Home > All Services > Environment > The Dog Warden Service > Licence - Dog Breeding

Licence - Dog Breeding

When is a licence required?

Schedule 1 of The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 suggests that a licence is required where:

"8. 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.

9. The activity described in paragraph 7 does not include—

(a) keeping a dog on any premises pursuant to a requirement imposed under, or having effect by virtue of, the Animal Health Act 1981,

(b) breeding only assistance dogs or dogs intended to be used as assistance dogs within the meaning of section 173 of the Equality Act 2010, or

(c) breeding three or more litters of puppies in any 12-month period if the person carrying on the activity provides documentary evidence that none of them have been sold (whether as puppies or as adult dogs)."

There is further guidance that a council must take into account in determining whether an activity is being carried on in the course of a business for the purposes of this Schedule include, for example, whether the operator— (a) makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit, or (b) earns any commission or fee from the activity.  There is also government advice that anyone with a trading income of less than £1,000 should not be considered to be operating a business.

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 re-home 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 (for example 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 (that is, less than 3 litters per year), and that sell them without making a profit.


Guidance and Conditions

Details of the conditions which licence holders need to meet are detailed in the Guidance notes for conditions for breeding dogs (see  link below).  General conditions apply in respect of:

  • Licence display
  • Records
  • Use, number and type of animal
  • Staffing
  • Suitable environment
  • Suitable diet
  • Monitoring of behaviour and training of animals
  • Animal handling and interactions
  • Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease
  • Emergencies

Specific, extra conditions for dog breeding set out rules for:

  • Advertisements and sales
  • Suitable environment
  • Suitable diet
  • Monitoring of behaviour and training
  • Housing with or apart from other dogs
  • Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease

Before a licence is issued an inspection will be undertaken by an experienced council animal licensing officer. This will include a visit from a vet for a new licence holder.

Where a licence holder is expected to have written plans, procedures, or documented checks, officers will wish to see these as part of the inspection.

A licence with a score of one star can be issued to a previously licensed business if they have 'minor failings' which are predominantly administrative or if they are in relation to standards, they do not compromise the welfare of the animals.  New applicants can only be licenced if they meet or exceed the minimum standards.  Businesses meeting minimum standards will be graded 2 or 3 stars.  Those meeting the higher standards, as laid down in the guidance, will score 4 or 5 stars.


Refund Policy

Please note that refunds of licence fees are not normally given. Only in exceptional circumstances, as deemed by the Licensing Manager, will a refund be considered. Any refunds given may be subject to an administration charge.

Applying for a licence

Application form: Application Form PDF 

Guidance:  Guidance PDF (603K)

Inspection check list: Checklist PDF (1.27M)

Apply online:  Not Currently Available


Appealing against an application refusal or grading

Please contact Environmental Health on 01782 717717 

Last updated 9 July 2021

Rate this page

We value your feedback. How do you rate the information on this page?

Good OK Poor

Back to the top of the page