Since we recently ran a dog bike basket article for pint-sized pooches, we thought we should also cover a convenient form of transportation for your bigger furry buddy – bike trailers!
I have used these trailers myself while fostering a few different senior or disabled dogs for dog rescues, and they are fantastic in terms of convenience and practicality. Even better, they’ll allow you to give your dog a happier life by allowing him to spend a lot more time with you.
Bike trailers seem like a strange concept to many people – if you have a large dog, why not just allow him to run free next to your bike? Surely, he can keep up?
While many large dogs can keep up to a bike, at least for a few miles, there are several reasons why having a bike trailer may be a smarter, safer and more practical option. Keep reading to find out some of the many reasons why you might need a bike trailer.
Already know that you want a bike trailer and want to skip right to researching which one is best for you and your dog? Check out this quick reference table below:
Why would I want to buy a bike trailer?
Your dog is suffering from an illness, an injury or a degenerative disease
Using a trailer with any large dog makes life much easier, more convenient, and more fun. However, if you have an ill, injured, or disabled dog, you can dramatically improve her well-being by taking her out in the bike trailer to see and smell the world around her.
It is common for many young and active large dogs to suffer ligament and joint tears (like an ACL tear) that often requires months of crate confinement to heal. These naturally energetic breeds often go stir crazy with pent-up energy but have no way to let it out.
A great solution to this problem is using a bike trailer! This way you’re still following your vet’s bed-rest orders, but your dog can blow off some steam and calm down as she takes in the sights, sounds and smells of the world passing by from the safe confinement of a bike trailer.
Your dog is a senior and wants to enjoy his golden years by your side
Another great use for bike trailers is for taking your loyal senior dog out to enjoy his golden years to the fullest. For these dogs, getting around is slower and more painful for them than it used to be, but they’re not ready to give up their daily walks with you just yet.
Many owners report handling this stage of their dog’s life much more easily by getting a bike trailer that converts to a dog stroller. This way, their dog can still enjoy the walks, runs and bike rides with you that they used to, but when they become tired, they can hope into the bike trailer/stroller and you can keep on going as you always have together for all those years.
You want to take your puppy or new rescue dog to fun new places
Young dogs, as much as seniors, still want and need both socialization and exercise, but they often run out of energy before you do.
Even more important than your puppy becoming tired quickly, is the fact that young dogs and some rescue dogs are often untrained and likely to pull you into traffic or cause a dangerous accident when they see another dog they want to say hi to, or a squirrel they want to chase.
By putting your puppy in the bike trailer, you greatly increase the number of different fun places you and your dog can go walking together, while still ensuring both their safety and yours.
Without a bike trailer you can still go to different places in a car, but if you are trying to reduce your environmental footprint, don’t own a car or have a license, or are trying to get more exercise yourself – a bike trailer is a much better option to transport you and your pooch.
Bike trailers offer the best of both worlds as they don’t require any special training to use other than getting your dog used to being a calm pet passenger.
You dream of taking your active dog on a long-distance bike tour
If you’ve always dreamed of traveling the country (or even another country) by bike but have questioned the feasibility of bringing your furry friend along for such an epic adventure – a bike trailer is a solution.
Most owners have found that the average fit and active dog can handle running next to a bike for about 3 km a day, maybe more if you split the sessions up, your dog is very active, and he isn’t running mostly on pavement.
Regardless, the average fit and active human can bike between 40 -60km per day in an average day of riding – meaning that bringing your large dog on long-term trips can feel impossible because he would become tired long before your ready to pitch your tent for the night.
By spending a bit of time and effort acclimatizing your dog to the bike trailer along with a good quality bike leash (such as this one), your canine friend can accompany you on your next fun or long-term cycling adventure.
Let Fido run next to your bike until he’s tired and then it’s into the dog bike trailer for a rest while you keep right on going! Having your friend sit next to you while you stop and take in some awesome views or just stop for a drink at a coffee shop along the way will make you happy you were able to bring him along!
