Traveling with Snub-Nosed Dogs or Cats

Snub-nosed pets need special care when travelingTraveling with a snub-nosed pet, whether in the car or in an airplane, can bring added risks that owners of these breeds should know about. These risks have brought on restrictions from many commercial airlines due to the number of snub-nosed dogs involved in incidents when flying in the cargo hold.

Which breeds are affected?

All snub-nosed or flat-faced breeds suffer with some degree of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). This is a condition that results from the foreshortening of the facial skeleton which is a mutation that is present in and required for the selective breeding of many dog breeds. The American Kennel Club identified the following breeds as being snub-nosed early on: Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs, Griffon Bruxellois, Japanese Chin, Boston Terrier and Shih Tzu. Of these breeds, Pugs, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs have been found to be most at risk from BOAS.

As studies on breeds with BOAS have become prevalent, other breeds have been identified to be at more moderate risk such as the Affenpinscher, Chow Chow, Lhasa Apso, Shar Pei, Tibetan Spaniel, Rottweiler, Staffordshire Terrier and Pomeranian, and many commercial airlines have also banned them from the cargo hold.

Affected cat breeds are Persian, Himalayan and Exotic Shorthair, as well as Netherlands Dwarf and Lionhead rabbits.

Why do we love them?

Why are these breeds so attractive to pet owners? Perhaps the flattened face takes on more human-like appearance? The bulging eyes that some breeds exhibit are more expressive? The snores remind us of our sleeping habits? Whatever the reason, snub-nosed breeds are in high demand, especially the French Bulldog which just took the place of the Labrador and the most popular breed.

Why is traveling risky for snub-nosed breeds and their crosses?

Because the length of the muzzle is so short in snub-nosed breeds, soft tissue blocks the airways in the nose and throat impeding airflow in dogs or cats at a young age and progressively worsens as the pet ages. Additionally, the condition is aggravated when the dog or cat is exercising or under stress as is the case when traveling. Increased respiratory efforts can lead to a collapse of the airway which is why owners of these breeds must take great care when transporting them.

A snub-nosed dog or cat will have a muzzle length less than half of its cranial length. This measurement is defined as the length from the occipital protuberance (crown of the head) to the stop (base, not tip, of the nose).

Generally, this condition is commonly but not exclusively accompanied by a thicker neck girth, nasal fold, wide chest, extended elbows, snorting, snoring and sleep apnea.

Studies have found that obesity will increase the degree that these breeds will suffer from BOAS. This is why it is really important to keep your pup at its ideal weight if it is to travel.

Crosses of these breeds can be similarly affected. Remember, it is not necessarily whether your pet is a purebred member of these breeds; it is the length of the muzzle and the presence of other snub-nosed characteristics that count.

What can owners of these breeds do to travel safely with their snub-nosed dogs and cats?

Obviously, ground transport is much safer than air transport for these breeds. If this is not possible, then consider the Queen Mary 2 if you need to get to Europe. If flying is the only alternative, then in-cabin is much preferred to cargo transport. If your snub-nosed dog or cat is too large to fly in the cabin and must fly in the cargo hold, then avoid summer months at all cost as higher temperatures increase the amount of breathing that your dog or cat must do to keep cool.

Hydration is incredibly important and can’t be stressed enough. Whether your snub-nosed dog or cat is traveling by car or in the air, it must have adequate hydration available to it.

If you are driving, keep the air conditioning running and the windows up so that the air in the vehicle is cool. Stop often and make sure to offer your pet water every time you stop.

If you are flying with your pet in the cabin, be sure and get a bottle of water after passing security and use a bottle top or ask for a glass of ice from the flight attendant. Try offering it to your pet by extending your hand in the carrier being sure not to let your pet escape.

If your pet is flying as air cargo, get the largest water bowl you can find to attach to the crate door, fill it with water the night before you leave and freeze it. You can find large pet crate water bowls by clicking here. You can also consider training your dog or cat to use a water bottle as well. Confirm that your airline will check your pet’s water bowl during layovers.

Be sure and plan ahead when you travel with a snub-nosed pet. Acclimating it to its carrier or crate will cause less stress on travel day and make it easier for both of you to enjoy your trip.

You can find more information about snub-nosed pet studies here.


Traveling with Snub-Nosed Dogs or Cats — 23 Comments

  1. Irish – if you are referring to in-cabin service, then you can try contacting Saudia. Although they do accept small cats and birds in the cabin, you will need to confirm that they are accepted on your specific route.

  2. Hi i have persian cat.. I want to travel from dubai to manila u have any airlines while accept my cat on board as a existing baggage

  3. Yolanda – get your pup’s crate early and spend time acclimating her to it. This is one of the best things you can do for your puppy. ( She needs to see her crate as her safe place. Once she has spent time in it, take her for short trips and always reward good behavior. Remember that hundreds of thousands of live animals are flown each year. You can find more info about keeping your pet safe in cargo here:

  4. Dan – United flies this route non-stop. If they will take your Brabancon in the cabin, that would be best. This is a snub-nosed breed and they will not fly it in the cargo hold. If United won’t take it, you can try Air Canada, but that may be a long shot. Korean Air may also be a possibility as they fly small cats and dogs in the cabin. This is assuming your pup is small enough to fit in an airline-compliant pet carrier.

