Dog breeding licence

Dog breeding licence

How to get a licence needed to breed dogs, and the list of licensed dog breeders in Bristol.

Licence summary

You may need a licence if you run a business breeding dogs.

When you will need a dog breeding licence

You'll need a licence if you:

  • breed three or more litters of puppies per year, unless you can show that none of the puppies have been sold
  • breed puppies and advertise a business selling them.  If you do this,  it doesn't matter how many litters you produce each year, you'll still need a licence.

When you won't need a dog breeding licence

You won't need a licence if:

  • you can provide documented evidence, that none of the puppies were sold or that you have they kept them all yourself. Documented evidence needs to include records of the new owners of all of the puppies and why there was no money involved (including in kind). 
  • you're a registered charity that rehomes puppies born to rescue dogs, unless you make money from rehoming the puppies
  • you breed only assistance dogs as defined in the Equality Act 2010 (Guide Dogs for the Blind). 
  • you're keeping a dog under the Animal Health Act 1981
  • you're an organisation regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. 
  • you're a breeder that breeds a small number of puppies (less than three litters per year), and you sell them without making a profit. You'll need to provide documented evidence

What is classed as a business

You're classed as advertising a business or having commercial activity if:

  • a high number of animals are sold or advertised for sale by any means (such as classified websites or Facebook)
  • a low number of animals are sold or advertised for sale by any means (such as classified websites or Facebook) with a high sales price, or high profit margin
  • you're advertising a wide variety of different breeds
  • you advertise through a variety of sites, forums or media

Individuals can be classed as a business depending on the extent of their activities. This isn't restricted to registered businesses.

We'll look at the number, frequency and volume of sales or advertisements. Regular transactions using the same type of advertising are likely to indicate a commercial activity, even where there's no actual sale taking place through the internet. This could be a high number of advertisements at any one time or over a short period of time, or regularly. 

Regulation summary

We may authorise an officer, veterinary surgeon or practitioner to inspect licensed premises

A summary of the regulation for this licence

Eligibility criteria

An applicant mustn't be disqualified from any of the following at the time of the application:

  • a person listed as a disqualified person in paragraph 4 or any of paragraphs 6 to 17 of Schedule 8 (see legislation above) where the time limit for any appeal has expired or where the appeal was refused
  • any person listed in any of paragraphs 1 to 3 and 5 of Schedule 8 (see legislation above) as having held a licence which was revoked where the time limit for any appeal against that revocation has expired or the appeal was refused.

Guidance notes for Breeding Dogs 2018 (via, pdf 345K) (opens new window) 

Apply for a licence

Contact us to make an application. We'll talk to you about your proposal and the fees.

  • The application fee is £75
  • The licence fee is £260 plus veterinary fees

Phone:  0117 922 2500, option 2
Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 5pm
Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm

If you need to make an amendment to your existing licence, there will be a charge. We advise that you contact the investigating officer to discuss this. 

Star rating

Licences will be granted for either 1, 2 or 3 years depending on the star rating awarded after inspection.

We'll carry out a risk rating based on:

  • if you've bred animals before 
  • your knowledge of the animals in your care
  • if you meet the criteria set out in the legislation
  • your ability to demonstrate your practices and staff training

The inspector will look at the animals and their environment and refer to the licence guidance. The overall score will determine the star rating and the length of licence.


Low risk

  • Minor failings: 1 star (1 year licence)
  • Minimum standards: 3 star (2 year licence)
  • Higher standards: 5 star (3 year licence)

Higher risk

  • Minor failings: 1 star (1 year licence)
  • Minimum standards: 2 star (1 year licence)
  • Higher standards: 4 star (2 year licence)

If you don't agree with your star rating

You can submit a written appeal within 21 days of the rating being issued to the licensing authority and request a re-inspection.

You'll have to pay for any re-inspection. Businesses disputing their star rating are encouraged to discuss this informally with the inspecting officer first so that there is an opportunity to help explain to the business how the rating was worked out.

Report an unlicensed dog breeder

If you have information relating to an unlicensed dog breeder, contact us on 0117 9222500 (option 2)

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you , preferably by letter (with proof of delivery).

If that's not worked:

List of licensed dog breeders

The list of the licensed dog breeders in Bristol (pdf, 52KB) (opens new window) .