We’ve all heard the saying ‘there’s no dangerous dogs, only dangerous owners’, but pet friendly airlines don’t see things that way! When you read our Pet Friendly Airlines section, you’ll see each pet travel policy includes details of any banned dog breeds. In some cases, although an airline doesn’t transport a particular breed in the cabin, or in the hold as checked baggage, they may allow the dog to travel as cargo. While this covers dog breeds classed as ‘dangerous’ or ‘fighting’ by individual airlines, be aware that pet travel schemes for worldwide countries also stipulate banned dog breeds. This is generally known as Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). When flying with a dangerous dog internationally, there are some pet friendly airlines that fly restricted breeds in the hold as checked baggage or cargo. But, be aware that all dogs on an airline’s dangerous breeds list will have to be muzzled, and transported in a reinforced pet crate. Keep reading to find out which dog breeds are deemed dangerous by pet friendly airlines, and some global destinations, as well as the dog breeds usually banned by airlines.
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Why are Some Dogs Labelled ‘Dangerous’
Generally speaking, the global definition of a dangerous dog is one
‘that poses a threat to people, other animals, wildlife and nature’.
In terms of airline pet travel policies and the Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) of different countries, the ‘dangerous’ or ‘fighting’ label is applied to dog breeds due to their physical attributes. Also, past behaviour of these breeds has influenced the unique rules and laws applied.
Banned Dog Breed Laws
Due to a number of high-profile dog attacks involving children, The Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) was introduced in the UK in 1991.
The DDA was one of the first laws in the world to apply Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) to dogs. It aims to reduce the number of dog attacks by governing the ownership of particular breeds.
Section 1 of the DDA, the part that addresses BSL, prohibits ownership of four different dog breeds. Historically, these breeds were for fighting, therefore there’s an assumption that these dogs are inherently aggressive. Therefore these dogs, despite their own individual disposition, carry the stigma attached to their breed. This section prohibits the breeding, sale, gift or exchange of any dog of the following breeds:
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Braziliero
- Japanese Tosa
- Pit Bull Terrier
Section 2 of the DDA allows for additional breed types to be added to the BSL, but this has never occurred.
Any dog that’s involved in a serious incident is covered in DDA Section 3. These laws include it being an offence to allow a dog to be out of control in a public or private place. An aggravated offence law also applies in the UK, when a person or Assistance & Service Dog is injured. However, exemptions apply if the dog attacks an intruder in the pet’s home.
Following amendments to Section 4 of the DDA in 1997, courts can avoid euthanising a dog involved in a Section 1 or aggravated Section 3 offence. This applies if the judge or jury is that satisfied the dog doesn’t constitute a danger to public safety.
So, BSL has a clear impact on dangerous dogs and their owners.
Which other Countries have Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)
France also has a ban on the import of certain dog breeds classed as attack dogs. As a consequence, French pet friendly airlines, such as Air France and Air Corsica, have a ban on flying the following Category 1 & Category 2 French Law attack breeds.
- American Staffordshire Terriers
- Boerboel Mastiffs
- Japanese Tosas
- Pit Bull
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Further west in Europe, if you relocate to Portugal with a dog on the dangerous list, Portuguese Law requires you to register for an owner’s training course. Even if you’re just visiting Portugal on holiday, if your dog is one of the listed breeds, they have to be muzzled, and on a leash no longer than 1m in public places.
Many US states and Canadian provinces have BSL which either bans Pit Bull type breeds entirely, or restricts ownership.
Therefore Breed Specific Legislation varies across different countries. Sometimes BSL involves prohibition of specific breeds, or it may regulate the conditions of ownership and public circulation.
Criticism of BSL
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) has been replicated by many global countries, but it’s been criticised by a range of different animal organisations. For example the UK Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), believes that the DDA fails to deliver what it was designed to do,:
- reduce hospital admissions from dog bites
- improve public safety
- reduce the breeds or types it legislates against
The RSPCA, along with numerous worldwide animal welfare organisations, believe that BSL creates a difficult set of circumstances, that police and welfare charities have been forced to manage. But not only that, BSL has also been found to be detrimental to both the dog and their owner’s wellbeing.
In addition, the RSPCA BSL Report of 26 December 2014, discovered insufficient evidence to support a breed specific approach in reducing dog bites. Instead, the RSPCA found that the DDA actually lures the public into a false sense of security, as they believe other breeds are safe, and don’t bite.