  5. I have a petite brabancon in Tokyo. I’m moving to Los Angeles. Is there any airline that will allow it to travel transpacific with me? (cabin or cargo)

    If there’s no airline, are there any other methods? (cruises etc.)

  6. Liz – Hong Kong will require that your kitten fly as air cargo. Very few airlines will accept snub-nosed breeds as cargo and, during the summer, we cannot say that any will. You can consult with Eva Air to see what times during the year that they will permit the transport of your cat; however, for the safety of your pet, it should not be during a period of warmer temperatures.

  7. I have a 7 month British shorthair that I want to bring from Canada to HK. Cathay Pacific and Air Canada do not take this breed so do you have any recommendations of airline/methods to transport my kitten?

  8. Hello Emma – because HK requires that live animals arrive as air cargo, most, if not all, airlines require this same class of service when leaving. That said, try Lufthansa or Swiss Air as they both fly to Frankfurt and accept small dogs and cats in the cabin on other routes.

  9. Emma – try Lufthansa or Swiss Air. All live animals must arrive in HK as air cargo. That being the case, many, if not all, require the same class of service for animals leaving HK. If Lufthansa or Swiss Air will not transport in the cabin, then contact their cargo department. Temperatures must be cool to fly these breeds. Wait until Fall or look for night flights.

  10. Hi,
    I have an exotic breed cat (mix of persian, snub nose)
    I live in HK but am looking to return to Europe and i want to take her with me. The place where I adopted her from told me that I couldn’t fly with her. Are there certain airlines that permit it or other methods I could use? I would appreciate any help. Thanks

  11. Spinsmom – you can find requirements to import your pup to China here: It is advised to try and avoid quarantine in Shanghai if possible because conditions are questionable at best. We import pets to Guangzhou which is quarantee-free, then fly them domestically with China Southern. We advise that you use an agent to customs clear your pet and obtain the needed health certificate in Guangzhou to fly China Southern. You can get a free quote for this service from agents in Guangzhou or Hong Kong at

  12. Please help and give advice. We will be relocating from US to Shanghai for my husbands work. My dog is a rescue & my baby and her paperwork says shitzu mix….but she is tall, not at alll toy breed size and 25lbs (we think she is mix au cattle dog. ) so normally she would not fit in a cabin I cannot leave her behind! I cannot! Will crush our family, she is emotional support – but I don’t know what to

  13. Hiii, i have a british shorthair cat and i want to take my cat back to Chile, im aware of regulations but because the trip is too long (from china to chile, transit in usa) i dont know which airline will accept my cat. i check with air france but the limit its 12hours. helpp!

  14. Debbie – service animals go through thorough training and are certified through national organizations to be service animals. We believe you are referring to an emotional support dog. According to Copa’s regulations: “Service animals or emotional support animals accompanying individuals with a disability or special needs are permitted in the airplane cabin free of charge. Copa Airlines only allows trained dogs and certified guide dogs on board to assist customers. All passengers travelling with an emotional support animal must present a medical document where certified and justifies the reason for which the passenger must travel with a support or emotional support animal. The date of issuance of this document should be less from one year to the date of departure of the flight.” You should present your supporting documentation in advance of travel.

  15. We need to take our pug to Ecuador next year, he is 26lbs. I will not put in Cargo, but we cannot leave him. My husband wears hearing aids and I did see a service pug one time. He was for the gentleman’s diabetes. Hoping we can have him be a service dog. There is a direct flight with Copa airlines from Miami to Ecuador, but there is nothing on their website about service dogs. We are already starting to worry. thanks for any advice.

  16. Amy – you can try Asiana Air or Korean Air through ICN. Don’t believe that China Air or China Eastern will transport. You know that quarantine will be imposed when entering Beijing. There are quarantine-free zones that you can fly to, then take a domestic flight and avoid quarantine; however, we recommend an agent assist you through the process as additional health certificates are needed in Guangzhou.

  17. Which airlines allow French Bulldogs to fly (in January) from USA to Beijing China? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  18. transport a dog Mexican side or to the USA from Mexico City

    I was wondering if someone can give some advice in regards to transporting a 2 year old Boxer breed dog in Mexico City, Mexico to either a Mexican border town like Reynosa, Tamaulipas or Juarez, Chihuahua versus bringing to the United States, towns in South or West Texas? What is needed and what will the cost be?

    The dog has all the medical records and rabies shots current.

    Please let me know by today if all possible

  19. i have my pet shihtsu 12 years old from malaysia travelling to japan, in cabin permitted? 5.5kgs

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