Common Breed Restrictions for Renters and What to Do if Your Dog Is Turned Away

As a renter or prospective renter, you’re already aware that there are a number of points to consider when deciding to move into an apartment or rental property. Apart from price, location, and amenities, property-specific policies and restrictions should also be a consideration factor, especially if you already have or are planning on adding pets to your family.

For many landlords and property managers, pets can be a complicated subject. Some properties will not permit pets of any sort, while others will allow pets but impose deposits, fees, or specific restrictions to ensure a safe and hospitable environment for all tenants and staff.

If you’re planning on housing a dog, it’s especially important to be mindful of any limitations that the owner or management company has in place. For example, dogs may be limited to certain sizes and weights, and vaccination or other veterinary records may be required before a pet application is approved.

Many times, height and weight restrictions can be flexible in that tenants can pay an additional deposit or higher monthly fees for heavier or larger dogs. However, there’s often one limitation that landlords hold firm on: breeds.

Reasons for Rental Breed Restrictions

The most common reason why landlords would not permit certain breeds on property is safety. Breeds that show a propensity for aggression are more likely to cause bodily harm to other residents, building employees, community members, and neighboring pets they may run into inside or outside the property.

Some larger dogs may also be more prone to destructive behavior. Breeds that are rowdy or like to scratch, claw, and dig can damage property and create a headache for maintenance and housekeeping staff in common areas.


Another reason why an apartment may restrict breeds is due to insurance coverage. Some property insurers may force landlords to restrict certain creeds as a condition of coverage. For the insurer, this helps them minimize their risk and better control for any potential liability expenses should there be an incident at the property. Even if the landlord wanted to permit a certain breed, they still cannot do so if their insurance company restricts it.

Finally, local legislation may dictate what breeds may or may not be permitted. Many counties throughout the United States have banned the ownership of pit bulls, for example. In these instances, property owners must abide by local laws and refuse to house any illegal breeds.

Breeds Commonly Restricted at Rental Properties

It’s important to note that landlords can restrict any breed they want. While studies have shown that aggression cannot always be accurately predicted based solely on a dog’s breed, some landlords feel safer by issuing blanket policies that fully restrict all dogs of a certain breed without consideration for the individual animal’s behavior.

Breeds that are commonly restricted include:

  • Pit bulls (American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog)
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Great Danes
  • Rottweilers
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Boxers
  • Chow Chows
  • Cane Corsos
  • Mastiffs
  • Akitas
  • German Shepherds

Wolfdogs or wolf-hybrid dogs are also commonly restricted from residential properties.

What to Do if You Own a Restricted Breed

While your Pit Bull may be the most loving dog in the neighborhood, that doesn’t mean that you can house it if your complex or landlord has the breed on its restrictions list. However, if you have a flexible landlord, there are some actions you can take to help put them at ease that your pet is actually a friend, not a foe.

  • Request a Pet Interview: Ask for your dog to be “interviewed” by the landlord or onsite staff. By allowing the individuals in charge to observe the dog and its behavior, this can make them more comfortable in allowing it to be housed on property. If it’s shown to be loving and approachable towards strangers, then they can likely expect it to act the same towards your neighbors.
  • Gather Vet Records: Always be prepared with full records from your veterinarian and ensure your dog is compete and up-to-date with vaccinations. This shows that you take your job as a pet owner seriously and the animal does not pose a significant health risk should it bite another person or animal.
  • Provide References/Pet Resume: References and a resume can help your landlord understand your pet’s past behavior. If possible, include a reference from a prior landlord who can attest to the temperament and behavior of your dog. A pet resume detailing training certifications and other experiences your dog has had in a social setting can also help put apartment staff at ease and gain trust.
  • Get Renters Insurance: Choose a renters insurance option that includes a pet liability clause. This can help protect you and the property from any damage or litigation and provide landlords with peace of mind. Ultimately, the thing that most property managers care about is risk. Renters insurance can help take risk out of the equation and give you a better shot at being able to house a restricted breed.

    Bottom Line

    Before you find a new place to live, it’s important to be aware of any dog breed restrictions in place. If you are already living somewhere and planning on adopting or purchasing a dog, you should also take these breed restrictions seriously because any penalties specified in your lease may be costly.

    You’ll find that most landlords will restrict breeds that they find to be aggressive or pose a risk to safety or property. While it’s best to avoid these breeds when looking for a new furry friend, there are some strategies you can try to convince your landlord to allow you to bring your pet home if they’re flexible.

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