually very pleasant. They should make a sticker to add on instructions or to carrier itself explaining the holes and lack of screws for said holes, I think that would save time for all. Their number is listed in the description of this item. Unless you are going to drop kick this carrier, hopefully with no animal in it, all the way to your destination, for the money, this carrier is a good buy.



MidWest Homes for Pets Spree Travel Carrier Review:


I ordered this for trips to the Vet for my cat and it is perfectly adequate. I saw that someone was complaining about the door. You don't have to take the whole grate off, simply unlock whichever side you want to open the door, unlock one of the locks from the top and one from the bottom and it swings open. I thought I was missing 2 pieces for the 2 holes in the back of the carrier so I called Customer Service and she explained to me that those are predrilled by the mfg as some of the airlines require actual metal bolts be used when transporting. So, turns out I am not missing any pieces. The instructions were partially covered by a sticker but the carrier was very easy to assemble, no problems. I gave it 4 stars only because I had to take time to look around and make sure I had not thrown away 2 pieces for the holes in the back of the carrier (which don't exist) and I then had to take time to call Customer Service, who was actually very pleasant. They should make a sticker to add on instructions or to carrier itself explaining the holes and lack of screws for said holes, I think that would save time for all. Their number is listed in the description of this item. Unless you are going to drop kick this carrier, hopefully with no animal in it, all the way to your destination, for the money, this carrier is a good buy.



MidWest Homes for Pets Spree Travel Carrier Review:


I ordered this for trips to the Vet for my cat and it is perfectly adequate. I saw that someone was complaining about the door. You don't have to take the whole grate off, simply unlock whichever side you want to open the door, unlock one of the locks from the top and one from the bottom and it swings open. I thought I was missing 2 pieces for the 2 holes in the back of the carrier so I called Customer Service and she explained to me that those are predrilled by the mfg as some of the airlines require actual metal bolts be used when transporting. So, turns out I am not missing any pieces. The instructions were partially covered by a sticker but the carrier was very easy to assemble, no problems. I gave it 4 stars only because I had to take time to look around and make sure I had not thrown away 2 pieces for the holes in the back of the carrier (which don't exist) and I then had to take time to call Customer Service, who was actually very pleasant. They should make a sticker to add on instructions or to carrier itself explaining the holes and lack of screws for said holes, I think that would save time for all. Their number is listed in the description of this item. Unless you are going to drop kick this carrier, hopefully with no animal in it, all the way to your destination, for the money, this carrier is a good buy.



MidWest Homes for Pets Spree Travel Carrier Review:


I ordered this for trips to the Vet for my cat and it is perfectly adequate. I saw that someone was complaining about the door. You don't have to take the whole grate off, simply unlock whichever side you want to open the door, unlock one of the locks from the top and one from the bottom and it swings open. I thought I was missing 2 pieces for the 2 holes in the back of the carrier so I called Customer Service and she explained to me that those are predrilled by the mfg as some of the airlines require actual metal bolts be used when transporting. So, turns out I am not missing any pieces. The instructions were partially covered by a sticker but the carrier was very easy to assemble, no problems. I gave it 4 stars only because I had to take time to look around and make sure I had not thrown away 2 pieces for the holes in the back of the carrier (which don't exist) and I then had to take time to call Customer Service, who was actually very pleasant. They should make a sticker to add on instructions or to carrier itself explaining the holes and lack of screws for said holes, I think that would save time for all. Their number is listed in the description of this item. Unless you are going to drop kick this carrier, hopefully with no animal in it, all the way to your destination, for the money, this carrier is a good buy.



Petmate Sky Kennel Review:


This was the only kennel I found that came closest to airline requirements. It is approved by the USDA and IATA. We were on a military move from the states so this a review on the international kennel features and requirements only.