Now that we’ve determined that some of the many reasons why getting a bike trailer could make your life easier and more fun, let’s talk about how to choose the right bike trailer for you and your k9’s unique needs.
How do I choose the right bike trailer for me?
Cab Size, comfort, and quality compared with dog size and breed needs
Trailer cab size and comfort are of paramount importance considering how much time your dog will spend riding in the bike trailer.
What is the quality of the flooring of the trailer you’re looking at, is it flimsy or firm? Flimsy flooring may save you some money and it might be ok for a smaller dog or a younger healthier dog. For a heavier dog, one the won’t lie or sit calmly in the trailer, or one with joint issues, it’s best to pick a trailer with very supportive flooring.
How much airflow does the trailer offer your dog? This is very important if you live in a very hot or cold place, or if you have a short-faced breed like a pug or a bulldog, as these guys can get overheated very quickly.
Finally, you should think about your dog’s height, weight and overall shape (stocky vs lean), as all trailers have a weight limit and some fit certain body types well, but not others.
The quality of the hitch where the bike and the bike trailer connect is of critical importance to ensure your dog stays connected securely to your bike.
Good dog trailers (like the ones on this list) have good quality metal hardware, not plastic, combined with a hitch safety strap. This strap helps keep your dog safely inside the cab where he belongs and doesn’t allow him to jump or fall out.
One great way to ensure that your trailer is of top-of-the-line quality is to check whether or not it meets or exceeds the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards. These standards are a seal of approval from a third-party association outside the company manufacturers that the trailer in question is safe and well made.
Trailer weight and ease of steering and maneuvering
Whether you’re just getting into (or back into) cycling, or you’re a seasoned road warrior, knowing how much weight you can pull behind you while biking is important for both you and your dog’s safety.
All bike trailers have different weights when they are empty. How much a trailer weighs depends largely on whether they are made with a plastic, aluminum or steel frame, a frame type is also, by and large, the strongest determining factor of how much weight that trailer can safely hold.
In general, aluminum frame trailers will be lighter but more prone to breaking under stress and heavy use. Steel frame trailers are heavier but more reliable if you plan to use the trailer very frequently or for long distance rides.
We do not recommend plastic frames overall for any size of dog – especially those over 25lbs – as they are usually too flimsy to be fully safe. If you are worried about how much extra weight you can physically manage, or if you have a medium to large dog, an aluminum frame might be the best option for you.
If your dog is extra-large, over 80lbs, it would be ideal to get a steel frame bike trailer. Although they are heavier to tow, models with a steel frame are safer for very large dog owners because they are sturdier and less likely to snap or wear out and they also usually provide a firmer trailer floor for your pooch to ride on.
Of course, no matter what type of trailer you choose, you want to ensure that it offers a smooth ride for you and your dog. Look for trailers that can handle the type of trips you want to take. For leisurely rides around your paved suburban streets and to your local park, you can likely get away with a simpler and more economical model.
If you plan to take your dog farther afield or on uneven ground like grass, trails or gravel, a more upscale model with better turning capacity and reduced risk of tipping when rounding tight turns and riding up and down hills is important.
To ensure that you avoid these problems, look for bike trailers that offer ABS (automatic braking systems) and a low, wide wheelbase. Having ABS will allow you to tackle riding downhill much more safely, and a low wheelbase means a lower center of gravity and less risk of the carrier rolling when you are rounding a tight turn while towing it.
Ease of portability and whether or not the trailer is multi-use
Next, you need to ask yourself how important it is to you that the bike trailer is light and easy to transport while your dog isn’t in it. Most bike trailers collapse for storage, but how neatly, tightly and easily a bike trailer is able to pack up varies widely.
Another question to ask is whether or not you and Fido need your bike trailer to double as a stroller and/or a pet bed, or whether you only need it to function as a bike trailer. If you don’t need anything but a bike trailer, you can save a considerable amount of money by opting to purchase a single-use model.
