Dog Backpack

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Caribou

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This is the backpack I'm looking at. Please give me comments or options. How much should my 35# dog be able to pack?
 
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Weedygarden

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I would have thought that the company would have made a recommendation about how much a 35 pound dog should be able to carry.


How Much Weight Can My Dog Carry In a Backpack?
BY JUSTIN

Your dog can help carry the load, but how much can they actually carry? Don’t just load up your dogs pack and hope for the best. There’s a simple formula (refer to the table below) to figure out how much your dog can carry in a backpack.
How much weight can a dog carrying in a backpack? Dogs can usually carry approximately 25% of their body weight in a backpack. Some breeds can carry 10% more while older dogs and puppies will need to carry less. Just make sure your dog is physically ready to carry a pack.

Almost every dog can carry a pack after some basic training. How much they can actually carry depends on the breed and dog. Refer to the table below for more information.
How Much Weight Should My Dog Carry Backpacking?
There’s a lot that goes into figuring out how much weight your dog can safely carry in a pack. How old is your dog? What type of dog is it? Does your dog regularly exercise? Can they even wear a pack?
You need to think about all of those factors before hitting the trail with a pack. When I started looking into packs for my dog Zoey I had a difficult time figuring out how much weight she could carry.
I kept seeing rough estimates in the range of 10-25% of her body weight. It’s great to have a general range, but I quickly learned that there’s more to it. Every dog responds differently to backpacks. Some love them and others hate them.
Not every dog will be able to handle 25% of their body weight. They need to be in peak athletic shape between the age of 2-7 years old. You also need to factor in the dogs previous work experience and breed standards. Some breeds are better at pulling and carrying weight.
The following chart should point you in the right direction. Just remember that it won’t be 100% accurate for every dog. Start off light so your dog can get used to his pack and slowly build up weight.

Dog WeightPack Weight
(25% of Body Weight)
Senior Dogs and Puppies
(10-15% of Body Weight)
20 lbs5 lbs2-3 lbs
30 lbs7.5 lbs3-4.5 lbs
40 lbs10 lbs4-6 lbs
50 lbs12.5 lbs5-7.5 lbs
60 lbs15 lbs6-9 lbs
70 lbs17.5 lbs7-10.5 lbs
80 lbs20 lbs8-12 lbs
90 lbs22.5 lbs9-13.5 lbs
100 lbs25 lbs10-15 lbs
Don’t Rely Solely On Your Dogs Weight
Don’t rely solely on your dogs weight for sizing a pack. Measure around your dogs chest to get the right fit and make sure the pack fits right.
Let your vet know that you’re thinking about adding extra weight to your dogs pack. They should be able to give you a healthy starting point to work off of.

The right weight will depend on a number of factors including your dogs breed, age, fitness level, and energy level. Some dogs will be able to handle a heavier load while others won’t want to carry any weight. These are questions that your vet should be able to easily answer.
Your Dog Needs To Be Physically/Mentally Fit
You can’t expect a dog to wake up one day and carry 25% of their body weight in a pack. It will take a few months of training to build up your dogs strength.
Dogs get sore from hiking just like humans. Hiking will be miserable for your dog if you don’t give them enough time to adjust to the added weight. Start off light and slowly add weight to the pack.
Start with just the pack so they can get used to it. Once they get used to carrying a pack you can add about 1 lb of gear per trip until you fill up the rest of the pack.
You might have to temporarily reduce your hiking distance until they get used to the added weight. Watch for signs of muscle stress and take extra breaks.
Check out my other post explaining how far a dog can hike in a day.
  1. Start off with short 1-2 hour hikes without a pack. Go on 2-3 short hikes per week just to get used to hiking and basic trail etiquette. After about 1 month of regular hiking plan a nice 7-8 hour day hike.
  2. After a few weeks hiking start using a pack around the house. Your dog probably won’t like the pack at first. Start off with a few minutes and slowly build up time. Once your dog gets used to using a pack it’s time to hit the trail.
  3. Once again you’ll need to start off with short hikes with an empty pack. It will take time for them to get used to how the pack rubs on their sides. Watch for rashes, cuts, and other signs of irritation.
  4. As your dog gets used to the pack add a little bit of weight. Slowly build up both weight and distance over 1-2 months. Just make sure you monitor the dog for sores/rashes and look for signs of muscle strain. Remember that dogs will get sore so take lots of breaks.
Keep An Eye On Your Dog
Not every dog will be able to handle 25% of their body weight. Without regular exercise your dog won’t be physically strong enough to carry extra weight. Keep an eye on the dog and watch for signs of muscle exertion.

