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.


Comments

Traveling with Snub-Nosed Dogs or Cats — 87 Comments

  1. Karel – Korea Air is the only airline we know that will fly Shih Tzus out of Jakarta but watch out for the temperatures. They may not fly it until the temperatures cool off. They layover at ICN. Fly KA the entire way.
    Susan

  2. hi, im planning to relocate within SouthEast Asia – from Jakarta to HoChiMinh City, and bringing three dogs – one of them a Shi Tzu i adopted here. Just learned that he will likely not be allowed on any airline as he is shortnosed! (he has no breathing problems, is healthy as a horse)

    Really don’t want to have to leave him behind and give him up for adoption!
    Any idea what airliner we should be looking at?? Seems Lufthansa, KLM all no options, and im getting worried….

  3. Sky – Finnair does not publish whether they will fly snub-nosed breeds like Frenchies in the cargo hold. Lufthansa will and they fly your route, so you may want to contact them to confirm that they will fly your Frenchie as checked baggage on your specific route. If not, then contact their cargo department.
    Susan

  4. Hello everyone, I have a three year old French bulldog and I am moving from Hong Kong to Sweden. Any ideas on which airline we could take?

    Thanks in advance!

  5. Vivian – Avianca does not list your Dogo on their banned breed list, so very hopefully, they will fly it. Due to its size, you may want to contact their cargo department. Also, an agent may be required to book the transport if flown as air cargo. You can search for an agent who serves LAX at IPATA.org. They may also have another alternative for you if Avianca does not permit your dog.
    Susan

  6. Aloha
    I am currently in Hawai’i, and moving with my 12 yr old daughter, her ESA dog and my Dogo Argentino.
    I have it covered from HNL to LAX.
    BUT…
    I can’t find an airline that will fly my Dogo from LAX to PTY (Panama)
    I am still trying to contact Avianca and Aeromexico in regards to international cargo.
    My Dad and Brothers work at COPA and no pets in cargo they said, plus it is on their breed restriction.
    Thanks in Advance!!

    (I am in a unique situation because when I decided to move I put it my move out date and not long after I had identity theft and my bank account hacked into the day before I bought the impact crate and tickets. I have friends who offered for us to stay with them meanwhile, but with a 12 yr old and two dogs, (one large!) I feel like too much intrusion and most times we stay in our truck at the beach. I’m not leaving my girl behind so any information in the right direction will truly be appreciated! 🙂 )

  7. I need to go from Boston, Massachusetts to San Jose, Costa Rica with a 17 pound Boston Terrier. She can fit in the cabin, under the seat. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

  8. Pao – Shar Pei breeds are classified as brachycephalic (snub-nosed) by most airlines. Some will fly them as air cargo; however, this is a more expensive class of service and most times, an agent will need to book the transport. You can contact Interjet or Aeromexico’s cargo department and ask if you can book the transport.
    Susan

  9. Need to fly my 18 months shar pei to Mexico from NYC.

    Delta already gave me the NO, aero méxico won’t do it either.. and private shipper asked for almost 5K !!!

    any advise?!

  10. Hello! I need to travel from Mexico to Spain with my 2 year old Boxer, but can’t find any airline doing this flight that would accept boxers.
    Any advice? Thanks in advance!
    Steven.

  11. Sabrina – unfortunately, Delta will not fly this breed in the cargo hold, nor will United or American. 🙁 Best to have someone accompany your kitty in the cabin if possible.
    Susan

  12. Anyone know if I can fly a Persian in cabin on Delta? I’m not going far PDX to MSP. Has no breathing issues. I didn’t think you could but I’m not finding any breed restrictions on the website now.

  13. Karrie – we cannot find an airline that will fly between Chiang Mia to Beijing that will allow a French Bulldog in the cargo hold. Korean Air is one of the very few airlines with Asian routes that will accept them. Can the Frenchie fly directly to the US and avoid Beijing? Maybe airlines would be available on that route that would accept your pup.
    Susan

  14. Leila – technically if the length of your dog’s snout is less than half the length of the head, then it is snub-nosed. That said, the check-in agent is tasked with making that call. Many airlines will specify that mixes of snub-nosed dogs are also affected, but as a pet owner, you can notice whether your pet snores, snorts or has difficulty with breathing, whether exercising or at rest. You can find more information about snub-nosed dogs here: https://www.pettravel.com/blog/index.php/traveling-with-snub-nosed-dogs-or-cats/.
    Susan

  15. Hello,
    Does anyone know what airline and airport will allow a French bulldog to fly from Chiang Mia to Beijing to USA. ughh what a chore this has become.

    Thank you,

    Karrie & Frankie B.

  16. Hello, I have a Poodle mixed with Shih Tzu and im not sure if shes allowed to travel. Shes never had any breathing problems but i dont know if shes a snub nosed dog.