However, if you are willing to shell out more cash for a multi-use trailer, it’s important to do your homework and get a model that works just as well when it is a stroller or a dog crate, as it does in its original role as a bike trailer.
Ease of entry and exit and ability to keep the trailer clean
Finally, you need to ask yourself how important it is for you to be able to easily clean the inside and outside of the trailer, as well as how easy it is for your large dog to enter and exit the trailer with ease, comfort, and safety. These factors are quite personal.
If you own a short-haired dog, live in a region with mild and dry weather and/or your dog is young and healthy, it may not matter to you if your trailer is easy to clean or if it tips forward or backward slightly when your dog is getting in or out.
If you don’t mind these slight flaws, you will be able to purchase a trailer that’s still great in most other ways for a much more economical price. However, other owners might really need and want a bike trailer that is a cinch to clean (some even have machine washable covers and dog mats!) and will be very stable and sturdy while their dog is getting in or out.
Owners of: senior dogs, disabled dogs, dogs with degenerative diseases, very large dogs, dogs that have long hair and owners who live in areas with a lot of rain will find a non-tipping and easy to clean trailer essential.
Now that you’ve decided why you need a dog bike trailer and thought about your unique needs and the features those needs require, its time to pick one! Here we have given you an extensive list of our top 4 bike trailers for 2018, with the pros and cons of each, so you know you are making a well-informed choice.
Our 1st Choice
The DoggyRide Novel 10th Anniversary Bike Trailer
The DoggyRide Novel 10th Anniversary Bike Trailer for Pets is our number one choice for a good reason.
Although this trailer is the best overall choice, it is especially excellent for those who frequently take long bike trips or have a senior or disabled large dog. This trailer is the 10th-anniversary trailer of a company started in the Netherlands in 2003 called “Dutch Dog”.
This amazing bright orange and black trailer come standard with many accessories that other trailer’s lack, including a roof rack, lots of storage space, and a 2-inch-thick memory foam pet bed.
The frame of this dog trailer is lightweight at 34 pounds but still made of strong aluminum alloy which can hold dogs up to 110 pounds and up to 26 inches at the shoulder. Additionally, this trailer has 20-inch wheels that reviewers say are sturdy and well-designed.
This company has truly thought of everything as there is also an option to purchase a hitch adapter to allow this bike trailer to fit even specialty bikes that most other trailers will not accommodate.
~ Pros ~
Great for camping – has a roof rack that doubles as a dog crate!
This trailer is built to last and made with the serious biker and outdoor adventurer in mind. Amazon reviewers suggest that the cargo roof rack on top of the DoggyRide is great for camping and road trips as it allows you to store up to about 12 pounds of gear on top of the trailer.
Additionally, this one folds quickly and easily with the removal of one pin. When you’re ready to set up your tent for the night, you can rest assured that your dog will be able to sleep comfortably in the trailer as his own snug little tent due to its removable kickstand legs – no need to pack his regular crate!
Can be used in the rain and has the option to convert to a stroller
If you and your dog are on a long trip together and it starts to rain, the DoggyRide has you covered with an additional clear plastic UV guard and rain cover you can purchase that fits the trailer perfectly. This cover slips on and off easily with no buckles, zippers, or buttons. It also has open flaps on the side to ensure your dog still receives good air circulation into the cabin.
Once you arrive at your destination, you may need the ability to transport your elderly or disabled dog around more easily on foot. Once again, the folks at DoggyRide have considered this important customer need and have created an optional kit that can be purchased to transform the DoggyRide from a bike trailer into a walking or jogging stroller.
This bike trailer is one of the only ones on the market that comes standard with a 2-inch-thick memory foam pet bed inside the cabin making it an excellent choice for older, ill, injured, or disabled pets.
The inside of the cabin comes with the safety leash strap and reviewers say this trailer is roomy even for large and chubby dogs. This trailer comes with a rear storage pouch and a water bottle pocket, giving you lots of space to store your buddy’s stuff.
