Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What's the Legal Limit on Dogs?

Here's a question folks can group-research ....

  • What's the legal limit on the number of dogs in the top 50 cities in the U.S.?

  • And what's the legal limit on dogs where YOU live?

This is purely fact-finding mission.

Use the Google (please include a URL to the source) and add your answers into the comments section of this post.

I will aggregate it all at the end.

The top 50 cities, for the record, are:

  • Albuquerque, N.M. - 4 dogs
  • Arlington, Texas - No limit

  • Atlanta, Ga. - 10 dogs

  • Austin, Tex. - No limit

  • Baltimore, Md. - 3 dogs w/o variance and permit
  • Boston, Mass. - No limit

  • Charlotte, N.C. - 3 dogs w/o permit

  • Chicago, Ill. - No limit, but considering 5-dog limit

  • Cleveland, Ohio - No limit

  • Colorado Springs, Colo. - 4 dogs

  • Columbus, Ohio - No limit

  • Dallas, Tex. - 6 dogs up to 1/2 acre of land, 8 dogs if over an acre

  • Denver, Colo. - No limit, but mandatory sterilization with exceptions

  • Detroit, Mich. - 4 dogs

  • El Paso, Tex. - No limit

  • Fort Worth, Tex. - No limit

  • Fresno, Calif. - 4 dogs

  • Honolulu, Hawaii - 10 dogs

  • Houston, Tex. - No limit

  • Indianapolis, Ind. - No limit

  • Jacksonville, Fla. - No Limit

  • Kansas City, Mo. - 4 dogs w/o variance. Up to 10 with.

  • Las Vegas, Nev. - 3 dogs

  • Long Beach, Calif. - No limit

  • Los Angeles, Calif. - 3 dogs, w/o kennel license, mandatory sterilization except for registered breeders

  • Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky. 3 dogs if under 1/2 acre, up to 7 dogs if 1/2 acre to 2 acres.

  • Memphis, Tenn. - No limit

  • Mesa, Ariz. - 5 dogs w/o kennel license

  • Miami, Fla. - 4, 6, or 8 dogs depending on property size (<1/2 acre =" 4," acres =" 6," acres =" 8)
  • Milwaukee, Wis. - No limit

  • Minneapolis, Minn. - 3 dogs

  • Nashville-Davidson, Tenn. - No limit

  • New Orleans, La. - No limit

  • New York, N.Y. - No Limit

  • Oakland, Calif. - 3 dogs

  • Oklahoma City, Okla. - 4 dogs

  • Omaha, Nebr. - 3 dogs. May apply for permit for up to 5

  • Philadelphia, Pa. - 12 dogs

  • Phoenix, Ariz. - No limit

  • Portland, Ore. - 5 dogs

  • Sacramento, Calif. - 3 dogs

  • St. Louis, Mo. - 4 dogs

  • San Antonio, Tex. - 5 dogs

  • San Diego, Calif. - 6 dogs

  • San Francisco, Calif. - No Limit

  • San Jose, Calif. - 3 dogs

  • Seattle, Wash. - 3 dogs on lots of less than 20,000 sq. ft. , 5 dogs for 20,000 to 35,000 sq. ft., with an additional 2 per acre for lots over 35,000 sq. ft. to a maximum of 20, unless a special permit is granted.

  • Tucson, Ariz. - No limit

  • Tulsa, Okla. - 5 dogs

  • Virginia Beach, Va. - 4 dogs w/o kennel license

  • Washington, DC - 5 dogs

  • Wichita, Kans. - 4 dogs w/o kennel license

By the way, I do not want your opinion on dog limit laws.

Not yet.

Save that for the next post, when we actually have the data.

As Jack Webb might say, "just the facts ma'am."

At least for now.



Cat, Chaps and Emma said...

Cincinnati is 4 dogs

Atlanta is 4 dogs

jindojunkie said...

City of San Diego, CA = 6 adult dogs.


I live in unincorporated County of San Diego, CA which has a legal limit of 6 adult dogs.
Unfortunately, I also live in a HOA where 3 is "recommended."