It’s hard to describe, but you know when your dog isn’t acting right. If they’re acting lethargic or mopey it’s time to reduce the weight. Hiking/backpacking should be a fun activity for both you and the dog.
We start off with an empty pack so your dog has enough time to get used to the pack. They have to get used to the straps, added weight, and hiking distance.
Going on long hikes too soon increases the risk of the packs straps rubbing into your dogs skin. I’m sure you’ve experienced chafing at some point in your life. It’s not fun! Plus it will take you both off the trail for a few weeks.
Don’t take a gamble on your dogs health and safety. Take them to see a vet at first sign of injury. Dogs are great at hiding injuries. Limping and yelping means there’s definitely something wrong.
Some Dog Packs Are Better Than Others
Remember that some packs will be better than others. Spend the extra money on a quality pack with multiple adjustment points. I really like the Ruffwear Lineup of dog packs.

They can be a bit pricey, but they’re by far the best packs on the market. I started off with a cheap pack and had nothing but trouble. My dog Zoey had a nasty rash under her armpits where the pack rubbed her raw.
We quickly switched over to the Ruffwear Approach pack which is their budget dog pack. It has lots of padding and 5 adjustment points so it stays tight without rubbing. It’s the perfect size for both day hikes and long multi-day backpacking trips.
I eventually switched over to the Palisades Pack which is way more expensive, but easier to use. It’s nice to be able to take off the side saddle bags once we set up camp.
Does The Weight of The Pack Count?
Yes, you do need to factor in the weight of the pack. However, it will be close to your dogs body so it shouldn’t throw off their balance.
This isn’t a big deal with large dogs, but it seriously cuts down the amount of weight a small dog can carry. Considering the small Ruffwear Palisades pack weighs 1.75lbs that’s 25% of a small dogs carrying capacity. The rest of the pack will be filled with food/water.
 

Weedygarden

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Pack Needs to Be Well Balanced

Obviously not everybody will be able to afford a ruffwear pack. There are lots of great deals available if you search Amazon. Just make sure the pack has multiple adjustment points and it’s well balanced.
Look at the 2 packs pictured above and try to figure out which one offers the most support. It should seem obvious that the Ruffwear Approach Pack on the left will be more stable.
Notice how the forward strap is centered on the dogs chest rather than the neck. Budget packs usually have a single strap that wraps around the dogs neck. This allows the pack to wobble and sway which causes rubbing as the dog moves.
Most of the weight should be centered around the dogs middle/sides. The packs balance will be thrown off as the pack weight goes farther away from their center of gravity. As the weight gets thrown around it will place more strain on your dogs muscles.
Balance Water Bladders
Water bladders/bottles are by far the biggest cause of shifting weight. Have you ever tried to carry a 5-Gallon bucket of water? It’s not only heavy, it moves and sways as you walk causing instability.
You can minimize the water sway by using small hydration bladders on both sides of the pack. They won’t move as much and they take up less room.
Some Breeds Can Carry More/Less Weight in Their Pack

Not every dog breed will be able to carry weight on their back. Working and athletic breeds will be best at carrying heavy loads. Some other breeds won’t be able to carry weight at all.
It all depends on the type of dog and what they were bred for. Dog breeds in the working group and Sporting Group can usually carry additional weight. You might want to check out the AKC List of Working Breeds and Sporting Breeds for more info.
Just keep in mind that some working breeds will be better at pulling/carrying than others. Dogs with known hip issues will have a hard time carrying weight.
I was surprised to learn that dogs in the Herding Group have difficulty carrying weight. Herdings dogs like the Australian Shepherd, German Shepherd, etc make great hiking companions, but they weren’t bred to carry weight.
Try to start off in the 15-20% range so you don’t cause premature hip problems. After lots of experience you can slowly increase the weight.
Senior Dogs and Puppies Can’t Carry Much Weight

