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


Air Travel, Airlines, Ask the Experts





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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!

By Ashley on June 22, 2018 at 3:31 pm

We are looking to move our dog from Oregon to North Carolina. It seems every airline I look at has a breed restrictions against pitbulls. Are there any that she can fly on?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on June 25, 2018 at 9:48 am

Hi Ashley! Unfortunately since United ceased their program that allowed pit bulls to travel, air transport is limited for pit bulls traveling domestically. Ground transportation for your pup is likely the best pet safe option. Feel free to check out our resources here and if we can be of assistance arranging ground transportation for your pup, please fill out our Arrange A Move form. Thank you!

By Robyn on June 14, 2018 at 2:50 pm

My partner has recently secured a job in the British Virgin Islands and we are planning to try to relocate from the U.K. we have the softest little rescue staffy that we want to bring with us but I’m having difficulty finding any information on whether he’s allowed, and on whether he’s okay to be in transit through the USVI to get there. As it’s a British overseas territory is it the same laws as the U.K. or will he be seized at customs?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on June 25, 2018 at 9:45 am

Hi Robyn! We are not aware of any specific breed restrictions, but you'll want to check with The Government of Virgin Islands for additional information on import requirements. Hope this helps!

By Susan on May 12, 2018 at 12:43 pm

We have two pit bull mixes. We rescued them in California and travelled when they were pups to Italy. There europeon passports just say they are mixed ( mitici). It does not specify their part pit and you can tell they are mixed with something else. We are moving from Italy back to California and we need them to fly with us. What’s the best ay to do that? If we fly Lufthansa and have a quick connecting flight out of Germany , can we just pass through? What do you suggest

By Maegan at PetRelocation on May 16, 2018 at 1:42 pm

Hi Susan! Although Germany has a ban on pit bull mixes, pit bull mixes are allowed to transit Frankfurt's Animal Lounge if on Lufthansa Airlines. However, Lufthansa does have breed restrictions for pit bulls. They require pit bull mixes to fly in reinforced (CR 82) travel kennels. Please know that currently, KLM does not have breed restrictions for pit bulls, which could save you some costs in purchasing a reinforced kennel. Here is our DIY Booking Guide for additional airline information. Make sure you also check out the requirements for importing pets to the US before entering the country. Hope this helps!

By Monique H. on May 1, 2018 at 7:47 am

My husband and I may be moving to Germany with the Army and we would want to bring along our two dogs, one of which is half American Staffordshire terrier. We did not know this when we adopted her and all our vet records say that she is a "hound mix." How can I know whether she will be let into Germany? Will it go by looks, and if so, is there anyone I can contact beforehand to find out whether she would pass or not? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

By Maegan at PetRelocation on May 1, 2018 at 5:15 pm

Hi Monique! Unfortunately, the way we understand the rules, for importation of pit bull mixes into Germany is prohibited. However, we have heard that it does vary from city to city depending on the ordinance. Our best suggestion to you would be to check with the military base on the procedures, as they likely have the best resources for who you can contact locally. Hope this is has been of some assistance!

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