Steer Around Air Carriers’ Breed Restrictions – Send Your Pets by Road

As United Airlines prepares to roll out tighter restrictions on transporting cats and dogs, many may be wondering what’s behind these changes, and how they’ll affect pet transporation.

So we’ve dug deep into the information which United has published, and here bring you a full guide to the new rules, which breeds will be affected (it’s a pretty long list), and the other main restrictions.

We hope to also show in this article why, even after this new regime comes into force, it still makes more sense to find a CitizenShipper driver for journeys of any length.

To start with, United is imposing a blanket ban on transporting animals to, from or through four airports for a whole five months (May to September) every year. These are Las Vegas, Palm Springs, CA, and Phoenix and Tucson, AZ.

United cites the high temperatures often recorded in these regions as the reason for severely cutting back on its offering to these cities – and it’s no coincidence that regions served by these airports are often among the most regularly requested destinations or originating points for customers using Citizenshipper.

In addition, regardless of the originating airport, destination or route, United will not accept bookings which would require any more than two changes en route.

Resumption Date Announced

The airline will lift its current moratorium on carrying pets on July 9, but will start enforcing its new, stricter regime from when it re-opens bookings, three weeks earlier.

By the time it resumes transportation, the ban is likely to have cost United dearly; prior to halting movements, it was carrying more animals than any other airline, according to the Chicago Tribune. And its rate of deaths among animals carried in aircraft holds reported to the U.S. Transportation Department is nearly triple the average of all airlines, at 1.3 per 10,000.

The full list of dogs for which United won’t take reservations after mid-June when it resumes taking bookings is:

  • Affenpinscher
  • American Bully
  • American Pit Bull Terrier/Pit Bull
  • American Staffordshire Terrier/”Amstaff”
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog, and following sub-breeds:
    • American Bulldog
    • English Bulldog
    • French Bulldog
    • Old English Bulldogges
    • Shorty Bulldogs
    • Spanish Alano/Spanish Bulldog/Alano Espanol
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chow Chow
  • English Toy Spaniel/Prince Charles Spaniel
  • Japanese Chin/Japanese Spaniel
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Mastiff, and following sub-breeds:
    • American Mastiff
    • Boerboel/South African Mastiff
    • Bullmastiff
    • Ca de Bou/Mallorquin Mastiff
    • Cane Corso/Italian Mastiff
    • Dogo Argentino/Argentinian Mastiff
    • Dogue de Bordeaux/French Mastiff
    • English Mastiff
    • Fila Brasileiro/Brazilian Mastiff/Cao de Fila
    • Indian Mastiff/Alangu
    • Kangal/Turkish Kangal
    • Neapolitan Mastiff/Mastino Napoletano
    • Pakastani Mastiff/Bully Kutta
    • Pyrenean Mastiff
    • Presa Canario/Perro de Presa Canario/Dogo Canario/Canary Mastiff
    • Spanish Mastiff / Mastin Espanol
    • Tibetan Mastiff
    • Tosa/Tosa Ken/Tosa Inu/Japanese Mastiff/Japanese Tosa
  • Pekingese
  • Pug, and following sub-breeds:
    • Dutch Pug
    • Japanese Pug
  • Shar-Pei/Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Shih-Tzu
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier/’Staffies’
  • Tibetan Spaniel

The main characteristic most of these breeds share is that they belong to a classification of dog known as ‘brachycephalic’.

united airline pet restrictions

Brachycephalic dogs, such as this one, are characterized by their compressed upper jaw and stubby noses.

Such dogs’ main characteristic is their wide, flat nose shape. Often considered a ‘cute’ attribute, and the reason why many of the breeds listed above are so popular, it does, however, mean dogs of this type are more prone to suffering a range of skin, eye and breathing problems. Relevant for our purposes, too, is that brachycephalic dogs are also known to have a lower tolerance to heat.

The list of cat breeds which won’t be accepted is much shorter, but nevertheless covers some which have huge followings. It comprises:

  • Burmese
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • Himalayan
  • Persian

and mixed breeds with characteristics from any of the above.

Persian cat ground transport

The hugely popular Persian cat, such as the one pictured here, cannot be transported under the new United Airlines restrictions – but can easily travel by road, especially in the right hands.

Experts From T.V. Called In

United didn’t reveal how many of the 138,178 animals it carried last year belonged in these classifications. But its official statement announcing the resumption also unveiled that it was now to work with American Humane, which has drawn up and administers a number of animal welfare guidelines, and is the body which oversees their safety when any kind of animal is used in a Hollywood film or T.V. production.

In addition to its list of breeds no longer to be carried, the airline is also implementing a series of extra conditions on carriage of all animals, which include:

  • Obliging the customer to provide its service center with several pieces of documentation, photographs, and details of the type of crate in which the animal will be carried before any reservation can be confirmed.
  • Requiring the routing of any animal journey to be co-ordinated through a shipper with International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) accreditation.
  • Not accepting crates more than 30 inches high, and
  • No longer selling or providing crates for hire at airports

Military Officials’ Dismay

The U.S. Transportation Command, which helps co-ordinate movements of military personnel and their families between bases, has stepped into the debate, while continuing to stress that all service people would have to continue to meet the cost of moving animals during a “military-mandated move”.

And a petition raised by one service member at, calling on United to waive its new rules for personnel already abroad and expecting to have to return with their pets to the mainland had attracted more than 77,000 signatures by earlier this week.

Your Overland Alternative

All these new restrictions mean that other modes of transport are likely to become increasingly competitive – and indeed, the only option available for many people, especially for long-distance journeys across the U.S.

Recently, CitizenShipper published an article directly comparing air and overland transport, which threw the spotlight on a number of instances where animals had either suffered, or even been misdirected and sometimes traveling many thousands of miles further than necessary.

It gave a list of reasons why pet-owners should seriously consider sending their pets by road, besides the concerns directly raised by the widely-reported cases of animals coming to harm while travelling by air.

These include:

  • Ability to check out individual drivers, and make the whole trip a far more personalized experience.
  • Choice of driver can be based on genuine feedback, supplied by other CitizenShipper customers.
  • Any animal transported by air is, of course, unsupervised for large parts of a journey, and specifically during take-off and landing, when they’re most likely to get stressed. But with CitizenShipper, your pet is guaranteed to be in human company to provide reassurance and respond to its needs, all the way from A to B.
  • Communication can be maintained throughout a journey. Drivers working on behalf of CitizenShipper are often very active on social media, and will keep in touch with an owner while they’re on the road for extra reassurance.
  • Drivers enjoy their work, and will establish a strong bond with the animals they carry. Lots of them are pet-owners too, and have come into the job because they realize it offers the safest and most stress-free way of transporting most kinds of pet.
  • Door-to-door service means that animals don’t have to suffer the stress of transiting through big, busy terminal buildings. And let’s face it, these are enough of an ordeal for plenty of humans, so we can only imagine how a nervous pet might react to such a set of unfamiliar surroundings.

One of the major reasons why Citizenshipper’s service is overwhelmingly positively received by our users is that the drivers who pitch for work using our site are doing so out of a genuine love for animals.

For them, carrying your pet isn’t ‘just another job’ – they’ve chosen to do it, and have invested heavily, in terms of both time, equipment and money, so that they can follow their dream.

Your satisfaction is their guarantee of being able to continue doing what they enjoy. So don’t worry when you have to fix up an important journey for your pet – trust CitizenShipper to arrange for them to be handled with care. List a pet shipment now, and get quotes from qualified ground pet transporters.

Spaniel air travel

Another popular dog breed which is facing new travel restrictions is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

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