Keri said...

Here is the municipal code for San Jose, CA., where I live:

7.40.020 Maximum number of dogs, cats, or litters.

A. It is unlawful for any person to maintain, at any dwelling unit, more than any of the following combination of cats and dogs:

Zero (0) adult dogs and five (5) adult cats; or

One (1) adult dog and four (4) adult cats; or

Two (2) adult dogs and three (3) adult cats; or

Three (3) adult dogs and two (2) adult cats.

So, the maximum number of dogs at any location (even if you don't have cats), is 3. I found this information on the San Jose City official website. Go to
www.sanjoseca.gov click Municipal Code on the menu bar on the left, and then go to Title 7.

themacinator said...

the oakland city limit is 3 dogs.

6.04.400 Number of dogs.
It is unlawful for any person to keep on any one premises more than three dogs if said dogs are more than four months old.

Heather Houlahan said...

If I am reading the ordinance correctly --


Cleveland, Ohio had a limit of four adult animals (combined dogs /cats) from 1976 until 2002, at which point the limit law was repealed. There appears to be no numerical limit in Cleveland.

Heather Houlahan said...

In the past seventeen years I have lived in:

Cambridge, MA (no limit law that I could find)

Belmont, MA (no numerical limits, but cat licensing)

Baldwin Borough, PA (no limits)

Cranberry Township, PA (no limits)

Lancaster Township (Butler County), PA (no limits)

This represents a smooth progression from one of the densest of urban areas to an almost purely rural jurisdiction.

Heather Houlahan said...

Los Angeles has some crazy-ass animal laws, but no numerical limit.

sassanik said...

Clackamas County (ie Portland Oregon, not able to find Multnomah County info)

No more than 5 dogs


PBurns said...


That means the Web Address for the information.

Please don't make me redo all the work!


PBurns said...


(1) six dogs, cats, or any combination of dogs and cats on the premises of a dwelling unit that shares no common wall with another dwelling unit and that is located on not more than one-half acre of land; or

(2) eight dogs, cats, or any combination of dogs and cats on the premises of a dwelling unit that shares no common wall with another dwelling unit and that is located on more than one-half acre of land.


PBurns said...

New York City Housing Authority seems to limit it to one dog:

"The revised NYCHA pet policy went into effect May 1, 2009 and reduces the permissible weight for full grown dogs from 40 to 25 pounds and restricts specific breeds, including Pit bulls, Rottweilers and Dobermans, either pure- or mixed breed. Dogs registered with NYCHA by April 30, regardless of breed and providing they do not exceed the prior 40 pound weight limit, have been grandfathered and will be allowed to remain in NYCHA housing."


PBurns said...

New Orleans -- no limit on numbers I could find. All law seems to be here >> http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stuslaodlakecharles_neworleans.htm#slc81

There is a law on bee hive numbers!

PBurns said...


No owner or caretaker of any residential building shall knowingly allow more than three (3) animals of the dog or cat kind over the age of four (4) months to be kept, harbored or maintained within any residential building or on any residential lot or parcel of property in the city without a permit.

(b) The number of dogs or cats permitted in subsection (a) may be increased by obtaining a permit issued by the commissioner of health.


PBurns said...


I can find no limit at


PBurns said...


Three dog limit unless inspected with variance.

See >> http://www.baltimorehealth.org/info/Issingmulti-petpermits.pdf

dp said...

Crazy! In LA you can have any number of dogs but the have to be castrated---is that correct?

I live in Vienna, Austria. There are not limits unless you are not keeping the dogs humanely. That means feeding, watering and walking them. There are not animal controllers, only municipally appointed vets to assess that.

I personally consider any limit law and infringement of personal liberty and property rights.

Dorothea Penizek

PBurns said...

KANSAS CITY: 4 dogs (may be able to get variance for up to 10)


PBurns said...

MILWAUKEE - no limit.


PBurns said...

MESA, ARIZONA limit is 5 dogs without kennel license.