More importantly than anything else, this trailer meets or exceeds the high standards of the ASTM safety standard. The ASTM stands for the American Society for Testing and Materials and they address and test for potential safety issues such as structural integrity, rollover resistance, visibility, restraint system strength, use of non-toxic chemicals in production and final product and much more. These standards are very important and although almost all child bike trailers meet the standards, not all dog bike trailers do.
Will not tip during loading and unloading
A frequent complaint of many Amazon reviewers with most bike trailers is that the trailer will often tip when biking up or down hills, or especially while loading or unloading dogs over 50-60 pounds.
In an attempt to resolve this problem, manufacturers of this bike trailer included a kickstand that can be folded out to stabilize the trailer while an older or larger dog is entering or exiting it from the rear. This has made this trailer substantially safer and easier to use, as getting your dog into the trailer while it is not attached to the bike is often a challenge.
Some Amazon reviewers have noted however that the kickstand does not lock, so if you have a very large dog or a fragile senior dog it is best to place wood blocks or bricks behind the kickstand while loading or unloading your dog in order to ensure it stays sturdily in one place.
~ Cons ~
The reality is that you get what you pay for when it comes to many things, and a dog bike trailer is no exception. Although the price of this trailer is certainly steep, we feel that given the high safety standards, value-added features, comforts, ease of loading and unloading your dog, and storage this trailer is worth every penny of its hefty price tag.
Hard to assemble
The only downfall about this great dog bike carrier other than the price is that Amazon reviewers noted that the fabric cover and roof rack were initially difficult to attach to the frame during installation and that the directions for assembly could’ve been a bit more clear.
However, almost everyone noted that once the bike trailer was assembled and ready to go, there really were no negatives to this fine product
Our 2nd Choice
The PetSafe Solvit HoundAbout Aluminum or Steel Bicycle Trailer, is a fantastic option or Steel Bicycle Trailer comes in as our second choice and is a great option if you are looking for a high-quality product at a slightly more affordable price than the DoggyRide.
This bike trailer comes in two sizes and two colors.
The medium is red and grey and the large is navy and grey. Both bike trailers will support a 110-pound dog when used as a bike trailer and a 75-pound dog when used as a stroller. The difference between the two sizes is merely the dimensions of the interior cabin, and reviewers suggest it’s a good idea to size up as this brand’s trailers tend to fit on the small side.
Regardless of the size you choose, both have a low, wide, wheel-base that makes loading your dog from the bike trailer a breeze.
Finally, this bike trailer features real reflectors for added safety as well as an adjustable safety leash to choose how much freedom your furry friend can handle without attempting an escape to chase that squirrel running past your bike!
~ Pros ~
Made by a reliable US company that offers a 1-year warranty
This is another premium product made by Petsafe, a reputable US manufacturer that has been making quality pet products since 1991. Although reviewers note that this bike trailer is easy to install and put together if you do have problems the company is very accommodating and easy to contact: 1-845-3270. You can call them 6 days a week or use their online web-based chat service for assistance. In addition to their helpful customer service, this company also offers customers a one-year warranty against any material defects or workmanship errors.
Lightweight and Portable
This trailer only weighs 30 pounds if it is purchased with an aluminum frame, although if you can handle the extra weight behind you while biking and you have a larger and heavier dog, reviewers note the optional steel frame is stronger and more durable. Reviewers note that you’ll have no problem maneuvering and steering this sturdy trailer as its hitch and tires are noted as being good quality.
Additionally, reviewers note this trailer is very easy to fold for quick storage as well as being reasonably easy to reassemble again for use.
Easy to keep clean and good for all weather conditions
If you have a cream colored dog who seems to find every mud puddle to roll in, this trailer might be for you. It features a removable and washable inner and outer liner, as well as a waterproof floorboard. This trailer also gives you many options for biking in different weather. Its front door is black mesh – along with its rear door – to increase airflow in the cabin, but the front door also has an optional waterproof plastic door to protect your dog from mud and road grit flying into the cabin while you’re biking in the rain.
