My personal experience with importing/exporting dogs.

I have, in the last 5 years, imported three cardigan welsh corgis and exported one. The first time I imported, everything went fine. The paperwork was fine, the travel was fine and the puppy was lovely. She came at about 5 months of age. She finished her Am. Championship within weeks after she started showing. She was sweet and had a lovely temperament. She was from a great breeder.

I exported a puppy about two years ago. I was worried, but I did wait a bit to get to know the person I would be sending my dog to, and she has proven to be a wonderful home, keeping me updates with photos and wins. It was a good experience, and we waited for each other.

This summer I again decided since I had such difficulty finding a good black boy and I’ve have weak fronts and a few things I’ve had trouble fixing, I wanted to try to import again. And, so I did.

Here are some things I came up against and what I would do differently. Now, these are my opinions. I’ve left names out of course.


  1. NEVER ship your puppy before they are legally able to be shipped. A breeder from Russia told me this is something they do all the time, and it is fine, but it is NOT fine to ship your puppy before the age the airline allows. My two puppies first came here with a transporter – who had other dogs with her as well – she and the dogs were sent back to Russia. It was an ordeal. I felt awful for her and the dogs, but I was also frustrated because I felt the breeder shouldn’t have pushed. She had said there was no reason to wait until 4 months, and she would charge board if we did that. I never found out the actual reason the dogs were sent back to Russia. If a breeder is pushing to ship too soon find a another breeder; and clarify this before you send ANY money to ANYONE!
  2. It’s expensive to import, and you deserve to pick your puppy after careful evaluation and video. Some breeders overseas want you to choose a puppy and place a deposit basically at any point after birth. There are breeders that do it this way, and breeders who will wait until the appropriate age. When I was planning to export my girl, I took extensive videos and weekly photos and did not collect payment until right before she was sent. If a breeder is not sending you photos or is unwilling to send video or photos, it’s impossible to see how your dog is growing. Red flags all around!!
  3. Contact references! Just because you see a breeder is friends on Facebook with a bunch of people you know, it doesn’t mean they are reputable. Find out who is reputable, and go from there.
  4. Cargo is the ONLY way to ship safely. Unless your transporter is bringing over ONE dog only, it is very risky. Cargo was successful 3/3 times while transporting was successful 1/2 times, for me. If a breeder is not willing to handle their paperwork for shipping, thats a problem, IMHO.
  5. You don’t always have to handle customs. Some airlines – like SWIS air in Chicago will get your puppy through customs for you. I’ve not had to get a puppy through customs yet, thanks to this airline! Talk to the different airlines and reach out to other people who have imported and exported. Find out the challenges you might face at your local airport.
  6. Why import? There is definitely a lot to gain by importing, when using the right breeder and one who is knowledgable in shipping. Short pasterns, lovely heads and beautiful bone is what I received in one of my puppies. In the other, she will be placed as a pet. I saw videos, but I didn’t ask for the stacked photos I should have. I think it’s okay to politely ask stacked photos as the puppies grow, and if they can’t deliver, I would wonder why.
  7. There’s a whole big world out there. In retrospect, there are some things I would have done differently. Sometimes it can really feel like you are NEVER going to find the puppy you would like here in the US, but there are some breeders who will work with you. It’s expensive to import… but working with the right breeder the right way is the best way to go about it.. I should have asked a lot of these questions ahead of time, and I didn’t. I hoped for the best. I was halfway lucky things worked out the way they did.  There are some really great breeders out there, and others who breed simply to make money without thought of improving the breed (just like here!).


Be cautious. Ask the questions. Find the right people. If it’s what you want to do, be patient and it will work! 🙂

About Nurse for Wear

I am a Pediatric Nurse, and Clinical Assistant Professor in Chicago. My areas of interest in research are ADHD in pediatric patients and postpartum depression. I am a mother of 3, and by nature, I am an advocate. My hobbies include reading, copious amounts of laundry and successfully doing things people told me I would be able to accomplish.
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