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  • Flying with Dogs: Best and Banned Breeds on Airlines

    by Emily Bergquist

    If you love to travel but hate leaving your pooch behind, you should familiarize yourself with airline pet travel information and the rules and regulations that relate to flying with dogs. After all, no one wants the nightmare of ending up stranded at the airport because your airline won’t let you get on board with your pup. To prevent such a scenario, we’ve gathered information on the most travel-friendly dog breeds, the breeds that are banned on airlines, and all the details to prepare you before you fly with your dog. 

    A woman with long brown hair in a white swearer hold a small Chihuahua with a striped shirt on

    Flying with Dogs: Travel-Friendly Dog Breeds

    Different airlines have different pet policies related to travel-friendly dog breeds – and many have different COVID-19 policies too. Most airline pet policies are based on weight and whether your pet is a service animal or emotional support dog.

    Weight

    Airlines allow your dog to travel in the cabin or cargo hold area of the airline based on the dog’s weight. 

    Cabin area 

    If your dog weighs below 20 pounds, you may be allowed to travel with him or her in the plane’s cabin. Some of the standard small dog breeds that are often permitted to travel in the plane’s cabin area include:

    • Chihuahua
    • Yorkshire terrier
    • Toy poodle
    • Maltese
    • Brussels griffon
    • Japanese chin
    • Pomeranian
    • Pekingese
    • Bichon Frise 

    Flying with your dog requires your pet to be well trained and kept in a TSA-airline approved carrier. The carrier should also be well ventilated and able to be comfortably stowed beneath the front seat. The size restrictions of the carrier will vary depending on the airline, so be careful to check these restrictions before booking your flight. 

    Cargo hold

    If you have a dog who weighs more than 20 pounds, they may have to travel in the cargo hold area. However, some airlines do not offer this option as the cargo deck will need to be pressurized to allow for pet travel. 

    Unlike the cabin area, when your dog is in the cargo hold, you won’t be able to see them during the flight. The cargo hold area also has temperature fluctuations , which can be difficult for your dog.  This is why some airlines have capacity and weather restrictions for pets traveling in the cargo hold. 

    Ensure you check the travel options for your large dog before the flight. You also need to check with your vet if your large dog will be comfortable traveling in the cargo hold area.

    To be allowed into the cargo hold, your large dog needs to be in a crate that is large enough for them to stand, move, sit, and turn their head. The container should also have a secure metal door, and the roof shouldn’t have holes. The crate should also be made of a rigid material that will not bend under pressure.

    Most airlines will only allow you to book your dog via cargo ten days before your trip. To avoid any disappointment, get organised with your vet’s approval and advice and check with the airline beforehand.

    Two American airlines planes sit at the airport landing strip

    Service and Emotional Support Dogs

    Many airlines exempt service dogs from size restrictions as long as your pup can fit in the cabin at your feet. The same applies to emotional support dogs and psychiatric animals.

    Although the rules and regulations of traveling with a service dog differ by airline, most airlines will require your service animal to sit on the floor or your lap. Service dogs shouldn’t sit on the aisle way or the emergency exit rows. Your service dog should also remain under your control at all times. 

    Traveling with a service dog will not cost you any pet travel costs, although you may need to have documentation to prove that your dog is a service animal.

    Dog Breeds Banned On Airlines

    The majority of global airlines have a list of dog breeds who are banned from flying. Airlines also restrict dogs from flying in certain weather conditions and temperatures. Notable dog breeds restricted from air travel include the shortened head dog breeds and the bully dog breeds.

    A pug sticks his tongue out at the camera

    Shortened Head or Brachycephalic Dog Breeds

    Shortened head or brachycephalic dog breeds are dogs that have short noses and muzzles. Their muzzles appear to be pushed in. 

    These breeds aren’t allowed to travel on many airlines because they are prone to breathing problems due to their short noses. Their respiratory issues often worsen if they fly at high altitudes, or in the cargo hold area where temperatures fluctuate.

