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Best Dog Bike Trailers

How to Choose a Dog Bike Trailer

One of the most common questions we get from readers that are starting to bicycle with their dogs pertains to which dog bicycle trailer they should use. Dog bike trailers, like most adventure gear, are built for various purposes. When considering a dog bike trailer there are some key questions you need to ask yourself so you find the right trailer.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Dog Bicycle Trailer:

  • How often will you use the trailer?
  • How long do you plan to use the trailer?
  • What size is your dog? Is it a large dog?
  • Has your dog been trained to ride in a dog bike trailer?
  • What is your budget?
  • Is durability important to you?
  • What type of roads or terrain will you be riding?
  • Will you use it as a pet carrier too?

Considering bringing your dog along on bike tour, or even just a day ride? See How to Bike with a Dog for our best tips and helpful information on getting started.

Cost:

  • Let’s be honest, cost is typically the first thing looked at when choosing adventure gear. It’s important that the cost of the pet dog bike trailer not break your bank account. Consider how often you will use it and determine how much money you are willing to spend. Trailers can be as cheap as $100 for a secondhand trailer online and as much as $700 for a brand new top of the line one.
The Burley Tail Wagon Dog Bike Trailer going over rocks

Handling:

  • A bike ride with a trailer is very different from normal bike riding. It takes some getting used to. You have to go slow and acceleration is non existent. Cruising downhill is like towing a parachute and you will definitely feel a need to take wider turns. Depending on the terrain you be riding, you will feel the trailer behind you. For example, riding on gravel or hard roads with a firm dog bike trailer will result in you feeling a lot of the bumps on your frame. When considering a dog bike trailer think about how important a smoother ride will be for your dog and you.

Materials:

  • Some dog bike trailers are made of mesh panels for breathability and others are made from a more solid fabric. Mesh can be more prone to tearing if your dog likes to scratch or use it’s paws like Freddy Krueger, but can be helpful for allowing fresh air into the trailer. It’s also important to consider the material of the frame as well. Aluminum frames are lighter, yet less durable than steel frames. Though steel weighs more than aluminum it can easily be welded if broken and they have a higher weight limit, which is important if you have a large dog. Generally speaking, stay away from plastic frames as they’re inexpensive and easily break.  
The Burley D-Lite Dog Bike Trailer in Chile.

Durability:

  • The quality of the dog bike trailer will determine the durability. A high quality dog bike trailer can last thousands of miles, whereas a less expensive one may fail easily. Things to look out for are the materials used, the wheels and skewers, and tires. Also look at reviews online and consider the warranty. More on warranty in a few.

Suspension:

  • Like mountain bikes, some dog bike trailers come with suspensions for the wheels. This softens the impact of riding on rough or bumpy terrain. The trade off is more weight in the trailer, but your pup will feel considerably more comfortable as you’re crushing the downhills.

Warranty:

  • We highly recommend considering buying a trailer with a warranty. If you’re unsure how your dog will handle the trailer, it’s not a bad idea to have some added protection. Buying from a reputable retailer like REI will also allow you to return for up to one year after purchase.  

Size / Weight:

  • The size of the trailer you need depends on the size of your dog. If you’ve got a large dog, you’ll want to measure their length, width, and height and compare the interior dimensions to make sure they will be comfortable in their rig. You can always find a local dealer for your selected dog bike trailer and take your dog to see if they’ll fit in it. Otherwise, you can contact the manufacturer directly with your dog measurements and ask. For a small dog, you’ll want to maximize the interior space for your fur baby while keeping weight at a minimum (remember, the heavier the trailer, the harder it is for you to pedal).
  • The weight of the trailer depends on the features, materials, and components. We tackled South America with a dog bike trailer that weighed over 28 lbs without the dog or any gear in it. The additional weight was due to a suspension system which ensured Sora’s comfort on the rocky roads.  
The Burley Tailwagon Bike Trailer in Bosnia.

