Dog breeding

Guidance notes for breeding dogs

Guidance notes for new applicants - breeding dogs

Application form - Breeding dogs

A breeding establishment is defined as any premises where the business of breeding of dogs for sale is carried on. In all cases except dog breeding the licensable activity is solely restricted to businesses or those operating on a commercial basis. For dog breeders a limit on the number of litters is also in place unless it can be proved that none of the puppies from these litters are sold.

The definition of breeding dogs in Schedule 1 of the regulations is either or both of the following:

(a) breeding three or more litters of puppies in any 12-month period

(b) breeding dogs and advertising a business of selling dogs

A decision as to whether a breeder with bitches producing fewer than three litters a year needs to be licensed will depend on whether the breeder concerned is carrying on a business, which will be determined by the local authority on a case by case basis.

In scope criteria

Activities that fulfil one or more of the following criteria are subject to licensing:

  1. Anyone breeding three or more litters of puppies per year (unless they can show that none of the puppies have been sold).
  2. Anyone breeding puppies and advertising a business of selling them, as defined under the business test outlined above. This is irrespective of the number of litters produced per year. This is not restricted to registered businesses – individuals can also be classed as a business depending on the extent of their activities.
  3. Factors that should be considered when determining whether someone is “advertising a business” include:
  4. The number, frequency and/or volume of sales - systematic and repeated transactions using the same means of advertising are likely to indicate a commercial activity.
  5. High volumes of animals sold or advertised for sale could indicate a business.
  6. Low volumes of animals sold or advertised could indicate a business where high sales prices or large profit margins are involved.
  7. High range and variability in the breeds traded. A wide variety of breeds being advertised could indicate the commercial nature of the activity.
  8. High numbers of advertisements of puppies for sale, including on classified websites, could indicate commercial behaviour, even where there is no actual sale taking place via the internet. This could be high numbers of advertisements at any one time or over a short period of time, and/or regularly.
  9. Advertising through a variety of sites, forums or media could indicate a commercial activity.

Out of scope criteria

Activities that fulfil one or more of the following criteria are not subject to licensing:

  1. Breeders who can provide documented evidence, if requested, that none of the puppies were sold or that they kept all of the puppies themselves. Documented evidence will need to include records of the new owners of all of the puppies and provide details on why there was no transaction involved (including in kind).
  2. Registered charities that rehome puppies that are born to rescue dogs, unless such registered charities are in practice running this element of their operations as a commercial activity.
  3. Anyone breeding only assistance dogs as defined in the Equality Act 2010 (e.g. Guide Dogs for the Blind).
  4. Anyone keeping a dog under the Animal Health Act 1981.
  5. Organisations regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
  6. Breeders that breed a small number of puppies (i.e. less than 3 litters per year), and that sell them without making a profit.

Have you heard of Lucy's Law?

As of 6 April 2020, it is illegal for a pet shop or other licensed pet seller to sell puppies or kittens. Licensed breeders of puppies may only sell them from their own premises. Lucy's Law - sale of puppies and kittens in the UK (basingstoke.gov.uk)

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