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How Much Can a Dog Carry in a Backpack?

By Aviram K.
June 30, 2021
5 min read
How Much Can a Dog Carry in a Backpack?
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.
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If you love the great outdoors, you know dogs love it as much, if not more.

However, hauling luggage uphill is not for the faint of heart. You might want your dog to carry their share of the load. But you want to keep them safe.

How much can your dog carry safely? Knowing this threshold ensures you don’t overwork your dog or cause them harm.

Generally, an active and healthy adult dog can safely carry up to 25% of their body weight. However, the right load for an individual dog varies depending on age, size, and breed. Weaker breeds, puppies, and senior dogs may only be able to handle up to 10-15% of their body weight.

Establishing the right weight for your dog can be tricky as there are many factors at play. Additionally, you also need the right gear to ensure the dog is safe and comfortable.

Here’s a convenient calculator I created for you to determine the approximate weight your dog should be able to carry:

In this article, I will answer all your questions about equipment, weight, and safety when hiking with your dog.

Table of Contents

01
How Much Weight Can Dogs Carry?
02
Are Backpacks Safe for Dogs?
03
Are Dog Backpacks Comfortable for Dogs?
04
What Age Can a Dog Wear a Backpack?
05
Can You Carry Your Dog in a Backpack While Hiking?
06
Remember: Not All Dogs Are the Same

How Much Weight Can Dogs Carry?

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The acceptable range for dogs to carry is 10% to 25% of their body weight. But, every dog is different. For this reason, you should never solely rely just on body weight.

Several factors determine what load is safe for your dog. Here are factors you should consider.

Breed

Not all dogs are the same. Some breeds are naturally athletic, while others need more training to get there.

Generally, healthy adult working dogs like Mamlutes, Dobermans, and Bernese Mountain Dogs can carry a maximum of 25% without a problem. Their muscular body and sturdy legs make it possible.

In contrast, some breeds struggle with physical activities and may not be able to lift any weight at all.

For instance, low energy breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Frenchie will struggle. Likewise, some athletic breeds like German shepherds struggle to carry weight on their backs.

Physical Size

Physical size is closely related to the breed. Some breeds are larger in stature than others.

Giant breeds such as Great Danes will carry more weight than a terrier. They may carry more than athletic breeds. The only difference is the percentage of body weight.

For instance, a Great Dane may only be able to carry 10% of their weight. However, 10% is far greater than the 25% a Huskie can carry due to their impressive size.

So, when looking at absolute weight, a Dane can carry more. But a husky or Mamlute hauls more relative to their weight.

Health and Injuries

Your dog’s health plays a big part in the weight they can carry.

Certain diseases affect the dog’s ability to carry weight even after they recover. The same applies to injuries that may have happened in the past.

For instance, Bulldogs and pugs suffer from respiratory complications. At the same time, many large breeds like German Sheperds are prone to hip problems.

All these health problems may restrict dogs from handling heavy loads. If your dog is suffering from such conditions, to be safe, get a clearance from the vet before letting them carry much weight.

Age and Experience

Even the most active dogs slow down as they get older.

Age also marks the onset of health conditions. Health issues such as back problems, joint pains, and breathing difficulties set in. For this reason, senior dogs should only carry a fraction of their capacity. Avoid it if you can to prevent further injuries.

A young puppy is still growing and should not carry as much. Very young puppies should never have to carry weight.

As they approach adolescence, you can start loading about 10% of their body weight. That percentage is much lower for the breed that struggles with carrying weight.

Are Backpacks Safe for Dogs?

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Backpacks for dogs are increasingly becoming popular. In addition to carrying their weight, backpacks help your pup get a workout.

Generally, backpacks are safe. However, that is only true if you find the right fit for your dog.

Here are some of the safety tips for dog backpacks.

  • Ensure it fits well. Backpacks should fit snugly around the dog’s body. In addition to the dog’s weight, you should also measure the circumference. A proper fit ensures the weight is uniformly distributed. In addition, it protects the dogs from sprains, strains, and injuries.
  • Don’t overload the dog. The backpack should not be too much for the dog. Load the backpack depending on the distance, terrain, dog’s health, and fitness. Don’t guess the weight of the backpack, and take time to weigh it. While hiking, look for signs of exhaustion.
  • Use handles in dangerous areas. Pay special attention when hiking in rough terrain. Keep the dog close to you. You can use the harness handles to guide the dog through rivers, streams, and very steep slopes.
  • Regularly check for chaffs. The dog can develop chaffs in areas where the straps press the fur. The chaffs can become lesions with little warning. These injuries can make the backpack uncomfortable for the dog. If left untreated, the lesions can get infected.
  • Choose what you pack. Weight is not the only thing you need to worry about. You should carefully choose what goes into the backpack. Water bottle treats and waste bags are ideal items to put in the backpack. You should also avoid any pointy objects that may prick the dog, like your keys.

Are Dog Backpacks Comfortable for Dogs?

A well-designed backpack should be comfortable for your dog. However, not all backpacks are as comfortable as they should be. It is up to you to make sure you get the right one.

When selecting a new one, go for one with padding for added comfort.

It is also better to get one made of breathable material. Your dog will be reluctant to wear it if it’s stuffy and makes them sweaty. In addition, breathable fabric allows for oxygen circulation in the chest and back.

I recommend checking out these backpacks for dogs:

What Age Can a Dog Wear a Backpack?

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Carrying a backpack requires both core and leg strength. As a result, only mature dogs can handle the intensity of hauling weight.

Hold off until the dog’s joints are ready. Maturity occurs at around 18 months to two years, depending on the breed. Carrying weight before then puts pressure on the developing joints and may cause injuries.

Can You Carry Your Dog in a Backpack While Hiking?

Not all dogs can handle the intensity of a hike through the mountains. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t bring them with you.

Instead, you can carry the dog in a backpack while hiking to protect them. But this should only be suitable in specially designed backpacks for carrying your pet.

A standard backpack would be too uncomfortable for the pup. The right backpack should be durable, comfortable, and secure.

There are a few good brands out there that you can consider. Below are some great dog backpacks that are worth checking out the next time you are shopping:

Remember: Not All Dogs Are the Same

No two dogs are the same, even if they are the same age and breed. Therefore, you should know each dog’s limit before loading their backpack.

The 10% to 25% range is only a suggestion. To get the exact weight, consult your veterinarian. You should also conduct several trials at home before setting out for that hike.


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