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


Add a Comment

By Jessica on November 1, 2018 at 3:38 am

Hi! I've just been reading tons of stuff about regulations and how to travel with my 28 lb, 3 month-old puppy, only to find out that because of being a pitbull, he is banned from my American already scheduled flight on November 15th to Mexico (where I'm currently living). He was given to me in adoption and I can't leave him behind and now I don't know what to do to take him with me. I've been reading service dogs may fly easier but I don't know if these can be applied to my case. Please, I would be grateful for any suggestion on the matter.

By Joel on October 26, 2018 at 12:08 pm

I’m planing on moving to Puerto Rico and I have a female mixed pitbull breed. How can I get my dog to be shipped out with no issues. Almost all airlines declined me.

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 29, 2018 at 9:29 am

Hi Joel! Unfortunately, pit bulls are still banned in Puerto Rico, according to the USDA. Feel free to check out more information here. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

By Beate M Janssen on October 19, 2018 at 10:28 pm

I'm planning a move to Merida, Mexico, in the next 6-8 months, with my 3 dogs: a Husky, a Blue Heeler and one pit-bull. All the dogs are about 8 yrs old and in great health. A lot of carriers won't fly pit bulls .How can I get all of them transported, preferably on the same flight with me? Also, would you know if Mexico will accept titers for some or all of the required vaccinations? Thank you!

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 23, 2018 at 9:40 am

Hi Beate! Here are the requirements for relocating pets to Mexico. All pets must have an original Rabies Certificate signed by the vet. This should be a one year rabies vaccine administered at least 30 days prior to the day of departure, titers are not accepted.

In terms of routing for your pit bull, the only known carrier is Lufthansa into Mexico City. If we can be of assistance planning your pet's move, please fill out our Arrange A Move form and a consultant will reach out to you. Thanks!

By Tonya-Sue Hall on October 9, 2018 at 10:49 am

Hi, I’m trying to get my daughter and her pit bull mix from Raleigh, NC to St.Thomas, US Virgin Islands. There are no restrictions on the island other than the normal health certificate. My problem is finding an airline that will allow her pit bull sonce the breed is restricted. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 10, 2018 at 9:29 am

Hi Tonya-Sue! It is really tough to gets pets on commercial airlines to St. Thomas. And actually, the only way we've gotten pets to St. Thomas in the past is by putting them on a Cessna plane with a private pilot from San Juan. However, Puerto Rico does have restrictions on pit bulls so we might need to explore other options. All of our moves are customized to fit the needs of our clients so we'd be happy to connect you with a consultant who can explore more of your options. If you'd like to take the next steps, please fill out our Arrange A Move form here. Thanks!

By Jaime on October 4, 2018 at 3:29 am

Hello! I’m looking to move my dogs from lax to This Big Island of Hawaii. One is a pitbull and is subject to several airline bans. What is the best way to get her and her non pitty sisters over to Hawaii?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 4, 2018 at 4:08 pm

Hi Jaime! Thanks for your question! In the past, we've moved pitbull mixes on Hawaiian Airlines & Aloha Air Cargo. If you need any assistance planning your pups' move to Hawaii, please fill out our arrange a move form and a consultant will be in touch with you shortly! Thanks!

By Lauren on October 2, 2018 at 9:03 am

Hello, I am trying to take my two American Staffordshire Terriers with me when I move to England. Though AmStaffs aren’t explicitly on their banned list, pit bulls are. I have also considered the Netherlands because they did not have a dog ban, but just found out about new legislation they enacted this year, and American Staffordshire Terriers make the list. I’m wondering if it is even possible to go anywhere with them? Can you travel through a country with a banned dog in your possession?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 5, 2018 at 10:55 am

Hi Lauren! According to Defra in the UK, if your dog matches many of the characteristics of a Pit Bull Terrier, it may be a banned type. A police or council dog expert will judge what type of dog you have and whether it is (or could be) a danger to the public. More information can be found here.

We are not familiar with any new legislation in The Netherlands regarding banned breeds. As far as we are aware, The Netherlands is one of the only countries in the EU without a ban on breeds. As far as "traveling through" countries - you can transit countries that have bans on pit bulls via airplane but cannot drive through countries with a banned breed. Hope this helps with your research!

By Lilian on September 20, 2018 at 4:07 pm

I'm moving from Houston, Tx USA to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have a Pit Bull puppy that will be around 6 months old when traveling. Argentina has no restrictions but I cannot find any airline to make him travel safe. Do you know one and costs?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 21, 2018 at 5:15 pm

Hi Lilian! Although the routing is not ideal, Lufthansa allows pit bull mixes to travel on their airline in a reinforced travel kennel. Most commercial airlines do have restrictions on pit bulls & pit bull mixes so this might be your best option. Otherwise it might be possible to take a cargo flight from MIA into EZE. If you'd like assistance arranging your pet's move, please fill out our Arrange A Move form and a consultant will reach out to you. Hope this helps!

By Kasey on August 3, 2018 at 12:59 pm

We are looking at purchasing a Cane Corso but I am worried that if we get stationed overseas (we are military) that he would not be able to come with us due to airline restrictions. The most likely places we would go are Germany, England or Japan. Is it possible that he’d be able to come with us. I don’t want to get a puppy that we cannot keep forever as it is just not fair to the dog. Thank you for any help/advice.

By Maegan at PetRelocation on August 6, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Hi Kasey! Cane Corsos are not specifically listed as a banned breed in Germany, England & Japan at this time. However, if a dog is brought into a country with breed restrictions such as Germany, England & Japan and resembles a breed listed on the banned breed list, it could be reported to the local authority. The dog could then be seized and/or quarantined at the owner's cost. A court appearance may be applicable and a possible fine. Unfortunately, many airlines classify Cane Corsos as a banned breed, so we are not able to assure you that your pup would be granted into these countries at a future time. In our experience, these regulations change frequently. Hope this helps!

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