Dog Restrictions in HOAs

Posted On: September 16, 2014
By: Matt Fuller

Full disclosure: I love dogs. I’m the crazy dog lady who posts ridiculous numbers of photos of my puppy on Facebook. (She’s ridiculously cute, so I can’t help it.) So it’s no surprise that I find the dog restrictions in many HOAs to be, well, ridiculous. Many prohibit dogs who weigh over 35 pounds. The lowest I’ve seen is 20 pounds. The highest I’ve seen is 70 pounds, but that one was an outlier.

photo

The JacksonFuller team mascots — Bonnie (Matt’s dog) and Maddie (Britton’s dog).

My guess is that an HOA will decide to cap the weight of any resident dogs to try to maintain peace and quiet in the building. I decided to look up which dog breeds bark the most, and according to the ILoveDogs website, here’s the list:

  1. Beagle
  2. Basset hound
  3. Jack Russell terrier
  4. Keeshond
  5. Maltese
  6. Lhasa Apso
  7. Boston Terrier
  8. Miniature Pinscher
  9. Samoyed
  10. West Highland White Terrier

See any kind of trend on that list? Seven of these ten are small dogs that would be welcome in an HOA — and be more likely to bark than their larger doggie brethren. So there goes that justification for a weight restriction.

Perhaps the HOA believes that bigger dogs need more exercise and will make more noise just by moving around the condo. According to Pet Plan, the laziest dogs are:

  1. Basset Hound
  2. Bernese Mountain Dog
  3. Bichon Frise
  4. Brussels Griffon
  5. Bullmastiff
  6. Chihuahua (WHAT?)
  7. Chow Chow
  8. Clumber Spaniel
  9. Cocker Spaniel
  10. Dachshund
  11. English Bulldog
  12. English Mastiff
  13. French Bulldog
  14. Greyhound
  15. Havanese
  16. Leonberger
  17. Newfoundland
  18. Saint Bernard
  19. Tibetan Terrier

Fourteen of these 19 couch potato dogs are medium or large. So it’s difficult to justify the blanket belief that bigger = louder.

What about the possibility that a bigger dog will make a bigger mess in the common areas, say, if a wet dog walks in from the rain with muddy paws? I say that one goes back to the owner — no matter how big or small the dog, the owner needs to dry off Fluffy or Fido before walking through the lobby or into the elevator. Common courtesy is common courtesy, regardless of the size of the pooch at the end of the leash.

The last one I’ll mention is breed restrictions — probably one of the foremost political hot buttons of the dog world today. Many HOAs prohibit breeds such as pit bulls, mastiffs, Rottweilers or Dobermans. This one is more difficult because in some cases it’s out of the HOA’s control — the HOA’s insurance policy may prohibit these dogs or others considered to be “fighting breeds.â€? (And while it’s not the case in San Francisco, some cities have enacted breed-specific bans on certain dogs. Not surprisingly, the ASPCA is against these laws, and there are many passionate arguments on both sides.)

HOAs are trying to reduce liability and financial exposure by limiting breeds that are perceived to be dangerous. What do you think? Should HOAs prohibit dogs of certain breeds or over a certain weight?