What do you do when you have two goals in life that are seemingly at odds with each other?
On the one hand, you want to travel. You want to explore the furthest reaches of the country and make the most of the 50 states while you can.
On the other, you really want a dog. You have the chance at an independent life where you can finally be a pet owner.
You don’t have to choose between one or the other if you are careful in selecting the best dogs for flying.
Many airlines allow passengers to travel with dogs in the cabin. So, you could go off on plenty of adventures together.
But, it has to be the right breed of dog. You can’t expect a massive Great Dane to travel comfortably by your side.
What should you look for in a dog if they are going to fly?
The best dogs for flying should have the following qualities:
- They should be small enough that they can fit into a carrier under the seat in front.
- They should be calm enough that they won’t get stressed out during the flight.
- They should be able to sleep soundly without the need to be in your lap.
- They should be social enough not to worry about being handled by airport staff
- They should be obedient enough not to act out during the journey.
With this in mind, here is a list of 12 of the best dog breeds for flying.
The Best Dogs For Flying: Get Yourself A Flight Buddy
1) Toy Poodle
Poodles come in three different sizes. The Toy is the smallest and the perfect size to fit into a little crate underneath the seat in front of you.
They can sit quietly at your feet and handle the journey pretty well because they aren’t as needy as some other companion breeds.
They are also really smart animals, so it shouldn’t take long for them to get used to being in a crate or to get used to flying. The first trip might be a little confusing, but this is a very adaptable breed.
The other great thing about traveling on planes with poodles is that they are unlikely to bother any of the other passengers.
This is a friendly dog, so they won’t start snapping at kids that get too close to the crate or attendants helping you with your carry-on luggage.
Also, they are hypoallergenic dogs, so won’t be an issue if the shed any fur – not that they shed that much anyway.
2) Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier can get a bit of an unjust reputation as a toy breed.
You might see people with long-haired versions at dog shows where they look fragile and pretty with bows in their hair. This isn’t the true nature of a Yorkie.
A tough short-haired Yorkie is ready to handle anything and will love going on trips with you because they enjoy the adventure and companionship.
They are also so tiny that there is no risk with weight and size restrictions on a plane.
Just be aware that this is a breed with low exercise needs, so you might need to carry them on hikes.
They are also a little more sensitive to cold weather because of their low body mass. Pack a little wardrobe for the trip if it might get cold and a cozy blanket for the crate.
Pomeranians are very similar to Yorkshire Terriers regarding their adaptability and temperament.
Many dog lovers are drawn to this tiny breed because it is so cute and fluffy.
That fluffy coat will help with the cold, making it a little better suited to different environments. But, this does also mean a little more time grooming and dealing with shed fur.
They are also very sweet and affectionate so are brilliant companions, wherever you choose to go. They won’t bother anyone else on the flight too much, and will melt anyone’s heart if they do get annoyed.
Again, you can’t expect this tiny dog to walk too far with you at your destination, but you can expect them to want to follow you.
Get them used to their crate, leave them to doze at your feet, and enjoy your adventure together.
4) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles is perhaps a lesser-known breed, but also one that is ideal for traveling. They are a small toy dog that weighs around 18 pounds, so perfect for traveling under the seat in front.
They also have quite a calm demeanor and adaptable personality. This means that any flight or grand adventure shouldn’t phase them at all.
Another perk of choosing a Cavalier is that these dogs are happier to go on longer walks and trips with you. This, along with their companionship and dedication, makes this cute little dog an interesting choice.
5) Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is a small dog with a big heart. They are only around 16 pounds, so ideal for traveling in a crate. Owners love them because of their affectionate nature.
They are also very happy little pets that will find joy in being with you, even if that means sitting with a toy in their crate for a couple of hours. It’s fine if they know that you are near-by.
Another bonus here is that their fur is hypoallergenic, so other passengers shouldn’t be affected. But, that fluffy white fur may be difficult to maintain on long adventures.
6) Shih Tzu
One of the most beloved toy breeds is the Shih Tzu. It is regarded as one of the cutest of smaller breeds and has a great personality to go with it.
They are great little companion dogs that are happy to meet new people and explore new things. But, their small size and short legs do mean that they can’t explore too far.
Their calm nature also means that you can bring them onboard the flight in their crate and hardly hear a thing. They are a quiet breed content to sit with their owners and wait out the flight.
Let’s move on to some of the more unusual breeds that also happen to be a good fit for flying. The first is the Affenpinscher. If you haven’t seen one of these before, be prepared to fall for these scruffy little things.
They are unusual for toy dogs because they are so active and independent. This means they are great for owners that love to go on adventures and long walks.
That independent streak does require some careful training. But, it is worthwhile for the experiences you get. This breed is also hypoallergenic and doesn’t bark very much, so is a considerate airline passenger.
The Pekingnese is a dog that has gone out of favor in recent years and you rarely see them at all. They are a breed you either love or hate because of the way they look. But, they can be brilliant companions for traveling.
These animals are great on flights because they are happy to be left alone for a while. They will happily wait until they reach the destination with no fuss. This also means you can leave them in a hotel room for a little while.
They aren’t going to walk for miles but will explore parks and neighborhoods with ease.
