Dog Breeds That Are Not Allowed on Airlines

Picture of a woman in blue coat holding a dog

If you do any amount of travelling, you likely want your pooch to tag along with you from time to time. Airline travel is among the simplest ways to get around, and most airlines are only too willing to allow your furry friend to join you on your holiday. Rates for travelling in the cabin for dogs who are small enough to fit under a seat are extremely reasonable, and there are very few regulations you must comply with in order to be eligible to bring your pup along to fly the friendly skies. For larger dogs who are too big for in cabin travel, cargo is an option. The ability to bring your dog along on an airplane has opened up opportunities for families looking to vacation with Fido. No longer do you have to find a kennel or babysitter willing to take care of your best canine pal while the rest of the family jets off on an adventure. Fido is more than welcome to tag along! However, in recent years, airlines have placed restrictions upon what types of dogs they will allow on flights. What dog breeds are not permitted on airlines and why?

Why Do Airlines Have a List of “banned from Airline Travel” Breeds?

Though in some cases Breed Specific Legislation has played a role in the decisions of major airlines as to what breeds they will no longer accept for travel, it is not always the case. Most certainly, since it is illegal for breeds who are banned in certain cities, states, and countries to even travel in air space over those areas, it is practical for airlines to refuse to transport those breeds to avoid any run-ins with the law. However, Breed Specific Legislation is only one reason as to why certain dog breeds are not eligible for travel on many airlines.

Here Is a List of the Most Common Breeds Who Are Not Permitted Transportation on Most Major Airlines:

  • Affenpinscher
  • American Bully
  • American Pit Bull Terrier/Pit Bull
  • American Staffordshire Terrier/”Amstaff”
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog (American, French, or English)
  • Old English Bulldogges
  • Shorty Bulldogs
  • Spanish Alano/Spanish Bulldog/Alano Espanol
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chow Chow
  • English Toy Spaniel/Prince Charles Spaniel
  • Japanese Chin/Japanese Spaniel
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Mastiff (American, South African, BullMastiff, Mallorquin Mastiff)
  • Cane Corso/Italian Mastiff
  • Dogo Argentino/Argentinian Mastiff
  • Dogue de Bordeaux/French Mastiff
  • English Mastiff
  • Fila Brasileiro/Brazilian Mastiff/Cao de Fila
  • Indian Mastiff/Alangu
  • Kangal/Turkish Kangal
  • Neapolitan Mastiff/Mastino Napoletano
  • Pakastani Mastiff/Bully Kutta
  • Pyrenean Mastiff
  • Presa Canario/Perro de Presa Canario/Dogo Canario/Canary Mastiff
  • Spanish Mastiff / Mastin Espanol
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Tosa/Tosa Ken/Tosa Inu/Japanese Mastiff/Japanese Tosa
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Shar-Pei/Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Shih-Tzu
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier/”Staffies”
  • Tibetan Spaniel
  • Bull Terriers
  • “Pit bull type dogs”
  • “Strong jawed dogs”

A quick glance at the list of breeds who are no longer welcome to fly the friendly skies can leave many people scratching their heads. However, there are some common denominators.

It has long been airline policy to refuse transportation services to breeds who are considered brachycephalic such as the French Bulldog, the Affenpinscher, and even the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

What Is a Brachycephalic Breed?

The word “brachycephalic” most typically means “shortened head.” In reference to a dog, it is used to typify breeds which have short muzzles and noses which would appear to be “pushed in.” These types of breeds can be prone to breathing problems, making them a higher risk for flights in cargo. Though in past years, brachycephalic breeds were welcomed into the cabin portions of airline carriers, they are no longer approved for transportation by air with most major airlines. This, of course, is due to the potential health risks associated with flying a breed that is known to struggle with breathing difficulties. It is considered a safety issue.

Do Brachycephalic Breeds Have Problems That Would Make Flying Difficult for Them?

Dogs with flattened faces such as the Pug, Bulldog, or Shih Tzu do have physical limitations which could make flying risky for them. Due to their smaller nasal passages, brachycephalic breeds will often exhibit signs of breathing challenges including snoring and loud breathing.

This type of facial structure makes dogs who possess it more likely to succumb to a condition known as brachycephalic airway syndrome. The most common physical problems which contribute to this disease include:

  • Small nostrils which restrict free air flow for proper breathing
  • An elongated soft palate causing tracheal blockage
  • A narrowing of the trachea
  • Laryngeal sacs which become enlarged

Any or all of these symptoms do interfere with proper breathing and can also increase the likelihood of gagging. With these things in mind, it is understandable that airlines want to err on the side of caution by prohibiting travel for breeds who may be more likely to experience ill effects due to their particular conformation. Deaths have occurred, and when that happens, it is bad for the airline, and particularly bad for the families affected. The approach seems to be it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to brachycephalic breeds and airline travel.

What about the “Bully Breeds?”

Breed Specific Legislation is to blame for airline restrictions concerning dog breeds such as the American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier. However, airlines have now expanded their lists to include dogs who resemble “pit bull type dogs” in appearance as well as breeds who are considered to have “strong jaws.” Several airlines have cited bite incidents which have caused them to tighten up restrictions and widen the circle of their breeds banned from flights.

Yet some breeds make the list for seemingly no reason at all. Though Bull Terriers do not display the same physical characteristics as brachycephalic breeds and are also not a breed that is known for aggressive tendencies, they still managed to make the list of breeds not suitable for flying.

Sadly, little can be done if you happen to own one of these breeds and hope to travel with Fido to a destination in the world that you can only get to by plane. For the most part, these rules were put in place to protect your dogs or simply because airlines were mandated by regional laws which prohibited certain breed types from entering the area, even when only passing over it by air.

If you were hoping to take a vacation with your favorite four-legged friend and find Fido made the airlines “least wanted” list, why not take an adventure by car instead? It could be just what the doctor ordered!



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