A primary concern of the Kennel Club is for the welfare of all
breeding bitches and puppies whether they are produced by large or
small breeders, as its mission statement is 'to promote in every
way the general improvement of dogs'. To this end, the Kennel
Club is committed to doing everything it can to help stamp out
puppy farming and our Assured Breeder Scheme is key to this.
The Kennel Club established its Assured Breeder Scheme in 2004,
in order to help potential puppy buyers to differentiate between
responsible and irresponsible breeders and to encourage better
breeding practice. There are now around 9,000 members of the
Assured Breeder Scheme who agree to follow Kennel Club guidelines
for breeding and selling their puppies and put the health and
welfare of their puppies first and foremost.
By registering breeders under the scheme, we are able to ensure
that Assured Breeders abide by certain conditions and can remove
those whose standards are found to be wanting.
By contrast, the Kennel Club's puppy registration system is a
record of births only. The Kennel Club has no statutory powers and
is not a law enforcement agency; local authorities and the RSPCA
are charged with the task of monitoring and taking action against
unscrupulous breeders. However, should there be a conviction under
the Animal Welfare Act against a breeder, then this is a legitimate
ground for scrutiny under the Kennel Club's disciplinary procedure
and to consider disqualification from future registration.
Breeders who breed five or more litters a year normally require
a breeding licence from their local authority, and in order to
continue registering puppies with the Kennel Club, anyone seeking
to register five or more litters in a single year is asked to
provide a copy of their licence. The Kennel Club will also be
entitled to ask for a licence from those individuals who
collectively register more than five litters a year from a single
The Kennel Club has a limit on the number of litters which may
be registered from a single bitch. It will not normally register
any more than four litters from any bitch unless there is good and
justifiable reason for breeding a further litter and such
applications are assessed on a case by case basis. The Kennel
Club's four litter limit is lower than the legal limit of six
It is important to remember that puppy farmers tend to operate
under the radar and choose not to register their litters with the
Kennel Club. In fact, the vast majority of those who register with
the Kennel Club breed in small numbers - often no more than one
litter a year. Only two percent breed more than five litters per
annum and within that number there is a tiny minority of volume
breeders which includes Guide Dogs for the Blind, who are
responsible and caring.
The Kennel Club's definition of a puppy farmer is not
necessarily a volume breeder but any breeder who does not care
about the health and welfare of their puppies, and that is why the
Kennel Club's plea to all prospective buyers is to buy from an
Assured Breeder. Kennel Club Assured Breeders have to abide by
certain rules and regulations, to ensure their puppies are as
healthy and happy as they can be.
Currently the only way to control breeders is by licensing
through statute (via local authorities), which already exists, but
only covers a certain percentage of breeders, or voluntarily via
the Assured Breeder Scheme. We want all responsible breeders to
join the KC Assured Breeder Scheme - so the Kennel Club can check
and enforce best breeding practices, and for all buyers to find
their puppies from members of the scheme.
The Kennel Club, as the secretariat of the Puppy Farming Study
Group, is at the forefront of moves to try and end the complex and
harmful business of puppy farming. The Kennel Club has also called
on the government to make the standards and principles of the KC
Assured Breeder Scheme mandatory for breeders of ALL dogs
throughout the country.
Last updated - November 2013