Many of us love going on adventures with our dogs. But if you own a brachycephalic breed like Bulldogs, you can’t help but ask, can Bulldogs fly on planes? Technically, yes, but not all airlines will allow this breed to board flights due to safety reasons. As a flat-nosed canine, Bulldogs are prone to stress, which can put their life in danger while flying on a plane.
Still, it doesn’t mean you can no longer fly with your Bulldog. The fact that many breeders send Bulldog pups across the country just means that airplane travel is still possible. However, it has to be done right and with enough preparation before the big day.
Can Bulldogs fly on planes?
Luckily, many airlines still accept flat-nosed dogs like English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Boxers. But as a Bulldog owner, I highly discourage airplane travels with this breed, especially long-haul ones.
So why is there such a high-risk for Bulldogs when it comes to airplane travel? Well, it all boils down to their anatomy.
Unlike other breeds, brachycephalic canines like Bulldogs have shorter airways. With this, their breathing passages are smaller or flatter, which can lead to various health problems.
During a flight, the cabin is pressurized to protect all the passengers and crew from hypoxia. Hypoxia is the medical term for having low oxygen levels in the blood. It’s observed in high-altitude locations and can lead to life-threatening conditions if not managed.
Most flyers will experience temporary hearing loss or slight deafness during the flight. However, for Bulldogs, the effect is much adverse. The pressurized cabin will make it harder for them to breathe. This is the reason why some Bulldogs die mid-flight.
Also, you have to know that most adult Bulldogs won’t be allowed in the cabin because of their size. But even if the dog is in the cargo area, it will still be subjected to the same air pressure. Worse, separation anxiety and stress will exacerbate the situation.
Aside from that, the temperature in the plane’s cargo area isn’t very controlled. Your Bulldog will be placed inside an airline-approved crate together with other checked-in luggage and cargo. Depending on how packed the cargo bay is, air circulation might be limited.
How to know if your Bulldog is suitable for airplane travel
It’s quite hard to control flight factors, but you can keep your Bulldog safe by taking it to the vet first. This way, the vet can examine your dog and advise whether the pooch is ready for air travel. If the veterinarian spot any respiratory issues, I don’t recommend pushing through with the flight.
If you really have to go, you can ask a friend or family member to take in your dog in the meantime. You can also pay for a dog hotel or dog boarding services.
Also, it’s very important to call the airlines before you book a flight. This way, you can inquire about the cargo bay set up and where your dog will be placed.
What airlines accept Bulldogs?
If you’re planning to transport your Bulldog via air travel, it’s unfortunate that only a few airlines will accept the snub-nosed dog. The following are some of the airlines that can provide domestic or international travel for Bulldogs:
- Aloha Air Cargo. Aloha Air Cargo is very pet-friendly, and they transport various live animals. If you’re planning to take a long vacation in Hawaii with your Bulldog, they might be the right airline partner for the transport.
- Hawaiian Air. Like Aloha Air, Hawaiian Air transports dogs, cats, and even household birds. In-cabin travel for dogs are allowed for inter-island flights as well as flights that head to North America. As long as your Bulldog can fit inside the approved carrier, you can travel with them. However, if your Bulldog is too big, you can transport them as check-in baggage.
- Amerijet. Amerijet is a veteran when it comes to animal transport. They fly horses, domesticated pets, zoo animals, birds, reptiles, and even marine life. You’ll have peace of mind that your dog is in good hands. Make sure that you coordinate with them to avoid any hassle as live animal transport requires additional paperwork.
- British Airways. For international flights, British Airways might be a good choice. They have more lenient restrictions when it comes to the dog’s breed. However, they may decline the transport of snub-nosed breeds if you’re headed to hot places like Dallas or Phoenix. Some flights may also decline the boarding of this breed.
- KLM. The Royal Dutch Airlines can fly with Bulldogs. Only 18 lbs. dogs are allowed in-cabin, so if your dog is bigger than that, KLM can’t fly them. They allow cargo (on hold) flying for dogs, but not for snub-nosed types due to breathing concerns. But if you’re flying with a Bulldog pup, you can easily place them in the cabin.
- Copa Air. With Copa Air, you can fly your dog in-cabin as long as it doesn’t exceed 20 lbs. This means only Bulldog pups can be flow in-cabin with Copa Air.
- Gulf Air. Gulf Air transports life animals in cargo. However, I recommend calling them first to inquire about their requirements for snub-nosed breeds.
What airlines DO NOT accept Bulldogs?
Many airlines in the U.S. and abroad don’t accept snub-nosed canines, whether it’s cabin or cargo travel. In recent years, airlines like United have recorded many dog deaths, which are mainly brachycephalic breeds.
The following are the airlines that don’t fly snub-nosed breeds like English Bulldogs:
- United Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- American Airlines
- Alaskan Airlines
- Emirates Airlines
- Korean Air
- Swiss Air
- Jet Blue
Alternative to air travel for your Bulldog
If airplane travel isn’t possible for your Bulldog, there are still alternatives you can explore. While such alternatives will take a longer time, it’s safer for your pooch, especially on long distances.
