Shropshire Council

Breeding dogs

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Licences to breed dogs are issued under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.

The conditions attached to dog breeding licences are set out in the regulations. The conditions are mandatory and can't be added to, deleted or amended by us. You can find the conditions and the guidance which accompanies them in the 'Related documents' section of this page.

Who needs a licence to breed dogs?

  • Anyone breeding three or more litters of puppies each 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’ (see business test section below). This is irrespective of the number of litters produced per year. This is not restricted to registered businesses – individuals can be classed as a business depending on the extent of their activities

Factors which will be considered to determine if someone is ‘advertising a business’ include:

  • The number, frequency and/or volume of sales
  • The volume of animals sold
  • The value of the animals sold
  • The variety and variability of breeds being sold
  • The number of adverts an individual has and where these adverts appear

Who doesn’t need a licence to breed dogs?

  • Anyone who can provide documented evidence that none of the puppies were sold or they kept all the puppies themselves
  • Registered charities that rehome puppies that are born to rescue dogs
  • Anyone breeding only assistance dogs (as defined in the Equalities Act 2010)
  • Anyone keeping a dog under the Animal Health Act 1981
  • Organisations regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986
  • Breeders that breed a small number (ie fewer than three litters a year) and sell them without making a profit

What is the ‘business test’?

The regulations specify two business tests to be considered when deciding if an activity is commercial, and therefore requires a licence. They're not the only method to determine if a licence is required, but we must take them into account when deciding if a licence is required.

  1. Does the operator make any sale, or otherwise carry on the activity, with a view to making a profit, or;
  2. Does the operator earn any commission or fee from the activity.

These two tests will be considered alongside the factors in the ‘Who needs a licence to breed dogs’ section when determining if a licence is required.

What is the ‘star rating’ and how is it worked out?

All licences subject to the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 will be given a star rating. The purpose of the star rating is to ensure consistency on the implementation and operation of the licensing system, and to ensure that consumers can clearly see the star rating a business has received and therefore the risk level and standards of animal welfare they have.

The star rating is determined by a scoring matrix set out in the regulations. In order to calculate the star rating the results of an inspection of a premises and an assessment of the level of risk a business poses are combined to produce a rating between one and five stars. The higher the star rating is the better the standards of the business.

Can I change or appeal against the star rating my business has been given?

Businesses which have accepted an original rating between one and four, but have subsequently made the necessary improvements to address non-compliance or issues identified during the original inspection, can request a re-inspection of the business. This request should be made by completing the application form in the related documents section of this page. There's a fee for making this request.

Once you've made a request for a re-inspection it will be assessed to ensure that the necessary improvements have been made. Once we're satisfied that necessary changes have been made the re-inspection will be carried out within three months of the application for re-inspection.

There's no limit to the number of re-inspections you can request, but you'll be charged for each re-inspection. We can also refuse a re-inspection request if it's decided that the necessary improvements have either not been carried out, or not been carried out to a sufficient standard, to warrant a re-inspection.

You should be aware that a re-inspection for re-rating purposes could result in a lower star rating being awarded, rather than an increase in the rating.

Appealing a star rating

If you don't accept the star rating you're given you can appeal against it. This must be done within 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) of the date your licence was issued. You should make your appeal in writing (either by post or email) to the Licensing Team.

We'll always aim to discuss and resolve appeals informally in the first instance to avoid the need for a formal appeal to be lodged. If you do enter into informal discussions this does not change the period in which you can formally appeal. You should therefore consider lodging the formal appeal at the beginning of the process, and if it can be informally resolved the appeal may be withdrawn.

Appeals will be determined by a senior officer in the Trading Standards and Licensing Service. We have 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) from the date the appeal is received to consider it and reach a decision. The paperwork from the original inspection and past record of the business will be considered, and in some circumstances a further visit to the business may be required.

If an additional inspection is required, the fee for a re-inspection will be payable by the applicant. This is refundable if a higher star rating is awarded as a result of the appeal.

How long does a licence last?

The length of a dog breeding licence is determined by its star rating:

  • 1 star = one-year licence
  • 2 star = one-year licence
  • 3 star = two-year licence
  • 4 star = two-year licence
  • 5 star = three-year licence

A licence runs from the date it is granted and must be renewed by the anniversary of the date it was granted in either one, two or three years – dependent on the star rating (see above).

Existing licence holders will receive a reminder from us three months before their licence is due for renewal with a renewal application pack enclosed. Renewal applications must be returned to us a minimum of ten weeks before the expiry date of the initial licence.

How do I apply for a licence?

If you'd like an advisory visit from a licensing officer prior to making your application, please contact the Licensing Team using the details on this page.

Download the application form from this page and complete all the relevant sections. Don’t leave any blank questions in the sections of the application that apply to you. If you don’t have anything to record in a particular question, put ‘none’ or ‘not applicable’.

Send the application to the Licensing Team by one of the methods on the front page of the form. You must send your application with all the required supporting documentation detailed in the application. If you submit an incomplete application or it doesn’t have all the necessary documentation with it the application will not be accepted.

You must send the application with the appropriate initial application fee. Applications submitted without the fee cannot be processed.

All new and renewal applications for dog breeding licences are subject to an inspection by a licensing officer. New dog breeding applications must also be inspected by a council-appointed veterinarian. Once your application has been validated an officer will contact you to arrange the necessary inspections.

Required standards and how to meet them

Please visit the website for the guidance on the required standards and how to meet them.

How much will it cost?

There is a fee for issuing this document, which is taken when you apply.

Apply now

Download the form, complete it on your home computer, and email it to

Download an application form

Download the form, print it out, fill it in and post your application along with the fee if applicable to:

The Licensing Team, Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY2 6ND

Download an application form