How Much Weight can a Dog Carry?

how much weight can dog carry

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Dogs are some of the most amazing pets you can have. They have instinct, and they are loyal to a fault. If you want to hit the outdoors, you often might want to take your dog along. Instead of having them just walk, the dog can carry some of your load. However, it is important to know how much weight can a dog carry if you choose to take them along.

The simple answer is that it depends on the dog. Certain dogs are stronger than other breeds. When looking at the arctic, some dogs carry significant loads. Especially, when they are pulling a sled through the snow. However, you cannot expect every dog to carry the same load, which means you need to do some research.

Fortunately, we have put in the time to look at different dogs and understand how functional a dog can be on a backpacking trip. Once you understand how much weight a dog can carry, and for how long, you can take them along on every trip. The following article aims to educate you and allow you to set up your dog.

How Much Weight can Your Dog Carry?

preparing your dog in hiking

As mentioned in the introduction, every dog breed is different. However, as a rule of thumb, a dog should not be loaded with more than 25% of its total weight. Keep in mind that it varies depending on the breed, and for smaller dogs, the load might only be around 10% or 15%. To determine how much weight your dog can carry, there are a couple of things to check for:

Dog Fitness

Much like you would look at your fitness, you will need to look at the fitness level of your dog. If your dog is active and you take them hiking often, they should be in peak physical condition to carry a big load. However, if the dog is only being lazy at home, you might need to do some preparation to get them into shape.

To get your dog into shape, you might have to plan your trip for a few months later than you might want to. By entering smaller trails and even taking your dog to the park to run around, you can improve their fitness. Generally, dogs eating scientifically backed food, should not be overweight due to overfeeding.

The Age of Your Dog

Another important factor to keep in mind is age. Much like a younger kid can carry more weight than the elderly; this is the same for dogs. The older your dog becomes, the weaker it will be. When you force them to carry significant weights, you might risk injury or the dog might just not want to move.

As a side note, it is better to train younger dogs in the art of hiking. Dogs are creatures of habit and the more they get used to hiking or backpacking at a younger age, the more efficiently they will do it as they get older. Here is a small breakdown of how the age of your dog should be taken under consideration:

  • Under 3-Years Old: If your dog is under 3-years old, you might need to reduce the weight to around 10% or 15%.
  • 4-6-Years Old: These ages are the golden ages for any dog. For some breeds, it might be older and younger. However, at this age, a trained dog can carry about 25% of its body weight.
  • Older Than 7: As your dog grows older, they might have some problems, and you should reduce the weight. For a 7-year old dog, 15% should be ideal, but this should decrease to 10% as they get older.

Personality of Your Dog

Another important thing that people often skip over is the personality of their dog. While every dog has a unique personality, it also depends on the breeds. When looking at smaller dogs, especially designer dogs like the Goldendoodle, you will find that they are mostly geared towards attention and being cuddled.

However, the Blue Tick Hound is one of the best dogs when you need a pet that likes working. These dogs are often used for hunting and they can walk miles and still be comfortable.  If you have a dog with an outdoor personality that loves to be outside and hunt, it might have the right personality for hiking or backpacking.

Can You Carry Enough Supplies for the Dog?

Another important question you might need to ask yourself is the supplies. Certain dogs require more calories than others. It leads back to the breed of canine. If your dogs like to eat a lot and they consume plenty of water, you might not have the right dog. Keep in mind that you need to take all the supplies, including food and water.

You might find streams and other sources of water in the wild. However, you should not allow your dog to drink the water if you do not intend to drink the same water. Nothing can be more frustrating than having to deal with a sick dog. It might even threaten their life if the dog is dehydrating, which is why you need to look at the supplies your dog needs.

Visit Your Vet

Finally, you might need to visit your vet. If you cannot determine all of these points we have mentioned, you might want to consult your vet. The vet will look at the dog and even measure the fitness level. They should give you a good indication of how much weight a dog can carry and if they are in the best physical condition.

Additionally, the vet can give you advice on the best dog backpacks and which of them should be sufficient for your dog. The dog backpack weight is vital to ensure that you do not overload the dog. As dog lovers, we believe that your vet should always be consulted. They will instruct you not to place too much stress on the canine.