Senior dogs and puppies won’t be able to carry as much weight. Dogs are usually in their athletic prime from 2-7 years old. Younger and older dogs won’t be able to carry as much weight.
Even a dog that’s consistently carried 25% of their body weight for years will need a break once they get older. Slowly reduce the pack weight and slow down your pace/distance as your dog gets older.
My dog Lucy was carrying about 7 lbs of gear in the picture above. She’s no longer with us, but she was hiking until the month before she died. You’d be surprised how much weight senior dogs can handle.
Puppies on the other hand shouldn’t carry a pack until they’re at least 1 year old. Start off by using an empty pack and build up weight over time. Your dog should be able to handle a heavy pack once they’re about 2 years old.
What Do You Put in a Dog Backpack?
Your dog should be able to carry all of their own gear on 2-3 day backpacking trips. Load a hydration bladder, food, first-aid kit, small travel bed, and 1-2 light toys.
Definitely check out the Ruffwear Highlands Dog Bed. It folds down small and weighs about 12 oz. It’s the perfect size for your dogs pack.
Check out my post on protecting a tent floor from dog paws.
Don’t Guess The Weight of Their Pack!
Everybody accidentally goes overboard when first loading up a dogs pack. They go over the recommended weight limit and cause unnecessary strain on their dog.
Keep a scale handy and double check the final weight to verify the load. An additional 1-2 lbs can make a huge difference to a small dog.
 

Spikedriver

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This is the backpack I'm looking at. Please give me comments or options. How much should my 35# dog be able to pack?
What kind of dog is it? A stout dog like a heeler will probably be able to handle a little more than a lightly built dog.

I've seen dogs with packs, but they were all large dogs like labs or German Shepherds and none of them had much weight on them. One lab I saw had 2, 20 oz water bottles and a collapsible bowl that fit on a vest. Another had what looked to be like saddlebags on him and I would guess that the total capacity of those bags was about like a smaller fanny pack.
 

Spikedriver

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Chewie (Chewbacca) is an Australian Labradoodle. This is her at 5 or 6 month. She'll be 10 months in about a week.
View attachment 79103
She'll be around 70 pounds when mature, right? She'll be able to handle a pack just fine.

Beautiful dog, BTW. My daughter's mom has a Labradoodle as a service dog. It is super intelligent and a wonderful companion to boot, and it's so friendly that it's a pest sometimes. I've gained a new respect for the breed..
 

Caribou

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Her mom is 40# and the sire is 35#. She is currently 34# so I expect her to be close to her full weight. She is strong and I expect her to be able to carry 8-9# after some training. Enough to carry her own water and a six pack. 🐶

Spike, you are right about her intelligence and friendliness. The wife and I were remarking today how we lucked out.

EDIT: I'm not going on any extended hikes but it would be nice if she could carry her own picnic.
 

Caribou

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Much like the poodle that they are based off of, they come in differing sizes. Mine is not the smallest nor the largest. Mine is an Australian Labradoodle, this is slightly different than a Labradoodle, so yes, different bloodlines. I think mine has a small percentage of spaniel or something in it that your's doesn't. The golden doodle is very similar also. The three breeds are very similar and all come in size options. You can expect a similar size to the parents but you never know until they quit growing.
 

Caribou

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This is the ex's labradoodle last Halloween. It had a lion's mane on it for a costume. Just for reference, my ex is 5'2", that will give you an idea of the dog's size. It must be from a totally different type of bloodline.
View attachment 79104
That is a great dog to put up with a costume for an extended time like that. Your dog is definitely much larger than mine. Nice looking crew.
 

Spikedriver

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That is a great dog to put up with a costume for an extended time like that. Your dog is definitely much larger than mine. Nice looking crew.
Lol it is, isn't it. It's my ex wife and only the older girl with the long hair is my daughter so she's the only one i consider "my crew". The little one in the pink coat doesn't have a dad, just a deadbeat sperm donor. She's a good kid though. We all get along...
 

Morgan101

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Chewie (Chewbacca) is an Australian Labradoodle. This is her at 5 or 6 month. She'll be 10 months in about a week.
View attachment 79103
She could be a twin for our dog, Tucker, but he is full bred poodle. As I understand it Labradoodles are bred with three of the four types of poodles (Standard, Medium, Miniature) depending on the size the owner wants, Our dog is about 20 pounds, but we have a neighbor who has a Labradoodle almost the same size. We dog sit for them regularly. They are great dogs. Wonderful temperament.
 

zoomzoom

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Caribou,

I bought one for my dog but once I put it on her, she wouldn't move so it's in like new condition.
It is made for a dog around the 40# mark.
Pretty sure it's a Mountainsmith. It may have extras like a water bowl, food bowl, leash and mat for the dog to lay down.
I'll sell it if A) I can find it and B) you're interested. My concern is that the product + shipping may be as much as a new one delivered to you.
 

Weedygarden

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@Caribou, your dog made me laugh out loud! What a darling! I know a few labradoodles and have taken care of some. They are great dogs.

@Spikedriver, that lions mane on your ex's dog is a common costume used on Rhodesian Ridgebacks. The lion hunter, is then dressed like a lion. I never found one for Crosby, but it would have been great for her.
 

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