Other:

  • Safety Flag: some dog bike trailers include a safety flag and mounting hole. We don’t always use the flag, but it’s nice to have the option for when riding in urban settings or busy roads.
  • Pet Stroller: one feature that is incredibly helpful in a dog bike trailer is to be easily converted into a bike trailer stroller. When Sora had cancer and couldn’t run, we liked to push her around the neighborhood or go on a run with her so she could at least be outside. Plus, if you’re single, it’s a nice way to get noticed. Seriously though, finding a trailer that converts to a stroller is a must as you never know when you’ll use it.
  • Braking System: some trailers have a braking system, but it’s not a standard feature. This can come in handy when you are stopped on a hill and you don’t want your whole rig to go on its own adventure.
  • Rain Covers: yes, rain can and will happen during your ride. We have always considered a trailer that will keep our dog dry when touring or living in the rainy Pacific Northwest.
  • Storage: With a dog bicycle trailer, we’ve found that extra storage is a must as carry pet supplies like water, bowls, treats, and other dog gear in the trailer. Some trailers have mesh pockets while others have hooks for carrying gear.
  • Entrance: if the trailer is designed for kids or specifically dogs, then the front door will vary in position. Some trailers have the entry point in the back so there is more space for your pet to enter vs kids trailers where the entrance is facing the back of the bike.
  • Wheels: depending on the terrain you plan on riding, you may want to consider a dog bike trailer that has larger wheels and a higher clearance. Some wheels are also made of plastic vs aluminum. If you have an aluminum wheel, you can replace and broken spokes. Plastic wheels are pretty much done if they fail.
  • Visibility: are you planning on riding in the rain or difficult to see areas? Consider a trailer that has a bright color to alert drivers that you’re carrying special cargo. Safety first!
The Burley Tail Wagon Bike Trailer in Crete..

Our Must Have Features:

As we’ve mentioned, each rider and dog have specific needs when using a pet bicycle trailer. In our case, we have used two different trailers for two different long tours. The choice for trailer depended mostly on anticipated weather, road conditions, and durability.  

In our first tour of Europe, we had mostly paved roads, warm temperatures, and flatish roads so our trailer requirements were pretty standard.

Our must-have features for this tour were:

  • Mesh panels for breathability.
  • Storage.
  • Ability to convert the dog bike trailer into a stroller.

We partnered with Burley Design to use the Tail Wagon link for this leg of the tour. It checked all our boxes. Most importantly for us, the material is breathable which was super important for the hot summer climate.  

The second leg of the tour took us from Patagonia to Colombia where we planned to cross the Andes and encounter difficult and mountainous terrain. We knew there would be crappy roads, cold temperatures, and lots and lots of bumps.

Our must have features for South America were:

  • Suspension. We wanted Sora’s brain to stay intact while we cycled over gravel roads.
  • Wheels. South America would have loads of bad terrain and we wanted high clearance over boulders and rocks. We also planned for a broken spoke or two, though that never happened.
  • Durability. We needed a trailer that could take a pounding as we would be in very remote parts of the world without access to repair shops.

For our second tour we again partnered with Burley Design and used the D-Lite. This trailer has a heavy duty suspension, larger wheels to accommodate rough terrain, and thick breathable fabric to keep Sora protected from the wind and rain.

As you can tell, our choice for trailers varied because the planned adventure was vastly different. Consider your needs before purchasing so you maximize the amount of fun your pup and you have.

The Burley Tail Wagon in action for our cycle tour in Oregon, USA.

Our Favorite Dog Bike Trailer(s)

The Burley Tail Wagon Bike Trailer in Oregon.

1. Burley Tail Wagon

The Burley Tail Wagon was the first dog bike trailer we used for extensive or long distance touring. It’s designed for dogs, so there is more than typical amounts of mesh fabric for breathability. We love the stroller attachment and keep it on full time for when we need to disconnect the trailer and haul a dog (or our gear in the airport). There is ample storage on the backside of the trailer giving you plenty of space to store leashes, water bottles, or whatever. The $399 price tag makes this trailer affordable for aspiring riders and won’t break your bank.

Read our full review we wrote after eight months of riding in Europe.    

Pros:

  • Highly breathable mesh fabric designed for dogs. Keeps the dog cool with fresh airflow while riding.
  • Rear facing front door make entry and exit easy for your dog.
  • Quick closure straps.
  • Lightweight (23.8 lbs).
  • High visibility yellow color.
  • Price is low for entry level riders.
  • Designed by a company that sole focus is bike trailers.

Cons:

  • Not 100% waterproof.
  • Tires will spray some water on the side of the trailer in the rain.
  • No sun protection. We put a white pillow case with magnets to blog Sora from direct sun in the hot months.
  • Plastic wheels. Spokes cannot be replaced if broken.

Buy on Amazon

The Burley D-Lite Bike Trailer up close with Sora.

