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Understanding How Dog Breeds Affect Homeowners Insurance and Why

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Imagine this scenario: you're a proud homeowner and you've just welcomed a new dog into your family—or, on the flip-side, maybe you already had a canine companion. They are bringing you immense joy and love and making your home complete. But what you may not realize is that the type of dog you chose could impact your homeowners insurance coverage. 

Homeowners' insurance policy premiums are not one-size-fits-all. They can vary significantly due to a number of factors, including the specific dog breed residing in your home. Insurance providers may assess risk factors associated with specific dog breeds, an evaluation that directly impacts the cost of coverage, or even a denial of coverage. 

Keep reading to learn more about the often overlooked link between our beloved pets and homeowners insurance, including which dog breeds may face insurance restrictions.

At a glance: 

  • Homeowners' insurance premiums can be influenced by the specific dog breed in the home due to perceived risk factors.
  • Insurance providers impose restrictions on dog breeds due to real-life incidents, which can lead to denied claims involving banned breeds.
  • Some insurance companies don’t enforce dog breed restrictions, allowing homeowners with traditionally high-risk breeds (like those on this list) to secure coverage.
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Dog breeds often banned by homeowners insurance companies

The relationship between dog and insurance coverage is nuanced and based on a risk assessment, including a dog's temperament, past behavior, and size. 

Here are 10 dog breeds that typically face home insurance restrictions1

Pit Bull

Pit Bulls have long been a controversial breed due to their reputation and not the individual dog themself. It’s important to note that not all Pit Bulls are aggressive, but they can pose a higher risk of incidents if they display aggressive behavior due to their stature and strength. 

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd dog breed has long been considered intelligent and loyal—there’s a reason this breed is often a member of police or military units. But for every day dog owners, their sense of loyalty, or rather their protective nature, can sometimes extend into aggressive tendencies. 

Great Dane

One of the larger dog breeds, Great Danes are known for their gentleness and friendly nature. However, due to their giant size, they can cause damage if an incident does occur. Because of their size alone, insurance companies could consider them a higher risk dog breed. 

Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky is an independent and highly energetic dog, making them a handful for both inexperienced and even experienced dog owners. With a strong prey drive and a tendency to wander, the Siberian Husky can be prone to escaping which in turn could potentially lead to incidents with wildlife, other dogs, or even humans. 

Staffordshire Terrier

A dog breed often mislabeled as Pit Bulls, Staffordshire Terriers have a similar demeanor to their Pit Bull cousins, with a protective and strong demeanor. These are optimal traits for a dog to have when trained properly; however, when not trained well, or when exhibiting aggression, Staffordshire Terriers may pose a risk of incidents. 
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Rottweiler

Another large breed, Rottweilers, are strong and loyal dogs, but have a tendency to exhibit territorial behavior. Home insurance providers may classify this dog breed as high risk due to their natural inclinations to guard their family and home.

Doberman Pinscher

Another large, loyal, and intelligent dog breed, the Doberman Pinscher makes an excellent guard dog. As with the other strong and protective dog breeds on this list, these behaviors can sometimes lead to aggression. 

Chow Chow

Big and fluffy, and reminiscent of a childhood teddy bear, Chow Chows are in reality aloof and independent dogs, but they do regularly form exceptionally strong bonds with their families. But as with most dogs on this list, if not properly trained or socialized, they can be aggressive due to their innate suspicion of strangers. 

Wolf Hybrid

A descendent of the wolf mixed with domesticated dogs, Wolf Hybrids are unique in that they exhibit a combination of domesticated and wild behaviors. This combination of behaviors can result in this particular dog breed becoming unpredictable and exhibiting potentially dangerous behaviors, causing many insurance companies to restrict coverage for homeowners who have a Wolf Hybrid on the premises.

Bull Terrier

Bull Terriers are instantly identifiable to dog lovers. They have a unique appearance with a sloping head and narrow angled eyes; some may recognize this breed as a popular retailer’s mascot. While they are recognizable due to their looks, they also exhibit the recognizable traits of tenacity and a strong will. Bull Terriers often form strong bonds with their families, but may cause concern with insurance companies due to their determined nature. 

Dog breeds and insurance premiums

Insurance companies impose restrictions on certain dog breeds based on historical data and the likelihood of an incident taking place. When a breed has a propensity to be involved in incidents, insurers may choose to restrict coverage, or alternatively, increase premiums to mitigate financial liability in dog-related incidents; the average cost per claim of a dog-related incident increased by 31.7% in 2022 to $64,555 from $49,025 in 2021.2

It's important to note that not all dogs display stereotypical aggressive behavior, even when considered a riskier breed; socialization and proper training play important roles in developing a dog’s behaviors.  However, dog owners should know that it is unlikely that insurance providers will take an individual dog’s behavior into consideration when providing (or denying) liability coverage. That’s why it’s important to check with your insurance provider (or prospective provider) what their homeowners insurance policy covers.

State specific requirements 

Depending on your location, coverage may be limited, cost more, or even be excluded due to your dog’s breed and past behavior, including bite history. For instance, in Pennsylvania and Michigan, coverage cannot be denied or canceled based on a specific dog breed, while in other states like Ohio, higher amounts of liability coverage may be required by state law.3Blog833x417_DogBreeds_4-min

Choosing the right dog breed

Selecting the right dog breed for your family is not only about finding a pet that fits into your home and lifestyle, but it's also about ensuring you will still be financially protected in the event of a dog-related claim; it's on you to research dog breeds, consider their temperament and behaviors. 

Bringing a dog into your home that is not on the restricted dog breed list can help you save on your insurance premiums. But that isn’t the only consideration pet owners need to consider. There are other steps dog owners need to take, including investing in proper training and socializing their pets, which can make them less likely to display aggressive behaviors.

Informed dog ownership

Inviting a dog into your home and family is a beautiful experience that brings immense joy and companionship to our lives; many people consider their families incomplete without them! However, recognizing the potential financial implications associated with certain dog breeds is an important aspect of responsible and informed dog ownership. 

So whether you are just considering a dog for your home—or home for your furry companion—remember that knowledge and responsible ownership are part and parcel with dog ownership. 

 


* We provide this information to help you understand insurance. Any coverage is subject to the terms of your policy. Please refer to your policy and declaration page for complete coverage details.

 

1 Ed Leefeldt. “Dog Breeds Banned By Home Insurance Companies.” Forbes Advisor. Published 3 October 2023. Accessed 9 November 2023. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/homeowners-insurance/banned-dog-breed-lists/

2  Insurance Information Institute. “Spotlight on: Dog Bite Liability.” III. Published 5 April 2023. Accessed 9 November 2023. https://www.iii.org/article/spotlight-on-dog-bite-liability

3  Insurance Information Institute. 

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