Kennel Features:
This kennel has 11 plastic bolt holes- This is the only requirement that this kennel does not follow. It came with plastic nuts. Metal nuts and bolts are required now for every flight. This carrier has 11 bolt holes plus an additional 4 tie down holes. My airline specifically said that every hole must have a bolt. So we needed 15 metal nuts and screws for the carrier. Some airlines let you leave the 4 tie down holes empty but check to be sure and order the bolts ahead of time to get the right amount. We dind't do this and had to buy 3 kits because of shipping time limits. Metal bolts on amazon did not have prime option. But these are what you need Pet Carrier Metal Fasteners Nuts Bolts (1-1/4" Medium Bolts, 16 Pack) 16 pack will ensure a better safe than sorry amount.
Has Pre drilled zip tie holes- Hard to find kennels with this already done. It is a requirement to zip tie the kennel doors shut. Quick release are best. Helping Hand Assorted Quick Release Nylon Cable Ties, 8-inch Make sure you insist on zip tying your dogs yourself! I watched the security guy do it wrong and had to redo do it myself. So glad I got the quick release. Same thing happened to a friend only they didn't catch that the attendant only thread it though the hole and not the door. Their dog got loose in the belly of the plane after ripping off the door. This brings me to the next feature.

Has single piece metal door- Be sure to follow this guideline, a metal single piece door. No plastic allowed! Some larger kennel doors have a fold in the middle of the door to make packing easier. Some airlines don't specify the type of door needed and some forbid the fold. It gives the dog the ability to pull the door in which will then collapse and allows for escape. This kennel door is a solid one piece.

Has protruding bar/side handles- This follows the requirement of "a spacer rim protruding at least 3/4 on all sides with ventilation openings"This is so the airline can carry and move the kennel without using the handle (known to fail on some kennels) and prevent a dog from being able to bite or contact movers hands. This kennel states that the rim is designed to work as side handles.

Has 4 sides of air holes- Requirement is air holes must be "on all four sides at least halfway on each side". This kennel has it and even better metal grates! I had a friend whose dog chewed the space between the plastic holes during flight. Some kennels show in the picture that they have air holes in the back but come to find after ordering they didn't have the air holes on the backside in the smaller sizes. Especially for cat carriers. Note- Domestic flights only requires 2 vent sides but they stack and pack kennels like baggage and airflow will be restricted. Go with ventilation on all sides.

Food Dishes- These were actually deep enough to be functional. Kennels with dishes attached inside on the walls are not allowed. Airlines must be able to "access dishes attached to door without opening the kennel door" they do this through funnels. On my main international flight with 2 layovers and a total of 20 hours travel they did not feed or water my dogs once. Even though it's the law. My advice freeze water ahead of flight so it doesn't make a mess or even better get a lixit water bottle to ensure your dogs don't dehydrate. We got Lixit Small Dog Water Bottle 16-Ounce

Stickers- This kennel came with stickers and that is a requirement but airlines have them and will use their own as well. The stickers included are crap and leave an awful residue. The airlines put the sticker packet of paper work over the " "Live Animal" in 1-inch letters on the crate's top" required sticker. Upon removal of that it lifted the sticker below mucking up the brand new kennels. My advice, bring the stickers and apply at check in where they are needed once the paperwork covers the entire top of kennel and use airline stickers if possible.

Note for size- The length requirement for international travel is [their length + half their leg] so there must be ample room in front and back. This made us need the larger kennel which is much larger than our previous kennel. Some will say that the rule of thumb is as long as they can turn around it's okay. But that is the length rule for IATA. Height for IATA includes ears and ears cannot touch top of kennel while standing. Again, why we had to go up a size (dang chihuahuas). After traveling with my pets on over 6 different flights I can say that most airline attendants are clueless about the pet requirements needed. I had one tell me they don't even receive training on the requirements and offered to let both dogs go into one kennel (a international no no). But I did have had one who knew their stuff and used a tape measure. So better safe than sorry!

Traveling with your pet no matter how far is stress full. With international flights being long dogs get anxious and try to escape, sometimes successfully in cheep kennels. So get this one! Airlines have different requirements and regulations. It's better to buy new then to try to modify existing kennels. Save yourself the time! Get this kennel and you only need to purchase zip ties (hand release are best), metal bolts, and some puppy pads. I realize this is much more info than necessary for a review but I know how hard it was getting this information. Please check this as helpful so that it may help others in the complicated kennel requirement process. Safe Travels!