Do I need a licence for breeding and selling dogs?

What laws apply to the breeding and selling of dogs?

The breeding and sale of dogs is regulated by the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 and the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999.

Where a person “keeps a breeding establishment for dogs” they are required to obtain from the local authority a licence.

What is a “breeding establishment for dogs”?

The keeping of a breeding establishment for dogs is defined as the carrying on at any premises, including a private dwelling, of a business of breeding dogs for sale.

A person will be deemed to be carrying on a business for breeding dogs for sale if:

He keeps a bitch at any premises and the bitch gives birth to puppies at any time within a period of 12 months; and

Four or more other litters are born during the 12 month period to bitches owned by him whether at the same premises or not; kept by any relative (a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or someone with whom he lives as a couple) at his at the premises; kept (anywhere) by a person under a breeding arrangement (a contract or other arrangement under which the person agrees that another person may keep a bitch of his on terms that, should the bitch give birth, the other person is to provide him with either one or more of the puppies or the whole or part of the proceedings of selling any of them) made by him.

However, if he can show that none of the puppies born were in fact sold within the 12 month period (whether by him or by any other person) he will fall outside of the definition of a breeding establishment for dogs.

Can a licence be granted to anyone?

A licence cannot be granted to persons who are disqualified from keeping a breeding establishment for dogs, or from keeping a pet shop, or from keeping animals or from keeping a boarding establishment for animals.

What matters will a local authority take into account when deciding whether to grant a licence?

If a licence has not been previously granted to the applicant in respect of the premises to which the application relates, the local authority will arrange for an inspection of the premises to be carried out by a vet and by an officer of the local authority. A report will then be prepared about the premises and the applicant and any other relevant matters.

In any other case an inspection will be carried out by either a vet or an officer of the local authority or by both.

When deciding whether to grant a licence the local authority will take into account the suitability of the accommodation and the adequacy of food, drink and bedding material. The local authority will want to ensure that the dogs will be adequately exercised and visited at suitable intervals and that all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent the spread of disease and to guard against fire or other emergencies.

The local authority will also want to ensure that all appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that the dogs are provided with suitable food, drink and bedding material and adequately exercised when being transported to or from the breeding establishment.

The local authority will require assurances that bitches under the age of 1 year old will not be mated, that bitches will not give birth to more than 6 litters of puppies each and that bitches do not give birth to puppies before the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which they last gave birth to puppies.

The local authority will also wish to ensure that accurate records containing details of the dogs are kept.

Conditions of a licence

Any licence granted may be subject to conditions.

If a person wishes to appeal against any conditions of a licence then they may make an appeal to the Magistrates’ Court.

Where a person fails to comply with a condition of a licence they may be fined and/or imprisoned. The licence may also be cancelled by the local authority and the holder may be disqualified by a Court from keeping a breeding establishment for dogs and having custody of any dog for such period as the Court thinks fit.

The Court can also order delivery up of a dog in the custody of another person and order that the offender pay for that dog’s care until permanent arrangements are made for its care or disposal. Failure to comply with one of these types of orders is a criminal offence, punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. Where an order for delivery up is made against some one other than the offender that person will be given the opportunity to make representations to the Court, and if an order is made, they will have the opportunity to appeal against the order.

If a licence is refused can that decision be appealed?

If a licence is refused an appeal can be made to the Magistrates’ Court.

How long does a licence last for?

Any licence granted will, unless cancelled in the intervening period, need to be renewed on a yearly basis. If the licence holder dies the licence passes to his personal representatives for a period of 3 months. The personal representatives may apply to extend or further extend the period of 3 months to enable them to wind up the deceased’s estate.

What are the consequences of failing to obtain a licence?

If a person is required to obtain a licence and he fails to do so he may be fined and/or imprisoned. He may also be disqualified by a Court from keeping a breeding establishment for dogs or from having custody of any dog for such period as the Court thinks fit.

The Court can also make an order for delivery up of a dog in the custody of another person and order that the offender pay for the care of that dog care until permanent arrangements are made for its care or disposal. Failure to comply with one of these orders is a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine. Where an order for delivery up is made against some one other than the offender they will be given the opportunity to make representations to the Court, and if an order is made, they may appeal against the order.

Is there anything else I need to be aware of?

Inspections by local authorities and vets

A local authority has the power to inspect a breeding establishment for dogs or authorise a veterinary surgeon or practitioner to carry out an inspection on its behalf. Wilful obstruction of such an inspector is punishable with a fine.

Sale of dogs

The Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006 set out rules relating to the sale of dogs.

Animal welfare

A number of criminal offences were created by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in order to prevent harm to animals and to promote the welfare of animals.