Dog owning prohibitions and restrictions

Dog owning prohibitions and restrictions:[1]

A. The prohibition against owning a dangerous or intimidating dog:[2]

It is [Biblically[3]] forbidden for one to raise a dangerous or vicious dog. [One who does so transgresses both a Biblical positive and negative command which obligates one to get rid of safety hazards.[4]]

The curse:[5] Anyone who raises a dangerous dog is considered cursed like one who raises pigs.

Raising a non-vicious dog: See B.

B. The definition of a dangerous or intimidating dog:

It goes without saying that a dangerous dog which attacks people and bites is forbidden to be raised. Below we will discuss the status of dogs which are not dangerous and do not attack or bite, but are intimidating and bark at people.

A dog which only barks:[6] Even if the dog does not bite but simply barks [at people and intimidates them], then it is defined as a dangerous dog [which is Biblically prohibited from being owned], being that his threatening bark can cause a pregnant woman to feel threatened and frightened and cause her to miscarry. [Indeed, the Talmud[7] relates a story of woman who visited a neighbor in order to bake bread there, and she was confronted by the barking of the loose pet dog of the owner. The owner quickly told her that she has nothing to worry about being that he removed the dog’s sharp teeth, and he thus can no longer injure anyone. She replied to the owner that he should take back his favor being that she has already miscarried. Thus, any dog which people can be potentially threatened by, even if in truth the dog is harmless, is prohibited from being owned.] Now, although the custom today is to be lenient in this matter and to raise dogs and to not be particular to chain them during the day, and indeed there are Poskim[8] which have justified this behavior regarding dogs that do not bite [saying that the prohibition only applies to dogs which bite], practically this opinion has not been accepted and therefore every G-d fearing Jew is to beware to chain a barking dog with an iron chain during the day until people go to sleep, even if he does not bite and only barks.[9] [At night, however, after everyone goes to sleep one may allow the dog to roam around the neighborhood. Seemingly, however, this only applies in previous times while in today’s times that people are up at all hours of the night, dogs required to be chained 24/7.]

If the dog does not bark:[10] A dog which is not vicious, which means that it does not [even] bark at people [and certainly does not attack or bite] is allowed to be raised in all areas and is not required to be chained at all. [Nonetheless, some Poskim[11] rule that even a dog which is not dangerous and does not bark is only permitted to be raised for a purpose, such as to guard one’s property and the like. However, to simply own as a pet for the purpose of playing with it and using it for fun and jest is permitted due to it being considered the ways of the scoffers, and it is indeed forbidden for one to play with them which is the ways of the Gentiles. Accordingly, even one who needs to own a dog to protect his property, may not own more than one dog unless it is necessary. Practically, while the custom of G-d fearing Jews is to be stringent and not raise dogs as pets [unless it is for some real need, such as a guard dog, or an assistant dog, and the like] nonetheless, those who do so have upon to rely as is the simple implication of the ruling above that if the dog does not bark and is not dangerous then are no restrictions in owning them.]

A single woman raising a dog:[12]

It is forbidden for a widow to raise a dog of any type[13] [and the same would apply to any single woman].[14] [Some Poskim[15] rule that this is not prohibited from the letter of the law and is a mere stringency. Other Poskim[16] imply that this prohibition only applies if the dog lives in one’s house, if, however, it lives outside in the doghouse, then it is permitted.]


May one own a dog which only barks and bites if he is instigated?

Some[17] write that one may not own a dog that barks and bites even if it only does so upon instigation. Others[18], however, state that there is no prohibition to own such a dog being that it does not bite or bark on its own.


May one own a non-intimidating non-dangerous dog which nonetheless barks and disturbs the neighbors?[19]

A non-dangerous and nonintimidating dog which barks and disturbs the neighbors may not be owned unless they are trained not to bark during times that people are sleeping, such as past 11 o’clock at night.

C. Cases of exception:

A chained dog:[20] A [dangerous] dog which is [constantly] leashed with an iron[21] chain is permitted [to be owned] as in such a case people do not fear it or become frightened from it.[22] [Seemingly, the same would apply if the dog is constantly confined to one’s home or yard and cannot escape and roam around the neighborhood.]

To protect against crime and terrorists:[23] In a border city which needs to be guarded from the enemy it is permitted to raise [vicious dogs]. The dogs are to be chained during the day and let free at night.[24] [The same would apply regarding a city which has a high crime rate, that in such a city it is permitted for residents to raise dangerous and vicious guard dogs, so long as they are properly chained and cannot attack the public.]


