Navigating Breed Specific Legislation when Traveling with Pit Bulls

Pit Bulls and Breed Specific LegislationWhat is Breed Specific Legislation and How Does it Affect Pet Travel?

If you pay much attention to news about dogs or pet travel, you may have heard the phrase “Breed Specific Legislation,” rules and regulations that place restrictions on Pit Bulls and other types of dogs from being imported into or living in a certain area of a country or city.

These laws are controversial to say the least, and they arose primarily due to oftentimes inaccurate beliefs about community safety as well as (some would say unbalanced) patterns of media coverage. Pit Bulls carry the stigma of being tough and aggressive, but many pet owners have Pit Bulls and other so-called “aggressive” breeds who are as sweet and loving as any other dog.  

Here at PetRelocation, we love all breeds (our CEO even has a Staffordshire Bull Terrier), but we often encounter hurdles when it comes to shipping certain kinds of dogs. Since we always try our best to stay on top of the latest rules and restrictions, feel free to contact us if you ever have any questions about a specific city or country's regulations when it comes to importing these breeds. 

For now, here are some tips on how to plan ahead if you're going to be traveling with a breed that is frequently discriminated against:

Research the Rules

Many countries have outright bans on the import of Pit Bulls, American Staffordshire Terriers, Cane Corsos and other types of dogs they view as “aggressive,” so it's important to do your research before traveling or undertaking a pet move.

For example, Denmark and parts of Canada currently do not allow Pit Bull type breeds. To research whether your destination is affected by breed specific legislation, start with this comprehensive breed specific legislation Wikipedia page and/or check the country of import's agriculture and veterinary ministry page.

You can usually find this by searching for the name of the country and the word “agriculture” until you find the governing website for the country's ministry of agriculture (sometimes called a department of agriculture). This is typically the department that oversees the import and export of live animals, including pets.  

If the country has breed specific legislation, they should state it on their pet import requirements page.

Seek out Possible Exemptions

Look for ways to find exemptions to breed specific legislation.  For example, Switzerland has a ban on dogs with cropped ears or tails, however will allow them to be imported if their owners can provide a signed letter stating they are moving there for work purposes. Also, Pit Bulls are not actually a breed, but rather a type of dog often identified by a broad set of physical characteristics, which can lead to inconsistencies in treatment and rule enforcement. Many countries that ban Pit Bulls will accept the dog if a DNA test is done in advance to show that the dog does not have a high percentage of Pit Bull terrier.

Double Check the Airline Rules

In addition to country restrictions, there are airline rules to consider, as well. These change fairly frequently and often depend on the time of year (due to temperature restrictions) so it's best to double check with your airline before you book your own flight or your pet's.

Think Ahead and Find Housing

Consider your pet's quality of life after the move. Many times owners of Pit Bulls and other frequently banned breeds can also have trouble finding housing that will accept these types of dogs. Also, several countries require breeds they view as being aggressive to wear muzzles when in public spaces. 

The Future of Breed Specific Legislation

While breed specific legislation can be frustrating and unfair, the unfortunate fact is that many people wanting to move or travel with their dogs will have to comply with these rules and regulations. In the meantime, educating others on alternatives is the best way to create progress in helping all our four-legged friends live equally. The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes BSL, as do several other official institutions like Best Friends Animal Society.  Here's what the AVMA had to say in an op-ed:

“A dog of any breed can become dangerous when bred or trained to be aggressive,” Dr. Jeffrey Sacks, epidemiologist for the CDC, said. “Fatal attacks represent only a very small proportion of dog bite injuries and shouldn't be the primary factor driving public policy regarding dangerous dogs.” The AVMA's dog bite prevention campaign continues to inform the public about techniques for avoiding dog bites, and to promote responsible pet ownership. Breeds don't need to be banned, but dog owners' irresponsible behavior should be.


Do you disagree with breed specific legislation? Many organizations are working on fighting these laws. Read a state by state run-down of BSL and learn about what you can do to help overturn legislation in your area.

If you have a Pit, a Staffie or another breed that tends to be discriminated against and are planning an international pet move in the future, let us know if you need any assistance—we're always happy to help in whatever way we can in order to keep these great dogs out of shelters and in their loving homes where they belong!


