Establishments used for the breeding of dogs are controlled by the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 and 1991.
No person may keep a breeding establishment without first obtaining a licence from their Local Authority.
Definition of a breeding establishment
A Breeding Establishment is defined as any premises where the business of breeding dogs for sale is carried on. A person whose bitches give birth to 5 or more litters in a period of 12 months shall be assumed to be carrying on a dog breeding business and will require a licence. A person whose bitches give birth to fewer than 5 litters in a 12 month period may still need to be licensed unless the Environmental Health Department is satisfied that they are not operating a business.
Bitches count towards the total if they:
- are kept at any time during the 12 month period by the applicant/licence holder at the premises at which he/she is carrying on the business of breeding dogs for sale;
- if they are kept at those premises by any of his/her relatives;
- if they are kept by him/her elsewhere;
- if they are kept by any other person under a breeding arrangement made by him/her e.g. where the person agrees that another person may keep a bitch of his on terms that, should the bitch give birth, the other person is to provide him with either one or more of the puppies or the whole or part of the proceeds of selling any of them.
Licensing of breeding establishments
Applications for a licence must be made to the Local Authority, and a licence may be issued if the applicant is not disqualified under any of the following Acts.
- The Breeding of Dogs Act 1973.
- The Pet Animals Act 1951.
- The Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954.
- The Protection of Animals (Cruelty to Dogs) (Scotland) Act 1934.
There is an application fee which must be paid at the time the application is made. The current fee can be found on our Licence Fees page.
On the first visit to new dog breeding establishments the council will arrange for the inspection of the premises to be carried out by a veterinary surgeon, to ensure the welfare of the animals and to assess the suitability of the accommodation. The cost of this visit will be recharged to the applicant. This cost will be in addition to the annual licence fee, but will normally be levied for the first year only and will not be an ongoing charge.
Where a licence is granted, that licence and any subsequent licence will expire on the 31st December of the year to which the licence relates and must be renewed before that date if the premises are to continue as a dog breeding establishment.
Before being granted a licence the applicant must be able to demonstrate to the Council’s Licensing Inspector:
- That the dogs will at all times be kept in accommodation that is suitable in respect of construction, size of quarters, number of occupants, exercising facilities, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness.
- That the dogs will be adequately supplied with suitable food, drink and bedding material, adequately exercised, and (so far as is necessary) visited at suitable intervals.
- That all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control the spread amongst the dogs of infectious or contagious diseases, including the provision of isolation facilities.
- That appropriate steps will be taken for the protection of the dogs in case of fire or other emergency, including the provision of suitable and sufficient fire fighting equipment.
- That all appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that the dogs will be provided with suitable food drink and bedding material and adequately exercised when being transported to or from the breeding establishment.
A licence may be refused or withheld on other grounds if those grounds are such that conditions are not suitable for the breeding of dogs.
Each licence is subject to standard conditions that are imposed on all dog breeding establishments licensed by the Council.
In addition to the standard conditions a licence may also contain special conditions that are only applicable to your premises.
Your right of appeal
Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence or by any condition to which a licence is subject may appeal to the Magistrates Court and the Courts may give such directions regarding the licence or its conditions as it thinks proper.
Offences and penalties
The following offences apply to the breeding of dogs.
- Anybody found guilty of keeping a dog breeding establishment without a licence may be subject to a fine not exceeding £2,500.
- Anybody found guilty of failing to comply with the conditions of their licence may be subject to a fine not exceeding £2,500.
- Anybody found guilty of obstructing or delaying an Inspector or authorised Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Practitioner in the exercising of their powers may be fined up to a maximum of £1,000.
If found guilty under this Act, the defendants licence may be cancelled and they may be disqualified from keeping a dog breeding establishment for such length of time as the Court thinks fit.
Copies of the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 and other legislation mentioned in this information leaflet can be purchased from The Office of Public Sector Information. There is a link to the website at the bottom of this page.
A copy of the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 can be viewed at the Council Offices where you may also obtain a copy of the Council’s standard licence conditions, an application form and further help and advice.
Application forms are also available by contacting the Licensing Team or downloading a copy of the application form in the download section.