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Dog breeders' licences

The Breeding of Dogs Act 1973
This is the main act for control of dog breeding by licence and again allows the Local Authority to issue an annual licence. In an attempt to further control breeding from premises commonly known as puppy farms, the law was amended (coming into force on 30 th December 1999) by the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 which resulted in a change in the law.
The starting point to determine whether a licence is needed is the identification of a dog breeding business. Anyone carrying on a dog breeding business will normally be regarded as needing a licence, regardless of the number of litters involved.
However, guidance has indicated that parliament did not intend that the legislation be used to require hobby breeders to be licensed, even if they sold puppies, and to this end a person is presumed to be carrying on a business if in a 12 month period any number of their bitches give birth in total (i.e. collectively) to 5 litters or more.
Bitches owned by different persons, but who are for example part of the same company or family and who may keep these bitches at different locations are all considered to be within the one business. Thus, a number of people working together cannot evade the licence requirements by claiming to own different dogs and at different locations. This catch all was introduced to stop puppy farm breeders in rural areas siting different dogs at different locations and in different ownerships and then claiming them all to be separate small enterprises.
One extension, to all of this is that the law primarily relates to the carrying on of a business, and it is therefore open to the Local Authority if it felt the individual facts of the case warranted it to require a person where bitches produced less than 5 litters per year to have a licence if it felt the person was quite clearly rearing dogs for commercial gain on a business footing. For the vast majority of cases, however, it is felt that the “litter test” of 5 litters per year will be the relevant issue.
A few relevant points to note regarding the licence are:
Bitches are not to be mated until they are at least 12 months old.
No bitch is permitted to have more than 6 litters in total.
Bitches must not give birth to puppies within 12 months of producing a previous litter.
All first time licences must involve the inspection of the premises by a vet and ourselves.
Subsequent inspections may be by ourselves alone though we may call a vet if we feel the need to.
A licensed breeder must not sell a dog to a member of the public if he/she believes that person will then sell the dog on to another individual.
Dogs must not be sold under 8 weeks of age other than to a licensed pet shop.
All dogs should be vaccinated so as to prevent and control the spread of infectious or contagious diseases. In practice, this means that all dogs should be vaccinated against:
Canine Distemper;
Infectious Canine hepatitis;
Leptospirosis; and
Canine parvovirus.
Detailed guidance on the licence conditions is to be found in the British Veterinary Association publication - “Guidance and Model Conditions for Local Authorities and their Authorised Officers and Veterinary Inspectors for the Licensing of Breeding Establishments.”
The licence, renewable annually, currently costs £105 per year (from 1st April 2009) plus any vets fees.
How do I apply for the licence
The conditions of the licence can also be found on the form. You should return the form, together with your remittance for the licence, made payable to Walsall Council at the address below.
Contact us
Environmental Health
Civic Centre
Darwall Street
Telephone 01922 653030