Air Travel for Your Puppy: Is It OK?

jesika jesika · Updated July 1, 2024

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There are many things to consider when you’re getting a puppy. Will you be getting one from the shelter? A rescue organization? A breeder?

If it’s the latter, you’ll want to make sure that the breeder is ethical and reputable.

You also want to consider how you’ll be getting them home. For example, shipping a puppy may be necessary, depending on their location.

Is it bad to ship a puppy? How much does it cost to ship a puppy on a plane?

We’ll be going over all of the answers (and more) below—keep reading for everything that you need to know!

Are Puppies Allowed to be Shipped?

The short answer is yes—you can ship a puppy.

Can you ship a puppy alone? It depends. If anything, the process has become a little more difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For one thing, only two airlines in the United States are currently accepting pets in the cargo area; other companies will only allow them in the cabin. In other words, you’ll have to fly to the breeder, pick up the puppy, and fly back.

Keep in mind, however, that there are restrictions for dogs who’ll be flying in the cabin. As a general rule, they must be able to fit in a carrier or kennel that can be placed safely under the seat in front of you; they must not disturb other passengers in any way.

How Much Does Shipping Puppies from Breeders Cost?

Shipping a puppy by air can cost anywhere from $70 to $1,000. At the end of the day, it depends on various factors such as the airline, size of your dog, and distance traveled.

For example, it usually costs between $70 to $175 to fly a dog in the cabin (under the seat). Larger dogs, on the other hand, must be flown as air cargo and that can cost between $500 and $1,000. Some companies may also charge a “special handling fee” due to the pandemic.

In addition to their travel costs, you’ll also have to provide your pup with an airline-approved carrier, and that can range anywhere from $60 to $200, depending on the size.

And don’t forget, you’ll also need to visit the veterinarian for a health certificate before traveling and that can cost another $100.

At What Age Can You Ship a Puppy? 

Generally speaking, puppies must be at least 8 weeks old and fully weaned before domestic travel. If they’re entering the United States from an international flight, they must be at least 16 weeks old and vaccinated against rabies.

Keep in mind, how

ever, that different airlines have different restrictions. For example, some may require your pup to be a little older (10-16 weeks) before flying across the U.S.

Are There Any Breed Restrictions?

Brachycephalic breeds of dogs (e.g. bulldogs, pugs) may not be allowed to fly unless they’re small enough to fit in a carrier that can fit underneath the seat in front of you. This is due to the fact that they’re more vulnerable to changes in temperature, and their shortened noses make them prone to respiratory problems.

Not only that, but some airlines have also banned ‘bully breeds’ such as boxers, pit bulls, and mastiffs.

How to Ship a Puppy via Plane: An Overview

Step 1: Call the airline and make a reservation for your pup—it doesn’t matter whether he’ll be traveling with you or alone. Airlines only accept a certain amount of pets on each flight so it’s important that you do this well ahead of time. You’ll also have to pay to hold their spot.

Step 2: Make sure that their pet kennel meets the airline’s requirements. As a general rule, it must be rigid and leak-proof. Size-wise, it should be large enough so that your pup can stand and turn around comfortably.

There should also be food and water bowls inside, as well as your contact information (you’ll also have to provide a bag of food if they’re traveling in the cargo area).

Step 3: Visit the veterinarian and get a health certificate for your dog; it should be issued no more than 10 days before their flight. Certain airlines may not require one if they’re traveling with you in the cabin, but some destinations might. If you’re not sure, call and ask.

Step 4: Feed your dog no more than 3-4 hours before arriving at the airport. It’s also recommended that you take him for a walk before placing him in the kennel at check-in (be sure to arrive at least two hours early).

If he’s flying as air cargo, take him to the air freight office. If he’s riding with you in the cabin, take him to the bag counter.

Other Things to Consider When Shipping a Puppy

Some destinations may require that you quarantine your pup (sometimes in a vet or government-based facility) before traveling. This is to ensure that they won’t spread infectious diseases such as rabies to local pets and native wildlife.

For example, you may need to quarantine your dog for at least 10 days if they’re coming from overseas.

Another thing to consider is temperature—this is especially important if your pup is flying in the cargo area (it isn’t usually temperature-controlled). Generally speaking, pets can only travel on a plane if the actual or forecasted air temperature is between 45F and 85F.

How Can CitizenShipper Help?


on the situation, shipping a puppy by air may not be the best option. In cases like that, it may be better to pick them up by car instead.

Don’t have time to drive across the country? We can help! Simply tell us your transport requirements and we’ll find you the best driver from our network of independent transporters. Basically, how it works is that they’ll pick up the puppy for you and drive them to your home.

If anyth

ing, it’ll be much less traumatic for them; this is especially true for larger pups, which would otherwise be placed in the plane’s cargo hold.

Should I Ship a Puppy by Air?

There are many things to keep in mind when you’re shipping a puppy by plane. Given all that’s involved, especially with the ongoing pandemic, it’s important that you do your research beforehand. 

Did you recently buy a pup? Looking for a pet transporter? We’ve got you covered. Simply fill in this form to get started!