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Best Dogs for Travel

Are you someone who is looking to adopt a dog but also loves to travel? Traveling with your canine companion can be exciting, as long as you know the facts and have the right breed.

Lynn M. Hayner  |  Aug 1st 2019


Great trips for me include my RV, husband and German Shepherd Dog, Anja. While Anja (as a pup) flew with me in an airplane cabin once, she’s 65 pounds now, so that’s not an option. We stick to the road. But whether you’re a fan of car-tripping, hauling an RV or cruising on a plane, there’s a dog for you.

Ready, set, fly!

Size matters when it comes to airline travel. Any dog accompanying you in the cabin must fit into an airline-approved carrier under the seat in front of you. You’ll have to pay a fee, usually about $100 or more each way. If you are flying to a foreign country, like Aruba, there also may be a weight limit. For Aruba, you cannot bring a dog weighing more than 20 pounds. Do your research first with the country and the airline, before deciding to fly with your dog.

Traveling by plane with your dog

Traveling by plane with your dog. Photography ©alexkich | Getty Images

Preparing your pup for flying begins with time in his carrier on the ground, adding longer periods. I let my new puppy, Anja, for example, sleep in her airline carrier next to me for two days before we flew home to Texas. Puppies aside, which small breeds make the best jet setters? Individual personalities, extent of socialization, and energy levels matter. Maybe take off with the devoted and portable Chihuahua (he’s under 6 pounds), the laid-back and quiet Miki (a new, highly social breed) or the eager-for-inclusion Yorkshire Terrier. The Yorkie may, however, need positive reinforcement to keep quiet; Terriers like to vocalize traveling reviews!

Hitting the road

For highway excursions, dog size matters too, at least relative to the vehicle. A Labrador Retriever that can’t squeeze into a compact car might fit well in an SUV. Activity requirements factor into the equation as well. While energetic sporting breeds make for great camping and hiking buddies, they may grow restless on long car trips.

Breeds that value inclusion most highly often make the best travelers. A people-focused breed such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or Papillon will appreciate family time on long driving days. The amiable Boston Terrier will snuggle up for naps in the car and happily greet new friends at rest stops. The sturdy Australian Terrier makes for an adaptable traveling buddy. His weather-resistant coat comes in handy when it rains along the route! The mid-sized Boxer adjusts to any adventure; he also doesn’t leave buckets of dog hair on seats. On the road, watch for signs of motion sickness, take frequent breaks, and keep your dog safely restrained or crated.

Let’s not leave the protection breeds off the list. I especially appreciate my Anja’s diligence when we stop in isolated stops. She, like many herding breeds, prioritizes keeping track of family. She deems her job well done each time we all climb back into the truck, safely together.

Truckin’ breeds

Truck drivers are on the road for work rather than pleasure, but many enjoy four-legged companionship. On our travel stops, I see a diverse set of breeds climbing down out of the big rigs. High-shedding or super active dog breeds aren’t the top choice. I rarely see large breeds, but rather many sturdy small to mid-sized breeds. How about a 9- to 13-pound hardy and sociable Havanese? He can adapt to any environment except the one that separates him from family. When it comes to the social and cheerful (and low shedding) Poodle, Truckers have three sizes to choose: a Standard Poodle weighs about 60 pounds, and can leap down from the cab unassisted. The Miniature Poodle weighs in at about 16 pounds, making him a great mid-sized companion. Truckers wanting the smallest variety can opt for sharing the road with the 8-pound Toy Poodle. Pugs and Dachshunds are also popular trucking buddies. Keep all dogs safely leashed of course, but pay especially close attention to hounds. Rest areas are chock full of irresistible smells!

Happy homebodies

Some adventures (around the world cruises, theme parks, for example) aren’t generally dog friendly. Fortunately some breeds are content to stay home, at least occasionally. These breeds are usually the relaxed breeds that often sleep a lot (such as the Greyhound) or the rather independent types (such as the Alaskan Malamute). Some of the non-sporty types such as the French Bulldog are especially social, so comfortable staying at a friend’s house. Some guardian dogs, such as the Anatolian Shepherd or Mastiff, are content to keep watch over the home in your absence with a well-known dog sitter.