Flying Internationally with Restricted Dog Breeds

Pit Bull dogHi PetRelocation,

I've been researching individual airline guidelines for transporting dogs, and have found that the restricted breeds are often subtitled "brachycephalic or snub-nosed breeds," which I thought referred to dogs such as Pugs and English Bulldogs.

However, pure bred or any mixed breeds of Pit Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers are listed in the restricted breeds, as well. Is this because they are considered brachycephalic/snub-nosed, or is it an additional/unrelated issue? I am considering a move to Europe and will not move without my dog, but also do not want to take any extra risks if it is a greater health hazard for his breed to fly.

Additionally, I was unclear whether dogs transported in the cargo compartment can be flown in the crates that are metal only, or are you supposed to use the carriers that are plastic enclosures with metal doors?

My dog is well behaved in his normal metal crate where he can easily see out, but is often anxious and frightened inside of a plastic crate with the limited number of slits.

Thanks for your help!



Thanks for the question, we'd be happy to offer some guidance. Breeds such as Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers are often listed as "restricted" because of historic breed bans rather than health issues. Though you'll find plenty of evidence to support the fact that these breeds are no more dangerous than any other (as we're sure you already know), their size, appearance and possible strength still dictates the policies of many countries and airlines.

We often refer to breed-specific legislation resources online when helping our clients plan out international moves, as some countries do not allow certain breeds to be imported. For example, we helped a dog named Stan move to the Netherlands in 2013 when his owner found out that he wouldn't be able to go to Denmark, where Pit Bulls are banned. Advance planning and creative solutions might be necessary for your move, as well, so it's great that you're starting the process now.

As far as travel crates, this is up to the airline. United (an airline we often choose to fly with) requires that Pit Bulls and a few other breeds travel in reinforced crates meeting IATA Container Requirement #82. KLM, Lufthansa and British Airways are also airlines that we typically select, so we recommend researching the current rules and procedures of these carriers when planning your dog's move.

We also recommend contacting the Ministry of Agriculture in Bulgaria as well as any local authorities and vets who may be able to shed light on how Pit Bulls are regulated (if at all) there. Every country is different, and it's best to learn as much as you can about laws and cultural attitudes before you go.

Finally, we recommend that all dogs have a period of crate acclimation before traveling. Especially because you mentioned your dog can feel nervous in certain crates, we suggest taking a look at these dog crate training tips soon.

Hopefully this helps! Just let us know if you think you'd like some help arranging this move (you can fill out our online consultation form at your convenience), and good luck with everything.


Pet Travel Details:

Name: Biggie
Number of Pets: 1
Pet Type: Dog
Pet Breed: Pit Bull mix (though hasn't had DNA testing)
From: Chicago, USA
To: Bulgaria


Editor's Note: This post was originally published in January 2015 and has been updated with new information. (Photo credit: Chris/Flickr)


PetRelocation Team



Snub-Nosed Breeds


United States


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By Jakub Vymetalik on March 13, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Hi there, I would like to take with me my Staffordshire Bull Terrier from Europe (UK, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany) to Canada ( Winnipeg ) . can someone shed a bit of light in to which airliner will take him there? I live in UK but can also fly from Czech Republic were my parents live. I also don't understand if I need special reinforced crate or IATA plastic crate is OK? is it possible to take him on connection flight?

By Taneisha on March 4, 2018 at 5:33 pm

Hello! I am from the USA trying to get my dog to legally be imported into the UAE, Dubai specifically, for 2-5 years. My dog looks like she is mixed with Staffordshire Bull Terrier. I am going to get the DNA blood test done.1. Which dog breed DNA tests are government approved? 2. If she is, in fact, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, I have heard that there are these breeds walking around in the UAE because they have made acceptions (the owner proved that their dog was not violent and truly just a family dog, but they didn't say how they have approved the exception. Would you have an idea of how I would get that? She is also my therapy pet if that makes a difference.

By on March 5, 2018 at 3:24 pm

Hi Taneisha, and thanks for your question. If your dog resembles any banned breed in the UAE (including Staffordshire Bull Terrier), we don’t recommend moving her there. In our experience, we have never been able to do this, as they are pretty strict about enforcing breed bans. We are not aware of any DNA test that’s affiliated with the government, but it often comes down to appearance. I’m sorry to be the bearer of this news. I wish we could be of more assistance!

By Rocky on February 2, 2018 at 7:12 pm

None of the main carriers, Delta, American blah blah will transport a snub nose dog of 40 Lbs anyplace period. So who will ? How about helping?

