In this article, we’ll discuss airline restrictions, breeds that meet those criteria, and what else you should take into consideration before booking a flight with your dog.
Table of Contents:
- What size dog will fit under an airplane seat?
- What is the weight limit for a dog to fly in the cabin?
- West Highland White Terrier
- Australian Terrier
- Toy Poodle
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Shih Tzu
- Japanese Chin
- Miniature Dachshund
- Lhasa Apso
- Bichon Frise
- Brussels Griffon
What size dog will fit under an airplane seat?
In order to bring your dog on an airplane with you, every airline requires them to fit in a pet carrier underneath the seat in front of you and remain there the entire time.
This means they must be comfortable in the small space provided—not crammed in, but instead having space to stand and move around.
Since this space tends to be small, only tiny breeds will be able to fit.
Dimensions vary, so you should check with your airline ahead of time to ensure your dog’s carrier or crate will fit on the plane.
To give you an idea, Jet Blue allows carry-ons up to 17″ L (43.2 cm) x 13″ W (33 cm) x 8″ H for under-the-seat baggage. Most other airlines seem to come close to these measurements as well, but it’s always best to call ahead or check your specific airline’s restrictions.
Heights, especially, vary quite a lot. At the higher end, I’ve seen 11-12 inch heights for the under-the-seat space. These inches will make all the difference for many of the breeds listed here.
What is the weight limit for a dog to fly in the cabin?
This, again, varies by airline. The lowest weight limit I’ve seen is from Air France at 17 pounds.
However, the standard seems to be 20 pounds. I recommend calling the airline in advance to okay your pup’s breed, weight, and carrier size ahead of time so that you don’t have problems boarding the plane.
Keep in mind that the weight limit often includes the weight of your dog and their carrier or crate—so if your pooch is just below the weight limit, they likely won’t be able to fly in-cabin due to the extra weight of their carrier. (see also ‘How Do You Train A Dog To Stay In A Carrier? [Everything You Need To Know]‘).
Also remember that just because your dog fits under the seat, doesn’t mean you should bring them on a flight. We’ll discuss this further as we dig into each breed, but dogs with health problems, anxiety, or behavioral problems are probably better off staying on the ground.
West Highland White Terrier
Westies are beautiful with their white coats and sweet fluffy faces. They’re also one of the larger breeds on this list, at the cusp of most airline’s restrictions.
Their average size is:
- 15-20 pounds
- 10-11 inches tall
If your terrier is able to travel in-cabin, they will likely be fine to fly. Just ensure they aren’t suffering from any health problems that make air travel unsafe.
Here’s another fluffy white dog that may or may not be under your airline’s height requirements!
The average Havanese is:
- 7-13 pounds
- 5-11.5 inches
If your Havanese is tall for their breed, or your airline has short under-the-seat spaces, flying with your pup in the cabin might not be possible.
However, if you can bring them along, your Havanese may have little to no trouble on the flight.
Pointy-eared Australian Terriers are brave and loving. They’re also well-suited to air travel—if they fit on the plane!
Your Australian Terrier might just fit under the weight and height restrictions of your airline. Your average pup is:
- 15-20 pounds
- 10-11 inches
Papillons are another tiny breed that tends to do well on planes.
They are bound to meet the weight standards set by most airlines. However, their height may become an issue if there is minimal under-the-seat storage space.
The average Papillon is:
- 5-10 pounds
- 8-11 inches tall
As one of the smallest dog breeds, Chihuahuas certainly fall below the weight requirements of any airline.
The average size for a Chihuahua is:
- 3-6 pounds
- 5-8 inches tall
A tall Chihuahua may not fit under the smallest under-the-seat spaces, so you should keep this in mind and check with your airline directly.
Chihuahuas are also very prone to anxiety. You’re probably better off leaving your Chihuahua at home with a dog sitter while you travel, as the stress of being on a plane is likely to be too much for them.
Of course, this doesn’t account for all Chihuahuas. And, you may be unable to leave your pup behind in some situations.
It’s ultimately up to you to decide whether it’s worth it to bring your Chihuahua on a flight.
Maltese are also one of the worst breeds to travel with.
Again, this is due to their tendency to have anxiety, which can be exasperated by unfamiliar things like air travel.
However, they’re tiny enough to fit underneath most airplane seats if you know your particular pup has the right temperament. On average, Maltese are:
- 7 pounds or less
- 7-9 inches tall
These fluffy dogs are another small breed that may fit beneath airline seats. Your average Pomeranian is:
- 3-7 pounds
- 6-7 inches tall
Pomeranians are a good choice to board planes because they aren’t overly prone to anxiety or health issues.
