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Transporting Large Breed Dogs

Published on: September 22, 2023  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

newfoundland dog

Transporting large breed dogs (like Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Newfoundlands, and Mastiffs) can be a daunting task, but with the right preparation, it can be a smooth and stress-free experience. One of the most important factors to consider is the size of the dog. Large-breed dogs require more space and comfort during transportation, so it is essential to make travel arrangements that can accommodate their size.

Travel Kennel

If your dog is flying domestically or internationally, they will need an IATA-compliant travel kennel. Depending on your giant dog's breed and dimensions, they may not fit in a standard plastic kennel. In that case, they will likely need a custom wooden crate. Many pet transport companies (like Starwood) can have one custom-built for you based on your dog's exact measurements. Keep in mind that the kennel must be large enough so your dog can stand up, sit down, spin around, and lie down comfortably.


Proper hydration is essential for any pet who is traveling, but especially larger dogs. During transportation, it is important to ensure that your large breed dog has access to fresh water at all times. This can be achieved by attaching a water bottle or a spill-proof water bowl to the inside of their travel kennel. Make sure to fill it with enough water to last throughout the journey, as it may not be possible to refill it while on the road or in the air.

In addition to providing water during transportation, it is also important to monitor your dog's hydration levels before and after the journey. Make sure they are adequately hydrated before leaving, and offer them water as soon as possible after reaching your destination. Signs of dehydration in dogs include dry gums, excessive panting, loss of skin elasticity, and lethargy. If you notice any of these signs, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately.


Airlines that transport pets use different aircraft for different routes. It's important to understand that not all airplanes are created equally. Some are smaller than others and can only fit smaller pet kennels in the cargo space below. That being said, not all aircraft or flight routes can accommodate very large travel kennels. You'll need to check with the airline or your pet transport company to ensure that they will be able to accommodate your dog's kennel to the destination. You may need to be a bit flexible with the flight options, as a direct flight may not be possible. 

Breed Restrictions

When planning to transport a large breed dog, it is important to be aware of any breed restrictions that may be in place. Some airlines and destination countries have specific regulations regarding which breeds of dogs are allowed to travel or be imported. It is crucial to check with both the airline and the destination country to ensure that there won't be any issues bringing your dog along.

In some cases, import may be allowed, but the airline might require certain breeds to be transported in a special CR-82 reinforced travel kennel. This type of kennel provides extra durability and security for strong-breed dogs during transportation.

Medical History

When moving your large dog, it is crucial to consult with your veterinarian to ensure that they are in good health and will be able to travel safely. This is especially important for snub-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds, older pets, or pets with pre-existing health conditions, as they may be at a higher risk during transportation. While transporting these dogs can be more challenging, it is not impossible with proper planning and precautions.

Before embarking on a journey with your large breed dog, schedule a thorough check-up with your veterinarian. They will be able to assess your dog's overall health and provide any necessary vaccinations or treatments. Your vet can also offer advice on how to make the journey as comfortable and stress-free as possible for your furry friend.


When considering housing options for your large breed dog, it is important to take into account any restrictions that may be in place. Some countries or housing communities have specific rules and regulations regarding pet ownership, which may include restrictions on certain breeds or sizes of dogs. Before making a decision on where to live, it is crucial to do your research and ensure that your new home will allow you to bring your beloved dog with you.

In addition to checking for any pet restrictions, it is also essential to think about your dog's needs when choosing a housing option. Larger breed dogs require more space to move around and exercise, so it is important to have an appropriate environment for them. Ideally, you should look for a home that has a yard or access to nearby parks where your dog can run and play. This will help them stay active and prevent them from feeling confined or restricted in their living space.

Furthermore, it is important to consider the size of your dog when selecting a home. Large breed dogs need ample room to move comfortably and stretch their legs. Cramped living quarters can lead to frustration, restlessness, and even behavior problems. Make sure that the living space you choose provides enough space for your dog to roam freely without feeling confined or restricted.

Another factor to consider is the availability of pet-friendly amenities in the area. Look for neighborhoods that have dog parks, walking trails, or other pet-friendly facilities nearby. This will not only provide your dog with opportunities for exercise but also allow them to socialize with other dogs and enjoy a fulfilling and enriching lifestyle.

Dog Import Requirements

When traveling with your dog, it is crucial to research and understand the specific dog import requirements of your destination country. These requirements are put in place to protect the health and safety of both animals and humans, and failure to comply with them can result in delays, quarantine, or even denial of entry for your pet.

One of the most common import requirements is microchipping. Many countries require dogs to be microchipped and for the microchip to be registered with a recognized database. This helps ensure that your dog can be easily identified and returned to you if they were to get lost or go missing while abroad.

Vaccinations are another important import requirement. Most countries require dogs to be up to date on core vaccinations, such as rabies, distemper, and parvovirus. It is important to note that some countries have specific timeframes for when these vaccinations should be administered prior to travel, so make sure to check the specific requirements of your destination.

In addition to vaccinations, some countries may also require blood testing to ensure that your dog is free from certain diseases, such as rabies or Leishmaniasis. These tests are typically done at an accredited laboratory and the results must be within a certain timeframe of travel.

Parasite treatments are also commonly required for dog importation. This typically includes treatments for internal parasites, such as worms, as well as external parasites, such as fleas and ticks. These treatments are important not only for the health and well-being of your dog but also to prevent the introduction of parasites to the destination country.

Government documents are often required for dog importation as well. This may include a pet passport, health certificate, or import permit. These documents serve as proof that your dog meets all the necessary requirements and is fit to travel.

It is important to note that some countries may have additional requirements or restrictions for certain breeds of dogs. For example, certain breeds may be prohibited altogether, or they may require additional documentation or permits for importation. It is crucial to thoroughly research and understand these breed-specific requirements before making any travel arrangements.

Hire a Professional

To ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey for both you and your dog, it is highly recommended to consult with a professional pet relocation service and a veterinarian who specializes in international travel. They will have the knowledge and expertise to guide you through the import requirements of your destination country and help you navigate the necessary paperwork and preparations.

By taking the time to research and prepare your large breed dog for travel, you can ensure a stress-free and enjoyable travel experience for both you and your furry friend.

Starwood Animal Transport has rebranded to Starwood Pet Travel. We are still the same great company with the best team, just now with a slightly different name.