Breed Restrictions & Insurance

7 Replies

I apologize for the long post, but I'm having trouble staying off the dreaded "breed restrictions" list with landlords, so I have a few questions and I'm hoping to get some insight here to better understand my situation. I have 2 dogs. One is classified by an unknown vet as "American Staffordshire Terrier mix" and it's stuck with him all throughout humane societies until we got him. The other we rescued as a puppy & was classified as simply "Terrier mix". We don't know what either of them are mixed with or if they're actually AmStaffs for sure. I've had many people tell me they see different dominant breeds in my dogs (as you normally do with mixes), and we've never had them dna tested nor do we intend to. We don't personally care what breed they are.

1) Most landlords push me into saying they're "pit bulls" and then deny my dogs with usually no reason other than "We don't accept that breed". One landlord I had contacted said his insurance did not accept them. I told him that we had renter's insurance that we got specifically for our dogs (requirement to adopt from the humane society) & he acted like it was irrelevant. So, first question... If I have renter's insurance that covers my dogs, does it matter or not if the landlord's insurance does not accept them?

2) Some people have suggested having my vet write a letter stating that they are not "pit bulls". I've read up on AmStaffs vs Pit bulls & I'm aware that they are not the exact same, but are still considered in the US to be the same (although not in the UK where "pit bulls" are prohibited, but "AmStaffs" are not). Would a letter from my vet make any difference to a landlord or his/her insurance company? 

3) Am I obligated to say that they look like pit bulls when I'm asked? I feel that's a matter of opinion - as demonstrated by the many people above who've told me they believe my dogs to be at least 5 different breeds. In my opinion, people see what they want to see & if a landlord wants to see "pit" then he/she will regardless. I personally feel that one of my dogs - the one with the AmStaff classification - looks like a dog I had growing up. That dog was a German Shepherd/Black Lab mix with no AmStaff in his blood at all. So again, it's purely subjective.

I also want to make it clear that I'm not trying to hide anything. I've offered pictures to landlords & to bring my dogs to meet the landlord to prove their temperaments & tried to reassure them that they're both house broken, crate trained, supervised 100% of the time we're home or in kennels when we're not, and not destructive even if they weren't supervised. None of that matters once the "pit bull" seed is planted.

Thanks for any info or advice.

The risk is too great. I am not a dog expert by any stretch of the imagination but if it looks like a pit bull I am not going to accept it as I don't want to deal with the possibility of issues. Before I was married, I had a roommate who had a pit bull live with me. Good dog and he still has her and with 2 small kids but still did some minor damage to my house. I didn't care as much back then as I could repair the damage but now the liability risk and Hassel factor is much greater. I would say get any good reports and documentation you can but most landlord's that care are not going to accept someone a pet that is or looks like a pit bull. I wish you well but as a landlord I have too much to risk that is out I can't mitigate in that situation.

As a landlord I have run into insurance problems with dogs.  There are companies that specifically will not cover pit bulls and renters insurance doesn't matter because if there is a suit the LL is going to be pulled into it.  I don't agree with this.  I've known many pitbulls that are sweethearts.  I have pugs.  Someone once called them pitbulls.  Ignorance abounds.  I wish you good luck!

The key is to demonstrate "responsible dog ownership".... google that and read up. Then get documentation that shows your dogs are trained and have passed temperament testing. Consider AKC Canine Good Citizen training, testing and certification. See: To round out the packet of credentials, include your letter from the veterinarian about what breeds may or may not be part of the mix. 

Ultimately, the landlord can accept or reject your dogs. But if the landlord accepts dogs in general, then be prepared to talk about the dogs, their breed, their temperament, and how responsible you are as a dog owner. Be open and honest. Even the insurance part can be negotiated. If you are confident, well informed and prepared. It is often possible to get past "NO".

Get CGC certifications on both dogs.  And if possible get the advanced CGC as well.  CGC stands for canine good citizen.  This is a test that is conducted by an AKC certified evaluator.  You'll probably have to prepare for it but if your dogs know sit and down and are friendly with people and other dogs it won't take to long to prep for it.  Search for AKC CGC or go to the website which is either or american kennel  

What does the file at the current vets office say the breeds are?  If it just says mixed breed, then get a copy of that for the landlord.  And give your vet a heads up that the landlord may call to confirm.  

One last possibility -if they look like different needs to different people, pick one of those breeds that isn't considered a pitty (lab ?) And get them registered as such with the AKC.  It's not for certain the AKC will register them as that breed but it's possible even without a history of parentage and even with being neutered or spayed.  

Feel free to pm me if you need more info. 

One more thing - check with your local SPCA and see if they have a dog friendly landlord list.  And if you have a local pit bull rescue organization ask if they have landlord lists.  

Unfortunately other irresponsible dog owners are wrecking your chances.  Another house I am buying this week is a motivated seller due to dog damage, smells and aggressiveness.  His neighbors that used to love him (as much as you could a LL anyway) have turned their backs.  He has thrown up his hands.  His wife declared she will never pick up after another's dog again and they called me.  Going forward, they aren't allowing pets in their other rentals anymore.  He's been a LL since 1972.

I allow dogs where I can and am also a dog owner.  I'm glad you found us @Krystal Langrehr .   Refreshing to hear a renter's point of view, even if from Pardeeville.  (Is that really the name of your town?)  Just let us know when you get tired of renting and LLs and if we can help transition you into home ownership and/or investing!

Thanks everyone for the advice. I do realize that my dogs are considered high risk due to society's view on who they are as a breed. Nonetheless, being an owner of 2 dogs that are being discriminated against before they're even given a chance is frustrating to say the least.

I did do some basic behavior training with the older dog (also required by the humane society), but never went further than I was required to. I will look into further training & CGC, talk with my vet, and try to get in contact with a pit rescue if there are any in my area.

Steve, yes, that's really the name of my town, haha. I would LOVE to be able to buy a house, but it's not possible for us right now. I am bookmarking this website though and I'm sure I'll be back in the future. You've all been a huge help!

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