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Apartment Pet Policy Breed Restrictions Explained

April Brightman
January 12, 2024
July 27, 2023
5 minutes
Updated By
Expert Reviewed By:
July 27, 2023
August 29, 2023
5 minutes
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Discover the impact of apartment pet policies with breed restrictions. Learn how these restrictions affect pet ownership and find alternatives.

If you’re looking to rent as a pet owner, you might run into some apartments with pet policy breed restrictions. When renting an apartment with a dog there can be restrictions on weight, size, or even breed. When seeking housing with a pet it’s important to understand pet policies, apartment breed restrictions, and what you can do about them.

Apartment Pet Policy Breed Restrictions

Apartment pet policies often include breed restrictions to ensure safety. These restrictions vary by property, so always check with your landlord or property management. Commonly restricted breeds may include Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans. It's crucial to review your lease agreement and seek clarification if needed before bringing a pet with breed restrictions into your apartment. Emotional support animals (ESAs) are exempt from these restrictions.

Understanding Apartment Breed Restrictions

Apartment breed restrictions vary between states, and some states don’t allow landlords to discriminate based on the breed at all. In states that allow breed restrictions, having a dog that’s on the list can disqualify you from certain apartments and make the search for housing more difficult. Understanding the housing laws around pet policies in your area will make the process of searching for an apartment with a pet much easier.

Common Apartment Breed Restrictions

When it comes to pet policies in apartments, there are often a handful of breeds that you can expect to make the restricted list. Some of the common breeds that make the restricted list have gotten bad publicity, and some of them might be related strictly to size. It can also be difficult for some apartment complexes to secure insurance when allowing certain dog breeds. Whatever the case may be, these are dog breeds you should be prepared to face some housing restrictions around:

  • Boxers
  • American Bulldogs
  • Pit Bulls
  • Malamutes 
  • Pit Bull Terriers
  • Huskies
  • German shepherds 
  • Great Danes
  • Greyhounds 
  • Doberman pinschers
  • Chow chows
  • Rottweilers

Why Do Apartments Have Breed Restrictions?

Apartment breed restrictions aren’t usually in place just to be strict. Oftentimes they’re related to size since apartments are small, and landlords want to avoid dogs that will take up significant space or be too heavy for non-first-floor units. Landlords might also restrict dogs when it comes to age since puppies tend to be louder and have much more energy. Finally, landlords and property owners might impose restrictions on dogs based on behavior or concern about behavior.

Options to Circumvent Apartment Breed Restrictions

If you’re on the hunt for an apartment with a dog who might be a restricted breed, there are a few options to help you navigate pet policies that might restrict your dog. Proof of training, insuring your pet, paying an additional deposit, or certifying your dog as a service animal or emotional support animal are a few of the ways to waive pet policies and restrictions or become exempt from them.

1. Show the Landlord A Training Certificate

Showing the landlord a dog training certificate is a great way to show that your dog won’t be an issue in the apartment regardless of their breed or size. A training certificate proves that your dog has completed basic dog training, and can help provide peace of mind to the landlord who might have concerns about behavior, property damage, or accidents when it comes to certain breeds or to dogs in general. A trained dog is much less of a risk for landlords allowing pets.

2. Get an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Letter

Getting an emotional support animal (ESA) letter for your dog gives you the same legal protection as having a service animal under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Landlords can’t deny a reasonable request for accommodations when it comes to housing for individuals with disabilities who use an assistance animal, so long as the animal is well-behaved and doesn’t cause concern for safety. Showing your landlord your ESA letter means they must honor your assistance animal.

3. Train Your Dog as a Service Dog

Training your dog as a service dog not only makes them exempt from all pet policies, fees, and housing restrictions since service dogs aren’t considered pets. They’re considered medical tools necessary for managing an individual’s disability, and can’t be denied based on breed, size, or policies that restrict pets. Service dogs can’t be denied housing under the Fair Housing Act.

4. Get Pet Insurance

Getting pet insurance is another good way to alleviate a landlord’s concern about property damage or safety when allowing pets in apartment rentals. This way they’ll know they aren’t legally responsible for the ramifications of a safety issue or for any potential damage.

5. Pay a Pet Deposit

Paying a pet deposit for your dog when you move into an apartment is a way to guarantee your landlord that you’ll take responsibility for any damage your dog might cause. Your willingness to pay a deposit can demonstrate your confidence in your dog, and make your landlord feel more secure about the risk of allowing a dog since they won’t foot the bill if there is any damage caused.

Are Breed Restrictions Legal?

Breed restrictions are legal in most states, though there are several states that have laws prohibiting restrictions based on breed. Even within states that prohibit dog breed restrictions, individual cities and counties can still choose to impose them. The main reason that so many states still allow the option for breed restrictions is to avoid issues and liability when it comes to safety and property damage.

States without Breed Restrictions

While many states have breed restrictions for dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the following states do not have breed restrictions for dogs on the state level:

How to Get an ESA Letter

To get an emotional support animal letter you’ll need documentation from a licensed health professional. Getting an emotional support animal (ESA) letter is one of the best ways you can protect yourself when it comes to housing with your assistance animal. An ESA letter ensures you and your emotional support animal won’t be subject to policies, restrictions, or fees that limit pets in apartments or housing complexes.

Take our Assessment

Take Pettable’s brief assessment to ensure you qualify for an emotional support animal. We’ll use the information to make sure you’re matched with a health professional to complete your consultation.

Attend a Brief Consultation

Pettable works with licensed health professionals across the U.S. to provide care in all 50 states. Once matched, you’ll complete your evaluation and work with your provider to create a treatment plan around your specific needs for an emotional support animal.

Get Your ESA Letter

Getting your ESA letter with Pettable means your satisfaction is guaranteed. Whether you need documentation for your emotional support animal when it comes to housing, transportation, or to avoid expensive pet fees, an ESA letter from Pettable will work or your money back.

Meet the author:
April Brightman

April Brightman is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for traveling and hiking with her rescue pup, Marley. She's written for pet-centered sites like Outward Hound, as well as outdoorsy adventure brands like BearVault, Hipcamp, and Explorer Chick.

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