PBurns said...

Virginia Beach is four dogs w/o Kennel License


PBurns said...

WICHITA, KANSAS limit is 4 dogs w/out Kennel License.

>> http://www.wichitagov.org/Business/Licenses/D.htm

The language here is entertainly specific:

"Any person keeping in his possession and control, within the corporate limits of the city, more than 5 fowl, 2 rabbits, 2 dogs, 2 cats, or 1 sheep, 1 goat, 1 horse, 1 cow, 1 ratite, or more than 2 domestic animals of another kind, is required to pay an annual fee for an appropriate classification permit. With limited exception, no more than 2 nanny goats, 12 rabbits, 12 fowl other than pigeons, 25 pigeons, 2 horses or other equines, 1 cow, 2 sheep, 2 ratites, 4 dogs, 4 cats or 2 domestic animals or other kind; OR no more than 3 different kinds of domestic animals shall be maintained on any one residentially zoned lot. With limited exception, roosters (male chickens), guinea cocks, peacocks or other birds that by nature exhibit loud calls, are not allowed within the corporate limits of the city.
Domestic animals means all animals that have been tamed or domesticated such as, but not limited to dogs, cats, cattle, horses, hogs, goats, rabbits, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pigeons, and other fowl or wild mammals or birds.
Ratite means domesticated large flightless birds classified as livestock under Kansas law, such as ostriches and emus."

PBurns said...

TULSA, OKLAHOMA has a 5 dog limit. See >> http://tulsapetsmagazine.com/all-past-articles/pet-legal/tulsa-laws-for-paws/

PBurns said...

TUCSON, Arizona does not appear to have a limit.


PBurns said...

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - No limit. http://www.cityofseattle.net/animalshelter/anticruelty-program.htm

PBurns said...



This is the best laid-out presentation of local law I have found. Nice web work!

PBurns said...

Atlanta, Georgia (aka DeKalb County).

No restrictions I can find, but their muni code is a mess.


PBurns said...

Atlanta, Georgia (aka DeKalb County).

No restrictions I can find, but their muni code is a mess.


PBurns said...

DENVER - No limit, but mandatory sterilization with exceptions


PBurns said...

EL PASO, TEXAS - No limit.


Their web site tells me:

Over 24,000 animals are impounded annually (*approximately 77 per day)
Over 20,000 animals are killed annually (*approximately 64 per day)
There are an estimated 100,000-150,000 stray animals in our community
Almost 5,000 (*16 per day) cruelty and bite investigations were conducted last year ( *Formulations based on 312 working days per year)

PBurns said...

Columbus, Ohio -- no limit (maybe)


It looks like there is no limit in Franklin County and the unincorporated parts, but the law is vague about incorporated parts. I looked, however, but could not find a limit. Anyone else want to hammer at it some more?

George said...

Henrico Co. Va

By law a residence/household can have no more than three adult pets (defined as four months of age or older), of any variety. However, it may be possible to obtain a Conditional Use Permit to allow a private kennel.


Susan said...

Legal Limit for dogs in Atlanta, GA (Fulton and DeKalb Counties):


Chapter 18 ANIMALS, Article I. IN GENERAL, Sec. 18-7. Enclosures for
keeping small animals. (3) Maximum number. The maximum number of such animals which may be kept on a single premises shall not exceed the following: a. Dogs, ten.

PBurns said...

Thanks Susan! That Muni code site is a disaster. You are a smarter and better person than me for negotiating through it!


PBurns said...

ST. Louis is four dogs (or anything else it looks like).


PBurns said...

Judy writes to note:

City of Phoenix, Arizona, does not have a limit although sanitation and noise ordinances (barking dogs) do apply. Several of the surrounding metro Phoenix cities (Glendale for one) do have numerical limits. State laws regarding animal cruelty apply.


Susan said...

It took about three hours the first time I tried to find it a few months ago, so don't feel bad.

Now that I've more or less figured out the Muni code site, if you would like some help with a particular city, I would be happy to take a look and at least give it a try.


