The Animal Welfare Act




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New dog breeding regulations went live in England today, so we have answered some of your FAQs below:

** I only breed once a year. I do sell my puppies for more than £1000, but I never make much money as I have lots of associated expenses e.g. vet fees, dog food. Will I need a licence? **

Breeders that breed a small amount of litters and that only sell a couple of puppies to cover costs will not require a licence. Defra has made it clear that they do not intend to target hobby breeders under the regulations.

It is important to note that the test of whether or not a breeder is running a business is determined by HMRC’s 9 badges of trade (applicable to everyone and not just dog breeders), which can be viewed here:

** What factors will determine my star rating? **

Defra’s guidance determines what star rating a breeder will be awarded. A 5 star rating with a 3 year licence and reduced licence fee can be achieved by breeders who are members of a UKAS Accredited Scheme such as the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme and who have been accredited under that scheme for 3 or more consecutive years. 
A lower star rating will mean more frequent inspections and a higher licence fee. Read more here:

** How will I know whether I need a licence or not? **

Do you meet the licensing criteria?

1. Are you breeding three or more litters per year and selling at least one puppy?
2. Are you breeding dogs and advertising a business of selling dogs?
If you have answered yes to either of the above then you may need a licence.

Read more here:

** How do I get a dog breeding licence? **

To get a dog breeding licence you must;

- Apply to your local authority, most have an online form.

The local authority will:

- Ask for a fee to be payable which depends on the local authority and the star rating of the breeder. 
- Appoint an inspector along with a vet to ensure your premises meet the licensing requirements. To find your local authority go to:



There is confusion about which dog breeders should be licenced and which should not. The existing definition refers to anyone who is in the business of breeding and selling dogs and also requires anyone who breeds and sells five or more litters in a twelve month period to be licenced.

However, most local authorities have interpreted the five litters in a twelve month period as the threshold for a licence. Despite informing local authorities that the business test is the overriding threshold local authorities use the five litters as a threshold because it is easier than trying to establish who “is in the business”.

Indicators of 'out of scope' activites include

'The infrequent sale of a small number of surplus offspring/excess stock by a private individual who breeds animals for pleasure, exhibition for prize, or for education, study or scientific advancement. For low value species that may produce large numbers of excess stock, consideration should be given to the value of the stock and the likelihood that the seller is making a profit. '

Where an individual can demonstrate the activity is undertaken as a hobby or for education or scientific advancement, and that they are only selling surplus stock, without making a profit.


The Animal Welfare Act (2006) in England is about to undergo some changes which all breeders need to be aware of.

WEF 1st October 2018, anyone who breeds and sells three or more litters within any twelve month period, will be classed as a business, and will need a license.

Or.........if you sell puppies with the intention of making a profit and glean an income in excess of £1000

At present this only applies to Breeders in England, Scotland and Wales are not included, and it appears that
each Council is interpreting the Act differently.

Collielife will not advertise more than two litters in a twelve month period for any breeder who does not provide licence details.
If you do not give licence details I will assume you have checked with your local council if the legislation applies to you.

If you are in any doubt, please seek legal advice.

If you are unsure as to whether or not you need a licence, you should contact your local authority licensing department,
you can find your local Council's website HERE.


The main legislative changes being made are:

  1. A breeding licence will be required for anyone breeding three or more litters and selling at least one puppy in a 12 month period. This is a reduction from the previous litter test of five or more litters.
  2. A licence is not required if documentary evidence can be provided that none of the puppies or adult dogs have been sold.
  3. Anyone in the business of selling dogs (even one or two litters in a 12 month period) may require a licence. This is not new and has been in place since 1999. The Government provides guidance on what local authority inspectors should consider when assessing whether a breeder meets the business test.
  4. A new star rating system is being introduced based on welfare conditions and breeding history which has been designed to reward high performing breeding establishments and to give further help to puppy buying public in identifying good breeders.

Please read the FAQ which includes a section 'Conversely “Breeders who breed a small number of puppies (i.e. fewer than three litters per year), and sell them without making a profit” are deemed to be out of the scope of licensing.'


If you hold a breeding licence, when advertising any puppies or older dogs the advert must include the following

Licence Number

Name of Local authority that issued the licence

A clear, recogniseable photo of the dog you are selling and the dogs age

If you are selling a dog that has been imported, you must also include the dogs Country of Origin


Please note, when advertising on this website, it is the breeders responsibility to ensure they
contact their local council to check licence requirements and they comply with the law providing all relevent details - if applicable




The information provided here has been taken from published DEFRA Guidance on the Regulations and
You should consider your own personal breeding circumstances and take advice, if necessary.