    Examples of such breeds include: 

    • Bulldog
    • Cane Corso
    • Chow Chow
    • Tibetan Spaniel
    • Pug
    • Shih Tzu
    • Boston Terriers
    • Boxers
    • Pekingese
    • Lhasa Apsos
    • Mastiffs 

    Bully Dog Breeds

    Airline restrictions on bully dog breeds are often blamed on Breed Specific Legislation. This has seen many airlines ban breeds such as American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier from air travel. 

    However, airlines have also added dogs that resemble pit bull dog breeds to this list, and even dogs that are said to have strong jaws citing bite incidents as the reason behind their tightened restrictions. 

    In an attempt to address safety concerns, Delta Air Lines banned pit bull service dogs over a year ago, but now the U.S. Department of Transportation has ruled the airline must allow all types of service dogs on board.

    Similarly, if you are traveling to a foreign country, make sure to do your research on muzzling. For example, the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) of Singapore declares that the following dogs must be muzzled in public areas:

    • Bull Terrier
    • Doberman Pinscher
    • German Shepherd Dog (and related breeds such as the German Shepherd Golden Retriever)
    • Rottweiler
    • Mastiffs (including the Bull Mastiff, Cane Corso, and Dogue De Bordeaux)
    • Crosses between any of the above breeds

    PetLoversCentre states that in the UK, the Dangerous Dog Acts 1991 requires specific breeds such as the Pit Bull Terrier and Japanese Tosa to be muzzled in public places. 

    Muzzles are designed to protect the public, the owner and the dog, though they may seem biased, cruel and unfair. Interestingly, Skaug Law states on their site, “There is no set number for what type of compensation might be paid out in a dog bite case, but the average settlement paid by insurance companies for dog bites in 2017 was $33, 230.”

    A Pitpull puppy with a spotted brown and pink nose looks off into the distance

    Other Regulations Related To Flying with Dogs

    The below rules may also affect your pet travel plans as they concern dog breeds allowed and not allowed on certain airlines.

    Registration Rules

    Most airlines require that you call in advance and let them know that you will be traveling with your dog.  Other airlines such as JetBlue Airlines have an online registration so you can reserve a reservation for your dog online. This is because most airlines only allow a limited number of dogs on each flight. However, if you are traveling with a service or emotional support dog, this rule doesn’t apply.

    Fees

    Part of the registration process requires that you pay a fee to travel with your pup. The costs vary with the airline, although most airlines will ask between $95 and $150 each way. This rule doesn’t apply to service or emotional support animals.

    Paperwork

    Although some airlines may not require you to show health records for your dog, it is essential to have them as a precaution. You should have your dog license, medical records, and be prepared to sign a behavior voucher if your dog will be traveling with you in the cabin. 

    You must also have your dog’s immunization record. You can always find out the exact paperwork your airline will need for your dog by checking the airline’s website before the trip. Many airlines will require you to have a pet passport too.

    You can request your dog’s vaccination records for free and keep track of them in one easy-to-store location through the Pawprint app, a popular app dedicated to making pet parenting easier by uniting your pet’s health essentials all in one place.

    Age Limit

    Some airlines won’t allow you to travel with your dog in-cabin or via cargo if your dog is 16 weeks or younger. Check with the airline before travel to ensure your dog isn’t restricted to travel due to their age.

    Rules on the dog breeds allowed and denied entry in airlines are always changing. We have given you the typical dog breed rules used by most airlines. Nonetheless, you need to check with the airline before traveling. This will help you learn the regulations related to traveling with your dog either in the cabin or via cargo.

    Up, Up, and Away

    When it comes to flying with your dog, being prepared ahead of time is key. Doing your research and knowing the conditions of your specific airline will help make flying with your dog as smooth and safe of a trip as possible. For road trip essentials, check out our article on seven travel trips every pet owner should know.

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