Animal Welfare Act 2018: Buying a puppy from a licensed dog breeder

Animal Welfare Act 2018: Buying a puppy from a licensed dog breeder

Life As A Pet Parent

The Animal Welfare Act (2006) is the UK’s current legislation dictating how animals in the UK should be protected, cared for and managed. This is umbrella legislation that applies to animals of all types, with specific caveats in place for different types of animals and applications.

However, the current law in England will be changing on 1st October 2018, introducing a new set of rules that people breeding or selling dogs for profit must comply with. When you’re looking for a puppy for sale, ensuring that you choose a breeder who holds the appropriate licence to breed dogs (if they need one) is important. Breeders who should be licenced but aren’t will be in breach of the new law from October onwards – and you should avoid buying from an illegally unlicensed breeder at all costs.

Whilst there I still a lot of debate over the scope and remit of the upcoming changes in terms of how they will apply in practice, how far they will go, and how far they can be policed and enforced, the aim of the changes is to improve animal welfare standards in the UK – with particular rules coming into force for people who breed and sell puppies for profit.

By ensuring that any pup you are considering buying was responsibly bred by a breeder who complies with the letter and the spirit of the regulations, you can give yourself and your new pup the right start to your life together, and reduce the chances of buying an unhealthy puppy or supporting questionable breeding practices.

In this article, we will explain how prospective puppy buyers can tell if a dog breeder should be licensed by their local authority, how to check that a breeder is licensed, and how to identify whether or not a breeder is complying with their licensing terms and conditions. Read on to learn more.

How to tell if a puppy’s seller needs a license

First up, here’s how to tell if any person selling a puppy or a litter of pups needs a license to do so from October 2018 onwards.

  • Any person who breeds and sells dogs for commercial gain is classed as a business and so, needs a license. This may mean that even people breeding and selling less than 3 litters per 12 months may need a license to do so – although how local authorities will determine this on a case by case basis has yet to be seen. This remains something of a grey area.
  • One area of the new law that is much clearer is that any person who breeds three or more litters a year for sale needs a licence. This means if any breeder has three or more litters for sale, or has advertised or sold three or more litters within the last twelve months, they need a license.

What licensed breeders/dog sellers need to show within their adverts

The new law means that people who need and hold a license to breed and sell dogs must show certain details relating to their licence within their adverts for pups for sale, so that you as a prospective buyer can see them when you view the ad.

Look for all of the following within adverts from licenced breeders:

  • The breeder or seller’s licence number.
  • The local authority who issued the licence to the seller.
  • A clear photo that shows the exact dog being sold.
  • The age of the dog for sale.
  • The country the dog lives in/is being sold from.
  • The country the dog originated from.

Sales advice and what you should expect from a licenced seller

When you’re buying a dog or puppy from a licenced seller or breeder, they are also obliged to provide you with certain information and advice on the pup in question, as well as following some other rules.

  • Any accessories or equipment sold with or provided with any pup must be suitable for the pup.
  • The seller must provide all necessary information on caring for the pup, covering factors including feeding, handling, care, housing and accessories, life expectancy and veterinary care.
  • They must also display and provide relevant reference materials on caring for the pup to prospective owners.
  • The seller or their staff must be appropriately trained to correctly advise prospective buyers about the pups being sold.
  • The buyer of the pup must be told the dog’s country of origin and where possible, the pup’s age, gender and veterinary history.
  • Puppies under eight weeks old may not be sold.
  • Any puppies sold must have been bred and reared by the holder of the licence, or at premises covered under their licence.
  • Puppies must be microchipped before sale.
  • Puppies must be offered for viewing with their mother.
  • The purchase transaction itself must take place at the licence holder’s premises – this means that a licensed seller cannot meet you elsewhere to conduct the transaction itself.

What to do if you have any concerns about a dog breeder or seller’s advert or practices

  • If you know or suspect that someone advertising puppies should be licenced as a breeder but is not, you should report them to their relevant local authority licensing department.
  • Do the same if any licensed breeder is in breach of any of the terms of their licence.
  • If you spot an advert for a dog or puppy for sale that doesn’t display the necessary license details, or that is advertising pups without a license when they should have one, also report the advert to the company hosting it.

Here at Pets4Homes, we provide an easy to find “report advert” link on every ad, and we always investigate and take action against breaches quickly and effectively. We also include the license number, local authority name and local authority website address on any adverts by licensed breeders, which makes it easier to find the appropriate council details to report a breeder directly to their council.



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