Of course, when thinking about whether it’s right to bring your Pomeranian onto a plane, think about them individually.
Does your Pom have any specific health problems or behavioral problems that make taking them on a plane a poor choice?
If your pup has health problems, you should consult your veterinarian before booking that flight.
Pekingese will fit in the cabin of some airlines, with a size of:
- 14 pounds or less
- 6-9 inches
However, these long-haired fellas are better off left at home or traveling via car. Their short snouts cause breathing problems that can be worsened by the stress that comes with air travel.
Many airports ban short-snouted breeds as it’s too big of a risk.
Toy Poodles are another anxiety-prone breed. If your dog has anxiety, a flight might not be for them.
However, they may fit under one of the taller airline seats. The size of your average Toy Poodle is:
- 4-6 pounds
- 10 or less inches tall
Standard Poodles, on the other hand, won’t fit in the cabin with you, as they’re simply too large of a breed.
These sweet dogs are so attached to their people! It’s clear to see why you’d want to bring them along on the flight.
We have some bad news for you regarding this. First, your pug probably will only fit under some airline seats due to their size:
- 14-18 pounds
- 10-13 inches
They may also go over the weight limit of some airlines, especially if your pup is a bit chunky!
It’s also strongly discouraged to bring your Pug on an airplane. Due to their short snout, Pugs come with breathing problems that make flying a very bad idea.
Many airlines ban Pugs, and other short-snouted dogs, for this reason.
Yorkies are wonderful, energetic dogs. But are these silky pups meant for air travel?
Well, the average Yorkshire Terrier is:
- Around 7 pounds
- 7-8 inches tall
This means they will fit under most airline seats, and they don’t even come close to hitting the weight limit.
However, Yorkies are yet another anxiety-prone breed. So you certainly want to think this through before planning a flight.
Shih Tzus will fit under some airline seats, though they may meet or come very close to the airline’s weight limits. Here is the average Shih Tzu size:
- 9-16 pounds
- 9-10.5 inches tall
Though Shih Tzus are prone to separation anxiety, they don’t seem to experience generalized anxiety at higher rates than other breeds.
But even though anxiety isn’t likely to be a problem for these pups, you may find that your airline bans this breed from flying.
Due to their short snouts, Shih Tzus tend to experience breathing problems that create a large health risk on airplanes.
Your fur baby is better off safe and sound on the ground or traveling by car.
These long-haired cuties are truly affectionate and sweet—but they’re not fit for air travel.
The average size of a Japanese Chin is:
- 7-11 pounds
- 8-11 inches tall
Though their size allows them to fit on some planes, they’re likely to be banned from traveling by your airport due to their short snouts.
The breathing problems caused by this make flying a big risk, and most airlines, pet owners, and veterinarians alike agree that it isn’t worth it.
Miniature Dachshunds, with their stubby legs, are also small enough to ride in-cabin!
Miniature Dachshunds are typically:
- Under 11 pounds
- 5-6 inches tall
However, they are another anxiety-prone breed. This can make them difficult to take on planes, making a flight miserable for both you and your pup.
When it comes to standard Dachshunds, however, they are typically too heavy to fly in cabin.
These intelligent, vivacious pups are wonderful to live with, but unfortunately, they don’t do so well on planes.
Lhasa Apsos, on average, are:
- 12-18 pounds
- 10-11 inches tall
These dogs are another that are prone to breathing problems due to their short muzzles. For this reason, many airlines ban these breeds.
We strongly discourage taking your Lhasa Apso on a flight.
Bichon Frise are another breed that will meet some airline’s standards and be too large to ride in-cabin at others.
The average Bichon Frise is:
- 12-18 pounds
- 5-11.5 inches tall
As long as they are allowed in the cabin, your Bichon Frise will likely make a lovely travel companion! Just make sure that you account for any health or behavioral problems your individual pup may have.
Brussels Griffons certainly make cute companions, and they’re small enough to fly in-cabin on some airlines.
The average Brussels Griffon is:
- 8-10 pounds
- 7-10 inches tall
However, it’s not a good idea to take these dogs on a flight. In fact, your airline may have them banned due to their face shape.
Dogs with short muzzles suffer from breathing problems, which in turn makes taking them on a plane risky.
Of course, this list is far from exhaustive! There are so many breeds of dogs, but we tried to cover as many small breeds as possible.
If you’re wondering about your dog specifically, we recommend checking with your veterinarian and seeing what they recommend.
You can also try asking on one of the many wonderful breed-specific forums to see if anyone else has traveled with your breed!