It’s a dilemma every pet owner will occasionally face: suffer the guilt of leaving your dog behind while you go on vacation, or take them with you and risk massive air costs, travel sickness, and a huge inconvenience (and stress) for all concerned. Of course, the cost of boarding your pet in a kennel while you’re away can sometimes outstrip any of the costs and issues of taking them with you, making it less a question of whether to take them and more a question of how best to lessen the problems of doing so. Pop along to any pet center, and you’ll find a stack of herbal concoctions designed to help settle your pet’s queasy stomach on long car journeys. If natural remedies aren’t cutting it, most vets will be happy to prescribe a few little pills to help them along- if your pet gets stressed at the mere mention of travel, they’ll probably have a few tricks up their sleeve (and prescription pads) to help with anxiety as well. That said, it’s always easier to avoid a problem altogether than have to tackle it each and every time you leave your house with them in tow: if you’re a frequent traveler just about to invest in your first canine companion, it’s worth bearing in mind that some dog breeds are better travelers than others. Here, we look at a rundown of the top five dog breeds for traveling (and give some hints about which are best left at home).
1. Bichon Frise
Not only are Bichon Frise small enough to fly with you in the passenger hold of most air carriers (thus sidestepping the stress of traveling in cargo), they’re also one of the happiest and most contented breeds around. Some smaller breeds tend to be highly strung and will become anxious at the mere glimpse of their pet carrier. The happy-go-lucky Bichon Frise has no such problems and will be happy to accompany you just about wherever you go. As well as being the perfect size for airline travel, they also make great driving buddies, and will usually be happy enough to watch the world go flashing past the windows without any undue concern.
2. Brussels Griffon
As traveling companions go, you’ll struggle to find one quite so relaxed as the Brussels Griffon. Their pint-sized statures make them easy enough to fit under the seat in most airlines, while their laid-back, cheerful demeanor is resistant to all the usual stresses and challenges of travel. As good with other animals as they are with people, you’ll be unlikely to face any problems in busy airports, while their diminutive size makes them more likely to be accepted in hotels than their larger counterparts. If you’re planning on traveling by car rather than plain, the Brussels Griffon makes a great passenger, and you’ll have no problem coaxing them into the backseat.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The zen-like Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is all but resistant to the stresses of travel; while most breeds need to be comforted during flights or long drives, if you’re lucky enough to own a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, it’s probably more likely they’ll be the ones comforting you. Small enough to fit easily under the seat on most flights, peaceful enough not to bark at every passing stranger (and cute enough not to worry said passing stranger even if they do), and friendly enough to be welcomed at most hotels, travel will be a breeze with this pint-sized hero.
4. Golden Retriever
Ok, I’ll admit it… if you’re a frequent flyer, a Golden Retriever isn’t the best option (trying to squash them under the seat of a plane is about as feasible as pushing toothpaste back in its tube). But if you tend to travel more by land than air, you’ll struggle to find a more suitable co-pilot. Relaxed, friendly, calm… pop them in the back of the car and they’ll either go straight to sleep or keep themselves mightily entertained watching the passing landscape (just don’t wind the window down too far in case they try to engage with it more than they should).
Some smaller breeds can get anxious over every little thing, making them ill-suited to the stresses and strains of travel. Despite being one of the most diminutive breeds around, Havanese buck the trend by being one of the most relaxed little dogs you’ll likely come across. If you’re looking for a calm, chilled-out travel companion, this might well be your perfect match. As well as managing to sit through even the most stressful situation without turning a hair, they’re the perfect size to cuddle on long air-trips- if you’re an anxious traveler yourself, you’ll be surprised at how much their serene outlook rubs off on you.
Now we’ve seen which canines make the best travel companions, it’s time to learn which make the worst. In no particular order… Chihuahuas (all dogs can suffer anxiety, but Chihuahuas tend to be more prone than most); Dachshunds (like Chihuahuas, Dachshunds don’t cope well with sudden changes and can become easily stressed); Maltese (another small breed that makes an anxious traveler); Toy Poodles (Poodles, especially the smaller varieties, tend to be highly-strung and susceptible to stress); French Bulldogs (snub-nosed dogs like the Bulldog can struggle to breathe in stressful situations, and are banned from most airlines for that reason); English Bulldogs (the English cousin of the French Bulldog is another breed whose anatomy makes air travel out of the question); Pugs (another brachycephalic breed that most airlines won’t entertain); Pitbulls (the Pitbull faces a double whammy: some airlines have banned them because of the difficulties they face breathing under stress, others have banned them because of their stereotype as a “dangerous” breed); Cane Corsos (if you’re planning on flying with a giant breed like the Cane Corso, you’ll need to fly them cargo in a reinforced crate- a stressful experience that’s best avoided wherever possible).