The British Veterinary Association (BVL) concur with the RSPCA position on BSL following their own report of 28 January 2021.
BSL rules across the globe tend to have an influence on whether or not a particular airline will fly a ‘dangerous’ or ‘restricted’ dog breed.
Airline Dangerous Dog Breeds
Each pet friendly airline has their own individual lists of banned or dangerous dogs, but there are some similarities across airline policies. For instance, all pet friendly airlines that carry restricted dogs as cargo, will require that your pet is muzzled, and that they travel in a reinforced travel crate. You can take the measurements using the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Airline Cat & Dog Crate Calculator.
In general, theses breeds are listed in airline policies as ‘dangerous’, and therefore subject to specific pet travel rules:
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pincher
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiros
- German Shepherd
- Japanese Tosa
- Tosa Inut
- Pit Bull (all breeds)
Airlines recognise that dangerous dog breeds may pose a risk to pet handlers during transport to and from the aircraft. Often, pet friendly airlines have a list of banned dog breeds, so flying with a dangerous dog breed isn’t always possible with your preferred airline.
Also, be aware that Greyhounds are sometimes banned due to an airline restricted breed policy. This is the case, unless the Greyhound is a domesticated family pet, and isn’t being transported for racing or breeding purposes. This rule applies when flying with Air New Zealand and Qantas. However, a special request can usually be made to the Cargo Management team of your chosen airline for consideration.
In some cases, an airline completely prohibits the transport of dogs on their breed specific list. However, some pet friendly airlines do allow these breeds to travel as checked baggage or cargo in the hold.
IATA CR 82 Pet Crate for Dangerous Dogs
Under the IATA Live Animal Regulations (IATA LAR), dog breeds classed as dangerous must travel in a special transport crate.
When you see reference to a CR 82 IATA Pet Crate, it simply means that the airline kennel complies with the IATA LAR Container Requirements (CR), number 82.
The IATA LAR states that:
Some rigid plastic containers may not be suitable for large dogs, or dogs that are aggressive. Specially constructed containers of hardwood, metal, plywood or similar material, with two secure door fasteners on each side, are acceptable.
Check out our post on IATA in Hold Pet Travel Crates, which includes a CR 82 pet crate that meets the IATA LAR Container Requirements for flying with dangerous dogs.
Flying with Snub-Nosed Pets
While snub nosed (brachycephalic) breeds of dogs aren’t usually ‘dangerous’, ethical airlines don’t allow snub nosed cat and dog breeds to fly in the hold. There’s also a ban on snub nosed cats and dogs entering some countries by plane at certain times of the year. In addition, breeds such as the Chow Chow and Mastiff are classed as both ‘dangerous’ by airlines and ‘snub-nosed’, therefore it can be difficult to find a pet friendly airline.
Airlines that Ban Dangerous Breeds Onboard
In addition, certain dangerous dog breeds are banned by the following airlines:
- Air Dolomiti
- Austrian Airlines
- Binter Caniàras Airlines
- EVA Air
- Virgin Atlantic
Airlines that Fly ‘Dangerous’ Dogs as Checked Baggage
You’ll have to use a muzzle and reinforced dog crate to fly a restricted breed in the hold as checked baggage with the following pet friendly airlines:
Airline Pet Cargo for ‘Dangerous’ Dogs
Some airlines use a pet cargo courier to transport your dog to and from the aircraft. This is the case when your pet must travel as cargo, as opposed to checked baggage.
These airlines currently allow ‘dangerous’ dogs on their lists to fly in the aircraft hold as cargo. In this case, the airline either uses their own cargo department, or a pet cargo courier, such as IAG Cargo or Pet Air UK. Be aware that if an airline is using a pet cargo courier for the flight, it is at the discretion of the courier if they will transport a ‘dangerous’ breed.
Note that Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia Airlines don’t have their own pet cargo branch, therefore they use IAG Cargo.
Always remember to keep your pet safe from vector borne diseases when you take an international vacation, and leave a review for your chosen airline and destination!
You can also check out 8 Essential Pet Travel Items, 4 IATA in Hold Pet Crates, and 8 IATA Cat & Dog in Cabin Carriers.