What is the law on microchipping puppies?
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What is the law on microchipping puppies?

Dogs
Health & Safety

All dogs in the UK have to be microchipped, which is a fairly new law that came into being in 2016. Whether you own a now-adult dog and aren’t sure about their microchip, are about to buy a puppy, or are planning to breed from your dog and need to know what the requirements are on puppy microchips, this article will tell you what you need to know.

Read on to find out the law on microchipping puppies in the UK.

What does the law say about dog microchips in the UK?

First of all the law on microchipping dogs in the UK differs slightly for Northern Ireland compared to the law for England, Scotland, and Wales. This is because in Northern Ireland, a dog licence is required to keep a dog, and the microchip is tied to this in many ways.

In simple terms though, the microchip-specific law as applied in the UK is that all dogs must be microchipped and vitally, that the details held on the microchip database about the dog’s owner be kept up to date.

What age must puppies be microchipped and registered by?

Specifically, puppies aged eight weeks old and above must be microchipped; this means that puppies are microchipped far younger these days than generally used to be the case, as it used to be common practice to get the chip done perhaps when the puppy was spayed or neutered at a few months old.

The requirement to microchip puppies at eight weeks old means that by the very first time they go outside, their microchip will be present and so they can be identified properly from their first foray out in public; and reunited with their owners if they got lost!

All litters should be registered in the first instance by their breeder

The law that microchips must be placed at eight weeks of age means in effect that the responsibility for microchipping a puppy falls to their breeder. This is because a puppy of eight weeks old is, or rather, should be, still with their dam and littermates for another month or so, before they reach the appropriate age to go on to their new forever home.

Logistically then this does mean that after just a month with the microchip in place, the paperwork and microchip database held for it needs to be updated, assuming that the breeder does sell the puppy rather than keeping it.

Puppy buyers need to change the ownership details registered to the microchip when they get their puppy

This means that one of the first things you need to do when you buy a puppy, in terms of actually becoming their legal owner, is to update the ownership details held about the puppy within the microchip database.

It is a good idea to do this immediately (as is the law) so that when you register the pup with a vet and get them their first health check, potentially get your puppy insured, and undertake any other formal processes, the correct microchip details will already be squared away.

Does the breeder or the buyer handle the change of ownership update?

The breeder or seller of the puppy should give you the appropriate paperwork pertaining to the puppy’s microchip as part of the sale of the puppy, both to show that they have microchipped the puppy and so that you have everything you need to update the details to reflect that you are the puppy’s owner now.

The breeder or seller of the puppy has to sign off on this of course, as otherwise anyone could just claim any puppy or dog was theirs if the microchip details could be changed without knowledge or permission from the currently registered keeper!

In some cases they may have to instigate the transfer, but ultimately the responsibility for sorting everything out falls to you.

If for any reason you cannot get hold of or get the cooperation of the past/registered owner of a puppy (this may happen if someone loses or surrenders a dog and simply fails to respond to contact requests or have changed their details and cannot be located) the chip can be transferred to you nonetheless, but this can be a little more convoluted; but your vet and others that place dog microchips can guide you on this.

Is there a charge to transfer ownership of a puppy?

This can be variable. Most of the various different microchipping companies in the UK charge an administration fee for you to update the details of a dog’s owner, particularly when it comes to a transfer of ownership. However, this is free with some companies.

When you do have to pay, the price usually ranges from as low as £6 up to possibly £18-£20 at the top end. Some companies also allow you to pay a one-off charge in the region of £20 for a premium service that allows you to make unlimited updates and changes as needed in the future without additional charge.

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