Flying with snub-nosed dogs? Easy tips that make travel a breeze!

Published by Wil on

flying with a snub nosed dogs

Flying with Snub-nosed dogs? Not sure where to start or what’s the process? 

This article answers everything you need to know when traveling with brachycephalic dog breeds!

Why would airlines ban some of America’s most popular Snub-nosed dogs breeds? Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boxers are just a few of the breeds included in major airlines’ new “breed embargos”. As it turns out, these breeds all have short snouts. This can put them at greater risk when flying. Read more to learn about why these dogs are banned from some flights, what you need to fly with your dog, and how to prepare your pup for a safe flight.

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short-nosed dog breeds banned from flights

What are snub-nosed dogs?

A snub-nosed dogs is a canine whose snout is less than half the length of its head. Snub-nosed dogs can also be described as brachycephalic. Brachycephalic literally means short-headed. Brachycephalic dog breeds have been selectively bred over the years to have shorter snouts for aesthetic purposes.

What are some examples of brachycephalic dog breeds?

Brachycephalic dog breeds include

  • Pugs
  • Boxers
  • Chihuahuas
  • Pekingese,
  • French, American, and English Bulldogs
  • Boston Terriers
  • Shit-Tzus
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Mastiffs.

What is brachycephalic airway syndrome?

Brachycephalic airway syndrome describes a set of symptoms caused by the altered facial bone structure of brachycephalic dog breeds. These changes in bone structure also change the functioning of the dog’s airways. Breeds like bulldogs are known to make all sorts of snorting and grunting sounds when breathing. While adorable, they actually do this because their respiratory system has narrower nostrils and a host of other issues that make breathing difficult. Dog breathing problems Read more about Brachycephalic dog breeds here!  

Are snub-nosed dogs banned from flying by some airlines?

Many airlines have banned snub-nosed dogs from flying in the cargo hold in recent years. Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Japan Airlines, and American Airlines have all enacted “breed embargos” prohibiting the flight of brachycephalic dogs and cats. Airlines where snub-nosed dogs have not been banned outright often have strict restrictions as to when brachycephalic dog breeds can travel. These restrictions are usually dependent on the season or the temperature. Most airlines will not fly these breeds in extreme heat or during the summer months.

Why are short-nosed dog breeds banned from flights?short snout dog breeds

Airlines have banned snub-nosed dogs because respiratory issues caused by their short snouts can be exacerbated by air travel.  Short-nosed dog breeds are especially affected by the less-than-ideal conditions involved with flying on an airplane. In fact, from 2005-2011, half of the pet deaths on commercial flights were in brachycephalic dog breeds.

Can snub-nosed dogs fly on an airplane?

Snub-nosed dogs can fly on an airplane, as long as special precautions are taken to ensure their safety and comfort. There are still airlines that allow brachycephalic dog breeds to travel in the cargo hold. Additionally, snub-nosed dogs can usually travel in the cabin, even if in airlines where they are banned in cargo. So, if your dog is on the smaller side they can fly in the cabin with you. This is the safest way for these dogs to travel.

Can I buy my dog a seat on the plane?      

Sadly, airlines do not allow this, and the only dogs that can travel in the cabin must be on the smaller side. If you’re willing to do this, your next best bet would be booking your pet a flight on a private airline that specializes in transporting dogs and cats. These companies are often better equipped to ensure the safety of brachycephalic dog breeds since pets are their only customers! While these airlines are pricey, they are the best option for pets who need to fly and can’t travel in the cabin.

Can my dog fly under the seat with me?

This depends on the policies of specific airlines. However, general FAA requirements state that the dog must be small enough to fit under the seat. Additionally, your dog must be well-behaved. Most policies also state that your dog should not disturb other passengers. So, Fido might need some training before he gets to become a world traveler. Be aware that there are often fees associated with flying your dog in the cabin, which can be $100 or more. Additionally, most flights have a limited amount of dogs allowed on board, so make sure to book your seat early! That way, you’ll avoid having to take a different flight simply because the maximum number of dogs allowed had already been reached.

Are there strict rules for dogs traveling in the cabin? flying with dogs

Almost all airlines require that your pet stays in their traveling crate for the entire time that they are on the plane. Check with the airline to see their policies on carrier requirements for dogs in the cabin. The rules are usually different from those for dogs traveling in cargo holds. Oftentimes, you can get away with a soft-sided carrier, which will likely be more comfortable for your dog and easier for you to move. Even though the rules vary from airline to airline, the crate will at least need to be large enough that the dog can easily sit, stand up fully, and lie flat. Here is a Delta approved soft-sided carrier that is cheap and will be allowed in the cabin.

