2018 rules on dog breeding - what they mean

New dog breeding and animal welfare rules came into effect in October 2018. What are they and how could they impact you as a breeder or buyer?

5th February 2019

You may or may not have heard about the new dog breeding changes that came into effect from 1st October 2018 under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018. These changes addressed a number of loopholes in the existing law and added some tighter restrictions to a number of animal welfare related regulations.

These only came into effect in England and there were no changes to the breeding law in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Yet!

What were the new rules that came into effect?

These changes will help tighten up the laws surrounding breeding and selling puppies with the hope of tackling puppy farms. A licence now needs to be obtained by anyone breeding puppies to make a profit or planning to sell three or more litters within a 12-month period.

Breeders and licence eligibility

Breeders need to apply for this licence by contacting their local council and it will be valid for 1 to 3 years, depending on their standard of care. A vet or inspector will come and visit to make sure the dogs:

  • live in suitable conditions and accommodation
  • are protected in case of fire or from the spread of disease
  • are given adequate food, water and bedding
  • get enough exercise
  • are transported in safe and comfortable conditions and in accordance with the Highway Code

Record keeping requirements for breeders

As well as having to acquire a licence the ways in which breeders need to advertise their dogs and how they must keep records of sales are outlined in the new law, too. These need to be kept and stored for at least 3 years so that they are available for inspection if necessary.

These include:

  • each dog’s name
  • each dog’s sex
  • their microchip and database details
  • each dog’s date of birth
  • the address where the dogs reside
  • the dog’s breed
  • each dog’s description, markings and colours etc.
  • details of the dog’s mother and father
  • details of any veterinary treatment they might have received

They will also need to make sure they keep a record of the microchip number of each puppy, the date of their sale and the age of the puppy on that date.

Breeders will need to record the microchip number of each puppy, the date of their sale and the age of the puppy on that date

Advertising rules for breeders

Since October 2018 breeders advertising dogs or puppies for sale will have to follow a number of rules, with websites like Preloved and Pets4Home adding additional necessary fields when creating a breeder’s profile.

A breeder must include all of the following when advertising their dogs:

  • their breeder license number
  • name of the local authority that issued their licence, i.e. their local council
  • a recognisable photograph of the dog being advertised
  • display the age of the dog being advertised

A welcomed change to the regulation was the ban from selling puppies under the age of eight weeks, which is why breeders now need to display the age of the dogs advertised.

Star rating and animal welfare standards

The introduction of a new star rating for breeders and other sellers will help buyers recognise breeders who are meeting high health and welfare standards. This rewards breeders who are doing the right thing and will hopefully encourage the sales of healthy and happy pups.

This might not stop puppy farms or imported puppy sales but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Wales and Scotland are looking at changing their regulations, too, so hopefully, the future looks better for puppies, kittens and buyers.

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