A Labrador puppy
A Labrador puppy

Dog Breeding Regulations in England 

Since 1 October 2018, there have been revised regulations surrounding the breeding and selling of puppies in England, which aimed to tighten regulations surrounding dog breeding as a business or breeding for profit.

Do I need a dog breeding licence?

You will need a dog breeding licence if you meet the following criteria:

Litter threshold

You are breeding three or more litters where at least one puppy from each litter is sold in a 12-month period.

Running a business

You are selling puppies commercially. Whether this be by sale, commission, fee from activity etc. This is irrespective of the number of litters produced per year.

To ascertain whether your trading income qualifies the need for a licence, look at the costs incurred in raising a litter (stud fees, food, KC registration, vet fees etc.) against the income from selling the puppies. If you roughly break even, then you are not a business operation, and no breeding licence would be required.

Please note:

Breeders who breed a small number of puppies (i.e. less than three litters per year), and sell them without making a profit will be exempt from the need for a licence. However, the sale of even a small number of puppies with a high sale price would flag up the need for a licence.

£1,000 trading income is a tax threshold. Therefore, if you have an income of £1,000, you have an obligation to declare it to HMRC, at which point the costs incurred will also be assessed to determine whether tax is payable or not. 

Read DEFRA’s guidance here.

How are dog breeders rated?

Star rating and scoring matrix

Licensed breeders receive a star rating from one to five stars based on two factors;

Welfare standards against which the breeder is operating (i.e. whether the breeder makes use of health tests)

The risk rating (based on the breeder’s history of meeting these standards)

A local authority may grant a licence for a period of one, two or three years as part of the star rating licensing model. 

A breeder who has a five-star rating will be allocated a three-year licence for instance. A lower star rating means breeders will be inspected more often and pay a higher licence fee.

The only way of gaining a higher star rating is by meeting the higher standards. The higher standards are classified into two types, ones which are required and ones which are optional. 

To qualify as meeting the higher standards, the business needs to achieve all of the required higher standards as well as a minimum of 50% of the optional higher standards.

Read guidance notes for conditions for breeding dogs.

In partnership with