Airlines enforce rules against dogs roaming freely throughout the cabin Best harness for pug

Again, almost all airlines will not allow your dog to walk around inside the cabin. One option to consider is to walk your dog in the airport prior to boarding the airplane. As long as your pooch is attached to a leash and harness there shouldn’t be a problem. Walking your dog in the airport will allow your dog to familiarized with the sounds, smells and basic setup of an airplane cabin. Here’s a great article about proper uses of a dog harness when you own a brachycephalic dog breeds

What are the dangers that short-nosed dog breeds encounter when flying?


The main danger that short-nosed dogs breeds face when flying is overheating, which can be fatal. Dogs don’t have sweat glands as humans do, so they regulate their temperature by panting. However, short-nosed dogs breeds have trouble cooling down this way because they can’t breathe as well. The cargo carrier is climate controlled when the plane is in the air. However, dogs can be exposed to extreme temperatures before takeoff, after landing, and during layovers.


Short-nosed dogs breeds also have a tough time dealing with stress. When these dogs panic, they have trouble getting enough oxygen. In severe cases of dogs with preexisting respiratory problems, panicking could cause their larynx to collapse. This isn’t always fatal, but it can be. The cargo hold of a plane is a stressful place, with many new dogs, people, sights, and sounds. So, it’s important to take that into account when flying with your pooch.

Is altitude a problem for dogs with short snouts?

While snub-nosed dogs can get altitude sickness, this isn’t a major concern when flying with dogs. The plane is pressurized, even in the cargo hold. So, they shouldn’t see any ill effects from the altitude. Though many snub-nosed dogs fly without serious incidents, the fact remains brachycephalic breeds are more likely to die on an airplane compared to other dog breeds. This is due to their poor raspatory structure which causes breathing issues.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association snub-nosed dogs (brachycephalic dog breeds) are highly prone to respiratory hitches even under typical conditions. “They don’t breathe as efficiently as dogs with normal-length snouts and can have difficulty cooling off when they’re playing or exercising, or if they’re stressed or overheated.” AVMA spokesman said.

What is airline approved dog crates? 

An airline approved dog crate is a four-sided rectangular shaped well-ventilated housing container used to transport pets such as dogs, cats, and other small four-legged mammals.

There are two types of Dog Carriers

airline approved dog crate Again, when you select a carrier or crate, first make sure it is airline approved. There are multiple crate options to choose from generally airlines accept one of two. The two most common airline approved crates are the hard-plastic crates and soft-sided carriers. suggest using the hard-plastic crates over the soft-sided one when your dog is traveling in cargo. The hard-plastic carries offer your canine more protection while in the cargo area. Another benefit of regulated hard crates is they are easier to find online and there are more options available out there. airline approved pet carrier Again, this is the best option and highly recommended if your dog is traveling as cargo. A high percentage of airlines companies will NOT allow your pets to travel in cargo if they’re in a soft crate. So, keep that in mind when traveling with larger dogs. You’ll rest easy knowing your pet is in a superior and protected quarters.

When it comes to your smaller dogs like pugs and french bulldogs, there is a lot more flexibility. You can board the cabin area with small dogs with the option of a small hard crate or a soft-sided one. Your best bet may be a soft crate. Softer crates will offer maximum comfort for your pet, lightweight and easier to move around in tight aisle of an airplane’s cabin. Be sure to read over your airline’s policies for any specific requirements they may have for traveling with pets. The video below is a tutorial on how to use soft-sided dog crates.

What makes a crate airline approved?


Airline approved pet carriers must be large enough for dogs to comfortably stand, lie down, and turn around without their head touching the top of the carrier. Specific sizing requirements vary from airline to airline.

A note for brachycephalic dog breeds

Many airlines require that short-nosed dog breeds travel in a crate that is at least one size up from the size that you would normally purchase.

Metal hardware

Many dog crates come with plastic screws or other hardware to keep them together. However, the IATA specifies that an airline approved dog crate must have metal hardware. This is so the crate is more durable.

A leak-proof floor

The floor of the crate has to be leak proof and solid. In the event, your pet has an accident it doesn’t get all over the place. Airlines are in the business of air transport and not mopping duties. So, no wire crates allowed. As long as your crate has a solid base, you should be fine.

