Breeding Dogs

Find information on dog breeding establishments and how to apply for a licence.


  • Find out details about the licence and how to apply
  • Find out about the application process

Do I need a Dog Breeding Licence?

Under the new Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 any business or individual will need a licence if they wish to breed dogs. 

Schedule 1 of the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (“the regulations”) defines the licensable activities for each sector.

This licence is for businesses or those operating on a commercial basis.

The circumstances which our Licensing, Food and Safety Team must take into account when determining whether an activity is being carried out as part of a business include if the business/individual: 

  1. makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit, or
  2. earns any commission or fee from the activity. 

If you make at least £1000.00 in income you would be classed as a business. Anyone falling under this threshold would not need to be considered in the context of determining whether they are a business.

What are the criteria for this licence?

Activities that fulfil one or more of the following criteria are subject to licensing:

  • Anyone breeding three or more litters of puppies per year (unless they can show that none of the puppies have been sold).
  • Anyone breeding puppies and advertising a business of selling them, as defined under the business test outlined above. This is irrespective of the number of litters produced per year. This is not restricted to registered businesses – individuals can also be classed as a business depending on the extent of their activities.
  • Factors that should be considered when determining whether someone is advertising a business” include:
  • The number, frequency and/or volume of sales - systematic and repeated transactions using the same means of advertising are likely to indicate a commercial activity.
  • High volumes of animals sold or advertised for sale could indicate a business.
  • Low volumes of animals sold or advertised could indicate a business where high sales prices or large profit margins are involved.
  • High range and variability in the breeds traded. A wide variety of breeds being advertised could indicate the commercial nature of the activity.
  • High numbers of advertisements of puppies for sale, including on classified websites, could indicate commercial behaviour, even where there is no actual sale taking place via the internet. This could be high numbers of advertisements at any one time or over a short period of time, and/or regularly.
  • Advertising through a variety of sites, forums or media could indicate a commercial activity

How much does it cost to apply?

See our licensing fees and charges

Please read the Licence Conditions

Read the license conditions here

How can I apply?

Please download, print and complete the application form and send it to Licensing, Food and Safety Team, Colchester Borough Council, 33 Sheepen Road, Colchester, Essex, CO3 3WG. 

Download the application form

How long will my application take?

We aim to complete your application within 10 weeks of receiving it. 

What is the inspection process?

All premises will be inspected before a licence is granted the Officer will be looking to make sure the applicant has the at least the following.

  • A specialist knowledge in the species that they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare. This would include the animals' mental and physical health, feeding and knowledge of environmental enrichment. The applicant should be able to demonstrate that they have researched and followed expert guidance in order to carry out their role
  • Comprehensive records that contain all the information required by the conditions that apply to their particular activities
  • An understanding of risks involved in caring for the animal, including an extensive risk assessment and written policies and procedures that are reviewed regularly. These documents should be available for the Inspector to examine
  • Training Procedures in place to make sure staff know what is expected of them, and clear evidence of good supervision of staff

The premises itself will also be assessed so we can be sure the licence holder can meet the new laws relating to the physical environment in which the animals will be kept.

Please note: On all new applications a veterinarian will be required to inspect the dog breeding establishment. Any vets fees will be charged in addition to the processing and grant costs of your licence. You will be invoiced separately for this.

Can I start trading before the decision for my licence is determined?

No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted.

If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us on 01206 282520 or email

What can I do if my application is not successful?

For suspensions, variation without consent or revocations in the first instance please contact the Licensing, Food and Safety Team on 01206 282520 or email

If you are still not satisfied you can appeal to the First Tier Tribunal. There is a 28 day appeal period.

How can I renew my licence?

You must renew each year if you would like to keep your licence to breed dogs. 

To renew your licence please contact the Licensing, Food and Safety Team on 01206 282520 or email