PBurns said...

SAN ANTONIO appears to have no limit.

>> http://www.sanantonio.gov/animalcare/licensing.asp

An interesing bit here is that they have MANDATORY microchipping, but with that come lifetime registration.

They also require every litter to be registered with the City (and microchipped), and no more than one litter per female animal per year.

Jonathan said...

I have emailed you the Cape Town South Africa draft bylaw for reference sake so you can see how the laws are being put together down here in sunny south africa.

This particular post is attracting a lot of attention I see. Loads of posts.

Good topic

Jonathan Cape Town

retrieverman said...

Louisville-Jefferson County, KY: No limit on dogs kept in the house. If property is less than half an acre, no more than 3 outdoor dogs. If the property is more than half an acre but less than two acres, one can have no more than seven outdoor dogs.


Miami-Dade County:

4 dogs are allowed to live on residential property that is less than one acre, 6 dogs on 1 to 2 acres, and 8 dogs on 2 acres or more. Keeping more than those numbers of dogs on residential property requires a Kennel license (Sections 5-1 and 5-13)


themacinator said...

susan is smarter than me- i couldn't copy the link because it was on the municodesite, still under the oaklandanimalservices.org heading. but i know it by heart. sorry!

i just spent a bunch of time looking for nyc, and couldn't find anything. either there is no limit (except in areas governed by housing authority), or it's the best kept secret.

PBurns said...



PBurns said...


"Dogs. The number, four months of age or older, shall not exceed 10 per household."


PBurns said...


"no person shall keep more than three dogs over three months of age, at any place, on any premises, or in any one residence, located within the City."


PBurns said...

SACRAMENTO - limit of 3 dogs

BOSTON - no limit

ALBUQUERQUE - 4 dogs (also $150 per year per intact animal)

CHARLOTTE, NC - limit of 3 dogs w/o permit

PBurns said...

FRESNO- 4 dog limit

LONG BEACH - No limit, but breeding prohibited without permit.

AUSTIN - No city limit found,http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/health/animal_services_control.htm
http://www.amlegal.com/austin_nxt/gateway.dll/Texas/austin/title3animalregulation/chapter3-2restrictionsonanimals?f=templates$fn=default.htm$ 3.0$vid=amlegal:austin_tx$anc=JD_3-2-5


3 dog limit. Omaha residents may apply for a pet avocation permit which allows up to 5 dogs and up to 6 cats—but no more than 8 pets total. An initial inspection fee of $100 is required at the time of application. An annual $50 permit fee is required thereafter. Pet Avocation Permit Applications are available at the Nebraska Humane Society and can be picked up at the front desk during business hours.

PBurns said...

San Francisco - No limit

Fort Worth - No limit

Houston - No limit

New York City - No limit

Jacksonville - No limit

Colorado Springs - 4 dogs

Nashville - No limit

Oklahoma City - 4 dogs

retrieverman said...

Colorado Springs-- 5 dogs


wickedbolt said...

Actually San Antonio Has a limit of 5 dogs per household within city limits.

wickedbolt said...

San Antonio actually has a limit of 5 dogs per household.

retrieverman said...

Nashville appears to have no limit, just differential taxation for kennel operators:


Mark Churchill said...

Lincoln, Nebraska:

Dog Kennels
According to City Ordinance 6.08.310: No residence or business may have more than three (3) dogs six months of age or older.


Multi-Dog Household
This permit allows newly annexed properties to keep up to 5 spayed or neutered dogs. One acre of land plus other requirements must be met.


Kathleen said...

Falls Church, VA

Sec. 4-1.1. Limitation of number of companion animal pets allowed per dwelling unit in the city.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to keep more than three (3) dogs over four (4) months of age or four (4) cats over four (4) months of age or a total of seven (7) companion animals per dwelling unit in the city.

retrieverman said...

Oh-- for my hometown in West Virginia: it's as many as can be cared for. No limit.

Of course, if your next-door neighbors are beef cattle on one side and pleasure horses on the other, then you don't have to worry about much.

retrieverman said...

