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New Regulations Come Into Force For Dog Breeders In Wales

Following a second debate in the Senedd on the 15th July, the Welsh Government have introduced a range of new regulations pertaining to dog breeders in Wales, as a response to ongoing lobbying to tackle the issue of unregulated breeding and puppy farming across the country.

The newly approved regulations constitute a major shake-up of the prior regulations, and ultimately, should go a long way towards ensuring that stricter welfare criteria are adhered to by people breeding and rearing puppies commercially within Wales.

The new laws mean that anyone who lives and breeds dogs in Wales and that keeps three or more breeding dams will be affected by the regulations, which will involve the implementation of set ratios of staff to dogs, and the requirement to institute socialisation programmes for puppies, among other things.

Read on to learn more about the new regulations, and what they mean for dogs in Wales and across the UK.

What areas are affected by the regulations?

The new regulations pertain to Wales only, and not to the UK as a whole. However, the implications of the regulations are likely to have a knock-on effect on the rest of the country as well, as a significant number of large-scale puppy breeding operations and puppy farms are based in Wales, due to the low cost of land compared to many other parts of the country, and the previous lack of effective regulations and the ability to police them.

The regulations were introduced and debated in the Senedd, the National Assembly for Wales, which forms part of Wales’s local government and that has statutory powers to introduce laws and regulations for Wales without requiring an Act of Parliament to be debated in Westminster.

The name of the new laws and regulations is The Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations.


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Why have the changes been made?

Animal welfare organisations in both Wales and the wider UK lobby constantly for improvement and tightening of the existing regulations on animal welfare in all shapes and forms, and this is particularly true in Wales, where a significant number of medium to large-scale commercial dog breeders and puppy farms are based.

The C.A.R.I.A.D. Campaign in particular, a Welsh campaigning and lobbying organisation, have long worked and lobbied to have the laws on puppy farming and commercial dog breeding in Wales reviewed and tightened up, alongside of other organisations such as the R.S.P.C.A.

What do the new regulations say?

The new regulations for puppy breeders in Wales encompass a large and wide reaching number of specifications, and we will outline the basic details of the core regulations below.

  • All people or organisations who keep three or more breeding dams must be licenced to do so, and will be subjected to the new regulations accordingly.
  • The regulations do not apply to those who own one or two breeding dams, and so will not affect people who wish to breed from their own pet, or breed one or two litters only.
  • Breeders must present and implement a plan to provide environmental enrichment for both the adult dogs and puppies that they own.
  • Breeders must present and implement plans to ensure that their puppies receive adequate socialisation before sale.
  • A minimum staff to dog ratio has been implemented, with the basic guidance stating that one member of staff can be responsible for no more than twenty adult dogs. This marks an important change in the law, as previously no ratio was dictated and in some cases, puppy farms reportedly employed just one staff member at a time to take care of up to a hundred dogs.
  • Local authorities can, at their discretion, impose stricter regulations on the staff to dog ratio as they see fit.
  • Enhanced guidance will be issued to inspecting officials when reviewing breeding premises, and previously, interpretation of the prior laws was open to abuse and inconsistency.
  • All breeding dogs and puppies must be microchipped.
  • Puppies may not be sold without a microchip.
  • Puppies may not be removed from their dam until they reach the age of at least 56 days, or eight weeks old.
  • Local authorities will hold the necessary powers to revoke or suspend breeders’ licences as they see fit, without having to attain a court order to do so.

How will the regulations be enforced?

While the new regulations for Wales have largely been received positively by animal welfare organisations, lobbying will continue to encourage a further tightening up of existing loopholes, with the welfare of the animals in mind.

Enforcement and implementation of laws such as these can prove challenging, and this falls to local authorities in each area of Wales, as it is local authorities that are responsible for issuing licences to dog breeders.

No indication has been given as to whether or not government funding will be provided to local authorities in order to support the implementation and enforcement of the new laws, however, local authorities have the power to make a charge for issuing a breeding licence, which should support the cost of implementing, policing and ensuring compliance with the new laws.


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