Sassy, personable, and loyal, Chihuahuas are some of the most popular dogs in North America. As with most small dogs, the Chihuahua has a large personality. The breed excels in agility and obedience training, loves to socialize and be around people, and is an excellent choice for novice dog owners. Their size is conducive to nearly all forms of travel, and their friendliness and affectionate nature make them both well-loved and kid friendly. All Chihuahuas will be able to travel in the cabin of an aircraft, but they are easily set off by loud, unexpected noises. Therefore, pet parents planning to travel with Chihuahuas should take the necessary steps to train and introduce the animal to a variety of transportation experiences prior to stepping aboard an airplane. Once you’ve trained your Chihuahua to anticipate the noises and movements of travel, you will have a loving, charming, and loyal travel companion.
Size and Travel Options: Most Chihuahuas stand at just five to eight inches tall and do not exceed six pounds. Most don’t shed very much and require minimal grooming maintenance. These characteristics coalesce to create a dog perfectly suited to all forms of travel. Chihuahuas will easily fit into airline-approved pet carriers, and they will slide easily under the seat in front of you—often with room to spare. Similarly, Chihuahuas are perfectly suited to all forms of public transportation, including trains, subways, and buses. Bringing a Chihuahua into a taxi or rideshare service is rarely an issue, but it is important to contact your driver in advance. If your Chihuahua is of the longhaired variety, we suggest a bath and grooming session prior to any type of travel, as this will significantly reduce the amount of shedding and hair left behind after a flight or ride.
Health and Physiology: Chihuahuas are generally very healthy, but some genetic issues may affect the breed. The most common Chihuahua ailments involve heart problems and patellar luxation. Those with patellar luxation can easily travel; they will simply need additional space to sit or lie down comfortably within the carrier. The two most common heart problems are Heart Murmurs and Pulmonic Stenosis, both of which involve the disturbance of blood flow through the chambers of the heart. Treatment is not necessary in mild cases of these conditions, so most Chihuahuas with heart issues will still be able to travel. However, if your dog is severely affected by Pulmonic Stenosis, surgery and medication is recommended. Flight and long-distance travel is not recommended during treatment. As with any breed, it is important to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a checkup and to obtain a health certificate. With your vet’s approval, you and your tiny friend will be in the air without problem.
Personality as a Travel Companion: Chihuahuas are extremely smart and easy to train. However, their large personalities can sometimes override months of training. Though they are confident, sudden, loud noises can cause them to bark. Barking episodes rarely last for more than a few seconds, but this can be enough to disturb a plane full of passengers. These dogs can also be high-strung and prone to nipping, snapping, and biting when frightened or threatened. They tend to defend their family and territory, which can lead to this extreme behavior. While Chihuahuas will not need to be handled by additional airline personnel (they do not have to ride in the cargo hold), this type of behavior may be enough to limit pet travel. To discourage these actions, train early and intensely, rewarding the dog with treats and affection. However, it is important to note that bad behavior is often limited to experiences of high stress; if your Chihuahua grows accustomed to transit, you should not have any problems.
The Chihuahua’s size and demeanor make them excellent travel companions. Perfect for buses, trains, and airplanes, these tiny, lovable dogs can accompany you on a variety of transit options. It is essential to train the Chihuahua to anticipate loud noises and new experiences. With the right preparation, this dog will become comfortable with flying and traveling.