(Photo credit: Jason Bacon/Flickr.)


PetRelocation Team


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By Kay on July 27, 2018 at 3:16 pm

Hi ! I am going to be traveling to New York from Florida with my American Stafford Terrier that's 3 years old and is 40 pounds. I am only going from Friday-Monday with her. She will be driving with us up there. She is registered and updated with vaccines. Would it be safe to travel with her?

By kay on July 27, 2018 at 3:17 pm

I googled if pits are allowed and I see that they are banned. It just makes me nervous. I just want to make sure it's legal to have her there.

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 30, 2018 at 9:38 am

Hi Kay! It is illegal in Miami-Dade County to own or keep American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or any other dog that substantially conforms to any of these breeds' characteristics. For more information, view the Miami-Dade County ordinance, Chapter 5, Sec. 5-17. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news & hope this helps!

By Miaumix on July 18, 2018 at 10:41 am

Hello, Im confused .. are new pitbulls allowed in Montreal or not ? Im looking to fly in my dog from south america but there are mixed news , they dropped the ban and then they picked it up again and then the new bylaw not sure when will it take place.. any one have clear information on this?

By john zolis on July 27, 2018 at 4:49 pm

Even the Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said he will amend Bill 128 to remove references to specific types of dogs, telling reporters there isn't enough scientific consensus to warrant targeting pit bull-type dogs, Rottweilers and crosses between the two.So having V. Plante elected as Montreal Mayor has caused even Coiteux to backtrack against targeting pits

By john zolis on July 20, 2018 at 4:22 am

Valérie Plante of Projet Montréal the new mayor repealed BSL as per her platform

By Sarah on July 14, 2018 at 8:35 pm

Hi, I recently adopted a rescue whose paperwork indicates “hound/boxer mix”. She clearly has some American Staffordshire Terrier traits. I asked my vet about taking her on vacation with me to Canada (out in the middle of nowhere in Ontario) at the time not realizing the extent of the regulations and she told me that she takes her dogs (pit mixes) all the time and that unless I’m going into Toronto I don’t need to worry. I am now reading about the Ontario Pit Bull ban and rethinking taking her. I have 2 questions: 1-would customs stop me from bringing her in or is the concern once I have entered Ontario? 2-since I don’t have time for a DNA test in her, is any of her other paperwork sufficient? 3-the regulations aren’t really clear what would happen, will they fine me, take her. I don’t want her to be at any risk.

By john zolis on July 20, 2018 at 4:21 am

I moved from Ontario in 2005 for my dogs - To Calgary Alberta the best place in Canada for our breed - Via the Calgary model -I flew into Hamilton and Toronto with my two I wasn't bothered I also had vet stating otherwise if they did -

By Sarah on July 20, 2018 at 5:44 am

I would actually be crossing the boarder from Buffalo into Ontario, driving up through Toronto.

By John Smith on July 21, 2018 at 12:52 pm

I moved from Quebec City to Texas with our American Stafforshire, I drove south from Quebec City them drove across the New York state to avoid Ontario, we actually slept in Buffalo on our first night.That was 2 years ago, but I would assume nothing changed on Ontario's draconian BSL that would even prohibit FLYING over the province with an "pit bull alike" dog.I would avoid Ontario completely and check every city you'd like to visit in other provinces, for instance, Quebec City didn't have BSL, but Lévis, just across the bridge have them.Good luck!

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 16, 2018 at 10:05 am

Hi Sarah! You are correct, there is a ban on pit bulls. These are banned in the province of Ontario and in Montreal, Quebec. Based on our experience, they will detain pups that resemble a banned breed - the ban is not based on what breed is listed on the paperwork. We believe as long as you are not crossing the border or flying into a hub where a ban exists, your pup should be fine for entry. Transiting through Toronto is allowed if the pet remains on airport grounds. Hope this helps!

