Pet Travel: Traveling via Cargo with a Snub-Nosed Pet

Flickr: Vivian Chen:PeachesThere are certain precautions every pet owner must take when your pet is traveling in the cargo area of a plane. You want to make sure your pet is acclimated to the crate, properly hydrated so your pet travels as safe and as comfortablly as possible.

For the snub nosed pet owner, things can get a little trickier. Snub-nosed pets (Dogs:Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs, Griffon Bruxellois, Japanese Chin, Boston Terrier and Shih Tzu  Cats: Persian and Himalayan for example) are some of the most popular breeds, but unfortunately can pose a risk during air travel.

These short nosed (also called “brachycephalic”) pets have difficulty breathing and acclimating to certain weather conditions. Even though these pets are considered “at risk”, taking necessary precautions and using the proper flight itinerary on a pet-safe, pet friendly airline will help reduce the chances of an incident. Below is an airline chart to help pet owners who are considering traveling via cargo with their sub-nosed breed.

Most airlines require a health certificate within 10 days prior to your travel date. (International immigration requirements also apply if traveling outside country borders)

Weather restrictions: When extreme weather conditions exist, the airlines restrict animals that will be accepted as checked baggage in certain cities. These restrictions are setup for the safety of your pet. The restrictions are as follows:

Summer Heat Embargo: May 15 through September 15

Winter Embargo: November 1st through March 31st

Delta: Delta has changed their banned breed policies and will no longer transport dog or cat breeds considered as snub-nosed.

United: United does not accept English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Old English Bulldogs, Shorty Bulls/Bulldogs or mixes of these breeds that are older than six months or weigh more than 20 pounds at any time of year.

United acknowledges the weather restrictions due to the summer heat embargo; however, in certain cities, they provide climate-controlled vans to transport pets to and from the airplane. You will want to contact the airline directly for more information.

American Airlines: American Airlines has issued a permanent embargo on all breeds of snub-nosed dogs and cats, effective November 15, 2010.

Frontier Airlines: Frontier no longer offers checked baggage or air cargo services for live animals. If you want to fly with your pet on this airlines, it must fit in an airline-compliant pet carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you.

Alaskan Airlines: snub-nosed breeds are no longer permitted to fly Alaska Airlines in the cargo department.

Lufthansa: snub-nosed breeds will be transported as long as temperatures do not exceed 80 degrees F anywhere on the itinerary.

KLM Airlines: KLM will only fly snub-nosed breeds as air cargo.  Four breeds of snub nosed dogs will no longer be allowed in the cargo hold on KLM aircraft: English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Boston Terrier, and Pug

When your snub-nosed dog or cat are flying in the cargo hold, here are tips to keep them safe:

• Use 1 size larger kennel than is normally required
• Use a kennel with ventilation on 4 sides. (If the kennel does not have ventilation on 4 sides, modify the kennel by drilling 7 holes in the rear top and 7 holes in the rear bottom of the kennel using a 3/4 inch keyhole bit).
• Acclimate your petl to the kennel by letting the animal spend time in the kennel for several days before its departure
• Do not place food in the kennel during the flight, just water
• Provide plenty of water to the animal. Frozen water bottles with tiny holes punched in the sides make a great watering tool for several hours when placed in the kennel’s watering dish.

It is always wise to call your airlines when making your reservation and disclose the breed of your dog. Also, it is a good idea to let the Captain know that you are traveling with a pet. Preparing in advance is an important part of pet travel.

More information on airline pet policies.


Pet Travel: Traveling via Cargo with a Snub-Nosed Pet — 325 Comments

  1. Tim – if your Shih Tzus are small enough to fly in the cabin in airline-compliant pet carriers and your airline allows that, then outside temperatures will not matter. Not many airlines will carry snub-nosed breeds like Shih Tzus in the cargo hold, especially if temperatures exceed 75 degrees anywhere along the route. Best time to fly with snub-nosed pets is during periods of cooler temperatures. Lufthansa will fly the breed; however, you should confirm with them that they will fly pets in the cabin or as checked baggage out of Hong Kong. (it is required that live animals enter HK as air cargo.) Fly to Frankfurt and the flight will be non-stop.

