pitbull breed restrictions

How to get around breed restrictions when renting: A guide for dog owners

A huge percentage of Americans are still renting rather than buying. You could blame economic reasons for this, or perhaps just that for some, it might make more sense to rent rather than buy, especially if they might need to move within a few years for their job.

how to get around breed restrictions when renting
No pitbulls here! Only us good boys.

For most people, this is no problem, but for pet parents there are unique challenges to renting. On top of often times having a more difficult time finding rentals which accept pets and paying more in the form of pet deposits, there’s also another big problem for dog owners: Breed restrictions.

Breed restrictions can often times be a nightmare. This is particularly true for any dog that might even resemble a Pitbull, even if they aren’t one!

In most cases, this is due to insurance clauses which charge landlords more money on their premiums for dogs which are believed to be more dangerous.

The restricted breeds list often makes it extremely difficult for pet parents with dogs like Pitbulls, German Shepherds, Rottweilers or Dobermans to find suitable housing, even if those dogs are perfectly well behaved.

While this is extremely disheartening, it’s unfortunately, not illegal to discriminate against someone for having a dog. Many people would even likely tell you to “just get rid of the dog” if it’s such a problem, but most pet parents are rightly horrified at this suggestion.

Pets are members of our families, and we don’t just get rid of them because it might be more convenient to do so. If you’ve been having issues with breed restrictions in your area, then here are some things that you might want to try!

How To Get Around Breed Restrictions When Renting With Your Canine Best Friend

In the below guide, we’ll cover a few different tricks which you can use to get a landlord on your side and find a home for you and your pooch!

#1) Prove That Your Dog Is Not A Restricted Breed

how to get around dog breed restrictions
How to get around breed restrictions when renting idea #1: Prove you don’t have a restricted breed!

First thing’s first. Is your dog being denied because they “look like a Pitbull” or some such non-sense?

Many people are denied housing routinely for this reason, and if you have a “mutt” dog it can be hard to know for sure exactly what is in their DNA, making it difficult to dispute these claims.

However, these days we have more options than we did previously. Now you can pick up a canine DNA test for a pretty affordable price tag. These tests will match your dog’s DNA against the company’s data base and tell you more about your dog’s lineage.

When apartment hunting you can present this as evidence that your dog is not a member of a restricted breed to try and sway things in your favor. It’s much harder to argue with documentation, and it could help pet parents who don’t know their dog’s breed to get into a house or apartment. Though this method is not foolproof, and you should remember that a landlord can deny your dog for nearly any reason. (So, be nice about it!)

These tests also provide some other benefits, including being able to screen your dog for potential health problems, and that’s reason enough to do it. You can get one here.

PS. If you need help choosing the right dog DNA test, we’ve done a comparison article to help you out. It explains the differences between Wisdom Panel 3.0 vs 4.0 and the health tests so you can chose the right one.

Aggressive Dog Breeds List For Apartments and Rentals

If you own one of the below breeds finding a rental may be tough, but there’s still hope! Keep reading for part 2 of our ‘how to get around breed restrictions when renting’ guide.

  • Pitbull
  • Great Dane
  • German Shepherd
  • Cane Corso
  • Staffordshire Terrier
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Doberman
  • Presa Canario
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Husky
  • Dalmation
  • Rottweiler
  • Chow Chow
  • Akita
  • Wolf Hybrid
  • Boxer

#2) Rent From An Individual Instead Of a Company

dog breed restrictions
How to get around breed restrictions when renting idea #2: Be an ideal tenant in every other way so the landlord thinks twice about turning you away.

While a rental company likely has policies that they won’t budge on, if you rent from an individual then you might be able to talk them into letting you rent there. How? By showing them that you’re a role model tenant.

Being a landlord is a pain, and there are tons of bad tenants out there. If you’re an exceptional tenant and you can prove it, then your potential new landlord may be more willing to negotiate with you. You can start by providing great past references if you have them, particularly if they can say good things about your pup.

You should also ask to bring your dog to meet the landlord and show that they aren’t a scary dog. If your dog has been to any kind of training school where they got a diploma for graduation that might help as well. A dog they know is well trained is much less likely to destroy their property or hurt someone and lowers your risk factor in their eyes.

If you live in a big city then it may be easier to find a house just outside the city that would be more willing to accept a dog breed often listed as “dangerous”, and rent is normally cheaper too if you’re not opposed to doing a little more driving during your commute.

While apartment complexes are not entirely unreasonable, in most cases, they are owned by corporations who are less likely to budge on rules when it comes to their rentals, which makes your job harder.

#3) Create a “Doggy Resume” For Your Pup

aggressive dog breeds list for apartments
How to get around dog breed restriction when renting idea #3: Show that your best friend is the goodest boy (or girl)!

If you’re trying to convince a landlord who’s on the fence to rent to you, have you considered creating a resume for your dog?

You’ve likely filled one out for yourself, but your pup will be living there as well, and a well put together document can help to convince them your pup is a good tenant too. Here’s what to include!

Provide Some Cute Doggy Photos

Make sure to put some photos in that make your dog look like a friendly pup. Shots of them playing gently with other animals or people might be a good bet.

