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Landowners, neighbors, and anyone interested in purchasing land should be aware of Douglas County’s Animal Regulations. It is important to review Section 24 of the Douglas County Zoning Resolution (DCZR) and Planned Development (PD), if applicable, regarding animals to ensure compliance both in quantity and type of animals allowed in your area. This is particularly important if land is used for agricultural, or kenneling and boarding operations.  To find out what an area is zoned, please visit the Zone District Map or call Douglas County Planning Services at 303-660-7460. You may also contact Planning Services with any other questions related to animals.

What are the types and categories of animals allowed?

This is a brief summary of the animal regulations and is meant to be used in conjunction with the DCZR:

  • Household pets including, but not limited to, dogs and cats shall be permitted in all zone districts allowing for residential use. Kennels, boarding facilities, and commercial activities are not allowed. Please see the Zone District Animal Limits table below for more details.
  • Poultry, fowl, and small livestock shall be properly housed (e.g., chicken coop, rabbit hutch) and located in accordance with the required accessory use setbacks. Please see the setback table below for details.
    • The number of poultry and fowl (including chickens) allowed on parcels within Douglas County varies based on the size of the parcel and the zoning. Parcels between 2.3 acres to 9.9 acres and zoned Estate Residential, Rural Residential, Large Rural Residential, or Agricultural One allow for up to 30 poultry and fowl (they must be properly housed such as in a chicken coop and the chicken coop must meet the minimum setbacks). On Large Rural Residential and Agricultural One parcels of 9 acres and greater the number of poultry and fowl allowed are not limited (again they must be properly housed and located outside the minimum setbacks).
    • There are areas within Douglas County where chickens are allowed as a household pet (the Highlands Ranch Planned Development is one example; however this is not common in other subdivisions). In areas that are zoned Suburban Residential (SR), the County allows 4 female chickens. Although Douglas County allows up to 4 chickens in the SR zone district, many of these residential neighborhoods are covenant-controlled communities which may be more restrictive. There is also a chance that when the subdivision was originally platted there could have been documents filed with the County that prohibited this use. Before adding chickens to your home, it is best to call your local planning and zoning department (Douglas County is 303-660-7460) and discuss the specifics of the request. If you are in a covenant-controlled community make sure to check with your Homeowner’s Association and review your covenants.
  • Hoofed animals include horses, cattle, mules, llamas, sheep, goats, or swine. They are categorized by animal units and restrictions are shown in the Zone District Animal Limits table below.
    • Horse, Mule, Cow, Llama: 1 = 1 animal unit
    • Miniature horse, Swine, Sheep, Goat, Alpaca: 4 = 1 animal unit
  • Exceptions: Young animals less than 6 months of age shall not count toward the allowable unit.
    • Non-domestic or exotic animals are permitted only as a “Use by Special Review” upon approval by the Board of Douglas County Commissioners, in the Agriculture-One (A-1) and Large Rural Residential (LRR) zone districts.
    • A non-domestic animal is generally considered to be an animal not normally adapted to live and breed in a tame condition.
    • An exotic animal is generally considered to be an animal introduced from another country that is not normally kept as a household pet or farm animal.

Refer to Section 21 Use by Special Review of the DCZR for more information.

Animal Regulations


Definition of a setback:  The required minimum horizontal distance between the location of structures or uses and the related front, side, or rear lot line measured perpendicular to such lot line.

chart describing the required minimum horizontal distance between the location of structures or uses and the related front , side or rear lot line measured by perpendicular to such lot line. Temporary catch pens and loading chutes are exempt.

Vegetation Requirements

Vegetation requirements apply to all land having permitted livestock. The site, excluding that area which is allowed to be devegetated, must be maintained with vegetative groundcover. Vegetative groundcover includes native or introduced grasses and forbs, but does not include weeds on bare dirt. In areas where exposed shelf-rock or caprock is the natural terrain, this will be considered to be vegetative groundcover.

The maximum land area that may be devegetated is as follows:

chart of vegetation requirements to all land have permitted livestock.

All corrals, outdoor arenas, paddocks, run pens, round pens, unpaved or ungraveled parking areas shall be included when calculating the maximum area devegetated. The area within the required minimum setback shall be fully maintained with vegetation. A variance from the above vegetation standards may be sought from the Board of Adjustment.

Waste and Odor Regulations

The following regulations apply to all lands having permitted livestock. County regulations pertaining to nonconforming uses shall not be applicable with respect to waste and odor regulations.

  • Remove manure in a regular and reasonable manner, or otherwise compost or spread in such a manner as to protect surface and ground­water, minimize the breeding of flies, and to control odors. Do not bury manure.
  • In agricultural zone districts, manure piles shall be set back a minimum distance of 100’ from any lot line, well, stream or body of water.
  • In residential zone districts, manure piles shall be set back from the lot line in accordance with the zone district accessory use setback requirements.
  • Animals shall not be allowed to create excessive odor problems or present a health hazard to surrounding lands.
  • Adequate drainage facilities or improvements shall be provided by the landowner and constructed to protect any adjacent land from run-off containing contaminants, such as sediment or organic waste.

Chart of zone district animal limits

Grazing Capacity

Grazing on fragile land in combination with the semi-arid climate may lead to a loss of vegetation, water contamination and erosion problems. This tends to be more common when maintaining horses and other livestock on smaller parcels of land. Involved stewardship of the land helps to prevent potential damage. The landowner must be sensitive to the number and type of livestock kept, amount of land that is devegetated, and proper management of manure.

The following chart is a simple representation of the amount of time livestock can be pastured without damaging vegetation on the land. Unique land characteristics may further limit grazing capacity. The chart is based on a grazing standard of 30 acres of pasture per head of livestock.

chart representing the amount of livestock that can be pastured without damaging vegetation on the land.

For more specific information regarding successful livestock management on small parcels, please contact one of the following agencies:

Douglas County Extension Office – CSU

Natural Resource Conservation Service

The above information can easily be printed from our Animals Information Packet.