By john zolis on July 20, 2018 at 4:17 am

Montreal repealed the short lived ban now that the new sensible mayor has replaced coderre and Quebec has taken breed out of the "proposed" bill 128 If your going to post - post FACTS Furthermore the new Government in Ontario is planing a repeal which will only leave Winnipeg - Chateauguay Quebec and Prince George also repealed Just as south of the boarder Delaware became the 21st state to outlaw BSL Libby euclid, mansfield, lakewood have all repealed in recent months -The trend is BSL is a failure and is being repealed at record rates - the world over Spain Italy also both repealed

By Tiara on July 14, 2018 at 6:25 pm

we moving to france and we have an american pit bull terrier. he is the most friendliest dog. can we take him with us or is there a banned against them? we cant leave him behind.. Please Help!!

By Tiara on July 14, 2018 at 6:27 pm

we are moving to France*

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 16, 2018 at 9:59 am

Hi Tiara! From what we understand, the only way to import a pit bull into France is by showing your pet is AKC Registered as a "pure bred" Pit Bull Terrier. If you do not have this paperwork, you are not able to import your pet into France. Please let us know if we can be of assistance!

By Tiara on July 16, 2018 at 1:30 pm

How can we do that? I looked it up and they don’t have American Pit Bull Terrier. They only have American Staffordshire and Staffordshire.

By JB on September 13, 2018 at 9:19 am

Just so people have the information. Even though an American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier look like different breeds, DNA wise, they are the exact same. If your dog is a purebred, the DNA test will come back saying your APBT is actually an AMSTAFF for either of the two breeds.When we had our APBT tested (make sure to do a blood test and not a saliva test) she came back as mostly AMSTAFF with one grandparent as Boxer. She looks purebred, but being that she had Boxer in there, even at a very small percentage, it was enough to consider her a mix breed.

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 20, 2018 at 12:32 pm

From what we understand, you will only have this paperwork if your pup is a pure-bred and was purchased from a breeder (the breeder would provide you with lineage). I'm sorry the rules are so restricting and gray in some areas! If we can be of assistance in any other way, feel free to contact us directly.

By Doran on July 13, 2018 at 12:21 pm

Hi, I'm looking to Move to Munich, Germany from the UK with work. I have a Staffordshire bull terrier cross (believe lab) and am nervous about my dog being banned. Where is best to find out and are there any means of proving my dog is not dangerous and ok to move to Germany? Many thanks.

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 16, 2018 at 11:16 am

Hi Doran! Unfortunately, Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bull Terriers are all banned in Germany. You can inquire directly with local companies in Germany for specifics. Feel free to search this site of reputable pet shippers in Germany. Hope this helps!

By Lynn T on July 12, 2018 at 7:48 pm

Hello, We are moving to Arizona from Alaska with our pit bull and will be driving and entering through British Columbia. Is this province part of the pit ban in Canada? Please help, we cant leave her behind.

By john zolis on July 20, 2018 at 4:28 am

The only place is the city Winnipeg in Manitoba and the province of Ontario everywhere else is intelligent and not unscientific I hear the new Ontario government is repealing but I won't hold my breath

By Kyla Mandrella on July 13, 2018 at 7:55 am

No it's not! I live in BC and there are no pitbull bans. You'll be fine in BC

By Lynne on July 2, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Hi, we relocated to Dubai 3 years ago with our staffordshire bull terrier - and we are thinking of heading home back to the uk next year. We had no problems on exporting our staffie but now I beleive the uk government maybe adding the staffordshire bull terrier to the dangerous dogs list - does this mean well not be able to get her back into the uk if this goes ahead?

By p on July 24, 2018 at 7:57 am

staffies are definitely NOT being added to the BSL list in the uk

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 3, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Hi Lynne! We have not heard any specific changes to the UK Rules & Requirements but you'd want to check with Defra for specific questions here. Hope this helps!

By Kyla on June 29, 2018 at 10:43 am

Hello, I'm planning a move with my bull mastiff/terrier cross to Plano texas for work. I wanted to drive down from Vancouver canada. Will I have any issues traveling with her? Shes up to date on all vaccines

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 3, 2018 at 10:57 am

Hi Kyla! As far as we are aware, there are no specific restrictions for bull mastiff/terrier crosses relocating to the US via car. The US just advises all pets up to date on vaccines. Hope this helps!

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