Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Mar 16, 2022

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While there is no set list of the kind of dogs you can have on a home insurance policy, there is a long list of dogs that are usually not acceptable for most homeowners insurance policies. Whether your dog is considered a high-risk dog depends on your insurance company.

Your home insurer may have a longer list. Some common restricted dog breeds include: Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Akitas, Chow Chows, Wolf hybrids, Cane Corsos, and Presa/Dogo Canarios.

Read on to learn more specifics about dog breed restrictions and homeowners insurance and then also be sure to enter your zip above for free home insurance quotes from many companies!

What should you know about home insurance dog breed restrictions?

There are two types of insurance companies these days; those that don’t have breed restrictions and those that do. More and more insurance companies are leaning towards the latter because of the cost of paying for insurance claims for animal attacks.

There are, however, some companies that continue to allow all breeds of dogs. These are generally the big insurance companies that have a lot of assets and that are very stable financially. They can offset the costs of claims for a more diverse set of insureds. Their rates may also be higher on a general basis, or they may charge an extra amount for dog breeds deemed “aggressive.”

Many of the dogs on this list pose very little attack risk when socialized. The restricted breeds list is typically based on a mix of bite claims and some degree of stereotypes and news coverage.  While pit bulls, for example, have a more amicable temperament as a breed, they are responsible for more bites that lead to medical treatment. A chihuahua or daschund is more likely to bite, but due to their size, they do less damage. The breed typically doesn’t make the news when a Labrador retriever bites.

So, what dogs be on a policy? That’s up to your insurance company. It is up to you to ensure that your dog is protected under coverage.

If your dog’s breed is on an insurance company’s restricted list, it may be difficult, but not impossible, to keep or obtain your home or renters insurance.

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What can you do if your dog is not covered by an insurance provider?

If you have a dog that is not covered under your homeowners insurance policy, the simple answer is to find another insurance provider. If you sign up for a policy, and you don’t disclose a restricted breed, it could nullify or lead to the cancellation of your policy, and you are assuming a lot of risk. This is material information that would otherwise lead some insurance companies to reject your application. So you could also face other fines and charges.

If any incident happens at or at your home, (even if it isn’t related to your dog), and the insurance company learns that you have a dog that is restricted under their breed policy, they can refuse to pay because you are in breach of your contract.

Consider it this way; you decide to purchase a pit bull, even though it is on the restricted breed list, and your home floods. The insurance adjuster comes out to assess the damage and discovers your pit bull tied up in the backyard. The insurance company could refuse to pay for damages from the flood, and they would be legally correct.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that they will refuse to pay. They may simply drop you from their policy after the incident, but you don’t want to take that risk. If you are dead set on getting a high-risk dog, (or you already have one), then you need to use home insurance companies that covers any breed type. If you are training your dog to be a guard dog, bite dog, etc., you may also want to look into an umbrella policy to provide additional coverage that accepts that risk. When your dog is trained for aggressive activity, it adds another layer of risk many homeowners insurance companies will weed out.

We know that your pets are part of the family, and it can be difficult to learn that your homeowners insurance has breed restrictions. Having the wrong kind of policy that excludes certain breeds from coverage can lead to having your policy canceled, often without notice, leaving you without the insurance that you need to protect your home and your possessions. This can lead to a lot of questions from homeowners, such regarding the legality of breed restrictions.

Are breed restrictions legal?

The first thing that you need to understand is that homeowners insurance breed restrictions are perfectly legal. An insurance company can choose to exclude anything that they want from a policy, not just the breed of a dog. It is up to you to read through your entire policy so that you can understand what exclusions your insurance company has applied. You may see exclusions such as trampoline exclusion, hurricane exclusion, earthquake exclusion and, of course, breed restrictions.

It is natural for you to assume that you are purchasing insurance to protect you against certain risks. Many insurance companies, however, are shying away from offering policies to people in what they consider high-risk situations. The reason for this is simple: money. Insurance companies are paying billions of dollars a year in claims for high-risk situations, and they are in the business of making money.

They have two options to protect themselves from losses against high-risk situations. They can raise their insurance rates across the board (everybody pays more) or they can exclude these situations to save the company, and their customers, money.

Are breed restrictions a form of discrimination?

There is a lot of debate about this subject. Many dog owners, along with the SPCA, PETA and other animal protection groups, believe that this is a form of discrimination, not just against dogs, but against people who own (or want to own) dogs that are a high-risk breed. Some people believe that all pet owners are being punished for the irresponsibility of pet owners who abuse their animals, don’t train them properly, or simply let them run lose. There has been a lot of effort in the past eight years to get a federal law passed to prevent breed restrictions by insurance companies (with no success so far).

There are two issues that prevent the above argument from taking root as far as laws are concerned. First, there is no way for an insurance company to determine which dog owners are going to be responsible and which ones aren’t. There isn’t a test to take and there are no warning signs until an incident occurs and by then it is too late.

The other problem is, there is no arguing with the cost that animal attacks have on the insurance industry. According to the SPCA, the insurance industry pays $9.6 billion a year to people who are attacked by dogs. This is a lot of money and there is no arguing that this amount of money being paid out year after year could cripple some insurance companies financially.

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What happens if I don’t tell my homeowners insurance company about my dog?

If you fail to tell your insurer about the dog or omit its breed, you could be in trouble. If you file a personal injury claim against an uninsured dog owner, the insurance company may deny the claim. You could be left financially responsible for all medical expenses and court costs. If you’re going to file a claim for a dog bite, it’s best to tell your insurance company up front that your dog is not allowed.
No one expects their dog to hurt anybody, but the average cost of a dog-bite claim in 2020 was more than $50,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

How can you find the best dog insurance company?

Switching insurance companies isn’t difficult, and you can do it today online. Before you make a switch, however, you need to make sure you get the best price, especially if you are going to have dangerous dog breeds on your property. To do this, you need to use our free quote tool at the top of the page.

Comparing insurance coverage quotes between companies allows you to see a base price for your homeowners insurance (rates will change if you add a rider to include your possessions by list rather than having a base price cover all of your possessions). In addition, you can make adjustments to your coverage type and instantly see how that will affect your rates.

Using a quote tool is free, it’s easy, and it may just save you money as well. Don’t assume for a minute that you are getting the best insurance rates from your current company. Go onto dog owner forums for your breed, and see which providers folks there recommend. Then, take the guesswork out of the process, save yourself some time and money and use the free quote tool below. Just enter your zip to start!

The Bottom Line

For years, most insurers have limited coverage or downright denied policies to homes in which there’s a dog they deem to be of a potentially dangerous breed.  The simple solution is to switch to a dog – friendly homeowners insurance company.