  2. i have a dog n i want to take him with me to usa so how much will be cost n wht documents need for it

  3. I have a shi-poo dog (shitzhu and poodle) and he has a snout larger than normal shitzhus but I’m worried that the airline me and my family take won’t accept my dog because we are traveling for military reasons and need to figure out a way for my dog to go too.

  4. Hi , we have two Shih tzu one 9 years one 5 years old plan to travel from Hong Kong to UK or Europe direct flight if possible, could you please tell us the best time to travel and airlines that will accept them either in the cabin or cargo
    Brgs Tim

  5. Colleen – Lufthansa will transport Mastiffs in reinforced CR82 crates. Not sure of your route..

  6. Ayie – now that Philippine Airlines has changed its policies on flying snub-nosed pets, there are few options. You can try Royal Brunei Cargo Department as they do not specify banned breeds. Be sure and ask when you call them. Asiana Airlines allows pets in the cabin if your Shih Tzu is small enough; however, there is a long layover in Seoul.

  7. I want to fly mu shih tzu from singapore to philippines, any airline that accept snubnose dog?

  8. Ash – assuming that your pup is too big to fly in the cabin, one option may be to fly Lufthansa to Toronto and take WestJet to SXM. Select a flight out of LHR that is operated by Lufthansa, not Air Canada as they will not transport your pet’s breed in th ehold. WestJet has weekend flights into SXM, but watch temperatures as they climb towards summer. Hope it works for you and your pup.

  9. Hi, My shitzu (he is actually a lapha apso) is being refused for travel by Cargo on KLM to St Maarten (SXM) from London (LHR). Are there any exemptions or other methods to transport him there? The problem is, I am permanently moving to St Maarten!

  10. Lufthansa will transport Mastiff breeds in CR82-compliant pet crates. You will likely need to get a heavy wooden crate made. It would be easier to answer if we knew your route.

  11. Having trouble finding an airline the week take my Dogue De Bordeaux puppy. Does anybody have a suggestion?

  12. Felix – you may need to transport your Boxer via a cargo only airline if no commercial airline will transport it. A4T All Services may be able to assist you with the booking and check-in. You can email them at or 829-435-8071.

  13. I live in Charlotte, NC but am originally from San Juan, PR. Do to the circumstances after the hurricane that hit the island recently i have to bring my 5 year old Boxer but i am having difficulty on finding an airline that will let me board my big boy. Any help or line of site will be greatly appreciated!

  14. I’m trying to find a air company to go to Ghangzhou from Sao Paulo with a french bulldog (4 months). Any tips?

  15. We are terribly sorry for your loss. There should be no incidents involving live animals when flying, but sadly, sometimes there are. We hope that your heart heals soon.

  16. My 2 year of French bulldog died on a flight from Bangkok to Paris. Our family feeling devastated. I take a huge risk of my dog. Please never take the risk to fly your dog.

  17. Nandini – where is your Bullie traveling from? Qantas also may carry it. Spring and Fall are the best times to fly this breed. Due to its snub-nosed condition, there are risks. Make sure it has plenty of water available.

  18. I am a little desperate, I need to transport my 9.4 year old English bulldog to the UK in January. So far, Lufthansa seems to be the only carrier that will transport him in cargo. Is there any other means of transportation I can consider? I am so afraid

  19. Ema – we are so sorry to hear of your loss. Yes, English Bulldogs are the breed at highest risk when flying.

  20. Our young 2.5 year old healthy English Bulldog died on a Lufthansa flight from Munich to Vancouver. We are devastated and regret taking him on this trip. If we could say one thing; never fly your bulldog-it is a huge risk and a horrible death we are sure. If only we could take back time.

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