  17. Sandra – did you try Alaska Airlines? They do ban snub-nosed dogs; however, Shar Pei breeds are not on their published banned breed list. Unfortunately, all other US-based airlines do not transport this breed.
    Susan

  18. I have a Chinese shar pei
    I need a flight for him from Seattle Washington to Dulles can anyone please help with any airlines

    THANKS IN ADVANCE!!

  19. Tia – there are a few airlines that will accept your Shar Pei. Out of Australia, Qantas is an option into Heathrow. If Lufthansa expands their service to BNE, then they will allso fly your Shar Pei.
    Susan

  20. Hi, looking at a possible relocation from BNE Australia to the MAN / LHR / LGW UK in early – mid 2020. I have a Shar Pei who will be about 12 – 18mths old at that time. Given that she is a snob nosed breed, are there any airlines that will allow her to travel in the cabin with me or only in the cargo hold? Also which airlines will allow her to travel at all? TIA

  21. Karla – no US-based airline will fly your dog’s breed, so you will need to look at foreign-based airlines. We could not find one that serves EWR. You may want to contact Interjet Cargo Department as they do fly dogs and do not mention banned breeds. They fly into JFK nonstop.
    Susan

  22. My boxer dog is 1 year old. I want him to travel from Mexico to US(Newark) what airline is recommended??:… I can’t find airlines that would travel snub-nosed dogsplz help!!

  23. Laura – Boston Terriers are a snub-nosed breed and that is why many airlines will not transport them. You may want to consider Lufthansa as they will fly your Terrier in the cargo hold if it is too small to fly in the carrier. They fly the route from AMS to MIA with a short layover in FRA. As your Terrier is flying in and out of AMS on the same airline, Lufthansa will transit it through Germany and no documentation should be required.
    Susan

  24. Hi. We are moving from the netherlands to miami florida in august/september. We have a boston terrier 8years old that waits about 9 kg. Which airline options do we have?

  25. marcjason – maybe Turkish Airlines will allow the transport of your English Bulldog between LHR and MNL. If that is a no-go, then you can try Lufthansa to FRA, then Korean Air to MNL. You will need an agent to customs clear your dog and recheck it on Korean Air if you are not flying with it. This is the most difficult breed to fly in the cargo hold due to their breathing issues.
    Susan

  26. My pet Persian cat is able to fly in the cabin with us with Iberia from Shanghai to Madrid. Despite being told by the vet that he should be fine due to his relaxed and calm personality, I am so so worried about the 11 hour flight and if it is a risk to his life 🙁

  27. Gayathri – although we do not have offices in the UAE, it is our understanding that all live animals must arrive and also leave the UAE as air cargo. Looking at the airlines that fly out of DXB, we cannot find one that will allow pwts in the cabin. You mention that your cat is a Persian mix and we would note that, if its nose is short, know that many airlines will not take it in the hold. Be sure and fly when temperatures are cool and make sure it has plenty of water.
    Susan

  28. I was wondering which airlines would allow me to take my Persian mix 14 year old cat from Dubai, UAE to Colombo, Sri Lanka inside the flight cabin. I’m super worried about his safety and am not satisfied though his vet who is also his replicator assures me that traveling as cargo is safe for him.

  29. Alexandra – Copa Airlines may fly your Chow as air cargo. You will need to contact their cargo department to confirm. If they will, try to get at close to your destination airport as possible, then you may need to rent a car.
    Susan

  30. thank you for your information; I have a Chow Chow in Colombia, I moved to KY, USA, I would like to bring my dog but I can’t find an airline that fly with this type of dog. Do you have any suggestions? or definitely I don’t have any hope?
    Thank you

  31. Jake – your pet’s breed is notoriously difficult to fly as it is a snub-nosed breed. We would advise that you look at flights to ATL as that is a major, international airport. Lufthansa out of Madrid to ATL might be a possibility; however, you need to contact them because the aircraft that services part of this route is an A321 and may not accept pets in the cargo hold. Air France also will accept your pup as air cargo; however, this airline requires that you claim and recheck your pet during the layover at CDG which will require an agent or a lot of time on your part. Know that no US-based airline will fly this breed as checked baggage or as air cargo. (Your pup is too big for the cabin). KLM will not fly it either. Start with Lufthansa and ask them if they will allow your BT on their flight from Madrid or Barcelona to FRA.
    Susan

  32. Great Site. I was wondering if you could recommend an airline to use to fly from Spain to Charleston SC. I have a 10 kg Boston Terrier. Thanks!

  33. Bert – Korean Air flies the route between HKG and YYZ through ICN. As you are staying on the same airline in and out of Seoul, your cats will transit the country. Contact them and ask whether they will accept live animals in the cabin on this route. The issue may be that all live animals are required to enter HKG as air cargo, if flying. For that reason, many airlines maintain that regulation for flights out of HKG. KA does accept pets in the cabin on most of its flights, but know that the one-pet-per-passenger rule will probably be in effect.
    Susan

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