How Many Pets (Dogs/Cats) Can You Own in Massachusetts?

Three Pembroke Welsh corgis with their tongues out

There’s no doubt that Massachusetts is pet-friendly, with Boston Terrier being the state dog. The Black Capped Chickadee, a member of the Paridae family, is the state bird of Massachusetts. According to Pawlicy Advisor, 49.4% of households in Massachusetts own a pet.

Dogs are more popular (49.4% of households) than cats (23.5% of households) in Massachusetts. What's more, there is no statewide law in Massachusetts limiting the number of pets you can own.

That said, there may be restrictions at the city or county levels. So, regarding how many pets you can own in Massachusetts, the answer is it depends on your specific location and its bylaws. Since pet ownership isn't regulated at the state level, pet limit laws can vary from one municipality to another.

As a rule of thumb, you can own three dogs and up to 5 cats in most Massachusetts municipalities without getting into trouble with the law. However, it is best to check with your town or city for specific animal control laws. For this, you may contact your City Clerk's office or local animal control office.

To provide you with some examples, I've listed some Massachusetts municipalities and their pet limit laws below.


In the City of Springfield, MA, you may not keep more than three dogs within a single dwelling unit without a license. An exception to this rule is that if all dogs in your home are sterilized, a maximum of 4 is allowed to be kept without a license. The city's, municipal code does not place a restriction on the number of cats or ferrets you can own.

However, it does require that all dogs, cats, and ferrets months of age or older be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed vet. While cats and ferrets are not required to be licensed, all dogs aged 6 months or older must be licensed.


The City of Brockton allows households to have a maximum of three dogs 3 months of age or over. This means that the limitation does not apply to puppies under 3 months of age. If you are a cat person in Brockton, MA, there is no limit to the number of felines you can own. For dog people, a kennel or hobby license is required to own more than 3 dogs.

A kennel license allows you to own a maximum of 6 dogs. A Hobby kennel license, on the other hand, allows you to own up to 10 dogs. The kennel license costs $60 per year while the hobby kennel license costs $120 annually. It is worth noting that if you obtain a kennel license, you don't need to acquire a city dog license. See Chapter 3, Sec. 3-19 of the Brockton Code of Ordinances for additional information.

New Bedford

In the City of New Bedford, MA, owning more than three dogs 3 months old or over is deemed a kennel. On the other hand, owning more than 3 cats is considered OK. You are required by law to obtain a kennel license to own more than 3 dogs in New Bedford, MA. If you live in a residentially zoned area, the maximum number of dogs you can own with a license is 4. However, the license allows for the ownership of five or more dogs in other areas.


A kennel license is required to own more than three dogs within the City of Waltham, MA. Like many other cities, Waltham City does not impose a limit on cat ownership. Additionally, cats are not required to be licensed. Dogs, on the other hand, must be vaccinated and licensed annually. Furthermore, the City Code prohibits dog owners from permitting their canines to disturb the peace of neighbors by excessive barking or howling.

Are There Any Dog Breeds Banned or Restricted in Massachusetts?

Unlike many other states, Massachusetts prohibits its municipalities from enacting breed-specific laws. Instead, each municipality is encouraged to focus on 'Dangerous Dog' laws. Unlike breed-specific laws, which ban dogs based on breed, dangerous dog laws treat dogs on a case-by-case basis. This means that any dog, regardless of breed, with a known propensity to attack unprovoked can be declared dangerous and restricted.

Although no Massachusetts municipality is allowed to have a breed-specific law, some housing authorities and insurance companies have restricted certain dog breeds. For example, the Boston Housing Authority bans Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, and Rottweilers. 

Pit bulls are also banned by the Worcester Housing Authority. The following breeds of dogs are prohibited by the Chicopee Housing Authority: German Shepherd, Chow Chow, Pitbull, Rottweiler, and Doberman Pinscher.

Lemonade, an insurance company, categorizes the following dogs as "high-risk breeds:"
  • Pit Bulls
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Rottweilers
  • German Shepherds
  • Great  Danes
  • Presa Canarios
  • Chow Chows
  • Akitas
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Siberian Huskies
  • Wolf-hybrids
On a side note, the company says they don't discriminate against the dog breeds listed above intentionally. However, they find they must exclude certain breeds with a propensity for biting based on national insurance data.
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