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Dog breeding establishment licence

Information on dog breeding establishment licence requirements and application form

The Breeding of Dogs Act 1973

This is the main act for control of dog breeding by licence and again allows the local authority to issue an annual licence. In an attempt to further control breeding from premises commonly known as puppy farms, the law was amended (coming into force on 30 December 1999) by the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 which resulted in a change in the law.

The starting point to determine whether a licence is needed is the identification of a dog breeding business. Anyone carrying on a dog breeding business will normally be regarded as needing a licence, regardless of the number of litters involved.

However, guidance has indicated that parliament did not intend that the legislation be used to require hobby breeders to be licensed, even if they sold puppies, and to this end a person is presumed to be carrying on a business if in a 12 month period any number of their bitches give birth in total (that is to say, collectively) to five litters or more.

Bitches owned by different persons, but who are for example part of the same company or family and who may keep these bitches at different locations are all considered to be within the one business. Thus, a number of people working together cannot evade the licence requirements by claiming to own different dogs and at different locations. This catch all was introduced to stop puppy farm breeders in rural areas siting different dogs at different locations and in different ownerships and then claiming them all to be separate small enterprises.

One extension, to all of this is that the law primarily relates to the carrying on of a business, and it is therefore open to the local authority if it felt the individual facts of the case warranted it to require a person where bitches produced less than five litters per year to have a licence if it felt the person was quite clearly rearing dogs for commercial gain on a business footing. For the vast majority of cases, however, it is felt that the "litter test" of five litters per year will be the relevant issue.

Dog breeding establishment licence

A few relevant points to note regarding the licence are:

All dogs should be vaccinated so as to prevent and control the spread of infectious or contagious diseases. In practice, this means that all dogs should be vaccinated against:

Detailed guidance on the licence conditions is to be found in the British Veterinary Association publication - "Guidance and Model Conditions for Local Authorities and their Authorised Officers and Veterinary Inspectors for the Licensing of Breeding Establishments."


The licence, renewable annually, currently costs £102.00 per year plus any vets fees.

Please send completed applications with the appropriate fee to the address in the contact details on the left. Cheques should be made payable to Boston Borough Council.


For any licensing enquiries please contact us using the details on the left. A member of the licensing team will normally be available at the Municipal Buildings on weekdays 9am - noon and 2pm - 5pm (4.30pm on Fridays). We may be available at other times by prior appointment.

Information provided in any application for a dog breeding licence will be disclosed as a result of a successful Freedom of Information Request.

This will include the address of the licensed individual.

The information provided by the licensee may also be used for legitimate reasons by other departments of Boston Borough Council and its partners.

These reasons may include but are not limited to: prevention of crime, detection of fraud and public protection.

This decision has been made in light of the First Tier Tribunal 24 April 2013- EA/2012/0238. Tribunal Decision Notice

Related documents

Size Name
[91kb] Dog Breeding Est Application Form Form to apply for a dog breeding licence
[480kb] Guidance and conditions - Breeding of Dogs Guidance for applicants and conditions for licence holders
[9kb] vet payment of fees form dog breeding Form of agreement to pay veterinary inspection costs

The documents in this section are in Adobe Acrobat format (pdf). You will need Acrobat Reader to view these files which can be downloaded from the Adobe website free of charge.