Can Shih Tzus Fly on Airplanes?

can shih tzus fly on airplanes - shih tzu dressed as a pilot
ID: 53078341 Depositphotos

Can Shih Tzus fly on airplanes? The quick answer is no. A lot of airlines have banned brachycephalic dog breeds. That means dogs with snub noses. These types of dogs are more prone to die in cargo holds and on the tarmac in hot weather. But what about in the cabin itself? Well, that depends.

Can Shih Tzus Fly in the Cabin?

Some airlines might allow you to fly with your Shih Tzu in the cabin, but not all of them. In 2018, United Airlines added Shih Tzus to the no-fly list due to deaths on United Flights. 

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association brachycephalic breeds, such as Shih Tzus “…don’t breathe as efficiently as dogs with normal-length snouts and can have difficulty cooling off when they’re playing or exercising, or if they’re stressed or overheated.”

While flying in the cabin is certainly safer for Shih Tzus, they are still in a small, confined space where they may get overheated or stressed out. 

Once on the plane, your Shih Tzu will have to remain in its crate regardless of the temperature or whether or not your dog is in distress. 

You will not be allowed to open the carrier to allow for more airflow or to calm your stressed-out Shih Tzu.

You might also enjoy:

Why Does My Shih Tzu Follow Me Everywhere?

Do Shih Tzus Think They Are Human?

I completely understand why you might want or need to fly with your Shih Tzu, but you really want to give it serious thought before you decide to do so. 

Talk with your veterinarian to determine if your Shih Tzu is up for the trip.

Take your veterinarian’s advice and you will have to check with your specific airline to determine if they allow Shih Tzus in the cabin. 

balloons attached to a shih tzu to make him fly
Depositphotos ID: 151316612 Copyright: chaoss

Can Shih Tzus Fly in the Cargo Hold?

Most airlines will not allow Shih Tzus to fly in the cargo hold.

While it might sound horrible to have your pup fly in the cargo hold, you should keep in mind that they receive the same air and temperatures that you do in the cabin. 

It certainly won’t be a fun ride and might freak your dog out, but the air circulation and temperature are fine during the flight. Problems can arise while the airplane is on the tarmac. 

When the plane is on the tarmac, the cargo hold where the dogs and cats are does not receive air conditioning or heat. That is true as well while they are in their carriers on the tarmac before they are loaded on the plane.

It is at this time that the dog is at the greatest risk. If the temperature is too high, they can be subject to heatstroke and could even die. 

This is true of any dog, but for a snub-nosed dog such as a Shih Tzu, the danger is even higher which is why most airlines will not allow you to fly your Shih Tzu in the cargo hold.

While the thought of your dog dying on an airplane flight is horrible, the good news is that it is quite rare. Thousands of dogs fly, in the cargo hold, every year and are just fine. 

In fact, in 2017, 507,000 animals flew on planes in the United States, and of those 507,000 only 24 of those animals died, according to the Chicago Tribune

Eighteen of those deaths were on United Airlines which is why they have changed their policies and no longer allow certain dogs, such as Shih Tzus to fly on their planes.

In one horrible case, the flight attendant forced a pet owner to put their dog in the overhead compartment. Needless to say, there was not enough air in the compartment and the dog died.

So you need to keep in mind that even if your dog is in the cabin with you, the actions of the flight attendants can lead to terrible outcomes for your pet.

Summer months are the most dangerous, so keep this in mind if you are planning to have any of your dogs fly in the cargo hold of an airplane.

two shih tzus in a basket with balloons attached flying over a city
Depositphotos ID: 185323030 Copyright: chaoss

How to Fly Your Shih Tzu Safely

There is one option to fly your Shih Tzu safely within the United States. It is more expensive, but it might be worth the cost depending on your personal situation.

There is a service called Pet Airways. On Pet Airways, your pet is the passenger. The airline only flies pets and the pets are in the main cabin. 

Once on board, they are monitored by pet attendants that will make sure your Shih Tzu is happy and safe. 

If there is an issue such as your pet getting sick or upset, there is someone there to deal with the issue and make sure your pet is okay.

The flights are a bit more expensive than regular flights but they aren’t that bad. You can check out Pet Airways here.

If you’re looking for a carrier that is airlines approved you should check out the Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Pet Carrier. It comes in small, medium, and large sizes, and should be approved for most airlines. 

Related Questions:

Does American Airlines Allow Shih Tzus to Fly?

American Airlines does not allow Shih Tzus to fly as checked baggage meaning they cannot fly in the cargo hold. In fact, they don’t allow any brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed dogs or cats) to fly in the cargo hold. 

What Is The Weight Limit For a Dog to Fly in the Cabin?

Most airlines, will not allow a dog over 20 pounds to fly in the cabin. If your dog is larger than this, they would have to fly in the cargo hold.

Of course, there are exceptions to this if your dog is a service animal.

Can My Dog Sit on My Lap During a Flight?

No, they can’t. All airlines require you to keep your dog in its carrier for the entire flight. You are not allowed to open the carrier or take your dog out of the carrier on the plane.

You also have to be able to store the carrier under the seat in front of you. You can not place it on your lap or in the seat next to you even if you paid for the seat next to you.

To Sum it All Up:

It’s very difficult to fly with a Shih Tzu. While some airlines might allow you to have your Shih Tzu in the cabin of the plane if its carrier will fit under the seat in front of you, almost no airline will allow you to check your Shih Tzu and have it fly in the cargo hold. 


why does my shih tzu follow me everywhere - long-haired shih tzu sitting in the grass

Why Does My Shih Tzu Follow Me Everywhere?

can shih tzus drink milk - cow looking at a pitcher of milk

Can Shih Tzus Drink Milk?