Just be aware that they aren’t born to be the most affectionate or social animals, so training is essential. Grooming needs could also be a consideration during your trip.
9) Chinese Crested Hairless.
Many people will turn to the Poodle if they want a hypoallergenic dog. But, there is the option of something hairless. This Chinese breed does have some hair in tufts here and there, but not a lot.
If you find this endearing you will also love their personalities. They are sweet dogs that are also calm enough to handle the experience of the flight and airport.
Just make sure they are fully toilet-trained first, as this can take a little longer with this breed. You don’t want any accidents, especially around other passengers.
On that note, you can learn more about toilet habits on planes below.
10) French Bulldog
This breed is one of the most popular across the US right now because of its size, affectionate nature, and companionship.
Their desire to be with you means they will travel the world and back and help you create amazing memories. They are also typically gentle with others and quiet with the right training.
But, you aren’t going to be able to hike for long distances at your destination because of the shape of the bulldog’s face.
They do have breathing issues to contend with. There is also the issue of weight. Many females are well within weight restrictions. But, larger adult males may get too big.
The Chihuahua has a lot going for it as a companion dog for flying. It is definitely the right size as it is a tiny little dog around 6 pounds.
They are also deeply devoted to their owners and can be great fun to travel with on solo trips.
The biggest issue, however, is their temperament with other people. It can be difficult to socialize Chihuahua because they get so possessive over their owners.
This also means that they might start barking at other passengers and airline crews. Socialization and barking training is essential to get the best out of your dog.
But, they might not be everyone’s favorite passenger on longer journeys.
The Dachshund is another breed that has become very popular in recent years – largely because of its size and comical nature.
They are such fun to be around that they are sure to make any trip even more enjoyable. Their short legs and size mean that they are perfect for traveling in crates under a seat.
However, those legs and the long spine also mean the potential for health issues. They aren’t going to be the most active dog ever. There is also the fact that they can be a bit vocal.
So, you might end up annoying some other passengers if you bring this breed onto a flight. Whatever the experience on the flight, you can enjoy a great adventure at the other end.
Can service dogs sit in seats on planes?
This is the exception to the rule. Service dogs are permitted to sit on the floor beside you or in your lap during a flight.
That is because they need to be able to perform that service, such as provide comfort for anxiety or other forms of support.
What they can’t do is sit in the aisle or an emergency exit row. This is a potential hazard. So, if you register your dog as a service animal, you could fly with a bigger breed in the cabin.
But, you don’t want to start exploiting the system just so you can have a Labrador or Husky.
If you do need a service dog for emotional or disability support while traveling, it is important to read up on guidance. The AKC has some great resources on this topic.
The following are some of the best larger dogs for flying.
Best Larger Dogs For Flying
1) Golden Retrievers
This is one of the sweetest, gentlest dogs on the planet. Their devotion to their owners means that they are sure to follow you around and do what is best for you at all times.
They are also incredibly patient animals so should have no problem dealing with other passengers or airline staff during the whole process.
2) Labrador Retrievers
These dogs have very similar traits in regard to their loyalty and devotion to owners. Their friendly and playful side makes them perfect for emotional support.
Also, they are smart enough to learn a host of new tricks to help you out. Again, they should be of no concern at all on a flight with the right training.
3) Standard Poodles
We saw above how brilliant the Toy Poodle is for flying because of its hypoallergenic coat, intelligence, and its temperament. The Standard Poodle, the largest of the breeds, is no different.
They are loyal and affectionate dogs that have a great personality. They are also one of the smartest out there, so great for service work.
Can my dog sit on my lap during a flight?
If your dog isn’t a service dog then no. One of the reasons that all those top dog breeds for flying are so small is that they need to be able to fit comfortably in a carrier.
This means space to stand up and turn around so they don’t get cramped and sore. This is the only way major airlines will let your pet dog stay with you in the cabin.
Any bigger and you will have to check them into the cargo hold. That isn’t any fun for the dog.
What can I give to my dog to keep him calm while flying?
If your pet is new to the world of flying, you might want to give them some treats and toys to play with – preferably silent ones for the sanity of other passengers.
A favorite blanket might make them feel more secure, especially if it smells like you. Also, you might want to consider a compression vest.
Another tip is to get dogs used to being in the crate for long periods before they have to fly. It is one less new experience to worry about.
How do dogs pee on planes?
This is another understandable query that new dog owners have. Dog’s aren’t going to hold it if you tell them to and might need to relieve themselves on longer flights.
There are two options. Either take them into the airplane bathroom when it is time to go. Or, provide pee pads in the bottom of the crate to catch any mess.
Which is the best airline for dogs?
While many dog owners say that they have great experiences with Delta, you could have a great flight with other major airlines too.
Just remember to check their rules before flying and have everything ready at check-in to make the process as simple as possible.
If you aren’t sure about something, ask. It is better to be overprepared and cautious than underprepared.
Finding the best dogs for flying
The breeds listed above have their pros and cons.
They tend to meet the weight and size restrictions to fly, but they also have various advantages and disadvantages when it comes to activity levels, behavior, and general temperament.
So, take your time to get to know these breeds a little better. Then check out reputable breeders or adoption shelters in your area. Sooner or later, the perfect flying companion for your adventures will enter your life.