When carrying out pg_dump on a (timescale) database running within a local container I have the following:

pg_dump: warning: there are circular foreign-key constraints on this table:
pg_dump:   hypertable

Command that I ran for the above:

pg_dump --schema-only -h localhost --port 5432 --dbname db --username user > schema.sql

I'm not sure how to check using postgres to see which keys are circular.

I could go through all the tables and manually trace which keys point to which I guess - but I was hoping there would be a more straightforward approach to determining which keys are circular and where, so that I could go about fixing them.

1 Answer 1


You get this warning only with a data-only dump, and since only a single table is listed, that table must have a foreign key referencing itself.

You can find all such foreign key constraints with

SELECT conrelid::regclass AS table_name,
       conname AS constraint_name
FROM pg_constraint
WHERE contype = 'f'
  AND conrelid = confrelid;

There are several things you can do:

  • Don't perform a data-only dump. If you dump the DDL statements as well (and perhaps use the --clean option), the circular foreign key is no problem, because the data will be restored before the constraint is created.

  • Drop the foreign key before restoring the dump and create it afain afterwards.

  • Disable all foreign keys ant triggers on the table before restoring the dump:


    Afterwards, you can reactivate them with


    You need to be a superuser to do that, since it can break consistency.

  • 2
    Thanks - I added the command used to the OP, it was with a schema-only flag to pg_dump rather than data-only though
    – baxx
    Jan 9, 2023 at 9:48
  • A schema-only dump will not generate that warning. Jan 9, 2023 at 10:16
  • This was generated using the command that I've pasted into the OP (the pg_dump command) - is there any more information that I can add to clarify?
    – baxx
    Jan 9, 2023 at 16:33
  • You could provide a complete self-contained example, so we can reproduce that. Jan 9, 2023 at 17:03

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