You'll need a licence if you want to run a business breeding dogs for sale.

You'll be considered to be running a business if in any 12 month period any number of your bitches give birth, in total, to five litters or more.

If the bitches are owned by different people within the same company or family or are kept at different locations then they will still all be considered to be within the one business.

If your bitches give birth to fewer than five litters in a year then you may still need a licence if you are breeding dogs for commercial purposes only.  

Please contact us if you are unsure if you will need to apply for a licence.


You won't be given a licence if you’ve committed any animal health or welfare offences, or if you’ve been banned from:

  • running a riding establishment
  • running a pet shop
  • keeping animals, including in a boarding kennel or cattery

How to apply

If you want to run a business breeding dogs you will need to apply for a dog breeding licence.


Before you get a licence your premises will be inspected by a vet and you'll need to pay their fee.

Before we can give you a licence you'll need to show us that the dogs are:

  • kept in suitable accommodation
  • provided with adequate food, drink and bedding
  • regularly exercised
  • safeguarded in an emergency
  • protected from infectious disease

We can refuse to give you a licence if we don't feel the conditions for the animals are right. We may ask for additional conditions if we think the welfare of the animals or the safety of the public require them.

There will be certain conditions in licence which include:

  • no bitch under the age of one year shall be mated
  • no bitch may give birth to more than six litters of puppies in total
  • bitches must not give birth to puppies within 12 months of producing a previous litter

Renewing your licence

A dog breeding licence is valid for one year. You will need to apply to renew your dog breeding licence if you want to keep running the business.


Breeding of Dogs Act 1973

Breeding of Dogs Act 1991

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that you first contact the business - preferably in writing (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you live in the UK, the Citizens Advice website will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Public register

If you would like to view our public register for animal breeding licences please contact us.

Trade associations

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

Pet Care Trust (PCT)