Breed-Restricted Permits

Smiling pit bull looks at camera; text: Show us your pitties

Hey Denver, We Want to See Your Pitties! 

Pitties (American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and Staffordshire bull terriers) are legal in Denver only when they have received a Breed-Restricted Permit. Show Denver Animal Protection your pittie to receive your permit. 

For a limited time, restricted breed evaluations and permits are free at the Denver Animal Shelter. Show us your Pitties to receive your free permit.

It’s easy to get your pittie permitted.

Permit Process

Step 1.Evaluation

Show Us Your Pitties: If you have a pit bull -type pup at home, they need to receive a permit from DAP. To begin the permit process, visit the Denver Animal Shelter between 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., 7 days per week, to receive a breed evaluation. The breed evaluation will determine if your pet is indeed a restricted breed and therefore needs a permit.

No appointment necessary. Evaluations typically last no more than 15 minutes.

Step 2.License and Permitting

Make Your Pittie Legal: If the evaluation determines that a majority of your pup’s physical characteristics are consistent with the restricted breeds, then your Pittie will need a permit and a Denver pet license. DAS staff will help you fill out the necessary paperwork after your evaluation.

Currently, breed-restricted permits, evaluations, and pet licenses are free! 

General Cost: $25 for evaluation, $30 for Breed-Restricted Permit, $15 for pet license 

Protect your Pitte: All permitted Pitties (like all animals adopted from the Denver Animal Shelter) must also be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and spayed/neutered. If your pup doesn’t meet these requirements, the Denver Animal Shelter can help with low-cost or free services.

Step 3.Renew

Renew your Breed-Restricted Permit every year for 3 years. After 3 years, if your pup has had no violations of Denver's animal protection ordinances, your pet will no longer need a permit to be legal in the city. 

Permit Requirements

If your dog is determined to have a majority of the physical characteristics of the banned breeds during the evaluation, you will need to complete an application(PDF, 179KB) for a Breed-Restricted Permit.

The application for a Breed-Restricted Permit to own or keep a pit bull-type dog will require the following:

  • Name and address of the owner or keeper where the pit bull will be located
  • Names and addresses of two people who may be contacted in the event of an emergency involving the pit bull
  • An accurate description of the pit bull and recent photograph
  • Payment of the $30 Breed-Restricted Permit fee (this is in addition to the $25 assessment fee)
  • Proof the dog is neutered or spayed, or proof of a DAP intact permit that allows the dog to remain unaltered
  • Proof that the animal has had a registered microchip implanted
  • Proof that the animal has a current rabies vaccination
  • Proof that the animal has a city license (A pet license cannot be purchased through PetData. Please visit the Denver Animal Shelter to purchase a pet license).
  • Any other information that DAP reasonably requires

The fee for the permit is $30 per animal, and it must be renewed every year for 3 years (at $30 per animal per year).  If there are no violations* within that time period, owners may be provided with written notice that they have been removed from the Breed-Restricted permitting requirements. 

*Examples of potential violations include, but are not limited to:

  • Off-leash charge
  • Lapsed permit charge
  • Excrement charge
  • Bite charge
  • Excessive barking charge
  • Potentially dangerous animal/dangerous animal charge

Each violation results in a resetting of the three-year time period, or other consequences. In order to reapply for a Breed-Restricted Permit, owners and keepers must show proof that the violation has been corrected.

Breed Specific Legislation Information

Under Denver’s Ordinance Sec. 8-67, restricted breeds (American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier) are prohibited unless they have been issued a provisional Breed-Restricted Permit.

This means that Denver residents may not own or keep a pit bull within the city without first obtaining a Breed-Restricted Permit from Denver Animal Protection (DAP).

Pit bull-type dogs are defined as any dog displaying a majority of physical traits of any one or more of the specific breeds mentioned above, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing (physical) characteristics that substantially conform to the standards established by American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club.

It is the responsibility of any new owner of an adopted restricted-breed animal to contact DAP to initiate the provisional permitting process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are pit bull-type dogs legal in Denver?

Restricted breeds are illegal to own within the City and County of Denver unless you have a Breed-Restricted Permit for the dog issued by DAP.

What if I have a dog that has already been determined to be illegal under an old ordinance?

Under the 2021 ordinance, you may bring the dog that was previously illegal back to Denver, but first you must obtain a permit. In order to do this, please bring the breed letter you were previously given to the shelter during normal business hours and request a permit application from the staff at the shelter. An application can also be found at DenverAnimalShelter.org.

Can I bring my pit bull into Denver?