That should be 4 dogs for Colorado Springs. I read the statue incorrectly.

spanielgirl said...

Glenview IL - Ten animal limit per residence of which no more than five can be cats and/or dogs.

Sec. 14-9. Maximum number of animals allowed to be kept.

Sean said...

I agree that there does not seem to be a limit in Seattle. While researching the muni code, however, it did learn that it is illegal to fail to pick up poop in your own yard for more that 24 hours and that it is expressly forbidden to let your potbellied pig go into a public fountain!!

PBurns said...

Excellent folks. This is pretty illuminating. Working on other stuff at the moment, but ruminating on "what it all means." Might take me a day ;)

Wickedbolt -- thanks for that correction. I looked, but you FOUND! Excellent!


Pai said...

King County, WA limit laws depend on zoning, whether the animals are indoor/outdoor pets, S/N status, etc. It's broken down in Chapter 21A.30 of the Municipal Code. Scroll down on the .pdf to find it, the file spans 21A.28 to 55.

Heather Houlahan said...

If my count is correct, it appears that nearly half (23) of the 50 largest cities in the US have NO numerical limit, and several others offer kennel licenses.

Now, if someone with some time on his or her hands wanted to make a color-coded google map that would graphically portray any geographical patterns in this data -- maybe there is something to see there.

PBurns said...

Thanks for this Pai -- making correction. Nice find!!

Heather, I wil have a post with analysis tomorrow morning. In the interim, there has been and update on the bassets. Apparently, the dogs in need of veterinary care have still not been taken to a vet, and the kennel is still not fixed. The pictures have gone to the district attorney.


themacinator said...

sean- this is my personal favorite california law: http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stuscacalpencode598.htm

penalcode 598 states Every person who, within any public cemetery or burying-ground kills, wounds, or traps any bird, or destroys any bird's nest other than swallows' nests, or removes any eggs or young birds from any nest, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

if you destroy a nest in a cemetery, you face jail time. it's not even an infraction. seriously.

Blue said...

Actually, it's not entirely true that that there is no limit in Boston. There is no limit UNLESS you have pit bulls.

You are only allowed to keep two pit bulls or pit bull mixes (which includes American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers). Animal Control decides if a dog is pit bull mix unless you can prove otherwise with AKC or UKC papers or a written statement from a veterinarian.

It also costs $50 to license a pit bull and $6 to license a spayed/neutered dog of any other breed!


PBurns said...

Yes Blue, thanks for that. I have, in fact, already written a post about the Boston pit bull law and will post it later this week.


SanDiegoDogMa said...

El Cajon, CA (San Diego County):

2 adult dogs.


Susan said...




Sec. 4-1. County regulations--Adopted.
The county regulations, as amended, pertaining to rabies and animal control are hereby adopted and incorporated herein by reference, and the same shall be fully enforceable within the city. A copy of such rabies and animal control regulations is on file in the office of the city clerk.
(Res. of 8-10-87)

(4) Except in the areas zoned for agriculture, the maximum number of domestic animals or livestock that may be kept on any single premises shall not exceed the following. (Exceptions: licensed veterinary hospitals, commercial kennels, grooming parlors, and public and commercial horse facilities):

Dogs, cats 10

(91-RC-441, § T, 8-21-91)

Susan said...

Further information for Fulton County, GA:

(a) Each premises where there are four or more dogs over the age of four months kept, maintained or harbored for a period of 14 days or longer, shall be deemed to constitute a kennel. The owner or person in possession of the premises where the kennel is located shall be required to apply to the Fulton County Animal Control for a special permit.

(e) All commercial kennels which are subject to a business license fee shall be exempt from the annual special permit fee.
(91-RC-441, § E, 8-21-91)

Sec. 34-246. Vaccination required.
(a) The owner, custodian, or harborer of each dog or cat over four months of age, kept, maintained, or harbored in any area of Fulton County, including any dog or cat within the corporate city limits of any municipality in Fulton County, is required to maintain a current rabies vaccination on such dog or cat.

