That may depend on whether you are a dog owner or the neighbor of a dog owner.
Paige Wright, proud owner of five pooches, believes there should be no limit.
The Chattanooga City Council, which is considering a limit on the number of dogs residents can have, is looking at what other cities do — and that might mean a limit of three or four.
"I've had several constituents call and say they have neighbors with too many dogs," said Councilman Jerry Mitchell, who is sponsoring the measure.
"No one should tell you how many dogs you are allowed to keep if you are a responsible owner," countered the local sales manager, who lives with her husband in the Belvoir area of Brainerd. "If you're having a noise problem, that should be looked at on an individual basis."
Mitchell and Councilman Chris Anderson were co-sponsors of a different bill the council passed last week that changed the way pets are licensed. As part of his research, Mitchell said, he learned the city offered licenses for owning as many as 20 dogs and cats in the same residence. That seemed too many pets for an urban environment, he said.
"They're noisy, and there can be other issues," he said.
Councilman Russell Gilbert agreed, saying he was particularly concerned when a homeowner has a dog-breeding business in a residential area.
Breeders, who often operate out of their homes, have become a regular problem for the city's animal control agency, the McKamey Animal Center, according to McKamey executive director Jamie McAloon.
"You have someone who is breeding dogs in the city limits — they're having multiple litters and they don't count in terms of needing to be registered until they get to 4 months of age," she said. "Then they can't get rid of the puppies and they stick them outside because they don't want them sleeping in the house. There's this realization of how much work breeding is, and they abandon it."
McAloon said when the center is made aware of a home with too many dogs, it's normally a situation where there are 10-12, and they are not being cared for properly. The city's current animal ordinances give the center authority to remove the dogs from the home and fine the owner, she said.
For now, the city council is looking at how other cities limit dogs.
City Attorney Wade Hinton researched the issue for the city council and on Tuesday presented members with a report.
The report notes that:
' Knoxville limits the number of dogs and/or cats to four. To keep more than that, you need a kennel license.
' Kingsport, Tenn., has a maximum of five dogs. Above that, you need a kennel license.
' Knox County, on the other hand, bases its limits on the size of your lot. For less than an acre, the limit is five dogs and cats, total. For 1.5 acres, 10 animals max; for 2.5 acres, 20 animals and for five or more acres, no limit.
A check of some other nearby towns not included in the city attorney's report revealed similar limits.
' Atlanta requires anyone keeping four or more dogs to get a license as a kennel, although the city is unique in allowing residents to keep a pig as a pet, providing it is a miniature.
' Birmingham, Ala., requires anyone keeping four or more dogs to get a kennel license.
' Asheville, N.C., bars keeping more than six "animals," including dogs, cats and other pets, unless an animal control officer inspects the premises and grants permission for the owner to exceed the limit.
For now, Mitchell is focusing his ordinance on dogs and not cats. He said he also wants to be sure people who rescue dogs are not included in the limit.
Gilbert said he believes the council should also consider the Knox County approach: consider the size of the lot and how far any dog pens are from a neighbor's house and allow homeowners with larger lots to own more dogs.
"I just think there should be a limit on the number of dogs you can have," he said.
Wright, who said all of her dogs are rescues, disagreed. "The government needs to stay out of a lot of things," she said.