What you need to know about animal welfare legislation

What you need to know about animal welfare legislation

Health & Safety

At Pets4Homes we take animal welfare seriously. There are a number of laws that cover the breeding and sale of dogs in the UK. If you are a dog breeder, selling a litter of puppies online, or interested in buying a puppy online, read on to make sure you know how the law applies to you and what we’re doing at Pets4Homes to improve the welfare of pets sold online.

Animal welfare concerns

A high demand for puppies has created a market for unscrupulous traders who care more about making money than the welfare of the dogs they breed, with puppies being bred on puppy farms - in the UK or trafficked from abroad - for commercial purposes. Without proper welfare checks in place, dogs can be kept in appalling conditions. Many become seriously ill or die shortly after being acquired by their new families.

In recent years, a number of new laws have been introduced in an attempt to clamp down on this unscrupulous trade.

Puppy sales: what the law says

In response to a rise in puppies being bred on puppy farms and sold through pet shops or online, a new law - called Lucy’s Law - was introduced. Lucy’s Law is named after a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Lucy, a breeding bitch who lived in terrible conditions on a puppy farm.

Under Lucy’s Law, puppies under the age of six months can only be sold by a breeder or an animal rehoming centre. This means that commercial breeders and individual sellers are now banned from selling their puppies to a pet shop or a third-party trader for commercial gain.

You can, however, sell a puppy over the age of six months if you are not the breeder.

At Pets4Homes we require advertisers to include a photograph of the mother together with the puppies in their advertisement.

Dog breeding: what the law says

There are two types of puppy sellers; commercial breeders who require a licence to trade, and individual sellers who don’t.

If you make a business of breeding and selling puppies, you must be licensed by the local authority.

In England, this is covered by the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018. Anyone who breeds three or more litters and sells at least one puppy in a 12 month period requires a licence.

In Wales, this is covered by the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014. If you breed more than three litters a year and sell at least one puppy in a 12 month period you need to be licenced.

In Scotland, a licence is required if you produce more than five litters a year, as set out under the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999.

You do not need to be licensed if you are selling a one-off litter of puppies that you have bred yourself, for example, a litter of puppies bred from your pet dog.

At Pets4Homes we require advertisers to state on their advert if they are a breeder or an individual seller and have put extra checks in place to prevent unscrupulous puppy sellers from placing advertisements with us.

What is Pets4Homes doing to improve animal welfare?

As the largest pet classifieds website in the UK, Pets4Homes takes animal welfare very seriously and is already setting high standards for the industry, which includes a requirement for advertisers to:

  • Include a photograph of the mother with her puppies in the advertisement
  • State if they are a breeder or individual seller and provide a copy of their licence if required

In addition, microchip details can now be added to listings and Pets4Homes was the first classifieds website in the UK to introduce a deposit service for the safe collection and management of deposits between the buyer and seller.

We work closely with the Pet Advertising Advisory Group to improve the standards of advertising online and educate the public about what to look for when buying a pet.

Read our trust and safety guides for sellers to help you to advertise on our website.



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