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Are Pitbulls Legal in Florida? Restrictions & Guidelines

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

woman holding an american pitbull dog

Are Pitbulls Legal in Florida? Restrictions & Guidelines

Pitbulls have a reputation for being vicious, dangerous dogs that shouldn’t be allowed near children nor owned as pets. Because of this, Pitbulls have long been the target of breed-specific legislation (BSL) in various parts of the United States and worldwide.

If you’re a fan of the breed and live in Florida, you may be wondering if it’s legal to own one in the Sunshine State.

Generally, yes, it’s legal to own a Pitbull in Florida. However, it’s illegal to own Pitbulls in Miami-Dade, and several counties also have strict regulations for Pitbull ownership.

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The Miami-Dade Pitbull Ban

Miami-Dade is the only county in Florida to ban Pitbulls. The ban started in 1989 when a Pitbull attacked a 7-year-old girl named Melissa Moreira while she was helping unload groceries. After the attack, owning, keeping, or harboring a Pitbull within the county limits became illegal.

The ban covered dogs that fall under the American Kennel Club’s standards for Pitbulls. This includes the American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and similar breeds. Both pure and mixed-breed dogs are affected.

Violation of the ban is punishable by fines, impoundment of the Pitbull, and even criminal charges.

This legislation predates Florida’s statewide prohibition of breed-specific legislation,1 enacted in 1990. As a result, Miami-Dade County’s ban was “grandfathered” in and remains legally valid.

In 2012, Miami-Dade voters upheld the Pitbull ban.

Pitbull on leash
Image Credit: Makarand Sawant, Pexels

Florida Counties With Pitbull Restrictions

While Miami-Dade is the only county with a total ban on Pitbulls, several counties have imposed severe restrictions on owning one:2

City/County Ordinance Restriction
Coral Gables Section 10-67 & 10-68 Confinement, Muzzle
Chipley Section 6-135 & 6-136 Confinement, Registration
Marianna Section 10-37 Confinement, Muzzle
Florida City Section 10-70 Thru 10-72 Confinement, Registration, Insurance
Sunrise Section: 4-49, 4-50 Confinement, Registration
Palm Beach County Section: 21-31-e Ban from Parks and Recreational Areas

Below is a closer look at each type of restriction on Pitbull ownership:

Confinement Restriction

This requires Pitbull owners to be confined securely either indoors or in a locked and fully enclosed pen with the following requirements:

  • All four sides must be at least six feet in height
  • A top/covering
  • A clearly visible sign that says “Dangerous Dog”

This also makes it illegal for Pitbulls to be walked within 50 feet of schools.

Muzzle Restriction

When taking a Pitbull outside, they’re legally required to be muzzled and leashed at all times. The leash can’t be longer than six feet.

Golden Pit Bull Terrier with a black leather muzzle
Image Credit: entreguin, Shutterstock


Counties with this ordinance require Pitbull owners to get liability insurance to “protect the public and to afford relief from the severe harm and injury which is likely to result from pit bulldog attacks.”

The owner must also prove their financial capability to pay damages up to $300,000.00 for property damage, bodily injury, and other incidents.


This requires Pitbull owners to register their dogs with the county’s animal control office. If it’s a newly acquired pit, you only have 72 hours to register it. Aside from details about the owner and the Pitbull, registration also requires proof of insurance.

Ban from Parks and Recreational Areas

In Palm Beach County, it’s illegal to bring Pitbulls in any parks and public recreation areas.

two pitbulls playing
Image Credit: Tulia Colombia Torres Hurtado, Pixabay

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Summing Up

The legality of owning Pitbulls in Florida is a complex issue, with no statewide ban but some local restrictions still in place.

If you live in the counties we discussed above, especially Miami-Dade where the breed is banned, be sure you understand and follow the ordinances in your area. Aside from helping you avoid hefty fines and legal trouble, it’s also a way to keep your Pitbull safe from others who still discriminate against the breed.

Featured Image Credit: Nata Bene, Shutterstock

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