Absorbent bedding

Drymate Dog Crate MatAirline approved pet carriers are required to have a layer of Drymate Dog Crate Mat, such as a pee pad or towel. The extra protective layer absorbs wetness and prevents liquid from settling in pet crate eliminating urine pool. This requirement is in place to promote a clean and sanitary environment for pets during travel.


Forklift risers

If your dog and crate weigh over 132 pounds, the crate must include specially designed holds that allow forklifts to move them. If they are lighter than that, the crate has to have a handle so that it can be carried easily.

Water and food bowls

Yussenpet cage feeder bowlWater and food bowls are required for airline travel. Airline personnel must be able to refill them without opening the door. There are many bowls on the market that attach to the crate door, and small funnels can be attached to the outside of the crate if you are concerned about accessibility.


Adequate ventilation

Crates are required to have ventilation on two sides for domestic flights, or four sides for international flights. The ventilation holes must not be covered, taped or blocked by anything that obstructs airflow into the pet crate. If your dog crate does not meet the requirements it WILL NOT BE permitted on the airplane.


Think twice about the materials that your dog crate is made out of. Even though wood is an acceptable material on domestic flights, some countries ban different natural materials for biosecurity reasons. So, read up on where you’re traveling to make sure that your pet will be transported in a crate that is safe, comfortable, and legal.

Proper labeling

Crates are required to have a “live animal” sticker as well as a sheet detailing the animal’s care information en route. Check with the airline you’ll be flying with to see exactly what they require.

Are airline approved pet carriers well ventilated for snub-nosed dogs?

The amount of ventilation varies greatly from carrier to carrier. So, it is important to shop around to look for the carrier that has the maximum amount of ventilation in order to keep your pup breathing easily. Look for grates on the sides of the carrier, and compare the width and height of vents. The more airflow, the better.

Is it safe to sedate short snout dog breeds in high altitude? preparing dog for high altitude

Almost all vets discourage sedating a pet when flying, and short snout dog breeds are liable to react the worst. However, if your dog has severe problems with anxiety and your veterinarian prescribes them, they should give you instructions detailing how to keep your pet safe during the flight.

What could go wrong?

Heart and breathing problems

Sedatives combined with high altitudes can stress the heart and respiratory system, which is bad news for snub-nosed dogs who already have trouble breathing. So, sedating brachycephalic dog breeds is not recommended. You don’t want to replace the dog’s added breathing difficulties due to stress with the medically-induced breathing difficulties caused by sedation.


Sedatives or tranquilizers make it more difficult for your dog to maintain their balance. This means they could fall and get injured during takeoff or landing, or when their crate is moved from the cargo warehouse to the plane. So, sedation could actually cause the dog to be at greater risk for injury than if they were not tranquilized.

If something were to happen to my dog during air travel, is the airline be responsible?

There are no real regulations that hold airlines accountable for the injury or death of a pet traveling in the cargo hold. Therefore, it is largely the airline’s discretion as to how to compensate for the harm that comes to an animal in their care.

Do I have to sign a waiver before air travel with a dog short-nosed?

Most airlines don’t require a great deal of paperwork before boarding your pet. However, policies are changing and will vary from airline to airline. Some will require a certificate of good health from your vet, and some are beginning to require currents immunization histories.

Are airlines getting safer for brachycephalic dog breeds?

Pet deaths on board have prompted some airlines to take greater caution with the care of pets. One example of this is United Airline’s Pet Safe program, which implemented stricter protocols for the care of animals on board. However, even with these added measures, pets are still cargo. Therefore, they are liable to be exposed to outdoor temperatures and noisy conditions that cause stress. Additionally, even United Airline’s Pet Safe program does not allow brachycephalic dog breeds.

The main result of the deaths and the subsequent banning of snub-nosed dogs on flights is an increase in the popularity of alternatives to transporting pets in the cargo hold of commercial flights. An example of this is private “pet” airlines that specialize in transporting animals. Additionally, there is an increased demand for companies who ship pets on the road, which many view as a safer alternative to air travel.           `

When traveling with brachycephalic dog breeds, what precautions can be taken to assure their safety?

Before the Flight

Book a direct flight

If at all possible, book a direct flight or the flight with the fewest layovers. You want to minimize the amount of time that your dog is flying so that they’re at the least risk possible

Consider temperature

Try to keep the temperature as mild as possible when traveling with brachycephalic dog breeds. Try to book a flight without long layovers that will leave your dog out on the tarmac in the extreme temperatures. In summer, try to avoid flights in the middle of the day when the sun is the hottest. In the winter, do the opposite and try to fly during the day when it’s warmer and sunny.