Or, performing some kind of trick that takes a lot of discipline, like balancing a treat on their nose, to show how well trained they are would be great too.

Include Any Training Certificates

Is your dog a certified good boy? If they’ve been to obedience school or any kind of behavioral training that would lend credibility to the fact that they are not a threat to people or property. So, be sure to include that information when talking to landlords. If your dog hasn’t had any such training you might consider having them go through a course.

how to get around breed restrictions when renting

List all of the places that you’ve lived with your dog before

Have you rented before with your dog? If so, talk to your old landlord about giving a testimonial about how well behaved your dog is to the new landlord!

List their number and tell your new landlord that they can call for confirmation that your pup does not pose a threat, doesn’t destroy property, and won’t inconvenience other tenants with constant barking.

List Personal References From Past Neighbors Or Room Mates

Ask your previous neighbors if they would provide a personal reference for your dog. Anyone who has had to live next to you for a substantial amount of time would be a prime candidate for providing a testimonial to the fact that your dog is not aggressive nor a nuisance animal.

Even if you’re a college student searching for your first apartment, if your dog has lived at your parents house then your neighbors would likely be willing to help you out if you’re on good terms with them.

Put Your Best Paw Forward With Our Resume Template!

Click here to download our FREE Pet Resume Template, and increase your chances of scoring a rental for you and your dog.

#4) Purchase Your Own Liability Insurance

how to get a rental when you have a dog
Purchasing liability insurance can go a long way when looking for a rental if landlords in your area are spooked by “restricted dog breeds”.

If landlords in your area are particularly worried about problem dogs then you could also take out personal liability insurance. You can provide this as an added comfort that you would be financially responsible for anything your dog does on their property.

Be careful though, some policies don’t cover restricted breeds unless you live in a state that prohibits this type of activity, such as New York. Make sure to read all the fine print before taking out a policy, or you might waste your money.

However, having this type of assurance can certainly tip the scales in your favor and convince a wary landlord to work with you. So, it’s worth considering.

#5) Offer To Pay A Larger Deposit or “Pet Rent”

Paying an additional deposit or pet rent could help you to get around breed restrictions.
Money is a landlord’s biggest motivator, and a bigger deposit or pet rent could be your ticket to securing a lease in some cases.

If you’re really having a difficult time then remember that money is a landlord’s biggest motivator.

Many landlords are concerned about pet damage, or the possibility of your dog biting someone, and if you know that your pup is the goodest boy, offering to pay an additional pet deposit could sway their decision.

However, you could also offer to pay “pet rent”. Some apartments require this anyway, and this ranges anywhere from $10 to $60 per month.

If there’s a property that you really want, mentioning this, especially to an independent landlord could secure you the lease.

If you go for the deposit route then make sure that it’s a refundable deposit. In many cases, pet deposits may not actually be a deposit at all and more of a “fee”, so get it in writing before you sign on the dotted line.

#6) Try To Register As An Emotional Support Dog

how to rent with banned dog breeds
Registering your dog as a support dog is easier than you think, and it gets around breed restrictions.

Thanks to the fair housing act, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against individuals who have a disability. This includes those who require service or emotional support dogs.

This allows for people to get around breed restrictions in apartments, because ANY dog can be a service dog. That’s great news for owners of dogs that are often needlessly deemed “dangerous.”

While many people think service dogs are only for individuals who are blind, there are actually tons of conditions which service dogs can help with. This can include mobility issues, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, autism, epilepsy and more.

Technically, you only need a doctor’s note and recommendation to qualify your dog as a support animal, but you can also get one of these nice little certificates printed up that look more official. It stops a lot of people from giving you any trouble, because official looking documents are intimidating.

The good news is that pretty much everyone has some kind of issue which can be helped by a service dog, and odds are, if you explain the situation to your doctor and that your dog provides emotional support to you, they won’t have a problem signing it.

Establishing your dog as an emotional support animal also has other benefits. They have greater rights when traveling with you and they can fly in the cabin with you if they provide emotional support for stressful situations like flying.

Here are some conditions for which you could obtain support dog classification

  • Mobility Problems
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Paralysis
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Epilepsy
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • PTSD
  • Speech Problems
  • Social Anxiety

If you still can’t seem to get around breed restrictions, then you may need to consider trying to purchase a home. There are actually many first time home buyer perks out there that can help if you’re having trouble affording it, including down payment assistance.

This includes the FHA loan program, which offers lower down payments and more lax financing requirements, allowing people who would not otherwise qualify for a loan to purchase a home.

Owning a home takes away breed restrictions for good, and if you plan to live in the same area for the foreseeable future it’s worth talking to a lender about your options. You might also be able to find a rent to own deal with favorable terms if a mortgage is not obtainable for you right now.

Hopefully our article on How to get around breed restrictions when renting has been helpful to you, and we wish you and your pooch the best. Good luck!


Michelle Rei

Michelle is a pet parent turned amateur pet product researcher. After adopting a fur baby with digestive issues caused by bad pet food, she's poured hundreds of hours into research to find the best of the best to help him and other pets live happier and healthier lives. See her pet food recommendations for cats and dogs.
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