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 Lenarie on March 10, 2017 at 3:54 pm

I have a question i have a pitbull want to find out if he can travel with me to Puerto Rico in the cargo wat is it that I need

By Rene on June 18, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Hi me and mi dog what to travel from Miami USA. To Costa Rica San Jose for two weeks then fly to Guadalajara Mexico final destination! All in same flights and in cargo with non stops And mi dog is American Stafford shire terrier! Can it b possible?

By David J Velders on January 10, 2018 at 10:28 am

Hi my name is david i have a ? I want to send a puppy to my friend in canda from fl but its staffordshier bull terrier but its 8 weeks old what im asking is what do i halft to do in order to send the puppy to her

By on January 10, 2018 at 5:28 pm

Hi David, and thanks for your question!

Many airlines with breed restrictions have exceptions for dogs of these breeds if they are under a certain age. The minimum age for importing a dog into Canada is 16 weeks. You can read more about the requirements for bringing a pet into Canada here.

Here are some resources that will help with booking a flight for your pet:

How to book a flight on Lufthansa for your pet
How to book United Airlines pet travel
How to book a flight on KLM Airlines for your pet

Hope this helps!

By on June 19, 2017 at 9:18 am

Hi Rene, thanks for your inquiry!

Flying to Costa Rica and then Mexico will mean completing all the paperwork for both countries and also visiting a vet while in Costa Rica to obtain the airline health certificate (which must be issued within 10 days of travel). Please read over the import requirements here and here.

Honestly we recommend considering sending your dog on just one trip rather than two -- it makes sense to plan a move for a permanent relocation, but your two week stop in San Jose will make the trip much more complicated and expensive.

It's up to you, of course, and we'd be happy to discuss your options with you if you'd like. Note also that since you have an American Staffordshire Terrier, you'll want to double check with the airline to find out what the rules are, as you'll probably need a reinforced travel crate to fly.

Hope this helps! Just let us know if we can be of assistance.


By rachel on July 14, 2017 at 4:19 pm

hi, i want to take my english bulldog to costa rica but i cant find an airline that can take him, is there any airline that can take him?

By on November 6, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Hello Rachel, 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!

Add a Comment

Name is required

Email is required and must be in the format

Comment is required

Back to top