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What are Breed Restrictions? Common Restricted Breeds List

By: Davina Ward
August 6, 2020

Over 85 million American families, or about 67% of households, own a pet. That's a massive part of the population that has adopted an additional family member, whether they’re four-legged, flying, or anything in between!

Unfortunately, this doesn't mean all pets are welcome everywhere, especially for renters. Not all units are pet-friendly. Even those that are may have imposed breed restrictions.

Many apartment complexes have breed restrictions on dogs. This can make it challenging for renters to find a home that works for both them and their pet.

Breed restrictions can vary widely. So, it can be difficult for renters to keep them straight.

That said, it's better to begin your search with a solid foundation of knowledge about breed restrictions. Luckily, we've done the work for you!

Here's everything you need to know about breed restrictions and how they can impact your apartment search.

What are Breed Restrictions?

Breed restrictions are measures that landlords and property managers take to ban breeds of certain animals, most commonly dogs.

These restrictions are most common in large apartment complexes. However, you may find them at any rental property.

Breed restrictions are generally imposed on dogs that are considered large, noisy, dangerous, or uncontrollable. In essence, they aren’t apartment-friendly dogs. Restrictions may also be imposed based on dog size, weight, breed, exercise needs, or age.

The specific breeds a landlord bans are up to their discretion. From Chihuahuas to Great Danes, they’re at liberty to ban whatever breeds they'd like.

However, service animals are exempt from breed restrictions. That’s the case regardless of whether the animal in question is on a rental property's restricted breed list. They are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Why are there Breed Restrictions?

There are several reasons why breed restrictions are imposed, the most common of which is safety. Restricted breeds are typically dogs that are considered to be dangerous by the wider public. These dogs are larger and can cause significant injury during an attack, more so than a smaller breed.

This is in spite of the fact that studies have shown that aggression in dogs cannot be accurately predicted by breed alone. Additionally, studies have shown that small and medium dog breeds are more prone to aggression than larger breeds.

However, predictions of aggression in dogs should be based on several factors. Those include the target, whether the dog has been fixed, and training.

Dogs may also be restricted based on their propensity for destructive behavior. That includes biting, clawing, scratching, and digging.

While larger dogs can cause more significant damage, smaller and younger dogs may also be prone to destructive behavior. So, it's up to the owners to mitigate destructive behaviors by providing proper training, mental and physical stimulation, care, and support.

Another common reason that breed restrictions are imposed is due to insurance issues. Insurance providers are the ones that end up covering the cost and liability for any injuries that occur on the covered property, As a result, they want to minimize their risk.

By refusing to cover certain properties unless breed restrictions are imposed, insurance providers can control the breeds that are restricted. Unfortunately, as more and more insurance providers adopt these rules, it may become increasingly difficult to find an apartment that will allow certain breeds.

Restricted Dog Breeds List

It's important to know whether landlords are likely to consider your four-legged family member to be a restricted breed during your apartment search. Keep in mind, even dogs that are mixed with a restricted breed can be banned.

Breed restrictions can vary from one place to another. However, these breeds are the most common on restricted breeds lists:

  • Pit bulls (American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier, and American Bulldog)
  • German Shepherds
  • Akitas
  • Rottweilers
  • Boxers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Mastiff Breed
  • Malamutes
  • Cane Corso
  • Husky
  • Chow Chow
  • Any Wolf Hybrid
  • Great Danes

What to Do if Your Dog is a Restricted Breed

If you're like most pet owners, you consider your pet to be a valued member of your family and wouldn't dream of leaving them behind. Although you love your pet, if they’re a breed that's on the list above, they might not be welcome in many apartment complexes.

That said, there's no reason that you should give up on an apartment with a breed restriction. If you're a responsible pet owner with a well-behaved dog, you may be able to get past any breed restriction with a bit of luck and hard work.

Here are some tips to help you mitigate a breed restriction.

1. Don't Try to Hide Your Pet

Although it may be easy to hide your pet from your landlord or property manager, that course of action puts you at serious risk. Not only would your landlord be well within their rights to terminate your lease agreement, but you could also be sued for willfully violating the agreement.

So, never try to hide or lie about your pet. The consequences can be dire, and it's never worth the trouble.