003bc4c2-f609-11e1-87ee-000bcdcb2996 said...

California does have a lot of stupid laws that they do not even enforce. I lived in Fresno Ca, I worked at the CCSPCA. It is one of the largest kill shelters in Cali and I believe the 4th largest in the USA, please correct if I'm wrong. I suck at looking info up. My last year of working there was 2010 and we recieved a little over 52,000 animals in that year. They adopted out ONLY 2,600 and rescue groups pulled (saved) 3,000. They however are not honest about their numbers, since there is a group on their butts. I seen SO MANY abuse and neglect cases and I couldn't tell you how many got thrown out or the people just got a slap on the hand and NEVER any jail time. You wouldn't believe the horro I seen and how heartless and cruel people really are until you are the one caring for them medically or having to put them to sleep due to the fact that it is to late and the most humane thing to do is put them down.It make me so made to know they sit there wasting time on LAWS they DO NOT force!!!!! I do have to say good job on the info you guys have put on here. I was looking up the limits on animals and this was the first one to pop up!

Amber Blaylock said...

I don't live in a big city but our limit is dumb the limit in Richmond UT is two dogs. If you have three or more you have to have a kennel licence that costs one hundred dollars a year.

LA said...

Seattle has a limit of 3 cats/dogs ..I lived there for 40 yrs so I know theres a limit

LA said...

Theres a 3 animal limit in seattle..I lived there 40yrs so I know they have a limit..actually all of king county has a 3 animal limit pierce county has a 5 animal limit.

chris2ny said...

The listing for NYCHA for New York City is applicable to public housing -- that is tax payer subsidized housing and locally known as the projects. As many people in NYC live in apartment buildings, the landlords, or coop boards have the ability to ban or restrict pet ownership. I believe that is why the city has not bothered to restrict the number of dogs one can have and apartment buildings do the work for them.

Labella said...

Yes, 12 dogs in Philadelphia but only 4 can be intact, and a dog is defined as an animal 6 months of age or older.. Or it was, it could be 4 months now.
So you can have 4 intact dogs and 8 sterilized dogs at one time in Philly. And all 4 of those dogs can be females and all 4 of those females could be pit bulls, and all 4 of those pit bulls could have a litter of 10 puppies... and you would still be under the legal limit, lol.

Amelialynn said...

This is great, I'm looking to buy a large property (5+ acres, hopefully closer to 10 acres) and have been researching areas and their dog limits as I have taken in many strays. All of my dogs and 1 kitten are fully vetted, happy, healthy, loved and fixed except 2 (1 is too young and 1 needs to put on some weight before she's fixed - when I took her in she was only 19.2 lbs (less than 1/2 what she should be)once the vet gives me the okay she too will be fixed).

Mark Goldstein said...

Knoxville has a 4 dog max unless you get a kennel license but then the city can come in anytime and inspect.

Does anyone know of a county in Eastern Tennessee that will legally allow 7 dogs? Thanks.

Amber Holder said...

I wanted to let you know that the listing for Denver CO is inaccurate at this time. Their website states that they restrict the number of dogs to 3.

Kris said...

Mark Goldstein,

Knox county goes by the size of your property. It is the only county I have seen where there is a limit.


Nancy johnson said...

Rowlett, TX IS 4

Christianna Hartwell said...

Wow. So not true. 3 Dog limit city. 4 Dog county.

Christianna Hartwell said...

LA City has a limit of 3 dogs. LA county has a limit of 4.
Interesting fact that most people don’t know:
Dog laws are actually designed to keep police safe. When 2 officers enter a property, four dogs can overpower them. 3 dogs cannot. Also, even small dogs present a distraction for officers. That’s the real reason for the laws. It’s for the military government in power- NOT to keep Aunt Bessie’s 5 chihuahuas from annoying the neighbors because Aunt Bessie’s 3 chihuahuas are literally just as annoying and loud if someone doesn’t like the sound of dogs barking. Proven fact: there’s ZERO decibel difference.