Generally speaking, it is best for Tamaskan puppies to travel by car, despite possible carsickness, as it is usually more relaxing and you can stop to take breaks / stretch legs as necessary, on your own time. That being said, for international long-distance travel transport by car is not an option; therefore, puppies travel by plane. Some airlines allow small dogs and cats to travel (accompanied) in the passenger cabin inside a soft carry-bag, which must fit within specified dimensions (each airline sets their own dimensions).
When a puppy is traveling by plane, it is best to make arrangements with your breeder to have the puppy travel and a direct flight to a major airport, whenever possible. Even if that means you need to drive a little farther to that airport. This way the puppy is with you in your car and not stuck sitting at an airport in a crate waiting for his connecting flight.
The universal standard for most airlines is that pet + carry bag (combined weight) must weigh less than 8 kg (approx 18 lbs). At 8-9 weeks old, most male Tamaskan puppies are close to this weight limit and some extremely large male puppies will be slightly over. However, a small male puppy or average-size female puppy will usually be within the weight limit. If a puppy is slightly over the limit (including the weight of the carry case) it usually isn’t a big problem, depending on the airline/staff on duty, but any puppy that is significantly over the specified weight/size limit must travel in an IATA transport crate in the cargo area of the airplane. The dimensions of the crate depend on the size of the puppy.
Transport costs are not included in the puppy purchase price because the cost of transport depends on the method of transport as well as the destination. The cost of the soft carry-bag (for travel in the passenger cabin) varies but is usually around $100 and the cost of transport in the passenger cabin depends on the destination. The cost is normally your flight + extra $50 for carry-on (the puppy). The cost of the IATA transport crate is approximately $100 – $200 depending on the exact size and brand) and the cost of cargo transport depends if the puppy is traveling accompanied (with a human on board the flight: cost of round-trip human ticket + 50-150 for pet one-way) or unaccompanied (cargo shipping: cost depends on destination and crate size).
For instance: 1 puppy from Zagreb to North America usually costs approximately 1200 euros in a small size crate; 2 puppies from Zagreb to North America usually costs approximately 1600 euros (divided by 2 families = 800 euros per family) in a medium size crate; 3 puppies from Zagreb to North America usually costs approximately 1800 euros (divided by 3 families = 600 euros per family) in a large size crate… so it works out cheaper if more puppies travel together, despite the larger crate size.
It is important to keep in mind the national regulations (age limits + required vaccinations) for importing puppies as well as the airline regulations. While most airlines follow the same rules as the national regulations, which varies depending on the country, some airlines will only transport puppies that are aged 10+ weeks old, while others will only transport puppies that are aged 12+ weeks old. Some airlines will only accept puppies that are 15+ or 16+ weeks old.
Whenever possible, we try to ensure that puppies are able to fly from 8-10+ weeks old… sooner rather than later. This is because it is less stressful for puppies to travel internationally at a younger age, in the sense that the journey has less of a long-term traumatic impact and they tend to recover much faster from the stress of the journey. Whenever possible, we try to avoid shipping puppies around 15-16+ weeks old, as this usually coincides with a major “puppy fear phase” and, at this age, the journey can have more of a long-term traumatic impact and they tend to take longer to recover from the stress of the journey.
What is the best age for a puppy to go to its new home?
Whenever possible, for long-distance international flights some breeders will try to ensure that 2-3 puppies travel together in the same crate. Talk to your breeder to see if this is an option for you. Many airlines allow 2 puppies to travel together, and some allow up to 3 puppies in the same crate. By traveling together with their siblings for comfort and companionship, the journey is much less stressful overall. It also has the added benefit that the new owners can then split/share the transport costs so it works out cheaper for everyone. Of course, this requires a lot of organization and communication between the different families and the transshipping company but it’s definitely the best solution overall.
Toys may sometimes be included in the transport crate to keep the puppies occupied during the journey; however, these are sometimes removed by airport customs/security along the route. A food/water bowl (attached to the door of the crate) is mandatory; unfortunately, these are usually made out of plastic and can be easily broken. Puppies must always have access to fresh water during the journey but it is not recommended to feed them before/during the flight. We do not put any blankets or soft/rope toys inside the crate, as it is too risky that the puppies will chew/swallow pieces, which can cause a life-threatening intestinal obstruction. Instead, it is best to have multiple sheets of newspaper on the bottom of the crate as it is both absorbent and not harmful if chewed/swallowed. To be completely safe, there are no collars, leashes, and harnesses. These can be attached to the outside of the crate, or included in a package attached to the top of the crate.
Regardless if 1, 2, or 3 puppies are traveling in the transport crate, acclimatization to the crate is of paramount importance. Talk to your breeder about their crate training prior to shipping. By the time the puppies are ready to fly, they usually don’t mind being in the crate for extended periods with prior acclimation. Of course, after a long and stressful journey, 10+ hour international flight(s), they will usually have an aversion to going back inside the crate again, at least for a while, once they have arrived at their destination. When they are settling into their new homes, it’s important not to force the puppies to go back into the crate again so soon, if they don’t want to, and to gradually build-up the time they spend inside the crate with consideration to the fact that the crate may now have a negative association, which must be gently overcome through positive reinforcement and plenty of patience.