How do the Animal Welfare Regulations affect you as a dog breeder?

All the documents regarding the legislation and guidance can be found at specifically “d. Dog Breeding Guidance Revised 30.11”.

Sign to Council Office

The notes are collated with my interpretation and understanding from a webinar Trevor Cooper hosted with PetPlan Insurance in January 2019. If you are in any doubt to whether you should not apply for license related to your dog activity then please contact your local council.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into force 1st October 2018, this is the same act that previously enforced compulsory microchipping and the regulation of tail docking.

Each local authority is responsible for enforcing within its council. The main two points that may have most relevance to you is:

  • Selling animals as pets - all types of animals such as cats etc, not just dogs or puppies (Schedule 1)
  • Breeding dogs (Schedule 3)

The information in this document specifically refers to a ‘Dog Breeding’ licence as you are most likely to be a Home or Hobby breeder. You would be considered ‘in scope’ if you:

“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”

Point (a) is pretty easy to identify, if you have bred 3 litters you would need evidence that you kept all the puppies or that you gifted them all. This is pretty unlikely! Point (b) there is no simple ‘business test’ but factors to be considered as ‘advertising a business’, indicating commercial activity are:

  • Number of sales - High volumes of animals sold or advertised for sale could indicate a business. Low volumes of animals sold or advertised could indicate a business where high sales prices or large profit margins are involved.
  • Range of breeds
  • Number of adverts - 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. Advertising through a variety of sites, forums or media could indicate a commercial activity.

You would be considered out of scope for a Dog Breeding Licence if:

  • None of the puppies were sold
  • A small number of puppies (i.e. less than 3 litters) are bred and are sold without making a profit
  • Income of less than £1,000

For hobby breeders to be considered 'out of scope' for the licence should be able to clearly evidence a lack of profit (not income) resulting in less than £1,000 supporting your claim that you had no ‘intent’ to make a profit.

In summary….

If you breed 3 or more litters a year, make over £1,000 profit or suggest an online presence as a business by advertising frequently and possibly having a professional website, you may need a Dog Breeding License.
Contact your local council if you are in any doubt.