On nice sunny days, you have the option of opening the sunroof so your dog can poke her head out the top and enjoy the sunshine and the scenery.
~ Cons ~
Flooring is not firm enough for older dogs and those with mobility issues
If you have a senior dog or a dog with wobbly back legs or other mobility related conditions, it might be best to choose a different bike trailer. Reviewers note that one downfall of this bike trailer is that its floor needs to be firmer so that older and unstable dogs feel more comfortable and safe getting into and out of the carrier, as well as moving around in the carrier while it is in use.
Due to the more unstable flooring of this carrier, there is a chance that it will tip forward or backward, so if you stop on a hill and happen to have a dog who doesn’t want to sit or lay still in the carrier while you’re using it, you might want to pass on this one.
Long story short, this carrier is best for dogs who are willing to sit or lay in it calmly during use and for somewhat smaller, younger, and more mobile dogs.
Not much storage space
If you and your dog frequently need to pack a lot of gear on your bike trips together, this bike trailer is probably not the best bet for you. Although it does have exterior storage pockets, reviewers state that these pockets are quite small and will not allow you to pack much more than a leash, a collapsible food bowl, and maybe a small snack for Fido.
If you and your dog travel light, the other great features of this carrier should outweigh this small flaw. Check the current price on the Petsafe Solvit Houndabout and read the reviews.
The Rage Powersports PT-20304-B Blue 2-in-1 Pull-Behind Dog Bike Carrier is next up. Considering the more affordable price point of this trailer, it encompasses quite a few positive attributes that make it worthy of its third-place spot on our list for the best bike trailers of 2018.
This trailer comes in a nice medium blue and grey color and the manufacturer offers customers a one-year limited warranty on defects and workmanship issues.
This bike trailers large wheels are capable of handling sidewalks, pavements, pebble trails, and even trimmed grass fields.
This carrier features clear plastic rolldown window covers for rides where it might rain and lots of mesh panels for maximum airflow and visibility for your pooch.
~ Pros ~
Universal bike hitch to fit most bikes
The fantastic thing about the power sport is that it features a universal bike hitch which will fit most types and styles of bikes between 24 and 28 inches in height. This means that even if you’re a weekend warrior who is into triathlons or bike racing it likely that this carrier will still be able to adapt to your bike – meaning that during your relaxing off time, you and your dog can still take a leisurely ride around the neighborhood.
Can hold even very large dogs
Often the owners of Newfoundland’s, Bernese Mountain dogs, Rottweilers, and other large and stocky breed dogs lament that they cannot find bike trailers large enough to accommodate their dogs. This is unfortunate as these large breeds take up to two years to fully mature and stop growing, meaning that it is often not possible to safely allow them to run next to a bicycle for an extended period of time less the owner risk creating future joint problems and ligament tears.
Additionally, when these breeds get older it can be very challenging to take them for walks since they may tire when you are far from home, making it a real struggle to figure out how to get them back home. With this bike trailer, these problems disappear as it can accommodate dogs up to 130 pounds!
Even better, this bike trailer converts to be a stroller as well, and although the weight limit is not as high, it is still capable of holding a dog up to 85 pounds while functioning as a stroller. This is a much better weight range as both a bike trailer and a stroller than most other options available.
Easy to assemble and hitch to a bike
If you are someone who struggles with putting together IKEA furniture, this is the dog bike trailer for you! Reviewers have noted how easy this trailer is to set up as well as to attach to your bike.
As a bonus, this trailer collapses and folds very easily, making transporting it in the car quick and easy.
~ Cons ~
Have a tall and lean dog? This one won’t work
Although the high weight limit on this trailer means that it works great for even very large dogs, reviewers have noted that the weight of your dog is not the only relevant factor of whether it will fit easily in this carrier and be comfortable.
