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dogsailors 03-03-2007 01:43 PM

cruising with bull dogs
I am planing a long term cruise with my husband and 2 bull terriers. Both of my dogs are under 50 pounds and are well behaved. Has anyone done any cruising with a bully? I am curious as to which countries do not allow them as well as reactions from port officials. Any info would be a great help.

Valiente 03-03-2007 09:37 PM

You don't say where you are from or where you wish to ultimately go, nor do you say what kind of boat you have. So I will have to argue from general principles here, principles based on having owned two boats since 1999 and one bull terrier from 1986-2001 (R.I.P.).

Do NOT try to make sailors out of bull terriers, particularly two of them. Reasons to avoid dogs in general include the need of dogs to get daily exercise...exceedingly difficult on a pitching deck. Bull terriers do tend to sleep and fart a great deal, but they can also "fetch the tree" or "retrieve the tire" or "drag the sled" for as long as your arms can hold out. They are immensely strong for their size, and if they are not well-exercised (and not just by demolishing supposedly indestructable "Kongs"), they will likely grow peevish, fat and ill-tempered. Also, a boat is BORING for a interesting bits of dirt, trees or other dogs' puckerpoints to sniff, and insufficient cabin sole space for the classic bull terrier "spins" that regularly dislodge terrestrial furniture. And let's not forget the epic craps a pair of bull terriers can produce, along with the gas-passing and chow breath and incessant rolling to get comfortable, which will surely wear holes in your expensively Sunbrella-clad V-berth.

And let's not forget that bull terriers are solid, almost cinder-block-like animals. That egg-shaped head will take a bad tumble down a steep companionway, and if you can carry one in one arm while safely going up and down yourself, then you are a circus giant with an entertainer's pension and don't require my advice. The same brute solidity makes them poor swimmers (sinkers, really) and they suffer from inertial forces found in abundance aboard sea-going vessels. Not to mention their relatively thin coats mean they'll get easily chilled in a damp breeze...when they sneeze, I doubt you'll be carrying enough Spray Nine to remedy the carnage.

Lastly, a large number of places will quarantine dogs of any breed, and a subset of those will refuse you entry. I strongly dissuade you therefore to take your dogs, lovable as I well suspect them to be, cruising. If you do, restrict your trips to North American daysails, where every 50 miles sees a dog-friendly, restriction-free harbour where your little darlings can eat a 2 by 4 or six and have a nice, relaxing BM.

Hope this helps.

sailingdog 03-03-2007 09:54 PM

Go to and see if they have information on the countries you're interested in visiting and what their quarantine regulations are.

ianhlnd 03-04-2007 01:13 AM

You gotta be jokin right? No person in their right mind would take two dogs on an extended cruise. Two days at sea you'd be slippin and slidin in dog crap, not to mention sea sickness, the additional water requirements, the different entry requirements for other countries, etc., etc., etc.

The only reason to take a live animal aboard a cruising ship is to have it for dinner 2 weeks out. If you need a good recipe, I have one, stuffed with rice.

sailaway21 03-04-2007 05:26 AM

Transporting animals by sea from country to country is a huge impracticality. Animals carry diseases that may not be present in the countries you visit. Countries frown on this, especially the US. You may even find your animals subject to quarantine upon return. If it is essential that you land; you may find that your choices are extermination of your animals or no pratique.

Animals at sea are a huge pain in the neck for, what should be, obvious reasons. If you must have animals on your boat I would advise you to take stores south of Hatteras. With the aid of a little lax house-keeping you will soon have cockroaches the size of, well, bull terriers.

dogsailors 03-04-2007 08:05 AM

I find it hard to believe that no one travels with 2 dogs! Do you leave your kids at home when your on vacation? It seems that plenty of people cruise with dogs. I have trained the younger to poop on a square foot of carpet. Now these are little bull terriers both under 50 pounds. I absolutely cannot leave them behind we plan on cruising the Caribbean then mexico for the next 5 years or so. We will hopefully be cruising on a valiant 37.

sailingdog 03-04-2007 08:43 AM

Several long-term cruisers I know do travel with dogs... the dogs have been trained to use a piece of astro-turf on the swim platform....which is easily cleaned by dunking it over the side (of course you have to be past the 3nm limit ;) ). I don't really see a problem with it, provided the dogs are not super-energetic...a border collie would probably be a bad boat dog... if they are super energetic...can't swim... One person has a Newfie on board... but it gets plenty of exercise swimming.

The real problem is customs....and animal quarantine procedures. You should check with as I suggested before, as I believe they may have some of the animal quarantine issues listed there. Most former Imperial colonies and crown properties seem to have fairly draconian animal quarantine procedures from what I've been told.

dogsailors 03-04-2007 08:44 AM

according to noonsite thanks for the tip sailing dog dogs are not allowed in many countries in the middle east. Turns out i'm not interested in traveling to saudi arabia. thanks for the replies.

Valiente 03-04-2007 12:44 PM


Originally Posted by dogsailors
according to noonsite thanks for the tip sailing dog dogs are not allowed in many countries in the middle east. Turns out i'm not interested in traveling to saudi arabia. thanks for the replies.

Or Europe or Australia or New Zealand or some other nice places, either.

If you go to the Caribbean, you might have better luck, but the advice regarding exercise, food and water, and the tendency of bull terriers to skitter off the deck remains. And yes, some people *don't* take their children. They wait until they are at school or grown.

But they aren't children, are they? They are dogs. Unless you are tied to a dock, dogs have little place on a small boat. When my old bully died in 2001, my wife and I decided that we wanted to circumnavigate within ten years, a goal we are well on the way to achieving, or at least commencing, by '09. This fell well within the lifespan of a dog, and having seen other people with dogs aboard in Lake Ontario (where the shore is never more than six hours away), we decided that to have a dog with us of a bull terrier's size, temperament and swimming ability would be cruelly confining, messy and a bureaucratic nightmare.

But you will do as you will.

dogsailors 03-04-2007 05:26 PM

Europe does not have any problems with dogs. Seems cruel to leave the kids behind let alone dogs. We dont plan to circumnavigate but we do plan on crossing the atlantic some time . My dogs have a good 6-10 years left in them I am not putting off cruising, the dogs will adapt as they do to a lot of things as long as there is a bed to snuggle in. I will probably have to write a book about traveling with dogs since NO ONE does it.

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