Preparing and Setting Up Your Dog for the Outdoors

setting up your dog for outdoors

Once you have determined that your dog is in shape for hiking and carrying a load, you will need to understand the right process of setting them up. Some dogs might not know what is going on, and they might need to be coached. By looking at some of these tips, you can make it much easier for your dog to hike and carry the right weight.

1. Planning

The first thing to do will be planning. Much like you would plan your trip, you now have to include your dog as another person that will be joining. This means that you will need to look at the trails. Every trail has etiquette you will need to follow and rules to abide by. Make sure that you are allowed to takes dogs on the trip.

As part of the planning, you will also want to look at the supplies. If you are backpacking, you will need to carry enough water for you and your canine. The same goes for food and other supplies.

2. Training Your Dog for Hiking

Once you have done some planning, you should know the obstacles and challenges you might need to face. Your dog must be prepared. If you have smaller trails around you are even a park, you can simulate a hiking experience to educate the dog. Your canine needs to understand how to react when they encounter things like snakes or other predators.

Additionally, when you prepare your dog, they might not get frightened as quickly. It can be a tedious task to control a dog that is frightened. Much like service dogs, the dog will be easier to control when trained. Keep in mind that there are also plenty of dog training facilities that’ll help you with this for a fee.

3. Packing for Your Dog

Once you have finished all the planning and you are ready to go, you will need to start packing for your dog. The weight your dog can carry could be high, but it will not be enough for all its needs. Fortunately, we have created a list of important items that need to be carried along to keep your dog supplied:

Water and Food

The first important thing is the food and water. You can feed your dog from the table when cooking, but dogs need different nutritional value than humans, with protein being at the top of the list. It is important to carry the right food. Water should be self-explanatory, as it is the most important item needed for survival.

Sleeping Gear

When looking at sleeping, the sleeping bag or even camping cot is mandatory. However, dogs will also need comfortable sleeping gear. If you are hiking longer trails, you want your dog to be sufficiently rested after each day. The CHEERHUNTING Dog Sleeping Bag is a great option for traveling and to keep them warm.

Clothing for Your Dog

While doing your planning, you will notice the temperature of the location you choose. If the weather is cold, you might need to buy some warm clothing for your dog. Some dogs can resist the cold weather better than humans. However, they will eventually freeze, and having some form of insulation can keep your dog warm and protected.

Boots for Your Dog

Finally, many people believe that dogs don’t need boots. Unfortunately, dogs can also walk on bad terrains that might damage their feet. The CUTEUP Dog Boots are durable and comfortable. They can be found in different sizes to ensure your canine has more protection for its feet.

4. Selecting the Right Dog Backpack

Once everything is ready and you know the weight your dog can carry, you will need to focus on the backpack. Unfortunately, you cannot strap gear to your dog and expect them to move. You need to find the right backpack to ensure your canine can move comfortably and the gear they carry does not hinder their movement in any way. Here are some of the best backpacks:

Motley Pet Dog Backpack

The first one to consider is the Motley Pet Dog Backpack. It features a strap that can strap onto your dog, with the backpack on its back. It is only 10-ounces but features numerous compartments for carrying gear.

Additionally, the bag includes a carry handle and the handle will allow you to pick up your dog. There are numerous sizes to consider to ensure you find the right one for your dog. Since it is an affordable option, it is comfortable for your dog to carry when you are hiking.

Dog Detachable Saddle Bag

The Dog Detachable Saddle Bag is one of the best options to balance the weight. It features a solid strap to connect to your dog. However, the load will be carried in the saddlebags on either side of the dog. It is only 14-ounces, which makes it lightweight. However, we recommend that you put the same weight on either side for optimal balance.

Much like the previous option, the large carry handle will ensure you can quickly access your canine, and there are a variety of sizes available.

Skywell Direct Dog Hiking Backpack

Last but certainly not least, you have the Skywell Direct Dog Hiking Backpack. The design is similar to some of the first options on the list. It is also 10-ounces, which makes it great for smaller dogs, and there are a variety of different sizes available.

The design easily straps to your canine, which means you don’t have to struggle when setting it up. It can only carry around 5-pounds, but this is more than enough for most dogs.


If you are tired of carrying all the load and gear when hiking with your dog, you can strap up your dog to assist and reduce the weight. However, you must know how much weight a dog can carry. These tips should make it easier for you to set up your canine and to have the best possible planning for a successful camping trip.

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