Is It Illegal to Breed Dogs at Home? (Solved & Explained!)

Figuring out if it’s legal to breed dogs at home all depends on the federal and state or provincial law that you reside in, and can vary from location to location. Here’s how you can find out if it’s illegal to breed dogs at home in your state or province:

  1. Research Your Country, State or Provincial Animal Laws
  2. Categorize Your Type of Dog Breeding
  3. Determine What Documentation is Required
  4. Ensure the Avoidance of Backyard Breeding
  5. Animal Care 
  6. Selling Puppies

While there is no one-stop-shop answer for determining whether it’s legal to breed dogs at home or not, we cover all the bases for you to make sure that you’re moving ahead with your litter of pups both legally and with love and care! Read on to ensure you’ve got the best plan possible for your pooch.

Research Your Country, State or Provincial Animal Laws

In the United States of America, breeding dogs at home is not an illegal activity so long as the animal owner has not been found guilty of animal cruelty in the past, though some states require breeders to have a legal license should they reach certain thresholds.

Researching your specific area’s animal laws and breeding guidelines will help to guarantee that you’re abiding by the law as well as maintaining a good breeder reputation.

For example, in Canada, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Act (Bill 129) states that there are very strict and specific standards of care for keeping cats or dogs for breeding or sale.

This includes adequate food and water up to standard, adequate medical attention when sick or in pain, protection from the outdoor elements, and proper transportation to ensure the animal’s safety, to name a few.

Every person who fails to comply is subject to fines of up to $60,000 CAD or imprisonment up to two years. That being said, a quick google search of your area’s animal laws can prevent a whole lot of trouble down the road.

Categorize Your Type of Dog Breeding

Figuring out what your intentions are before breeding dogs is vital to navigating what the next steps are depending on the style of dog breeding. Are you a hobby breeder, a one-time-mistake dog owner, or a backyard breeder, for example? Asking yourself “how many litters do I plan on having this year” is the easiest way to narrow this question down.

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The American Kennel Club notes that a license must be obtained should a breeder go ahead and breed three or more litters per year. The newer regulations have reduced this form five litters down to three to discourage backyard breeding in America as much as possible.

Determine What Documentation is Required 

As we learned above, if you plan on having three or more litters per year, you’ll need to obtain a dog breeding license unless you can prove that none of the puppies in any of the litters have been sold.

To obtain a breeding license, you must fill out the registration paperwork from the appropriate authorities (location specific). There will likely be a small administration fee, and you expect to receive an inspection of the premises and records to ensure adequate living conditions and proper animal welfare. It’s very important that these standards are maintained throughout puppyhood to keep your license in good standing.

Your license will most likely have an expiration date, so keep an eye out to make sure you’re still breeding dogs legally throughout the years, otherwise, you might have to go through the same application, inspection, and fee process as before!

Ensure the Avoidance of Backyard Breeding

In general, licensed breeders are no better than unlicensed breeders, but there are some things to avoid to make sure that you don’t become classified as a backyard breeder.

If you’re breeding dogs say, once a year or for fun, it’s no harm. However, it becomes illegal, irresponsible, and simply unethical if you’re breeding at home without a license for professional or commercial purposes. Many backyard breeders choose the profits of the puppy over the pup’s wellbeing – this can include inadequate care, inappropriate living spaces, and a general lack of animal welfare.

Some state laws are even issuing mandatory desexing of dogs or registration of breeders to prevent this very situation from happening!

Animal Care

A large majority of the approval factor in a license or general dog breeding is the overall care provided for the parent animals and the puppies.

Once puppies are born, it’s a good idea to make sure they don’t leave their home without a vet check and their first vaccinations. Some states even require microchipping prior to adoption.

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BreedingBusiness also advises many pet owners to use caution when breeding their pets, and to avoid overbreeding the mother, breeding runts, inbreeding, or mistreatment of any animal involved. This is a sure way to guarantee that your license will either be revoked or refused and can deter responsible buyers from adopting a puppy.

Selling Puppies

The price that you ask for your pups once bred legally and in good condition, is entirely up to the owner. Having papers registered through the American Kennel Club will increase the value of your puppies.

In relation to legalities, it is very important that you take care of your pups and ensure that they are not sold prior to the appropriate weening time. Over fifteen of twenty-eight states in the USA make it very clear that it is an unlawful offense for any person to sell an underage puppy.

Mido Guide lets us know that states such as Maine, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania include adoption or any transfer of an underage puppy within their laws. In general, do not sell a puppy until it has reached at least eight weeks old, though most adopters prefer for the pup to be closer to twelve weeks or above.

Not only is this good practice and demonstrates good animal welfare to both the adopter and potential adopters down the line, but it also ensures that you’re following the law in regards to dog breeding.