How Much Weight Can a Dog Carry in a Backpack? 

 June 25, 2022

By  Diane Wuthrich

Dog backpacks are a great way to give your dog a purpose or a job, especially in the outdoors. But how much weight can a dog safely carry in their backpack?

Senior dogs and puppies should only carry 10 to 15% of their bodyweight in a backpack. Meanwhile, young, athletic dogs can carry up 15 to 25% of their bodyweight on a backpack, starting with a smaller load then gradually working the weight up with time.

If you want to make sure your dog can safely carry a backpack, read on below to learn about the weight guidelines.

How Much Weight Can My Dog Carry in a Backpack

Dog backpacks come in a range of sizes and weight capacity.

However, it’s important to consider your dog’s age and fitness level to determine how much they can carry in a backpack.

Puppies (under 3 years old)

Small breeds are considered puppies until the age of 12, while medium and large breeds are puppies until 18 to 24 months. Having said that, they should not be given a loaded backpack to carry until they have reached maturity because it can cause long-term damage to their growing bones and joints.

Once they are of age, they can carry 10-15% of their bodyweight in a backpack. Always start with the lightest load at first to see how they react to the weight, and then you can gradually increase it.

Active Adult Dogs (3 to 7 years old)

Active dog breeds can carry from 15 up to 25% of their body weight in a backpack. The only time you should allow your dog to carry 25% of their body weight is if they are a large breed, and after weeks or months of training by gradually increasing the weight on the pack.

Large, active breeds have more muscle and are simply more efficient at holding more weight in their back compared to active adult small breeds.

Senior Dogs (past 7 years old)

Senior dogs should have special considerations, just like senior humans. That’s why senior dogs should only carry 10-15% of their weight in a backpack, even if they were fit and active as adults. Making your senior dog carry more than this can result in an injury.

Last but not least, if your dog has had any kind of injury, consult with your vet first if your dog can carry a backpack.


Backpacks should be of a safe and comfortable weight for dogs just like with us humans. Follow this guide and keep in mind that carrying a backpack is an extra work out for them, so keep walks shorter in duration.

About the author

Diane is our head writer and researcher for our backpack informational content. Her everyday carry is a Herschel.

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