2. Burley D-Lite

We used the Burley D-Lite in South America and were over the moon with the durability and suspension. This trailer was put to the test and came out on top. If the price tag were a little lower, it would be our first choice. Though designed for two kids, with some minor modifications, the Burley D-Lite is the best dog bike trailer for rugged terrain and weight. The spring-based adjustable suspension made for a smooth ride on rocky roads and simply is worth the extra weight when taking the back roads.

Read our full review of the Burley D-Lite.

Pros:

  • Suspension.
  • Tons of space (47.5 liters).
  • Built in sunshade and tinted side and rear windows.
  • Easy to break down.
  • Lightweight (28.4 lbs).
  • High visibility yellow and less pukey green colors available.
  • Built-in and adjustable handlebar so you can push the trailer as needed.
  • 20” wheels with push button quick releases.

Cons:

  • Rear window does not open
  • Easy-to-use zippers on the front window
  • Option to purchase without child equipment.
  • Better OEM tires. We always replace our tires with Marathon Schwalbe (20” X 1.75”), (we had 3 flats over the whole trip).
  • MSRP $689. Though you can find deals by buying over winter time.

Buy on Amazon

3. Thule Cadence

Thule is known in the car accessory industry as being a pioneer of product design and high quality. They have many trailers and if you’re looking for a solid trailer at a good price point, look no further than the Thule Cadence. Though designed for children, you can modify the trailer to remove the kid seats and provide more space for your dog. It’s an Amazon Choice and has high reviews on Amazon.com as well. MSRP for $299.

Pros:

  • Easy to fold for storage and transporting.
  • Aluminum wheels.
  • Bicycle trailer kit is included.
  • Includes flag and has roll down rain cover.
  • Known brand with strong reputation.
  • Limited lifetime warranty.

Cons:

  • Padding is limited on the floor. Consider putting a dog bed or blanket down.  
  • No sun protection.
  • Velcro is used to for closing the door.
  • Limited interior space.

Buy on Amazon

4. Solvit Houndabout

The Solvit Houndabout trailer is designed for pets by a pet brand company (Pet Safe). It includes an adjustable safety leash to ensure your pup stays in the trailer. There is plenty of breathable mesh and outside storage on this trailer. The dog bike trailer frame is also available in steel or aluminium.

Pros:

  • Cushion for comfort.
  • Designed with maximum airflow for your dog.
  • Sunroof. Your dog can sunbathe while you do the hard work.
  • Aluminum wheels.
  • Foldable storage.
  • Large trailer can hold dogs up to 110 lbs.
  • Optionally stroller conversion available.
  • Relatively inexpensive. MSRP is just over $200.  

Cons:

  • Specific trailer hitch that can be difficult to fit to all bikes.
  • No flag.
  • Small interior length for larger dogs.
  • Designed for bikes with 26” wheels. There is a slant used for bikes with 700cc wheels.
  • Can be difficult to assemble.

Buy on Amazon

5. Best Choice Products 2-in-1 Pet Stroller and Trailer w/Hitch

The Best Choice pet bicycle trailer is a solid value and a reasonable cost. The steel frame and removable cushion are the main frills with this trailer. It’s also designed for pets and includes a built-in hand-lock brake system.

Pros:

  • Cushion is removable for washing.
  • Designed with maximum airflow for your dog.
  • Safety flag is included.  
  • Aluminum wheels.
  • Foldable storage.
  • Optionally stroller conversion available.
  • Relatively inexpensive. MSRP is just over $200.  

Cons:

  • Heavy at 37 lbs.
  • No flag.
  • Small interior volume for larger dogs.
  • Max weight supported is 66 lbs.
  • Can be difficult to assemble.

Buy on Amazon

PIN FOR LATER!


Burley Design provided the D Lite and Tail Wagon dog bike trailers as part of a ambassador agreement. The opinions expressed in this post are entirely our own and we were in no way compensated for this review. We love our Burley trailers and genuinely believe you get what you pay for!

Dave Hoch

Dave finds joy in supporting a vegan, intentional, and spiritual lifestyle. When he’s not jamming out to Phish and reggae, he’s running, volunteering at animal rescues, playing in nature, and being alive.

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You may never have thought about the importance of sun protection for dogs, but like humans, the sun can lead to damaging eye conditions and skin cancer. Read the article to see how you can prevent sun damage to your dog.

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