Licensing of commercial activities involving dogs
(England only)


Specialists in Dog Law | Tel: 01304 755 557

These Regulations have been in force since 1st October 2018 in England.

What activities are effected:

  • Selling animals as pets
  • Providing boarding for cats
  • Providing boarding in kennels for dogs
  • Providing home boarding for dogs
  • Providing day care for dogs
  • Hiring out horses
  • Breeding dogs
  • Keeping or training animals for exhibition

The Regulations can be found here

The Guidance can be found here :

Selling animals as pets

This applies if someone sells animals as pets (or with a view to their being later resold as pets) in the course of a business. The Guidance helps with some examples of what is and what isn’t within scope, and it also gives a detailed explanation of the conditions which are specified in the Regulations.

A licensed operator is going to be subject to the General Conditions and the Specific Conditions which are both specified in the Regulations and the Council is required to ‘have regard’ to DEFRA’s Guidance.

In particular, careful note needs to be taken of the definition of the ‘business test’ in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Regulations which includes “whether the operator makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit”. This is the same business test that is used for all the other licensable activities (apart from dog breeding).

Providing boarding for cats / boarding in kennels for dogs / home boarding for dogs / day care for dogs

This applies if someone provides or arranges the provision of accommodation for other people’s cats or dogs in the course of a business on any premises where the provision of that accommodation is a purpose of the business.

Each activity is subject to the same General Conditions but the Specific Conditions vary according to which activity is being undertaken. The Council is required to ‘have regard’ to DEFRA’s Guidance.

Breeding of dogs

This is the only specified activity where there is no requirement to satisfy the business test. You must be licensed in a couple of circumstances:-

  • Breeding three or more litters of puppies in any 12 month period and/or
  • Breeding dogs and advertising a business of selling dogs

As can be seen, even having one or two litters may mean that someone will need to be licensed.

There are also General Conditions and Specific Conditions contained in the Regulations and the Council must ‘have regard’ to the Guidance.

Keeping or training animals for exhibition

If this is in the course of a business for educational or entertainment purposes then the operator will need a licence (which, if granted, will be for three years).

There are also General Conditions and Specific Conditions contained in the Regulations and the Council must have ‘regard to’ the Guidance.

What activities aren’t included in the Regulations

So far, there are no specific Regulations in England that deal with:-

  • Rescues (provided they don’t rehome animals commercially)
  • Dog trainers / behaviourists
  • Groomers
  • Pet sitters (provided it is in the owner’s home – if the operator provides or arranges accommodation then they would need to be licensed)
  • Dog walkers

If someone operates a licensable activity without the benefit of a licence they are committing a criminal offence punishable by an unlimited fine and/or up to six months imprisonment.

Breach of a licence condition is also a criminal offence and the maximum penalty is an unlimited fine.

Length of licence

For keeping or training animals for exhibition the licence will be for three years whereas for any of the other activities the licence can be for one to three years depending on a ‘scoring matrix’ which takes into account the risk of breach, the impact on welfare of any breach and whether the operator is meeting higher standards of welfare than required by the required licence conditions.

How we can help you

We can offer you a one-off fixed price telephone consultation for only £60 for up to 20 minutes.

To proceed please call us on 01304 755 557 during normal office hours. All calls are dealt with in the strictest of confidence.

We can take payment by debit or credit card and make an appointment for the call.
Same day appointments are sometimes available.