All Dogs Are Good Dogs (But Some Are Restricted Breeds)

dog breeds

For some people, a house just isn’t a home until they have a dog curled up by their feet. Unfortunately, their doggos may make it harder to get home insurance. Many providers have restricted breed lists, and getting coverage can be difficult if your dog is on it.

Before you get pupset, please note that we would give every dog a 14/10 and a boop on the nose. But insurance companies aren’t about boops. They’re about covering your risk while protecting their assets. Let’s take a look at why home insurance carriers have dog breed restrictions and how that may impact you.

Homeowners Insurance and Restricted Dog Breeds

Dog bites may be more common than you think. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), more than 4.5 million people are bit every year, and 80,000 need medical attention.  

Not all of those dog bites rise to the level of an insurance claim, but when they do they can be costly. As Insurance Journal reports, dog bites cost the insurance industry $700 million dollars in 2017. Moreover, the average payout was $37,051, up 11.5 percent from the previous year.

That’s a lot of money going out the door for insurance providers. They had to find a way to minimize the problem, and restricted breeds were their answer. Is it a perfect solution? Hardly. As the AMVA argues, any dog can bite and many factors beyond breed need to be considered.

But for many insurance companies, these breeds are the riskiest, according to the data:

  • Akita
  • Alaskan malamute
  • American Staffordshire terrier
  • Bullmastiff
  • Chow chow
  • Doberman pinscher
  • German shepherd
  • Great Dane
  • Pit bull
  • Presa canario (canary dog)
  • Rottweiler
  • Siberian husky
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • Any wolf hybrids
  • Any dog with a history of biting or vicious behavior

Getting home insurance when you have one of these pawsome puppers is difficult, but it’s not impossible. You can still find coverage even if your dog is a restricted breed.

How to Get Insurance When You Have a Restricted Breed

You want to be upfront with your insurer if your dog is on the restricted breed list. There may be consequences, but it’s better to know there’s an issue than to think you’re covered when you’re not. Plus, you may be able to work something out with the provider. 

Here are a few ways you may still be able to get homeowners insurance when your pup is considered a risky breed:

  • Ask about exceptions. Some insurers make exceptions for service dogs or dogs who have earned a Canine Good Citizen certificate from the American Kennel Club.
  • Get dog liability insurance. A quick internet search shows a number of insurance companies sell coverage specifically for dogs on restricted breed lists.
  • Do a DNA breed test. Is your bullmastiff actually a pug? Probably not. But looks can be deceiving and a DNA test may show your dog shouldn’t be on the restricted breed list.
  • Look for another home insurance provider. Different insurers have different restrictions, so you may be able to find one that covers your dog liability. Do some research online to see what companies offer.

Without insurance, you may end up paying someone’s medical bills after a dog bite. Talk to your agent to come up with a solution.

Preventing Dog Liability Claims

Once you have home insurance that covers dog liability, you still want to minimize the chance of making a claim to help keep your premium low. While you can’t completely eliminate the risk, you can:

  • Keep an eye on your dog’s body language. Tense, distressed, and excited dogs are more likely to bite, so watch your dog for signs, like a rigid body, fur standing up, or wagging. When you see these or other signs, remove your dog from the situation.
  • Socialize your dog. Expose your dog to new people and animals. This helps them get used to novelty and reduces the chance they’ll bite.
  • Train your dog. Even if it can’t get Sparky off the restricted breed list, a obedience class is a good idea for most dogs and their owners.
  • Keep your dog safe. Bites aren’t the only way your dog may hurt someone. Your dog can also cause accidents and property damage if they’re roaming free, so know where your dog is at all times.

Dog breed restrictions for home insurance are a reality for now. Work with your agent to find appropriate coverage so you can enjoy your home with your pupper.