I am finding lots of people do not realise the law on dog breeding changed in 2019. Puppy buyers assume breeders are doing it correctly and dont ask them, or in fact breeders dont even know it applies to them. Then we have breeders blatantly breeding knowing they need to comply and are not doing it.
At the end of the day if your a puppy buyer ask if the breeder has one. Then its up to you if you decide to buy from that breeder or not. But for breeders this is basically what happened....
The reason a breeding law was introduced? Welfare in a nutshell. Their were concerns that breeders were not giving their animals the medical attention required, correct living quarters and so on. Puppy farming had got to such a scale that we all hear about it in the news or on social media. So its about animal welfare.
What started the ball rolling in clamping down on breeders? HMRC in a nutshell. They began to realise that dogs were being sold for big sums of money, and gone were the days a cross breed was £10 or given away for free, and pedigree were £50. Suddenly figures of £2000 upwards into the tens of thousands was happening. Drug dealing gangs were going away from drug dealing and selling dogs as it was so lucrative. If you sell your puppy for x amount of pounds and give the dog no real life, And dont declare tax, and use it as cattle you will earn yourself money.
But done correctly you wont even today earn past the tax threshold of £11,500.
During covid 19 sales of dogs escalated as their were little dogs about and great demand. So some jumped on the band wagon and bred their pet dogs and were charging as we see today on the internet. Some of the lack of litters about was breeders getting fearful that they didnt want the license, so wouldn’t get one.
In 2019 when the law changed on breeding dogs a license was required if you bred and sold your litter to the value of £1000 or over. They do a business test. So for example you will read you can have 3 litters so long as you do not take money for those three litters. If you do take money then its up to your council to determine if you are in fact making profit. So its individually done at the moment.
Their are variances in councils how they have interpreted the defra guidance. But quite often the breeder is not honest when they ring the council up and say they wont take £1000. Yet in fact they are taking £10,000. HMRC gave a statement on what is a hobby and what is not, and it is the £1000 figure that they consider is a hobby, and anything above that is classified as a business. Most people I know who breed do not consider themselves a business as they are their loved pets, but you have to put that aside and look at what hmrc think to it.
Many people can not get a license if they are living in an unsuitable property. Some are limited too 6 dogs only allowed to be living in the property, and some less. If your in a built up area for example. Dogs have to be housed properly in houses or kennels. Rooms set out for living quarters, and if you have lived at your home less than ten years and want to breed a litter, then planning permission has to be applied for. If you live in your home for longer than ten years quite often planning is not required. If you speak to your council and your a breeder just be honest, and they will help you through getting a license. I have to say I’ve not had any problems what so ever, and you just have to comply with defra guidance. Even for that one litter if you are selling it. They will determine if you are giving it away for free. It does sound complicated but they will go through with you.
If you own a stud dog no breeding regulations apply to you as you do not own a bitch. But you a re required to declare the income to HMRC.
Dog breeding is classified under self employed at the moment. So you do an online assessment each year. Their is a piece now on the page when you do a self assessment saying if you have taken over £1000 then an assessment is required.
April 2020 they added Lucy’s law and the fine for breeding a litter with out a license is 20k and a prison sentence. I do not know anyone who has yet been fined, but I expect the day will come. I dont pay attention to what goes on in that area because I cant be bothered to sit and read it all.
I will say all the friends I have in showing dogs earn very little money. Dog showing costs thousands per year. We all breed for the next show dog. Everyone who shows dogs is aware of the regulations, and how HMRC are taking to task now dog breeders found to be breeding with out submitting a tax return. If you haven’t submitted a tax return even if you have lost money you can be fined. So really not worth it.
So here is a link to defra guidance. Now when you breed, email or ring your local council to find out their stance on what they want for your area. As you could be the lucky one who can have 1 litter. If you have bred previously then you wont be considered someone having the 1 litter.
As a stud dog owner it is not up to us to check if you have a license or not. We can warn you to check for your own piece of mind, but theirs nothing in the guidance stating we have to ask for license numbers. Just be wise and find out where you live if your required to have one.
Mrs Rachel Savage