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Keeping Animals

This guide is intended to provide you with an overview of the permitting process for keeping animals on your property.

Although the following regulations apply to all animals, no permits are required for keeping common household pets unless you have more than a certain number. See below for more information or visit the Denver Animal Shelter’s page on animal ordinances for more information.

Help Me Get Started . . .

Before you start your project, you need to know what regulations apply to your property and what factors may impact your project. You'll need to consider:


Zoning establishes standards for things such as the size and location of structures and acceptable uses for your property. Before you begin, you need to be sure your project is in compliance with the Denver Zoning Code. Use the DevelopDENVER tool to the right to determine the zoning for your property. In the results, click on your zone district for descriptions and definitions. Click on your neighborhood context for general information on zoning in your area; then follow the link provided to see the Denver Zoning Code.

As applies in this case, zoning sets parameters for raising animals on your property.

Building Code

Denver Building Code provides minimum standards for building in order to safeguard public safety, health and welfare. The permitting and inspection process ensures that all home projects meet these standards and that all dwellings are safe and habitable at the time of construction.

If you plan on building an accessory structure or fence on your property to keep your animals, you may need a building permit. See the project guides for fences or sheds for more information. NOTE: You must secure a zoning permit for your animals before you proceed with obtaining appropriate zoning and construction permits for your accessory structure or fence.

Keeping animals is allowed in all zone districts. Specific limitations and regulations vary by district, so to determine what is allowed on your property:

  1. Find your zone district by entering your address on the DevelopDENVER tool at right.
  2. The results will tell you whether your zone district is in the Denver Zoning Code (Code Version 2010) or Former Chapter 59 (Code Version 1956).
  3. Once you’ve determined which document governs your zoning, proceed to the appropriate Step 2 below.

In the results, click on your zone district for your neighborhood context, then look up the appropriate article for your neighborhood context in the Denver Zoning Code.

To confirm what is allowed, check the article’s use table (at the end of the article) and look for the table entry, “Accessory to Primary Residential Use Classification.”

Lastly, in the Denver Zoning Code, see Article 11, Section 11.8.5, “Keeping of Household Animals” for limitations associated with all animals.

Under the Denver Zoning Code, a zoning permit is not required for:

  • Common household pets, including up to 3 dogs, 5 cats and no more than 5 total of both 
  • Up to 8 chickens or ducks or a combination of the two 
  • Up to 2 goats 
  • For other common pets and animals, see Article 11, Section 11.8.5

NOTE: If you live in a Denver Zoning Code district with waivers and conditions, contact the Zoning Team for more guidance on what is allowed in your district and the process for securing the appropriate permits.

See Section 59-87 (b) (2) c. on page 119-120 (PDF), which spells out which zone districts are allowed to keep animals and the types and quantity of animals allowed. This section also provides a process for animals not listed or exceeding the quantity listed.

A zoning permit is not required for a limited number of common household pets, including up to 3 dogs, 5 cats and no more than 5 total of both.

However, a zoning permit administrative exception is required for keeping chickens, ducks or dwarf goats (food producing animals).

For other common pets and animals, see Section 59-87 (b) (2) c. on page 119-120 (PDF).

NOTE: If you live in a Former Chapter 59 district with waivers and conditions, contact the Zoning Team for more guidance on what is allowed in your district and the process for securing the appropriate permits.

A zoning use permit is required for keeping more than a certain number of animals, depending on your zone district. (See appropriate Step 2 above.) Please contact the Zoning Team for an application and if you have questions on how to complete the application.

To submit your completed application by e-mail, scan the completed form and all other drawings and related materials. Send the electronic files to with "New zoning application" in the subject line of the email.

To submit your completed application by regular mail, send the completed form and supporting materials to:
Development Services/Zoning
Attn:  New applications
201 West Colfax, Dept 203
Denver, CO 80202

To submit your completed application in person, visit the Commercial Zoning Counter on the second floor Webb Municipal Building (201 West Colfax Ave.) between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Sign in for "Commercial Zoning" at the kiosk.

Keeping Animals

  • Food Producing Animals Permit (chickens and goats):
    This permit is required to keep up to 8 chickens or ducks (no roosters or drakes) or any combination of the two, plus 2 dwarf goats. The application and one-time $25 fee can be obtained over the counter at the Denver Animal Shelter (1241 W. Bayaud Ave.) during normal business hours. Once an individual has obtained a Food Producing Animal Permit, the number of animals can fluctuate as long as the individual does not go over the maximum allowed. The permit does not need to be renewed unless the permit holder moves to a new residence.

Click here for application (PDF).

  • Livestock or Fowl Permit:
    This permit is required to house any animal that is not included under the Food Producing Animal Permit (roosters, potbelly pigs, horses, etc.). Livestock or Fowl Permits are very specific in terms of what type of animals you will be housing and the quantity of each. If the permit is approved, you cannot have more than what your permit states without going through the permitting process again. The Livestock or Fowl Permit requires an annual fee ($100 for livestock and $50 for fowl).  The permit will remain valid and in compliance as long as the permit fee is paid annually and provided the permit holder does not house animals not listed in the permit or house more than what the permit allows. 

For information on how to obtain a Livestock or Fowl Permit, visit the Denver Animal Ordinances page of the Denver Animal Shelter's website and click on the "Livestock or Fowl Permit Required" tab. 

The only time an individual would need to get both types of animal permits permits is if he or she has animals that fall under both categories. For example, if you keep 8 chickens and 2 potbelly pigs, you would need the Food Producing Animal Permit for the 8 chickens and a Livestock or Fowl Permit for the potbelly pigs.

Other helpful information may be found on the Frequently Asked Questions page of the Denver Animal Shelter website.

Structures and Fencing

Structures to house your animals require an additional zoning permit and may require a building permit. See the project guide for detached accessory structures for more information.

If you are putting up a new fence, see the project guide for fences for more information.

Home Projects

Every project is different.  Depending upon the complexity of your project, the permit requirements and inspection process may vary from the information presented in this guide.  If you have any questions, please contact us.


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