There are over two million pets and live animals that travel by air every year in the United States, according to the Department of Transportation. But did you know that, despite the high number of traveling pets, not all breeds can travel by air?  

Pet breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Persian cats are often not allowed by airliners. These are called brachycephalic breeds or snub-nosed pets. The reason why mushy-faced pets, or brachycephalic breeds, are not allowed on airlines is because they have a have a history of having a high death ratio during air travel.

If your furry friend at home belongs to any of these breeds, you will also learn how traveling with pets using ground transportation services can be a solid alternative.

Why Can’t Airlines Allow Brachycephalic Pets?

brown puppy

Brachycephalic breeds have a history of having a high death ratio during air travel. In a report by the New York Times, 98 of the 189 in-flight pet deaths from 2005 to 2011 were from brachycephalic breeds. 

Pets with shortened noses don’t breathe as efficiently as other dogs with normal-length snouts. It often causes respiratory problems, especially if they are overweight.

Whenever these pets are stressed or overheated, their airway collapses and cuts off their airflow, which could lead to them passing out or, in some cases, passing away. 

These physical features make them even more vulnerable during a flight due to changes in air circulation, pressure, and temperature. It’s especially true if they are in the cargo hold or inside their small crate. This is why brachycephalic cat and dog breeds can’t fly on planes with you.

Their high death ratio and health vulnerabilities are what prompted many airlines to disallow snub-nosed pets from flying. Here are other examples of pet breeds not accepted by most airlines:


  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Chow Chow
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Mastiff
  • Pit Bull
  • Shar Pei
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel
kitten sleeping


  • Burmese
  • Persian
  • Himalayan
  • Exotic Shorthair

Owners of brachycephalic cats or dogs may find this information discouraging. However, there are other options you can consider that are more favorable to your traveling pets.

How Can You Transport Brachycephalic Pets?

Some domestic airlines allow snub-nosed pets on their flights, provided they follow certain policies, such as pet size. Most in-cabin rules require pets to be small enough to fit in a carrier under a seat. Bigger pets may be required to stay in the cargo hold or denied entry. 

If your pet is the right size, certain airlines allow them to be with you in the cabin during the flight. These airlines are:

  • Aloha Air Cargo
  • Pacific Air Cargo
  • Amerijet
  • Hawaiian Air

Some airlines may also accept or reject pet flight accommodation based on the season and weather conditions, especially if they could put your pet’s safety at risk. 

Perhaps the next best alternative to flying your furry pals is by hiring ground transportation services for pets.

dog in a car

Ground Transportation for Pets

Pet transport services allow your pet to be shipped from your home to your next destination using a car or a specialized van. While flying remains the fastest way to travel, pet shipping services offer some advantages that make it worth considering, including not having any size or breed restrictions.

Traveling on the road also prevents your pets from experiencing extreme temperature and pressure changes that can be present during a flight. This would benefit brachycephalic breeds, which are highly sensitive to those conditions.

Your pets would also have enough space in the vehicle to be a lot more comfortable compared to a plane’s cargo hold or crate. Your pets can interact with their caretakers, have potty breaks, and take a walk during stops to stretch their legs.

Traveling with pets can be a very fulfilling experience, but flight restrictions like those for mushy-faced pets often discourage owners from bringing them along.

With enough knowledge, careful planning, and the right pet services company, you can find ways to go on an adventure with your beloved pets regardless of what breed they are. 

A Pet Moving Company You Can Depend On

Pet Van Lines has been providing safe and professional pet transportation services for almost two decades. We’ll transport your pets in clean and comfortable vehicles with professionally trained drivers who love taking care of animals. Contact us today to learn about our pet transport or book a service.

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