Basically, you have two options to travel with your Bulldog: by train or by car. However, these two options are only helpful if you’re moving around the contiguous United States. Whether you’re taking a vacation to the neighboring state or moving a few states away, land travel is the safest for Bulldogs.
“But I don’t have a car, and I need to get to my destination fast!” If that’s the case, you can hire a pet courier service. They will drive your dog all the way to the destination while you board a plane. It may take days for your pet to arrive, but a late Bulldog is better than a dead Bulldog.
Unlike typical couriers, pet couriers only transport animals. Also, they are knowledgeable of dogs and will ensure that your pet is accompanied and fed well. A dog nanny will be assigned to your Bulldog for the entire trip.
How to prepare your Bulldog for a flight
Once you’ve found the right airline, booked the flight, and settled the requirements, preparing your Bulldog is the next big step. It’s important to prep your pet to reduce the stress it will experience during the flight. Here are some tips to help you out:
🐶Go to the vet first
Days before the scheduled flight, you should take your dog to the vet. This is to check if the canine is in good shape for the travel. The vet can also give you advice on how to keep the doggo calm on the plane. Most of the time, the result of the examination at the vet’s clinic will be a make-or-break factor for the travel.
🐶Introduce the carrier
Desensitizing your Bulldog to the carrier is a very important process. This way, the dog will get to relax once it’s inside. I suggest doing this weeks before the flight as some canines take more time to acclimate to a new containment.
Let your dog sniff the carrier, and never force the pooch inside. Similar to crate training, you can encourage your dog to go inside by feeding it or luring it with a treat. As your Bulldog gets acquainted with the carrier, you can start closing the door. You can even use it as a regular crate as the day of the flight inches closer.
🐶Get your dog ID’d
Next, make sure that your dog is properly microchipped and tagged. I recommend putting a GPS collar on your Bulldog during the flight. You’ll never know when your canine might escape. The backup GPS collar will surely save both of you from the hassle.
🐶Pack the canine essentials
Remember that your dog is also traveling. You should pack their food, water, collar, leash, blanket, toys, and other things that will make the dog comfy. Most of all, you shouldn’t forget the documents you need to present to the airport officials.
🐶Limit water and food
During the day of the flight, you should limit your Bulldog’s food five hours before the flight. Anyway, a few sips before boarding would be fine. You can also tape a serving of food in a bag so flight attendants can feed your Bulldog during delays, in case the pooch is going to the cargo area.
Keeping your Bulldog active before the flight will help it settle onboard. Burning the dog’s extra energy will also reduce the likelihood of anxiety attacks. Unless the vet prescribes, never sedate your dog. This will just cause its airway to collapse or narrow down. With the air pressure in the airplane, this isn’t a wise move.
Lastly, always arrive 1 to 2 hours early, so you can get your dog set up for the flight. This will also give you enough time to remind the airline employees that you’re boarding with a dog. If your dog is checked in the cargo area, you need to locate the loading bay. Being early will save you from the hassle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can a snub-nosed dog fly in-cabin?
A: Yes, a few airlines allow in-cabin travel for brachycephalic dogs but only for specific reasons. First, they will only allow it if the dog is small and falls within their standards. Second, if the dog is a certified service dog, the airline may allow it. However, in some cases, the airline can decline if the service dog is too large and is causing disruption in the cabin area.
Q: Can an airline deny an emotional support animal?
A: Remember that an emotional support animal isn’t protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). So whether it’s a Bulldog, a rabbit, a hamster, or whatnot, the airline has the right to decline if the animal will cause disruptions and harm to other passengers.
Q: What dogs are banned from flying?
A: Due to Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL), many dog breeds deemed ‘aggressive’ and ‘vicious’ are often banned by airlines. Some of these are American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bulldog, and Karabash. The likes of Dogo Argentino and Caucasian Shepherd Dog are also included in the blacklist.
Q: Can a dog be too old to fly?
A: Many old dogs can handle air travel well. However, if the dog has underlying illnesses and considerably weak, it’s not wise to subject them to the stress of flying. Also, older dogs need to be beside their owners all the time, so in-cabin travel is the only choice.
Q: How stressful is flying for dogs?
A: According to the Humane Society of the United States of America, air travel is extremely stressful for dogs. The unfamiliar smell, sound, sights, and people will add up to being separated from their owner in the cargo bay. And if your dog is a snub-nosed breed, the stress and air pressure can be a life-threatening combination.
Can Bulldogs fly on planes? Yes, but only a few airlines can accommodate snub-nosed dogs like Bulldogs. Also, Bulldogs aren’t suitable for long-haul flights. If you need to transport the dogs long-distance, it’s best to move them by land. You can also hire a pet courier if you can’t personally bring your dog to the destination.
Have you flown with your Bulldog before? How did it go? Share it with us in the comment section!