2. Create a Pet Resume

As a responsible pet owner, it's likely that you've invested significant time and effort into ensuring that your pet is well-behaved and non-aggressive. You know how many hours of training your pet has had and its general temperament. However, your landlord doesn't.

It's crucial to put together a detailed list of all the ways you can guarantee that your pet is safe and won't pose a danger to any other residents or destroy any property. You can think of this as your pet's resume.

Your pet resume should list your pet's vet records, training certificates, and photos. It should also include any other specific details that can support your claims that your pet is safe and well-behaved.

Want to really seal the deal? Bring your pet in for an interview. Your landlord can get a firsthand account of your dog's friendliness and non-aggressive nature. You can even demonstrate obedience with some tricks.

3. Provide References

You love your pet and obviously want them to reside with you in the future. So, you might be a little biased when it comes to assessing their temperament.

That's where references come in. These are individuals who can attest to your dog's positive attributes.

References should be a professional who has interacted with your dog on a semi-regular basis. A vet would be an excellent reference. That’s because they can provide a professional evaluation of your pet's temperament, lack of aggressiveness, and behavior.

However, trainers, groomers, and dog walkers are all great references, as well. They regularly interact with dogs and are more adept at assessing aggressiveness.

4. Show Training Certifications

Like a job interview in which you have to demonstrate your qualifications, you'll have to demonstrate your dog's qualifications.

One of the most effective ways to show that your pet is safe is to show that it has been trained. Most training programs offer a certificate of completion as evidence that your dog has successfully completed the training program.

If your dog has not been professionally trained, don't worry. Put together a video of you giving your dog basic commands to show to your landlord.

You can also show more complex commands, such as retrieving specific items. Those show that your dog responds to your orders.

5. Show Insurance or Offer to Purchase Pet Insurance

As insurance issues are one of the biggest drivers behind breed restriction, having your own renter's insurance policy with a pet liability clause can help alleviate your landlord's fears.

Your landlord might require you to get a renter's insurance policy regardless. If that's the case, simply look for a policy that covers pets, as well.

If you already have insurance, simply print out your current policy, highlight the section regarding pets, and provide a letter that proves that you are currently covered.

Can Renter's Insurance Cover My Pet?

Generally, renter's insurance covers your personal belongings stored in the apartment against theft or damage. It can also remove liability from you and your family and provide living expenses if you’re forced to move out temporarily.

Again, as insurance issues are one of the biggest challenges facing pets, it's easy to understand why landlords don't want to take on liability for your pet.

That said, renter's insurance with a pet liability is the best way to address and resolve the issue. Pet liability insurance clauses often cover many of the situations that pets can get themselves into.

Here are some of the things that are most commonly covered by renter’s insurance with pet liability:

  • Injuries: Your pet may cause another individual injury that causes distress, including hospital fees, lost work, or emotional damage. Severe dog bites and scratches commonly fall under this category. If this happens, your renter’s insurance will cover the cost and be liable to cover any damages. This is true, even if the individual takes the case to court.
  • Property Damage: Whether a pet causes physical property damage by breaking things or tearing a hole through your guest’s designer handbag, your renter’s insurance with pet liability can pay for the damage.

What Renter's Insurance Doesn't Cover

Even renter's insurance with pet liability has its limits. If your pet damages your property in your apartment, renter's insurance doesn’t cover it.

Unfortunately, renter's insurance is also prone to breed and other restrictions that will hinder your pet's coverage. You'll have to ensure that you find an insurance policy that covers your dog’s breed...and species.

Beyond many local laws that ban the ownership of exotic animals, renter’s insurance typically doesn’t cover many species outside of common pets like cats, dogs, and the like. If you insist on owning exotic animals and your landlord agrees to house them, you’ll have to find a special insurance policy.

Finally, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an insurance policy that will cover a pet with a history of violence or aggression. If your dog has previously bitten someone, it’s likely that they will not be covered under a renter’s insurance policy.

However, there are other options for animals with a history of aggression or violence. Those include a separate pet liability insurance policy or an umbrella policy for yourself.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, renting with a pet doesn’t come with a rule book that outlines every eventuality and helps you navigate things like breed restrictions and finding the best renter’s insurance policy.

That said, although it can be challenging, it’s worth the effort to find an apartment unit for you and your pet, regardless of their breed. It all starts with the search.

To find an apartment that will work for both you and your furry friend, just get started with the quiz above!

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Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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