You cannot bring a restricted-breed dog into Denver until you have a Breed-Restricted Permit issued by DAP.

I live in another city and I want to bring my pit bull in for a visit. Do I need a permit?

Yes. All suspected pit bull dogs must have a breed evaluation completed at DAP, and if the dog is determined by DAP to be a restricted-breed dog, a permit is required for the dog to be within Denver City and County limits at any time.

I don’t live in Denver and I want to use a doggie day care in Denver. Do I need a permit?

Yes. All pit bulls must be permitted to be within Denver City and County limits at any time. There is no exception for owned dogs that will be placed at any boarding or day care facility.

I’m thinking of moving to Denver. Can I purchase the permit online or call and buy the permit before I move?

Unfortunately, this is not an option. DAP needs to complete an in-person evaluation of the dog to determine its breed, and then you can purchase the permit, if necessary. If you get your dog evaluated by DAP prior to moving, you are welcome to purchase the permit at the same time and then update it when you move to a Denver address.

Can pit bull dogs be adopted out now by Denver Animal Shelter or other local shelters to Denver residents?
Yes. Adopters of restricted-breed dogs must receive a breed evaluation for their dog and then purchase a permit if DAP determines your dog to be a restricted-breed dog.

If I am a Denver resident and adopt a dog from a shelter other than Denver Animal Shelter that is a restricted breed, what do I need to do next?
Please complete a breed evaluation at Denver Animal Shelter and then purchase a permit if DAP determines your dog to be a restricted breed.

I don’t know if my dog is a pit bull. What should I do?
If you are unsure of your dog’s primary breed, you should bring your pup in for a breed evaluation at Denver Animal Shelter between 1-3 p.m. any day of the week. Breed assessments cost $25. If your dog is determined to have a majority of the physical characteristics of the restricted breeds, you will need to follow the process for obtaining a Breed-Restricted Permit.

If it is determined that the dog does not have a majority of the physical characteristics of the restricted breeds, the dog will be allowed in Denver without a permit. The owner will be provided with an official breed evaluation letter stating that the dog was evaluated by DAP. All dogs in Denver are required to have a rabies vaccination, city license, and be spayed or neutered, or have an intact permit.

How exactly does the breed assessment work?

During the assessment, three certified breed evaluators will look at the dog’s physical characteristics and compare them to the American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club breed standards for the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Each of the three evaluators will make an independent determination of whether the dog displays predominate pit bull characteristics or not. There is no evaluation of behavior or temperament during the assessment. All three evaluators must determine that the dog displays predominant pit bull characteristics in order for the dog to be classified as a pit bull breed.

How many pit bulls can I have?
The maximum number of pit bulls that any owner or keeper may have living in their home is two.

Can I bring my pit bull to an off-leash dog park?
Yes, once your dog has satisfied all of the requirements and been issued a Breed-Restricted Permit and a city license, the dog is allowed in any off-leash dog park in the City and County of Denver.

What are the criteria for my dog being labeled a pit bull?
DAP team members have been highly trained to evaluate the characteristics of a dog to determine whether it is a restricted breed. Many of these characteristics are apparent only to a trained professional.

How do I make an appointment for an assessment?
We are not offering appointments. Instead, we offer walk in breed evaluations to be done between 1-3pm daily at Denver Animal Shelter. 

What if I disagree with DAP’s assessment of my dog?
If you dispute the classification of your dog as a pit bull, you may file a written petition for a hearing concerning such classification no later than 7 days after the assessment.

Why do I need to provide the names and addresses of two people in the application?
To fulfill the requirements of Denver Ordinance Sec. 8-67, all owners or keepers of a restricted-breed animal must have on file the names and addresses of two contacts.

These two contacts must be people who can take care of the dog or be able to control the dog when you’re not available. The people you designate as your contacts can be a family member, a neighbor or a friend, but that person is going to have to come get the dog if it escapes or is in an altercation. It needs to be someone who feels comfortable with and capable of getting the animal under control. This person is acting on your behalf and is responsible only for the care or control of the dog when you are not able to do so.

What if I don’t get a permit for my pit bull?

If you are stopped by DAP, or are reported to DAP, and found to be in possession of one or more pit bulls that have not been issued a permit, the following protocols apply:

You will receive a warning and a mandatory request to bring the animal(s) in for an assessment. DAP will perform a follow-up verification within 10 days of the warning. If you have not brought the dog in for an assessment and applied for a permit, you may be subject to a court appearance or a fine, or DAP may remove the animal(s) from the home.