Dog breeding

A licence is needed to keep a dog breeding establishment under the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973. This includes any business which breeds dogs for sale (whether directly or to other pet shops), with four or more litters of puppies born in a 12-month period. This may include both commercial properties or private dwellings where bitches are being kept by the breeder, relatives or business partners, in the course of the business.

We will only issue licences for permanent, fixed premises. It is illegal for animals to be kept or sold in streets, public places or from market stalls.

Applying for a licence

To apply for a dog breeding establishment licence, please complete and submit the application form below.

On receipt of an application for a licence, we will arrange for the premises to be inspected. For first applications, this will be by an independent vet (please note that the cost of this inspection will be recharged to the applicant, in addition to the application fee). The inspection will look at whether the premises are suitable for use as a dog breeding establishment, and the condition and suitability of the accommodation. We will also interview the applicant to ensure that they and their staff, if applicable, have the specialist knowledge, experience and qualifications required to run a dog breeding establishment.

When we consider the application, we will take the following matters into account:

  • The suitability, qualifications and experience of the applicant and their employees
  • The report produced by the vet following the inspection, and any recommendations made
  • The need to secure:
    • that dogs will be kept at all times in suitable accommodation (in terms of construction, size, number of occupants, exercising facilities, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness)
    • a supply of suitable food and drink, bedding material, exercise opportunities, and regular visits
    • that all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control the spread of infectious or contagious diseases
    • that appropriate steps will be taken to protect the dogs in case of fire or other emergency
    • that appropriate steps will be taken to ensure the welfare of dogs during transport to or from the breeding establishment
    • that bitches are not mated before they are one year old
    • that bitches do not give birth within 12 months of giving birth to their last litter, and have a maximum of six litters of puppies in their lifetime
    • that full and accurate records are kept of all breeding activities and sale of puppies, and made available for inspection on request.

Application form

 Dog breeding application form (PDF 7KB)

Details of current application fees can be found on our Licensing fees and charges page.

Can I start trading before my application is determined?

No. It is in the public interest that we fully consider your application before you start to operate. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us, using the contact details below.

Maintaining a licence

Licences will usually be granted until the end of the current calendar year. If the applicant requests it, we will issue the licence for the whole of the following calendar year instead (although this will mean that no licence will be in force for the remainder of the current year).

Renewal applications can be made prior to the expiry of the licence. A further inspection of the premises will be carried out on each renewal application by officers, who may at their discretion also require a veterinary inspection as well. Renewed licences will be issued for the whole of the next calendar year.

Licences are issued subject to standard conditions, plus any further specific conditions as have been listed on the licence.

 Standard conditions for dog breeding establishments (PDF 614KB)

Council officers and our authorised vet may carry out periodic inspections of licensed breeding establishments, to ensure that standards are being maintained and that the licence conditions are being adhered to.

If a licence-holder is convicted of an animal welfare offence, the court may decide to cancel the licence as part of the sentence. Courts may also disqualify any person from keeping a breeding establishment in the future.

Right of appeal

If your application is refused, you may appeal against the decision. Licence-holders may also appeal against a decision to attach a particular condition to their licence. In all cases, appeals must be lodged in a magistrates' court.


If you have a complaint about a dog breeder, we would in the first instance advise that you talk to the business owner to see if the issue can be resolved directly. If this does not work, the Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to assist further and advise you on your rights.

We will investigate complaints about unlicensed dog breeders, or breeders operating in breach of their licences. Please contact us using the details below with your concerns.

More information

For more information on dog breeding licences, please telephone us on 01442 228470, or email