Code Compliance

CONTACT INFORMATION: Code Compliance is open 8AM - 4PM Mon-Thurs and 9:15AM - 4PM Fridays.
703-324-1300 TTY 711
12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 1016
Fairfax, VA 22035
Gabriel M. Zakkak

Animals and Pets

Keeping of Animals flyer
Keeping of Animals Flyer

The Zoning Ordinance and Chapter 41.1 of the County Code allow residents to keep certain animals, such as cats, dogs and hamsters, on their property for personal enjoyment and non-commercial purposes. The type and number of animals that may be kept on a property depend on the size of the lot. Also, location regulations apply to barns and structures that shelter animals. These regulations can be modified with approval of a special permit by the Board of Zoning Appeals. Animals considered wild or exotic under Chapter 41.1 of the County Code are not permitted. Additional information is provided below and in the Keeping of Animals flyer.

A residential property’s lot size also determines how many animals may be kept:



 There are no limits on how many may be kept on a property. 


  • 1 to 2 = No requirement
  • 3 = 10,000 square feet
  • 4 = 12,500 square feet
  • 5 to 6 = 20,000 square feet
  • 7 or more = 25,000 square feet plus 5,000 square feet for each additional dog above 7


They only may be kept on lots that are two acres or greater and shall not exceed the ratio of one animal unit per one acre. Animal units are defined as: 

  • 2 head of cattle = 1 animal unit
  • 3 horses = 1 animal unit
  • 5 sheep = 1 animal unit
  • 5 swine = 1 animal unit
  • 5 goats = 1 animal unit
  • 5 llamas = 1 animal unit
  • 5 alpacas = 1 animal unit

Horses shall include ponies, mules, burros and donkeys. Only horses six months or older and cattle, sheep, goats, and swine one year or older are counted in the ratio. In addition, combinations of animals are allowed, provided that the ratio of one animal unit per one acre is followed.

Domestic Fowl

Fowl, such as chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese, may only be kept on lots that are two acres or greater. They shall not exceed the ratio of one bird unit per one acre, with a bird unit defined as:

  • 32 chickens = 1 bird unit
  • 16 ducks = 1 bird unit
  • 8 turkeys = 1 bird unit
  • 8 geese = 1 bird unit

Only fowl two months or older are counted in the ratio. Roosters are not permitted, except with an agricultural use.


Racing, homing, or exhibition (fancy) pigeons are allowed on any lot that is 10,000 square feet or more.


Four beehives or less are allowed on any lot. On lots 10,000 square feet or larger, more than four hives may be kept, provided there is an additional lot area of 2,500 square feet for each hive.

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