Do insurance companies have a bad dog list and upon what criteria is it based?


Most pet insurance companies have a notional bad dog list upon which they base underwriting decisions - such as whether to issue a policy or not and at what premium levels.

What is a "bad dog" list?

A "bad dog" list is composed of a list of dog breeds that pose a higher risk of causing damage and injury to humans and other animals. These are dogs that have a higher tendency to bite and attack. This is because it is recognized that these breeds, by virtue of their general temperament, characteristics and built, have been shown to be involved in a number of animal attacks.

The insurance companies do have a list of dogs which they may decide to exclude from cover, or to agree to cover only with certain conditions - such as a higher premium, requisite enrolment to obedience school or an agreement with the owner that the dog is muzzled, chained, or caged.

Criteria for Including Breeds in the Bad Dog List

The criteria upon which a bad dog list is based may be the insurance company's experience with claims for a certain breed. Insurance companies keep a database of the number of claims for dog bites and dog attacks per breed.

The insurance company may also base inclusion on the bad dog list on the dangerous dogs classifications created by certain states. Yes, there are states that ban certain dog breeds or classify some dog breeds as dangerous or vicious. Another basis would be statistics regarding the frequency of dog bites for a certain breed as well as research results provided by Centers for Disease Control.

There have been some arguments from different camps (dog lovers, dog owners and breeders, as well as kennel clubs) regarding breed discrimination. However, insurance companies still maintain that they have "no-insure" or "insure-upon-certain-terms" when they are faced with the decision of whether to insure a certain dog breed or not.

Some dog breeds that are included in the bad dog list are:

  • German shepherds,
  • Dobermans,
  • pit bulls,
  • Akitas,
  • chow-chows,
  • Alaskan Malamutes,
  • Siberian huskies and
  • rottweilers.

This is regardless of whether they are purebreds or mixed breeds.

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