It is forbidden for one to raise a vicious or dangerous dog that bites or even barks at people and intimidates them, unless the dog is constantly chained with an iron chain, [or is constantly confined to one’s home or yard and cannot escape and roam around the neighborhood]. If the dog does not bite or bark, then from the letter of the law it may be raised, although practically G-d-fearing Jews avoid doing so for mere recreational purposes, and only do so if it has a real need.

May one let his dog roam around outside? If the dog is considered vicious or dangerous, such as it barks at people, then it is forbidden to allow it to roam around outside unless it is a time that no one is around such as late at night, and is a guard dog to protect the neighborhood. A non-vicious dog which does not bark is permitted to be allowed outside without a leash for him to roam around.


[1] Admur Shemiras Guf Vinefesh Halacha 3; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 244

[2] Admur Shemiras Guf Vinefesh Halacha 3; Michaber C.M. 409:3; Tur 409:3; Rambam Nizkeiy Mamon 5:9; Bava Kama 15b

[3] Admur ibid includes this in his second example of safety matters that if one does not beware of it, then he transgresses both a Biblical positive and negative command

[4] Admur ibid, as explained in Chapter 1 Halacha 1

[5] Admur ibid; Rambam ibid; Bava Kama 83a; However, see Admur 324:7 that one may feed dogs on Shabbos, but may not feed pigs on Shabbos being that they are cursed. This implies that raising dogs does not put one under the category of cursed as we rule regarding one who raises pigs. Seemingly, however, the distinction is regarding the type of dog. Indeed, one who raises a tamed and well behaved dog who poses no danger to the public and does not intimidate them, then he is not included in the curse. If, however, he raises a bad dog, then he is included in the curse just like one who raises a pig.

[6] Admur ibid; Levush 427:3; Bava Kama 83a and Rashi there

[7] Bava Kama 83a

[8] Opinion in Admur ibid; Rama ibid; Shiltei Giborim on Mordechai Bava Kama Remez 74

[9] Admur ibid; Rashal in Yam Shel Shlomo Bava Kama 7:45, brought in Taz Y.D. 116:6

[10] Admur ibid; Rashal in Yam Shel Shlomo Bava Kama 7:45; Hagahos Maimanis Rotzeiach 11:3

[11] Sheilas Yaavetz 1:17; Imreiy Yaakov 10:13; Sheivet Halevi 6:241

[12] Michaber E.H. 22:18; Rambam Issureiy Biyah 22:16; Bava Metzia 71a; Imreiy Yaakov 10 Likkutim 7; See Yaavetz 1:17

[13] Vetzaruch Iyun regarding a female dog, and as to why the Poskim did not differentiate and permit it.

[14] The reason: This is due to Chashad. [Poskim ibid] This means to say that people may come to suspect that she may be doing a sexual sin with the dog, and in order to negate this rumor, the sages discouraged a single woman from raising dogs. However, in truth we do not actually suspect that the Jew would do such a sin. [Tosafus Bava Metiza ibid] Nonetheless, according to other opinions, the worry is that the woman may be led to actually sin with the dog. [Rashi Bava Metzia ibid]

[15] Taz E.H. 22:10 based on Tosafus Bava Metzia ibid

[16] Levush 22; Divrei Sofrim 152

[17] Pischeiy Choshen Nezikin 5:96 based on Michaber C.M. 395:1 who rules that if one instigates a dog and gets injured due to it, the owner must pay half of the damage

[18] Imreiy Yaakov 10 Biurim “Hamigadel”

[19] Pischeiy Choshen Nezikin 5:98; Imreiy Yaakov 10 Likkutim 7

[20] Admur ibid; Michaber C.M. 409:3; Tur 409:3; Rambam Nizkeiy Mamon 5:9; Mishneh Bava Kama 79b; Bava Kama 83a; 

[21] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Rama ibid; Tur ibid

[22] Admur ibid; Smeh 409:5; Likewise, pregnant women will not miscarry out of fear of their bark being that they see that the dog is chained and cannot harm them. [Shach 409:5; Imreiy Yaakov 10:13]

[23] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Tur ibid; Rambam ibid; Bava Kama ibid

[24] This refers to allowing the dogs to roam outside of the city by the border in order to scare off any intruders. However, it certainly is forbidden to allow the dogs to runaround at night within the city and scare people and attack them. Alternatively, it refers to allowing the dogs to roam within the city at night at a time that people are all asleep and the only people that would be out are criminals and terrorists whom the citizens need to be protected against, so is implied from the conclusion of Admur here in which he states that the dog should remain chained until the people go to sleep.

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