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 Judy Machutt on July 10, 2018 at 12:58 pm

I want to take my American Staffordshire terrier from the US to Honduras. what airlines will allow this?

By Curtiss Mainville on July 8, 2018 at 11:46 am

Hi I am so angry with the airliines and probably insurance companies to, all Im trying to do is get my sweet stafordshire terrier from the U.S. to Costa Rica. It seems impossible to do.I really need some pinpoint info to make this happen, we have been separated for 2 months now and its killing me. I am already here and I have someone in the states that is trying to help. Please,Please,Please help Curtiss

By on July 10, 2018 at 10:22 am

Hello Curtiss! Yes, it has recently become more difficult to transport this breed and others. We have found ways to do it, but they are unfortunately more expensive and much less convenient than in previous years. We are happy to provide a complimentary consultation if you would like to speak with one of our relocation experts! Just fill out this form at your convenience and someone will be in touch as soon as possible.

By Anna Renzi on July 7, 2018 at 1:57 pm

Hello, I have been looking at moving to Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Netherland, Spain or England or other countries depending upon the Uni) for my masters degree the only thing i'm worried about is that I have Pitbull mixed dog or at least you can tell she is somewhat Pitbull. She is a registered comfort animal here in the states and i was thinking of even trying to get her registered/trained as a service animal but i am unsure if that would help/ be allowed, being that she is a banned breed. Any information you have on discrimination of breeds for service animals in Europe would be amazing?! Thank you

By on July 10, 2018 at 11:08 am

Hello Anna! Of all the countries you've listed, the Netherlands is the only one without specific breed restrictions. However, these sometimes vary from city to city as well. I suggest looking into national and local government regulations once you have your university choices narrowed down to make sure you will be able to bring your pup. Hope this helps!

By Jordan on July 5, 2018 at 9:01 pm

Hi, I will be moving back to Guam through the military as my term has ended. I want to take my American bully but all I see are restrictions from the airlines. He is apart of my family and I cannot leave him. Please help!

By on July 10, 2018 at 11:14 am

Hello Jordan,

At this time, there is no direct flight option out of the US to Guam for this breed. We are able to accomplish this move, but it requires two international flights out of the US and then to Guam due to airline restrictions. If you would like to speak with someone in more detail about this move, please fill out this form at your convenience and one of our relocation experts will be in touch!

By Amanda Meltzer on July 5, 2018 at 8:41 pm

I am moving to Cambodia from NYC at the end of July but having a hard time finding an airline that will allow my Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix. Please let me know which airline in Asia would be best to use.Thank you, Amanda

By Samantha on June 17, 2018 at 11:24 pm

Hi my name is Samantha I am trying to move from alaska to St.louis and as wondering what airlines would allow me to travel with my pitbull

By on June 18, 2018 at 10:30 am

Hi Samantha! You might try reaching out to Westjet or Air Canada. Based on the latest information we have, Air Canada will accept pit bulls in reinforced crates (CR-82 kennels). Hope this helps!

By Jesse Wells on May 9, 2018 at 8:19 pm

Hello, I am moving to Costa Rica from Atlanta in July with my daughter and we really want to bring our Pit Bull mix with us. Is this possible?Thank you!

By on May 11, 2018 at 9:37 am

Hi Jesse! As you've probably researched, many commercial airlines no longer fly pit bulls. There may be a way we can put your pup on a climate-controlled & pressurized cargo flight to Miami, and then facilitate ground transportation to Atlanta. We'd be happy to look into options for you. In order to put you in contact with a consultant, please fill out our Arrange A Move Form here. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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 Audrey on June 13, 2018 at 9:46 am

Check with KLM. They are one of the few airlines left, which will fly breeds that are typically prohibited by other airlines.

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