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How To Choose the Right Size Cockpit for Your Dog

Simple artistic diagram of a dog laying against the wall within a tape outline

Selecting the correct size Cockpit is essential to ensure the maximum safety and comfort for your dog


The K9 Moto Cockpit delivers superior safety and comfort by cradling your dog within a padded enclosure in the laying down position.

Cradling your dog snuggly but comfortably within the Cockpit reduces the movement that occurs to your dog inside the Cockpit due to hard leans, emergency stops, and get-offs. The more open space around them, the faster they move before contacting the padded roll bars.

Cradling your dog while they ride in the laying down position is even more advantageous for their safety. It keeps them more relaxed and better protects their head and upper body from external hazards.

Since being cradled while comfortably laying down improves safety, it’s important to select the correct size K9 Moto Cockpit.


Your Dog’s Size vs Weight

Each size Cockpit has a recommended weight range.

Nano: <20lb | 9kg
Mini: 20-45lb | 9-20kg
Standard: 25-85lb | 20-38kg
Large: >85lb | >38kg

These ranges represent an average across all dog breeds and are intended only as a starting point to determine the right size Cockpit for your dog.

The dog’s weight is less important than their physical size characteristics such as length and girth. For certain dog breeds the Cockpit’s recommended weight range can vary considerably. For example, tall, skinny breeds like Greyhounds and Whippets might need a larger Cockpit than their weight suggests. On the other hand, stocky breeds like Pitbulls and Bulldogs might not need quite as large of a Cockpit as their weight suggests.

That’s why the very best way to determine the right size Cockpit for your dog is to visualize how they will fit inside the Cockpit.

For that we have a simple exercise for you to do with your dog.


The Tape Outline Exercise

The Tape Outline Exercise is our best method to visualize the fit and determine which size Cockpit is best for your dog.

Simple artistic diagram of a dog laying against the wall within a tape outline

The exercise only takes a few minutes and you only need sticky tape, a measuring tape, and your dog. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to the corner of a room where the walls are unobstructed with desks, bookshelves, or other low furniture.
  2. Starting from the corner, measure the Cockpit’s internal length along one wall and internal width along the other – the internal length and width for each size Cockpit are listed below.
  3. Use the sticky tape to create a rectangle outline that correspondes to the internal length and width measurements on the floor.
  4. If you suspect your dog might be on the cusp between sizes, create the tape outline for both size Cockpits. Create the smaller outline within the larger one so that they share the walls on two sides.
  5. Now place your dog in a comfortable laying position inside the tape outline(s). Their back should be comfortably curved, not straight. Allow both hind paws to kick out comfortably on the non-wall side. Make sure their butt and back are firmly pressed against the two walls.

That’s it.

Before we move on, here’s the internal length and width measurements to create your tape outline for each size Cockpit:

Top view of various size mats in different colors against two walls

Nano: 47cm x 22cm | 18½in x 8¾in
Mini: 65cm x 30cm | 25½in x 12in
Standard: 77cm x 35cm | 30in x 14in
Large: start with 83cm x 40cm | 32½in x 16in – increase as needed

Once you have your pup in the comfortable riding position, they might not want to stay there for long. So, snap a few photos from different angles. Make sure that at least one of your photos is taken from the same angle and perspective as shown in our instructions diagram.

Now let’s interpret what we’re looking at.


Visualize a ‘Comfortably Cradled’ Fit

When we perform the Tape Outline Exercise, we’re looking for the size Cockpit that will comfortably cradle your dog. That means your dog should be snug but not cramped within the tape outline.

Artistic image of dog laying in a tape outline with text highlighting important points about motorcycle dog carrier fit and sizing


When your dog is laying comfortably in the riding position, the front paw closest to the wall will either extend straight forward or curve out towards the non-wall paw. The non-wall paw will extend toward the front outer (non-wall) corner of the tape outline.

In this position, we expect the dog’s non-wall-side paw to reach the tape outline. If the wrist is outside of the outline, then that size Cockpit is probably too short. Alternatively, if the entire paw is inside the outline, then that size Cockpit is probably too long.


There should be a small amount of space – likely not more than a couple inches – between your dog’s side or belly and the tape outline.

If your dog’s hind paws extend over the tape outline when fully at rest, press them inward towards their body. A good fit involves only gentle pressure to place your dog’s hind paws at the edge of the tape outline.

On the other hand, if your dog has their hind paws comfortable at rest and they don’t reach the tape outline, that size Cockpit might be too wide.


What About the Cockpit’s Height?

If you want to visualize how your dog will fit within each size Cockpit’s height, you can simply add one or more of the vertical measurements below to the wall.

Nano: 10cm | 4in
Mini: 20cm | 8in
Standard: 24cm | 9½in
Large: 28cm | 11in

When it comes to the Cockpit’s height, the upper roll bars should reach at or near the top of your dog’s back. We don’t create an upper roll bar over your dog’s back because we don’t their back to contact anything in an ordinary get-off situation. Instead, we want your dog securely and firmly strapped into their Cockpit with the K9 Moto Harness and a set of tethers – here’s how.


What if No Size is Perfect for Your Dog?

If no size Cockpit seems to be a perfect fit, just reach out to us and send some some pictures of your dog in the Tape Outline Exercise.

If we agree that no size is just right, we can opt to build your Cockpit as a custom size just for your dog. That’s one of the reasons we provide the K9 Moto Cockpit as a custom build.

For example, if your dog is clearly too large for the Mini but rather small for the Standard, we will perform a custom-size Standard Cockpit. In this case, we start with the Standard Cockpit dimensions and reduce down until we reach a footprint that’s just right for your dog.

Likewise, if your dog is on the small side of the Mini but the Nano looks like a tight fit, we’ll create a custom-size Mini Cockpit with reduced dimensions to suit your copilot.


There’s Also Another Option…

What if your dog is a growing puppy? Or what if they’re a bit small for a Standard Cockpit but you might have a future copilot who’s larger?

For these and other fitment issues, the K9 Moto BoosterSeat is the perfect solution. The BoosterSeat is an adjustable, padded insert that creates a custom-fit inside the Standard or Large size Cockpits.

Front angle view of padded inserts inside motorcycle dog carrier for better fit

The BoosterSeat includes six modular components: a bottom cushion, two side walls, a rear wall, and both a padded and unpadded retaining band. These components are easily assembled, secured to the Cockpit’s interior, and adjusted to produce the perfect fit.

For more information about the K9 Moto BoosterSeat, check out our detailed Gear Guide video.


If You Still Have Cockpit Sizing Questions…

We hope you found the Tape Outline Exercise helpful for determining the right size Cockpit for your dog. And, hopefully, your dog discovered it was a great opportunity to receive treats for laying comfortably on the floor!

If you still have any questions about how to perform the Tape Outline Exercise or would like to share your photos with us to get our feedback, just send us an email with your photos attached.

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