Reviewers have noted that tall lean dogs – such as Dobermans, Greyhounds or Great Danes are not likely to be as comfortable in this trailer as stockier or shorter breeds.
Additionally, one reviewer noted that tall dogs can make this carrier in particular prone to flipping or falling over on tight turns unless a dog of this body type is sitting or laying calmly in the carrier. Overall, if you have a tall dog or a particularly active dog, this carrier may not be the best for you.
Trailer is very heavy
Weighing in at 43 pounds when empty, this trailer is not for those who are new to biking or are otherwise unable to physically handle the weight of this trailer plus their dog. It is important to note that although reviewers do not mention that this carrier is difficult to steer or maneuver, it is still important to remember that pulling a carrier of this weight along with a large dog will impact a rider’s ease of movement and turning capacity. Make sure you slow down going up and down hills and make wide, slow turns while using this carrier.
Our Budget Option
The Schwinn Rascal Pet Trailer is the last one on our list. This trailer is for those who may be unsure whether their dog will like riding in a bike trailer and to just want to try out a more budget conscious option.
Although this bike trailer is our most affordable option, it is still high quality and safe choice with several great features for you and your dog to enjoy.
This trailer comes in bright orange with black trim and includes a large orange safety flag. These two features of this product increase its visibility and increase you and your dog’s safety.
This trailer is very easy to clean, and its entire outer liner is machine washable. It features an adjustable safety leash and reviewers note that it is very easy to manoeuvre and that it turns well even on busy and narrow city streets.
~ Pros ~
Universal coupler attaches to many types of bikes
Unlike many other bike trailers, this trailer features a universal coupler making it able to attach to a variety of different bikes easily and quickly. This means that even if you have a non-standard bike, you will still be able to use the Schwinn Rascal.
Even better, if you would like to be able to switch the bike carrier between your bike and friends or partners, the manufacturer offers the option to buy a second angled coupler directly from them so that hooking this bike trailer to a second bike is a breeze.
Very lightweight and packable
At only 26 pounds this bike trailer is the lightest one on our list of the best bike trailers for 2018. This means that a rider does not need to be as physically fit to manage to tow their dog in this carrier.
Alternatively, for a more fit rider, the lightweight frame of this bike trailer offers the option to carry an additional 12lbs of gear and supplies on top of the carrier or inside the cabin with a small to medium size dog.
Made by a reputable and well-known cycling products company
One of the best things about this trailer that a seasoned cyclist would see right away is that it is made by a reliable company that has been making quality biking products since 1895. This company has been operating for such a long time due to its reputation for making and selling some of the best biking products available today.
~ Cons ~
Want to use it as a bike trailer and a stroller? Don’t pick this one
Considering this product is made by a company that focuses solely on producing high-quality cycling products, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the drawbacks of this bike trailer is that it does not function in any other capacity.
Although some other trailers on the market can be used as a stroller and/or a dog crate, this item can only be used as a bike trailer and should not be purchased by those seeking a multiuse item.
What’s that Smell…
An unusual critique of this trailer is that, surprisingly, many reviewers noted that when they first received the product and unpacked it from its box it had quite a bad plastic- chemical smell.
Some reviewers complained that despite washing the inside rubber mat, this smell remained on the product for several months. However, other reviewers noted that the smell quickly dissipated after only one or two rides. Ultimately, it will depend upon the sensitivity of you and your dog’s sniffers as to whether this issue is relevant to you.
Dogs over 50lbs won’t fit
The only other critique we have about this carrier is that large dog owners will not find it very useful, as dogs over 50-pounds won’t fit in this carrier. As reviewers have noted, the fabric of this carrier is quite thin so you would be ill-advised to attempt to transport your extra-large pooch in this carrier.
Well, that concludes our comprehensive guide to choosing the best dog bike trailer for you, as well as our opinion of the best dog bike trailers for 2018 to suit every canine duo and every budget.
We hope that you have found this review useful and that you are now more well-informed of the various options available to include your dog on your next cycling adventure!