Adverts: 0161 709 4576 - Editorial: 0161 709 4571
Mail Order: 0161 709 4578 - Subs: 0161 709 4575 - Webteam: 0161 709 4567
Northwood House, Greenwood Business Centre, Regent Road, Salford, M5 4QH
Changes to breeding regulations in England

Issue: 07/09/2018

Following the announcement from Defra regarding the new regulations on dog breeding in England which will be live from 1 October, the Kennel Club would like to clarify some of the changes being introduced and comment regarding their impact.
A number of significant changes are being made in England, but no changes are being made to breeding regulations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The biggest change that has been announced is the reduction of the litter threshold for which a dog breeding licence is required. Going forward anyone breeding three or more litters and selling at least one puppy in a 12 month period will require a dog breeding licence. This is a reduction from the previous litter test of five or more litters.
However, a breeder can breed as many puppies as they like without a licence "if the person carrying on the activity (breeding) provides documentary evidence that none of them have been sold (whether as puppies or as adult dogs)".
For those breeding one or two litters in a twelve month period and selling puppies, a licence may be required if the breeder is deemed to be "breeding dogs and advertising a business of selling dog". The Government has provided guidance on what local authority inspectors should consider when assessing whether a breeder meets the business test.


Factors that would trigger the need for a breeding licence include as laid out by Defra; "High volumes of animals sold or advertised for sale could indicate a business; and low volumes of animals sold or advertised could indicate a business where high sales prices or large profit margins are involved".
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.
Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko said; "We are aware that this has caused some concern and confusion amongst the breeding community. It is important to note that a similar business test has been in place since 1999 for those breeding under the previous five litter threshold. Defra have informed us that as with the existing business test, it is not their intention for hobby breeders to be caught out under the new test."
Further examples are provided within the Government's guidance document "The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, Guidance notes for conditions for breeding dogs" which can be found on
The new regulations also include a star rating system which has been designed to both reward high performing breeding establishments and to give further help to the puppy buying public in identifying good breeders.
Licenced breeders will receive a star rating from one to five stars. Those with a five star rating will receive a three year licence, pay a lower fee and will be inspected less frequently. Those at the other end of the spectrum will only receive a one year licence, will pay a higher licence fee and will be inspected with greater frequency. The star rating that is awarded will be based on two factors: the welfare standards against which the breeder is operating (i.e. whether the breeder makes use of health tests etc), and their risk rating which is based on whether the breeder has a history of meeting these standards.
Breeders operating to higher welfare standards and who have a history of maintaining these standards should receive a five star rating, whilst those who are operating to the minimum standards and have no compliance history should be awarded a two star rating. A one star rating will be awarded to existing licenced breeders who have minor failings.
The Government's guidance document sets out the minimum welfare standards that all licensed breeders will be required to meet. These are based on the current model licensing conditions for dog breeders that have been in place for a number of years. These conditions include housing, exercise, feeding, health, socialisation and provision for emergencies. There are also a number of 'higher standards' that will enable breeders to obtain a better star rating with the associated benefits.
The minimum and higher standards are listed within the Government guidance document. Alongside welfare, the breeder's compliance history, named as 'risk rating' will also be assessed, to determine whether the breeder is either a low risk or high risk operator.
Low risk

To obtain a low risk rating, breeders will need to demonstrate they have been maintaining acceptable standards for a minimum of three years. Factors that will be considered include history in meeting licensing standards, nature of complaints received and how they were dealt with and the quality of record keeping. Only compliance history which has been obtained either through local authority licensing or through a UKAS accredited scheme, such as the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, will be considered.
Breeders who haven't held a dog breeding licence before or haven't been members of the Assured Breeder Scheme for a minimum of three years will automatically be categorised as high risk, and will remain so until they have three years of compliance history either through licensing or the Assured Breeder Scheme.
Caroline concluded, "The new breeding regulations have caused concern amongst many breeders but there are really only three major changes being made to the regulations. The recognition of good breeders within the star system, with longer and cheaper licences for those doing the right things is something we should all welcome. We do however fully recognise the impact of lowering the litter threshold will have on some breeders, and we continue to be concerned that local authorities may be unable to cope with the associated increased workload. We have consistently made Defra aware of these concerns and we will closely monitor the impact of these regulations and follow up with Defra as appropriate."
As well as changes to the breeding regulations, revisions have been made to the licensing regime for boarding kennels, home boarders and day boarding establishments. The same star rating system will be implemented for these businesses. The performing animal regulations have been amended and are now only applicable to those in the business of keeping or training animals for educational or entertainment purposes. The exemption for those keeping or training animals solely for military, police or sporting purposes has been maintained.
For further information and to see a full list of FAQ's please see the Kennel Club website To see the full Defra report please go to

Please write your comment in the box below...
Comments are moderated and will appear after moderation