do you need a license to breed dogs?
February 08, 2023

Do you need a licence to breed dogs?

Dog owners almost universally believe that our dogs are the most perfect beasts to ever walk the earth. If you have the perfect pup, it makes sense to want to try to have a litter of your very own.

If you’re seriously considering becoming a dog breeder, there will be a lot to consider. One of the most important considerations is the UK's licensing and breeding rules. To make it easier, we’ve gathered some key information you need to know.

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Do you need a licence to breed dogs in the UK?

The laws around dog breeding are devolved, meaning that we have different rules depending on where you live in the UK.


If you live in England, you will need to obtain a licence from your local authority if you are going to breed three or more litters in a year and sell any of the puppies. If you run a business breeding dogs, you will also need a licence, no matter how many litters you have in a year.


In Wales, you will also need a licence if you breed three or more litters in a year and sell any of the puppies or advertise them for sale. Again, if you run a business breeding dogs, you will need a licence.


In Scotland, you only need a licence if you breed five or more litters in a year. Again, this only applies if you sell them or advertise them for sale. If you are breeding dogs as part of a business, you will also need a licence.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, you will need a licence if you intend to breed three or more litters in a year or if you are keeping three or more breeding bitches in your home. Again, you will always need a licence if you are breeding for business purposes (but not a charity or hunt club).

What to watch for when look at breeders

If you’re looking to get a puppy, you need to know what to watch for. As you can see, breeders won’t always need a licence to be legitimate. So how can you tell whether your breeder is responsible or not?

If you’re looking for a pedigree dog, the Kennel Club Assured Breeder scheme is a voluntary program that gives you peace of mind about the quality and experience of your dog breeder.

You should also be aware of some red flags to avoid in a breeder:

  • Selling puppies under eight weeks old
  • Not letting you see your puppy with its mother (or making excuses about why the mother isn't present)
  • The breeder has lots of different litters advertised for sale
  • They suggest meeting in a public place rather than their home
  • They don't have vaccination or microchip records
  • They encourage or allow you to buy the puppy on your first visit

If you see any of these red flags, it's best to walk away.

How do you get a breeding license?

If you need a breeding licence, your first step is to contact your local council. They will be able to walk you through the process. They will visit your premises to check that you meet the requirements for granting a licence. These rules are in place to ensure that you are breeding dogs ethically and putting their welfare first. If you’re granted a licence, you will be given a licence number, which you will need to display both on your premises and on any advertising or publicity materials you use. Your licence will need to be renewed regularly, so it’s important that you keep your premises up to standard.

Let Paws in Work help you on your breeder journey

Starting to breed your dog is exciting, but there's a steep learning curve. We’re incredibly proud of our puppy socialisation programme which helps start puppies on the right track! Get in touch to learn more.

Or are you looking for a trusted platform to connect with buyers searching for a puppy? Trusted Pups is an online platform that enables you to do just that! Just like Paws in Work, Trusted Pups' number one priority is the puppies. Their service allows buyers and breeders to search and sell with confidence and protection. They are currently offering a free 30-day trial when you sign up, so if you are starting your breeding journey Trusted Pups is the platform for you!

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