By Rocky on February 2, 2018 at 7:10 pm

OK great. All nice info but who actually will fly a snub nose dog. How about some information that will help get the dog home from a place like Puerto Rico???????????????????????????????????????????????????????//

By on February 5, 2018 at 10:43 am

Hi Rocky,

Some airlines will fly snub-nosed breeds with certain restrictions: for example, only when temperatures are below 80-degrees Fahrenheit. It depends on what breed of dog you have, though. United Airlines will fly most snub-nosed breeds during certain months except for English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and mixes of these breeds. Lufthansa will fly these breeds given the temperature is low enough on the day of travel. So, depending on your pet and the dates of travel, you may need to adjust your travel dates to meet this criteria for flying a snub-nose breed safely in cargo. If you would like professional help organizing this move, we are happy to speak with you! Just provide some additional information by filling out our Arrange a Move form and a relocation consultant will contact you as soon as possible. Hope this helps!

By Rachael gregory on January 7, 2018 at 4:06 am

Hello , i have a pitbull breed ( not confirmed ) and need to move her back from gran canaria to the uk . Is this possible by flight or by driving route with ferries etc ? And what do i do when she gets here ? Thanks Rachael.

By on January 8, 2018 at 3:18 pm

Hello Rachael,

Thanks for reaching out with your question! The UK has a ban on some breeds, including the Pit Bull Terrier. If your dog is a mix and you have questions of whether she will be allowed to enter the country, you can send photos of the dog standing in a natural position from the front, side, and the top to DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) at to make sure.

Once you’ve confirmed this, I recommend looking at our simple guide for bringing dogs and cats to the UK and finding a local pet shipper through IPATA (International Pet and Animal Transportation Association). Since your move is between the Canary Islands and the UK, it may be more economical to go this route—and if you are handling it on your own, a local company may be able to recommend the best transportation options for pet shipping on that route.

If you would like one of our relocation specialists to contact you regarding this move, please fill out our Arrange a Move form and someone will be in touch as soon as possible!

By Carly on January 3, 2018 at 10:19 pm

Hi, I have a beloved English Bulldog that I want to bring with me from California to Australia. Is this possible and what do I have to do?Carly

By on January 4, 2018 at 9:24 am

Hi Carly, and thanks for your question!

You can move your English Bulldog to Australia, but it does take quite a bit of preparation. We’ve outlined the general requirements for bringing a dog or cat into Australia in a simple guide—this should help get you started. Since you have a bulldog, another resource you may find helpful is “5 Tips for Traveling Safely with Snub-Nosed Breeds”.

PetRelocation has moved many dogs to Australia! You can read one of their stories here. If you would like a pet relocation consultant to contact you to discuss our services for this move, you can fill out our Arrange a Move form and someone will be in touch soon!

By Vickie on November 3, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Hi! I need to send my dog, a Boxer from Merida in Mexico to Hong Kong, I checked with American Airlines and Aeromexico but they won't accept my dog as in included in the Snub-nosed breed list. Any ideas? Thank you very much

By on November 6, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Hello Vicki, great question!

We would recommend looking into booking with Lufthansa, since they offer pet-friendly accommodations for snub-nosed breeds. If that doesn't work, Swiss Air also flies snub-nosed breeds internationally.

We hope this helps! If you need further guidance let us know here and one of our consultants would be happy to speak with you about your dog's move.Good luck!

By Chris on October 23, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Hello, I want to relocate from USA to Thailand with my Boston Terrier as an emotional support animal in the cabin. I see that brachycephalic dogs are excluded from traveling. Do I have any options?Thanks, Chris

By on October 24, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Hi Chris!

Brachycephalic breeds are actually not restricted by some airlines -- it is possible to fly snub-nosed breeds, like Boston Terriers, with pet-friendly airlines like Lufthansa. Just be sure to look out for any temperature or port restrictions (they don't want them to travel when it's too hot).

While you may not be able to bring your dog in-cabin, due to weight restrictions, Lufthansa offers great care to pets traveling in the cargo hold -- we use them all the time for snub-nosed breeds! You can read more about how to book with them on our blog here.

We hope this helps, Chris, but if you need anything further please reach out to us here and one of our consultants will be happy to assist. Good luck!

By Chris on October 24, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Thanks, but Thailand is always hot, so I need to bring him in the cabin. I believe I can have him certified as a Emotional Support Animal. If not, are you aware of any freighters I could sail over there on?Thanks, Chris

By on October 25, 2017 at 10:20 am

We specialize in moving pets via cargo on pet-friendly airlines so we will not be the best resource for determining other means of transportation. Best of luck with everything, though!

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