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, the Breeding of Dogs Act 1991 and the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999.

A person who “keeps a breeding establishment for dogs” is required to obtain a licence from the local authority. The licence is renewable annually. People who produce less than five litters in any 12-month period – so called “hobby breeders” – do not need a licence.

What is a breeding establishment for dogs?

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 where four or more litters are born, to one or more bitches, for the purpose of sale, in the period of one year. The law covers loopholes where dog owners place bitches with friends or family for breeding purposes.

Can a licence be granted to anyone?

A licence cannot be granted to persons who are disqualified from keeping:

  • a breeding establishment for dogs;
  • a pet shop;
  • animals;
  • a boarding establishment for animals.

What will a local authority consider when deciding whether to grant a licence?

A local authority officer and/or a vet will inspect the premises and a report will be prepared about the premises and the applicant and any other relevant matters.

When deciding whether to grant a licence, the local authority will consider the suitability of the accommodation and the adequacy of food, drink and bedding material. It will want to ensure 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.

All appropriate steps must also be taken to ensure the dogs are provided with suitable food, drink and bedding material and adequately exercised when being transported to/from the breeding establishment.

The local authority will require assurances that bitches:

  • under the age of one will not be mated;
  • will not give birth to more than six litters of puppies each in its lifetime;
  • 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.

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For more information on:

  • Conditions of a licence
  • How long does a licence last?
  • Other issues
  • Inspections by local authorities and vets
  • Sale of dogs
  • Animal welfare