Dog Breeding


The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 ("the regulations") came into force on 1 October 2018 and covers the breeding of dogs.

What is 'dog breeding'?

The legislation defines dog breeding as, either or both of the following:

  • breeding three or more litters of puppies in any 12 month period;
  • breeding dogs and advertising a business of selling dogs.

To determine if you are a business, you will need to consider the 'business test'.

Applying the 'business test'

A business is defined in the legislation as an operator who:

  1. Makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit, or
  2. Earns any commission or fee from the activity

The Government announced in the Budget Review of 2016 a new allowance of £1,000 for trading income from April 2017. Anyone that falls under this threshold would not need to be considered on the context of determining whether they are a business.

The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) guidance states that these conditions are not the exclusive factors to be considered but are examples and other factors, such as those listed in thenine badges of trade set out by the HMRC are also relevant. The guidance assists inspectors but ultimately there is an element of judgement in deciding upon the business test.

If you are not sure if you are classed as a business, please email the Licensing team ( with the details of your business and we can help determine this.

When do you require a licence?

The listed activities require a licence:

  • Anyone breeding three or more litters of puppies per year (unless they can show that none of the puppies have been sold).
  • Anyone breeding puppies and advertising a business of selling them, as defined under the business test. When the business test applies it is irrespective of the number of litters produced per year and is not restricted to 'registered' businesses. Individuals can be classed as a business depending on the extent of their activities.
  • Factors considered when determining whether someone is "advertising a business" include:
    • 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.
    • 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 sale prices or large profit margins are involved.
    • High range and variability in the breeds traded. A wide variety of breeds being advertised could indicate the commercial nature of the activity.
    • 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.

When do you not require a licence?

The listed activities do not require a licence:

  • Where three or more litters of puppies per year are born but where there is documented evidence, readily available that none of the puppies (or dogs) have been sold or if all of the puppies have been kept. Documented evidence includes records of the new owners of all of the puppies and will explain why there was no transaction involved (including in kind).
  • 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.
  • Anyone breeding only assistance dogs as defined in the Equality Act 2010 (e.g. Guide Dogs for the Blind).
  • Anyone keeping a dog under the Animal Health Act 1981.
  • Organisations regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
  • Breeders that breed a small number of puppies (meaning fewer than three litters per year), and that sell them without making a profit.

Make an application

The fee for this application can be found on theanimal welfare fees page. We will contact you to take payment once we have received a fully completed application.

Please Note: Only pay the application fee associated with the type of Licence you are applying for first. The Compliance fees are paid after the application is determined.

Before completing the form make sure you have all the supporting documentation ready - applications without all supporting documents will not be accepted

  • Plan of the premises
  • Insurance Policy
  • Written operating procedures to include emergency plan, staff training policy
  • Risk assessments (including fire)
  • Management of the following - feeding, cleaning, transportation, disease control, health and welfare, death or escape
  • Staff qualifications
  • Staff Training/experience records

Apply online for a Dog Breeding licence (new or renewal)

If you don't wish to apply online you can complete and submit theDog Breeding licence application form and above documents by email or post.

Please email the Licensing team ( if you have any questions with the application form

Please note: Only pay the application fee associated with the type of Licence you are applying for first. The Compliance fees are paid after the application is determined.

Legislation and Guidance

Please refer to the legislation and relevant guidance when you make your application which can be found on the CFSG website

Check for a licence and rating

When buying a puppy, ensure you buy from a licensed breeder. From 1 October 2018, all new animal welfare licence holders must clearly display their licence on their premises and display their name and licence number on any website used to sell puppies. The new licence also contains a star rating which the business has achieved. We recommend displaying the star rating on any website, but this is not a legal requirement.

If a licence number is not displayed, you can check for a licence by emailing the name and address of the seller to Licensing team (

Raise a concern

The relevant body may not always be the council when reporting concerns. It is important you report issues to the correct body as soon as possible to prevent any delay.

If you have any concerns relating to the licence, such as a breach of licence conditions or the state of the premises, please email the Licensing team ( with details of the premises or if urgent call 01362 656870. Clearly state your concerns and your reason for them. All matters of concern will be investigated and complaints are kept confidential.

Last updated: 06/05/2022 14:03:48