Commercial Breeding and The Law in 1) the UK 2) Wales, and 3) The Republic of Ireland

1) United Kingdom

***Welsh regulations below***

Breeding and Sale

The Law as I understand it: from

The Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 as amended by the Breeding and sale of dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 controls dog breeding by licence and allows the Local Authority to issue an annual licence.

A breeding licence will be required for anyone breeding five or more litters a year for sale or anyone breeding “as a business”.
“Hobby Breeders”, who produce four or less litters in one year are not affected.

Before a breeding licence will be granted, the premises must be inspected by a veterinary surgeon and a local authority officer.

  • Any person found to be breeding more than 4 litters a year without a licence may be prosecuted.
  • It will be an offence for a bitch to be mated if she is less than one year old.
  • Breeding will be restricted to a maximum limit of 6 litters per bitch, with at least 12 months between each litter.
  • Accurate breeding records must be kept and puppies sold to Pet Shops and Scottish rearing establishments  must wear a  visible means of identity indicating the licensed breeding establishment at which it was born  and must be sold with the tag.
  • Puppies cannot be sold by a licensed breeder except to a licensed Pet Shop or licensed Scottish rearing establishment until they are at least 8 weeks old.

Penalties for the offence of keeping an unlicensed establishment 

a} imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months;

b}a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health published a set of guidelines in January 2014 which most councils in England are using to regulate their licensed breeding establishments. and can be downloaded from here


From 6 April 2016 it will be compulsory for owners to ensure their dog is microchipped. You can be fined up to £500 if your dog isn’t microchipped by that date.

Your dog must still wear a collar and tag with your name and address when in a public place.

Buying a dog

You should ask for proof a microchip has been fitted before buying a dog.

You can ask to see any of the following as proof:

  • microchip certificate
  • vet records
  • pet passport

You may also be able to see microchip information in the dog’s pet insurance papers.

You must make sure the microchip details are updated once you have bought the dog.

There is no minimum age specified in the regulations. The puppy only has to be microchipped and registered to an approved database by the time they are 8 weeks old. The government advises that the dog be healthy enough to be implanted and sufficient time is allowed for the database to process the registration in order to ensure that the dog is compliant with the regulations by the time they are 8 weeks old.

2)  Wales Only
The Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014

Coming into force 30 April 2015 

Highlights of these regulations below

Requirement to hold a licence 

Licensing of dog breeders 
4. Dog breeding is a specified activity, for the purposes of section 
13(1) of the Act. Dog breeding: interpretation 
(1) A person carries on the activity of dog breeding for the purposes of section 13(1) of the Act if that person keeps on premises 3 or more breeding bitches (entire bitch over 6 months old) and— 
(a) breeds on those premises 3 or more litters of puppies in any 12 month period; 
(b) advertises for sale from those premises a puppy or puppies born from 3 or more litters of puppies for sale in any 12 month period; 
(c) supplies from those premises a puppy or puppies born from 3 or more litters of puppies in any 12 month period; or 
(d) advertises a business of breeding or selling puppies from those premises.

Application for a licence 

(1) To apply for a licence under these Regulations an applicant must submit— 
(a) an application in a form and manner approved by the local authority; 
(b) a draft enhancement and enrichment programme; 
(c) a draft socialisation programme; 
(d) details of the anticipated number of adult dogs and puppies to be present on the premises at any one time; and 
(e) such supporting documentation as the authority reasonably requires. 

(2) The local authority must attach to each licence granted— 

(a) the conditions contained in Schedule 1 to these Regulations; 
(b) a condition specifying the maximum number of adult dogs and puppies to be kept under the terms of the licence; and 
(c) a condition specifying a staff to adult dog ratio which must ensure as a minimum staff requirement— 
(i) 1 full-time attendant per 20 adult dogs kept; or 
(ii) 1 part-time attendant per 10 adult dogs kept


the law as I understand it from

The Dog Breeding Establishments Act, 2010, which came into force at the beginning of 2012, establishes regulations for anyone keeping six or more female dogs which are more than six months old and are capable of breeding. Hunt kennels and Rescues do not pay a licence fee but must be registered

13.— (1) The appropriate fee shall—
(a) in the case of a dog breeding establishment at which not more than 18 bitches are kept, be €400,
(b) in the case of an establishment at which not less than 19 and not more than 30 bitches are kept, be €800,
(c) in the case of an establishment at which not less than 31 and not more than 100 bitches are kept, be €1,600,
(d) in the case of an establishment at which not less than 101 and not more than 200 bitches are kept, be €3,000, and
(e) in the case of an establishment at which more than 200bitches are kept, be—
(i) €3,000, and
(ii) €1,600 in respect of every 100 bitches in excess of that number.

Anyone with 6 or more entire bitches over 6 months old must apply for a licence which must be displayed prominently and will show the maximum number of bitches permitted. Records must be kept of microchip numbers. details of litters including numbers and details of sales.

16.— (1) (a) It shall be unlawful for the operator of a dog breeding establishment to keep at that establishment a dog that is over 8 weeks old and that is not implanted with a microchip.
(b) It shall be unlawful for the operator of a dog breeding establishment to remove, cause to be removed, or permit the removal of, a dog kept at that establishment that is not implanted with a microchip to other accommodation, consequent upon a sale, or decision to transfer possession, of the dog to another person.
(6) A local authority shall not register a premises or dog breeding establishment under this section if—
(a) the application does not comply with subsection (4), or
(b) it is of the opinion that the premises in respect of which the application concerned was made is not suitable for the operation of a dog breeding establishment.
(7) A local authority may refuse to register a premises or dog breeding establishment under this section if, by reason of—
(a) the commission by the applicant of—
(i) an offence under this Act or the Act of 1986,
(ii) an offence involving cruelty to an animal,
(b) the contravention by the applicant of—
(i) a provision of this Act or any regulations under this Act, or
(ii) a provision of the Act of 1986 or any regulations or bye-laws under that Act,
the local authority considers that such refusal is necessary to ensure the safeguarding of animal welfare.


Staff numbers should be “adequate” for the numbers of dogs . Dogs should be exercised “appropriately” and fed and groomed “adequately”


15.— (1) The operator of a dog breeding establishment shall ensure that—
(a) dogs are at all times kept in accommodation suitable as respect construction, size of quarters, number of occupants, exercising facilities, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness,


(b) dogs are—
(i) adequately supplied with suitable food, drink and bedding material,
(ii) adequately exercised, and
(iii) inspected at suitable intervals,
(c) all reasonable measures are taken to prevent and control the spread among dogs of infectious or contagious diseases,
(d) appropriate measures are taken for the protection of dogs in case of fire or other emergency,
(e) bitches do not give birth to more than 6 litters of pups each, and
(f) during any period of 3 years, not more than 3 litters of pups are born to a bitch.



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