From 6th April 2016, new regulations governing the compulsory microchipping of dogs in the UK will come into force, which will affect not only the owners of adult dogs and privately owned dogs, but also litters of puppies produced by both professional and hobbyist breeders.
In this article, we will outline the new regulations in more detail, explain what they mean for dog breeders, and clarify what you as a dog breeder must do in order to comply with the new regulations.
Read on to learn more about the new microchipping regulations, and what they mean for dog breeders.
Whilst the government, DEFRA, The Kennel Club and other professional bodies that oversee or monitor dog ownership within the UK have long advised that all dogs be microchipped, up until now, this has been an elective procedure rather than a mandatory requirement.
However, from 6th April 2016, the regulations and laws regarding the identification of dogs (and their owners) is changing, and from this date forward, it will become mandatory for all dogs in the UK to be microchipped by the time they are eight weeks old.
This means that not only will the regulations affect owners of adult dogs and people who wish to buy or adopt a dog or puppy, but that anyone who breeds a litter, either as their business or as a one-off event will also have to ensure that their pups are microchipped before they reach eight weeks old, and so, before they pass to their new permanent owners.
The only exception to this rule relates to dogs that are bred for working purposes and that may be legally docked-these puppies must be microchipped and registered by the time they are twelve weeks of age.
When you have your pups microchipped and registered in the database, there is an additional section for breeders to annotate that they are a breeder, and if relevant, their licence number.
Microchipping involves using a large-gauge needle to insert a small chip (around the size of a grain of rice) under the skin of the scruff of the dog’s neck, and each microchip has a unique registration number that can be read by anyone with a microchip scanner.
Once the microchip number has been read by the scanner, it can be identified by the companies and formal bodies that hold the data containing information about the dog’s keeper, allowing the person scanning the chip to identify some basic information about the dog itself, the keeper of the dog, and their contact details.
Microchipping can only be performed by an authorised person, such as a vet or veterinary nurse, or specially certified laypersons who have achieved the required permissions to do so.
Once inserted, the microchip remains in place permanently, and the information held on the database for each microchip can be changed and updated as required if the dog in question changes hands, or the details of their keeper changes.
It is important to note that the terminology used in the regulations for the microchipping of dogs refers to the dog’s keeper, rather than their owner. The keeper of any given dog is the person who has legal responsibility for them, which means that in some cases, the keeper and the legal owner may be different.
Whoever provides care, accommodation and supervision for the dog is deemed to be their keeper, which in most cases will also be their owner. However, there are some exceptions, such as with assistance dogs, for whom their registered keeper will be the person that they work with, whilst their legal owner will remain the organisation that trained and supplied them.
Once the new regulations come into force, all puppies must be microchipped before they reach eight weeks old, which means that the responsibility for doing this falls to the breeder of the dogs in question, rather than their new owners.
However, whilst there is no mandatory minimum age for microchipping, The Kennel Club advises that it is in the best interests of the puppies that they reach six weeks of age before chipping is carried out. This means that dog breeders will have a fairly short window of time of just two weeks in order to comply with the regulations.
When you sell (or give away) the puppies that you have bred, they must by law already have been microchipped, and of course, the details held for each microchip will reflect your own personal details, and not that of your puppies’ future keepers.
This means that when your puppies go on to their new permanent homes, one of the very first things that their new owners must do is update the details held regarding the pup’s keeper, to reflect their own details.
As well as mandating the compulsory microchipping of all dogs and puppies, the new regulations also enforce a 21 day rule when it comes to keeping the information held for each dog up to date, which means that the new owners of your puppies have 21 days from the time that ownership of the dog passes to them to have the keeper’s details changed in the database.
In order to comply with the regulations regarding compulsory microchipping and keeping the details of the keeper of every dog current and accurate, when you are arranging the handover of your puppies to their new owners, you must tell them about the regulations, and explain what they mean for both them and their puppy.
You should pass the accompanying paperwork for the pup’s microchip onto the new owners and explain to them the timescale within which they need to update the dog’s details, and the paperwork supplied with each implanted microchip will contain more information for owners on who to contact to get the details changed, and how to do this.
Changing the details of ownership attracts a small fee.
For more information on compulsory microchipping and the full details of the regulations, see this document.