Person kneeling down on a sidewalk next to a big dog
Pet-friendly housing for big dogs
Big dogs stay at shelters longer and are at risk of losing their lives because many housing options restrict big dogs based on their size, breed and weight.

Sadly, the number one reason people surrender big dogs (pups weighing in at more than 50 pounds) to shelters is because of housing restrictions that stem from breed-restrictive laws.

Every day across the United States, families with big dogs face housing restrictions because their dog’s size and/or breed is not permitted in rental housing and because many insurance companies won’t cover big dogs based on their breed.  


Restrictive laws for big dogs

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) refers to laws that ban or restrict certain types of dogs based simply on their appearance and breed.

These outdated laws assume that a dog is dangerous because of his or her appearance and limit responsible people’s right to own any breed of dog they choose. BSL also forces caring pet owners to give up their well-behaved pets because of breed-specific policies in rental agreements, public housing, homeowners’ associations and insurance companies. 

As a result of BSL and the limits on housing options, fewer people adopt big dogs, which means big dogs stay longer in shelters, where they are more at risk of losing their lives. Plus, these restrictions force many responsible people to surrender their dogs to shelters, separating families from their beloved pets.  

See which states have breed-specific legislation in place: 


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Ending breed restrictions in communities like yours

Breed-specific restrictions don’t make communities safer, they don’t reduce risk, and they don’t protect people or pets.

That’s why, with your help, Best Friends is dedicated to eliminating breed-restrictive legislation once and for all. We’re working to put policies in place that keep big dogs with their families, protect the rights of people who have big dogs, end breed restrictions by the insurance industry and strengthen tenant rights. 

Two smiling people sitting outside in a garden with a big dog

Advocate for pet-friendly housing

Best Friends is working around the country to protect the rights of pets and their people, so that big dogs can stay with their loving families.

Smiling person relaxing on a couch with a big dog

Help end breed-restrictive insurance policies

How do restrictions in homeowner and rental insurance policies contribute to more big dogs ending up in shelters? It happens when people are denied coverage or dropped by their insurance company because of their dog’s breed, size or appearance.  

Best Friends is urging state insurance commissions to protect consumers and focus on the behavior (rather than the size or breed) of the dog. You can help by signing a petition targeting your state’s insurance commission. 

Two smiling people outdoors enjoying a hike with two big dogs

Challenge breed restrictions in government-subsidized housing

Breed- and size-specific pet restrictions use government funds to force low-income families to either surrender their pets to animal shelters (at a cost to taxpayers) or to choose potentially unsafe and unstable housing.  

The most vulnerable families should have the most protections, which is why Best Friends works to repeal breed, size and weight restrictions in government-funded housing.

Need help? Make sure you know your rights as a tenant. Legal assistance is available. 

Smiling person with a dog sitting on a comfortable bed

Support the rights of renters and HOA residents

Many renters say pet-inclusive housing is hard to find. Truly pet-inclusive housing benefits owners and operators, residents and communities alike by increasing housing options for the two-thirds of American families with pets.  

Policies that restrict pets based on their size or breed limit people’s options for living arrangements and for selecting a dog from a shelter. Because of this, Best Friends is urging state insurance commissions to protect consumers and focus on the behavior of the dog instead of the dog’s breed or size.

You can help by signing a petition targeting your state’s insurance commission. 

Two people sitting on the steps in front of a home with their three big dogs
Need help finding pet-friendly housing?
Check out our pet-friendly housing guide.
Silhouettes of three big dogs playing

We want to hear your story

If you’ve struggled to find housing, have been denied housing or insurance, or have been forced to move or surrender your beloved big dog because of restrictive pet policies, we want to hear your story.

The elected officials we work with to change laws and policies are unaware of the depth of this problem and how harmful these policies are to their constituents.

Being able to share real-life stories like yours with decision-makers is the most persuasive tool we have to create positive change for big dogs and the families who love them.

You can be an advocate for big dogs

Get started by staying informed about how to help big dogs.