Breeding from your dog - what you need to think about!

Dog owners out there may or may not be aware that as of the 1st of October2018 there has been a change in legislation regarding the breeding of dogs. The change relates to whether someone who is breeding dogs is deemed to be doing so as a “business concern” or not. If they are, then they have to conform to various criteria. If you’re thinking of breeding from your dog, there’s quite a lot to consider as well as the new legislation (more about that later). Firstly making sure that you have carried out all the necessary pre breeding checks to confirm that your dog is a suitable candidate for breeding and secondly that you have considered the potential impact of breeding your dog in terms of complications and costs and the impact on your day to day life!

This all sounds potentially rather ominous if you are considering breeding from a dog and, I can relate to this somewhat as, earlier in the summer, some close friends of ours decided to breed from their Labrador, Millie. Millie is a lovely dog with a gentle demeanour and a typical Labrador attitude to food – eat first, think second! Before she was mated, Millie had been hip scored, elbow scored and checked for ocular disease to confirm that she was a suitable candidate for breeding. She was then mated to an equally well bred and very handsome stud dog and 4 weeks later, we saw her for a pregnancy scan and confirmed a “bellyful” of puppies!

She whelped on schedule with 10 healthy puppies and all was going well. However, two weeks later, Millie developed mastitis (an infection of her mammary glands) and it became difficult for her to feed all the puppies. The puppies had to be supplemented by hand feeding every few hours with powdered milk. Then things went from bad to worse when Millie rejected her puppies and managed to badly injure one of them. Annelise was on-hand to see the injured pup, who had a deep cut to her lip which needed to be sutured. Somewhat predictably, having completed the surgery, Annelise had already mentally adopted the injured pup who was very adept at looking forlorn but cute! As a result I was well prepared when she made her case for keeping the little thing and firmly put my foot down, citing the many reasons not to add to our menagerie: extra space required for 3 dogs, extra poo to pick up, chewing, toilet training and not to mention vet bills! It was a well reasoned, concise and succinct argument….

We took ownership of the new puppy 5 weeks later and she’s called Iris. Other than a slightly crooked lip, I have to admit she’s a lovely dog even if she’s already gone through a pair of slippers! However, what this does highlight is that while breeding a dog can be very rewarding, it is not always plain sailing and you have to be prepared for complications and costs to occur – from hand rearing puppies to a Caesarian with no live pups.

With regards to the new legislation, it is beyond the scope of this article to cover it in detail. A good source of information can be found on the kennel club website - To summarise:

You are considered to be breeding dogs for a business if you breed more than 3 litters per year (and sell the puppies) or are considered to be breeding for a profit, regardless of the number of litters. Whether someone is breeding for profit is a grey area and criteria such as regular advertising of puppies, the number of puppies sold, selling a wide range of breeds and systemic and repeatable transactions are all considerations. If you are deemed to be breeding as a business, then you will require a license to breed and advertise any puppies and will have to have a premises inspection to check that you conform to a large number of requirements relating to the welfare of the dogs and puppies that you own. Overall, and rightly so if you are breeding as business, there are a number of hoops to jump through.

The good news is that DEFRA have indicated that it is not their intention for “hobby breeders” to be caught out under the business criteria*. If you breed an occasional litter from time to time, then the above will not apply, although anyone making more than £1000 profit should declare this to HMRC as with any other transaction (eg selling via online auction or car boot sales etc). If you are considering breeding from your dog, then feel free to contact us at the practice and we can advise you on all the do’s and don’ts from pre breeding tests to whelping and beyond! On that subject, I’m off to buy some dog-proof hobnail boots to wear with my dressing gown….