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Puppy trade

Unlicensed breeding and the huge rise in online puppy sales will be targeted by new legislation to be introduced in 2018, according to the BVA. Government plans will mean tougher rules for dog breeding and sales, and stricter enforcement of licensing and breeder inspections (VR, 2017).

BVA note the measures to be introduced:

  • Requirement for anyone selling dogs online to have a local authority breeder licence

  • Tougher measures for commercial dog breeders – anyone breeding three or more litters per year will need a license

  • Requirement for all dog breeders and sellers of all pets to adhere to statutory minimum standards

  • New rule that no puppy aged under eight weeks can be sold

  • Removal of any licence exemptions for people claiming they are breeding from a pet dog

  • Longer licences and fewer inspections for accredited licensees and good breeders

Defra has confirmed that the legislation will be put before Parliament next year, with a view to it coming into force later in 2018.

A 2015 breeding report from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home found that 88% of puppies born in the UK were from unlicensed breeders. An RSPCA report estimates that the annual market for puppies in the UK is 700,000 to 1.9 million animals. Statistics released by the charity in conjunction with Gumtree showed over 200,000 adverts for dogs on that site alone in 2016.


Veterinary Record (2017). New measures to tackle the ‘wild west’ world of online puppy sales, Journal of the British Veterinary Association Vol 181 No 17, doi: 10.1136/vr.j4958

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