Fly private

As previously mentioned, there are airlines with private jets that specialize in transporting pets. This is often a safer alternative to flying commercial, as there are trained animal-care staff on board who will likely have a protocol for brachycephalic dog breeds. However, these are private jets, so they will

Research the airline’s policies

It’s important to know the ins and outs of the airline’s policies on dogs in order to make sure that you and your dog will be all set to fly on the day of your flight. It would be a shame to have a missing piece of paperwork leave your dog stranded in the airport. So, before the big day, read up on the airline’s requirements for travel. Large dogs traveling in cargo will often need to be loaded in in a different location in the airport a few hours before you board. Find out where that is and what time you should get there. Be sure to ask where the cargo pick up is when you land, as well. If you know where to go, you can get your dog out of the stressful environment of the airport as quickly as possible.

Make the crate their home away from home 

home away from home

Get a bigger crate

It’s a good idea to give your pooch a little room, and most airlines require that you order at least a size up when buying an airline approved pet carrier for your brachycephalic friend. Even though it’s a bit more pricey, the extra space will give your snub-nosed dog more ventilation. This will help prevent overheating.

Desensitize them to the crate                         

You can minimize stress by introducing your pup to their airline approved dog crate before the flight. This way, they’re not sent across the country in an unfamiliar enclosure. When you’re at home, let your pet explore the crate. Put their favorite treats inside so they know the crate is a fun, safe place.

Choose safety over comfort

It’s natural to assume that a fluffy blanket will create the most comfortable environment when flying with dogs. However, it’s safer for short-snout dog breeds to travel with a thin towel or newspaper. That way, they stay cooler.

Provide identification

Be sure to label the crate with the required “live animals” sticker and include information clearly stating your information and care instructions. This will ensure that no time is wasted with confusion as to where your dog is supposed to be.

Keep them healthy

Consider surgery

If your pet suffers from brachycephalic airway syndrome and you’ve been considering surgery, make an effort to fly after the procedure. The surgery will open your snub-nosed dog’s nasal passages and make them more comfortable overall. Be sure to leave enough time for rest and recovery following the surgery.

Put them on a diet

Dogs with brachycephalic airway syndrome have a tougher time breathing when they’re overweight. So, to prep your pooch for their journey, make sure you get them down to a healthy weight. Ask your vet what they recommend for ideal weight and tricks to help your dog slim down. Consider switching to a lower calorie food formulated for weight loss and limit treats and table scraps.

Hydration, hydration, hydration

It’s a good idea to freeze a large bowl of water the night before the flight so your dog can have guaranteed access to water in their crate without having to worry about spilling. This will keep them hydrated and help them to cool down. Some people like to freeze plastic water bottles then cut holes in them and put them in the crate so they have something cool to lie against and another source of water. However, consider that this could bang around in the crate when it’s moved.

Schedule amenities

If you’re on a long flight with your dog in the cabin, they may become more stressed when they need to use the bathroom. If laying over, research whether the airport has a specific area where dogs can relieve themselves. Say it doesn’t, schedule time to go outside with your pooch and reenter the airport before your next flight leaves.

Visit the Vet

Many airlines require that you get a certificate of good health from your pet’s veterinarian stating that your dog is fit to travel. However, this is even more important for brachycephalic dog breeds. It is key to be extra cautious when preparing to fly with these dogs, which means you should schedule a full checkup before the flight.

Flying with snub-nosed breeds

As you can see, flying with some of America’s most popular snub-nosed dogs can take a great deal of time and preparation. Short-snouted dogs do face definite risks when flying. However, if you’re careful, you can make traveling as safe and stress-free as possible for your furry friend. short nosed dog breeds

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P.S. don’t forget to check out my newest article Clear tick infested dog in 10 minutes.

Products featured in this article

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  • Instantly watch thousands of movies and TV episodes
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  • Borrow Kindle books
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Bark & Gold Photography · February 1, 2019 at 1:47 pm

Wil, great article! You’ve provided a lot of thorough and practical information on keeping these little smoosh-faced fur babies safe.

    Wil · February 6, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Hi Jessica,
    Thank you for your positive feedback! I enjoy reading your content as well, maybe in the near future we can work together on a couple of articles and provide our audiences with great guest content. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything!


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