How Many Dogs or Cats Can You Own in Tennessee?

In the state of Tennessee, there are local ordinances that govern how many dogs or cats a person can own. These laws are in place to ensure the health and safety of both the animals and the community. The number of pets allowed may vary depending on the location and type of property, such as a residential home, apartment, or farm. Most cities in Tennessee allow residents to own a maximum of six pets, including dogs and cats. As a pet owner or potential pet owner in the Volunteer State, you need to be aware of these regulations and follow them to avoid any penalties or legal issues. This article provides an overview of the laws and restrictions on pet ownership in some Tennessee municipalities.

A cat and a dog cuddling

Nashville-Davidson, TN

The Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County's Code of Ordinances mandates responsible pet ownership. It states that no individual may have more than five companion animals, including cats and dogs, if they do not provide appropriate living conditions. These conditions include access to sufficient food, water, shelter, and care. Failure to meet these requirements is considered a general disregard for the welfare of the animals and is a violation of the code.

In Nashville, it is required by law for all dogs to be licensed and not allowed to roam freely. A dog is classified as running at large when it is off the owner's property and not under their control, whether it is through a leash or any other means. If a dog is found to be running at large, the health and police departments have the authority to seize the animal.

Memphis, TN

According to Sec. 8-16-10 of Memphis' animal ordinances, a resident may not possess more than five animals, which includes dogs, cats, and ferrets if he or she displays a general disregard for the living conditions of their animals. This means that if a resident fails to provide adequate food, water, shelter, care, and conditions to all of their animals, they will be in violation of the ordinance.

In Memphis, pet owners must adhere to a law mandating the spaying or neutering of dogs and cats older than six months unless they obtain a fertile animal permit. The permit, which costs $200, is a one-time fee that exempts the pet from the spaying and neutering requirement.

Knoxville, TN

In Knoxville, TN, the maximum number of animals allowed per household is 4. This rule applies to both cats and dogs, meaning that residents may have up to 4 cats or 4 dogs, or a combination of both, as long as the total number of animals does not exceed 4.

Knoxville is no exception to the laws that prohibit improper care of animals. Those who choose to keep animals in their care are required to provide clean, sanitary and humane living conditions for their pets. Additionally, it is expected that pet owners provide the minimum amount of care necessary to ensure the animal's health and well-being. Such laws exist in many cities throughout Tennessee, as a way to protect animals from neglect and cruelty.

Clarksville, TN

Residents in Clarksville, Tennessee, are not restricted in the number of dogs or cats they can have in one household. However, pet owners must abide by specific guidelines to maintain the peace, comfort, and health of their neighbors. Any animal that causes frequent noise or unsanitary conditions is not allowed within the city limits. Furthermore, pet owners must keep their animals exclusively on their premises, unless the animal is under the control of a competent person and restrained with a chain, leash, or other means of visible control.

Jackson, TN

The City of Jackson in Madison County, Tennessee, has a strict policy when it comes to the number of adult dogs or cats allowed per residence, which is limited to six. However, if a person wants to exceed this limit, they can apply for a special "Animal Lodging" permit from the City Revenue Office. Before a permit is issued, an inspection is conducted by the City of Jackson Animal Control Office to ensure that the minimum requirements and standards as set forth in the animal ordinance are met. Once approved, the permit can be obtained by paying a fee of $50 and must be displayed on the premises where the animals are located.

Kingsport, TN

In Kingsport, TN, pet ownership is subject to certain limitations. While households are restricted to owning a maximum of five dogs, residents can have as many cats as they are able to properly care for. It is worth noting that all pet dogs and cats in Kingsport must be vaccinated against rabies, as mandated by state law.

Collierville, TN

In the Town of Collierville, TN, residents are allowed to have up to 3 cats and 3 dogs per home, but any pet over the age of 5 months must be vaccinated and licensed with the Town. Additionally, there is a leash law in place requiring dogs to be on a leash when off their property and in public.

How Many Pet Dogs or Cats Should You Own?

In the state of Tennessee, some municipalities do not regulate the number of pets residents can own. And if you reside in one of those municipalities, how many dogs or cats should you keep in your house? The answer to this question depends on many factors, such as the living space, lifestyle, and financial resources of the owner. For example, a small apartment may not be suitable for more than one or two pets, while a larger house with a backyard may be able to accommodate several animals. Similarly, a busy household with little free time may not be able to provide enough attention and care for multiple pets, while a family with ample time and resources may be able to care for several animals.

Another important consideration when deciding how many dogs or cats to have in one household is the compatibility of the animals. Some dogs or cats may get along well with others, while others may be more territorial or aggressive. It's important to introduce new animals slowly and carefully, and to monitor their behavior to ensure that they are getting along well. If there are any signs of aggression or stress, it may be necessary to limit the number of animals in the household.

The age and health of the animals also play a role in determining how many dogs or cats should be in one household. Older animals or those with medical issues may require more attention and care, which may be difficult if there are too many animals in the household. Additionally, having too many pets in one household can increase the risk of spreading diseases or parasites, which can be particularly dangerous for animals that are already sick or weak.


Ultimately, the decision of how many dogs or cats to have in one household should be based on careful consideration of all of these factors. It's important to provide a safe, healthy, and happy environment for all pets, and to ensure that each animal is receiving the attention and care that they need. By taking the time to carefully evaluate your living situation and your ability to care for multiple pets, you can make an informed decision about how many dogs or cats to have in your household.


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