How Much Will It Cost to Ship a Dog to California?

Matt Matasci Matt Matasci · Updated May 27, 2024

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California is one of the most beloved states in the country. From the Bay Area to Southern California, from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Mojave Desert, there are few places in the world as geographically and culturally diverse. With all of its sunshine and beaches, the unfortunate result is a cost of living that’s much higher than the rest of the United States.

This cost of living affects almost every aspect of life, including transporting items to and from the state. When you need to ship a dog to California, you can expect to pay more than other locations with a lower cost of living. Many people use air travel as a means to transport their pets. In fact, according to IPATA, over 4 million pets are transported via plane. However, if you plan ahead you may be able to save money while finding a transporter you trust.

Pet Transport Guide: How Much to Ship a Dog to California

There are many variables that determine how much you’ll pay to transport your dog to California. The most important variable is the method of transport: by air or by ground. Each approach to pet transportation has pros and cons.

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ship a dog to California by air

Using Air Transport to Ship Your Dog to California

Costs of air transport can range from $70-$1000 each way. The cost will vary depending on whether you use cabin or cargo transport, the distance of the flight and the level of demand.

Dog breeds that qualify to fly in-cabin must be under 25 pounds when combined with the weight of their travel crate. They must be able to fit comfortably in their crate, sitting down without touching any of the sides.

There are also specific instructions for how big your travel carrier can be, if it can be hard-sided or soft-sided, and the number of openings it has.

Pros of Using Air Travel to Ship Your Dog to California 

  • Air transportation is the quickest way to ship a dog to California.
  • Flying limits the amount of time the dog is in en route.
  • If your dog can fly in the cabin, it may be less expensive than ground transportation.

Cons of Using Air Travel to Ship Your Dog to California 

  • Most dogs cannot fly in the cabin as there are strict size restrictions.
  • If your dog is qualified to fly in the cabin, either you or an air nanny will need to accompany him — pets cannot fly in the cabin unaccompanied.
  • If your dog isn’t allowed in the cabin, he’ll have to fly in the cargo area.
  • Only three airlines allow dogs in the cargo — Delta, American and United.
  • Each flight has a limited number of animals that can be accommodated in the cargo area — you need to reserve your pet’s ticket well in advance.
  • If your dog flies cargo, you might not even be on the same flight to California.
  • Pets have to arrive hours before departure, spending that time in their carrier.
  • Any layovers can add even more time spent in his carrier.
  • Airlines have strict restrictions on animals in the cargo hold in extreme temperatures — pets be grounded if the temperature rises above 85 degrees Fahrenheit or falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Some airlines like American won’t allow a pet in the cargo area if the temperature falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Avoid the Cargo Hold

It is often not recommended to transport your dog via the airplane’s cargo hold. Injuries and accidents are much more common here since there is no one solely responsible for looking after your dog.

Along with this, temperature and pressure fluctuations in the cargo hold can become dangerous. This can add even more stress to your dog’s travel, which should be avoided if possible.

Because of this, if your dog weighs more than 25 pounds, air transport may not be the best option for you.

view from downtown California

Hiring a Transporter to Drive Your Dog to California

Ground transportation is another option for transporting a dog to another state. It’s often the most popular one when traveling shorter distances or domestically, despite taking longer to complete. Why?

For one, ground transportation is usually less stressful than flying.

  • The dog is always with the transporter, who can offer comfort and tend to any of his needs.
  • Transporters stop every few hours, allowing your dog to stretch his legs, have a snack and go to the bathroom.
  • Most pet relocation services are door-to-door, so your dog does not have to constantly be jostled around doing multiple check-ins and boarding.
  • Ground transportation doesn’t come with breed and size restrictions, making it an easier option. For some dog owners of larger, brachycephalic breeds like boxers or bulldogs, it’s the only option.
  • It’s the best option if you have a dog that requires medication. The driver can attend to any and all of your dog’s needs, as they control how often they stop along the way. 

Factors That Affect the Cost of Ground Transportation

Pet ground transportation services vary greatly based on distance and can range from $50 to over $1000. If you have a tighter budget for your travel, or you want to add extras to your trip, you have many options with ground transportation.

Distance to the Other State

The first factor is the distance your dog will be traveling. Most pet transporters charge based on mileage. If you hire an independent transporter through a marketplace like CitizenShipper, the fee schedule is based on distance.

VIP Services

If you want to make pet relocation go even smoother, consider VIP services — which essentially means the dog will be the only animal in the car for the entire transport. This increases the price to transport your dog to California. However, if your dog is high-anxiety or at risk of more serious consequences from infectious disease like kennel cough, it’s well worth the cost.

The vast majority of standard pet transportation services provide excellent care for your dog even if the vehicle is shared with other animals. If your dog is friendly and social, having some friends along for the ride may actually make the trip even more enjoyable.

Timing of the Transport

If you need to transport your pet during periods of high demand, like the summer, you may pay a premium. It’s not always possible, but if you can try to schedule the trip for less busy seasons like the winter.

Another factor that affects the price of transporting your dog to another state is your flexibility with dates. If you have to adhere to a rigid schedule, you won’t have as much flexibility shopping around. If you can be lenient with your dates, you may be able to find a transporter that offers a lower rate.

How CitizenShipper Saves you Money Transporting a Dog to Another State

When you use CitizenShipper, you can save money compared with using a traditional dog transporter.

  • The unique two way marketplace allows you to pick between transporters that bid on your listing. 
  • This competition drives down prices — and the more flexible you can be with dates, the more transporters you can choose between.
  • It’s free to post a shipment on the website and review quotes.
You can't ship a dog to California using FedEx or UPS.

Use CitizenShip to Make Your Pet Transport Process Seamless

Saving money is not the only reason to use a marketplace like CitizenShipper to ship a dog to California. Other benefits of transporting your pet with a transporter hired through CitizenShipper include:

  • Once you receive quotes, you can read through driver profiles that include reviews from previous customers, a detailed About Me section, specialities and equipment offersing, and previous experience.
  • You have the ability to communicate directly with the driver before and during the transport. 
  • Every CitizenShipper transport comes with a booking assurance guarantee and $1000 pet protection plan.
  • Drivers pass a stringent background check before they can book a transport.

CitizenShipper helps dog owners like you connect with responsible, pet-loving drivers who can get your pets where they need to go. Let us help you get your furry family member on the road today! Post a shipment and get quotes within minutes