Breeders and Covid-19 FAQs

During this period of uncertainty for us all, The Kennel Club is here for you and your dog. To help you both stay happy and healthy, we have devised FAQs, advice and support for breeders, assured breeders and health testing schemes.

Last updated: 8 September 2020

Please regularly check the latest government advice across EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland and continually assess your own situation based on this information and where you are in the UK.

Take a look at our Covid-19 hub to find out useful information to keep you and your dog safe during this time.

Breeders FAQs

I have a litter of puppies due. What is the advice about visiting families?

If you already have a litter of puppies, we’d suggest keeping in contact with and updating new owners by phone, email, video calls, and sending photos – not with excessive visits to your home.

New Covid-19 restrictions across the UK, including the English three-tier system, may prohibit potential puppy buyers entering your home and/or garden depending on where you or they live. Please check guidance in your location using the links at the top of this page and carry out your own risk assessment.

What about puppies which are ready to go to their new homes?

Please check guidance in your location using the links at the top of this page and carry out your own risk assessment.

It is important to note that at present, all other existing legal obligations remain in force, such as microchipping your puppies prior to sale and any licensing conditions. Issues related to licensing should be raised with the relevant local authority.

How can people socialise their puppies at this time?

Of course it’s more difficult to socialise puppies at this time. Here are some practical tips you can follow at home to help socialise your pups:

  • Play different sounds to them via your phone or computer, like traffic noises, dog barks, other animal noises, and anything else your pups might not be experiencing in real life while we are staying at home more
  • Make additional efforts to get them outside in your garden to experience as many sights and sounds as possible, but at a safe distance for you and others around you
  • Get them used to different environments and everyday situations where you can, e.g. hoover around them, show them the washing machine while it’s on, if you’re near a road show it to them at a safe distance etc.
Will there be a delay of registering my puppies with The Kennel Club if the offices are closed?

There are currently no delays with any of our registration services. However during this time, we would strongly advise that customers use the online methods where possible as there may be unavoidable delays to postal applications.

We were planning a litter but should we now delay this?

This has to be personal decision, based on your individual situation and risk assessment of this, but do consider the difficulties around socialising puppies in the current climate, the potential of you getting poorly and not being able to care for your puppies or dogs, whether your local vet will be able to assist if needed and how to deal with prospective owners responsibly.

Depending on how the situation evolves, do also consider that you may need to keep your puppies for longer than eight weeks, and whether you will be in a position to care for your puppies for as long needed during uncertain times.

How can I best take care of my puppies and dogs during this period?

It’s important to follow government advice depending on your situation. If you have symptoms of the virus and feel unwell, the advice is to self-isolate and this includes physical contact with your dog/s and/or puppies – as hard as it may be. If you live alone and become unwell and need to self-isolate, a friend, family member or professional may be able to care for your dog/s and/or puppies for you.

Otherwise, if you have puppies but are feeling well, take extra hygiene precautions: try to avoid your puppies or dogs licking your face, keep your puppies as clean as you can and always wash your hands with soap and water after touching them, preparing their food, and cleaning their sleeping and toileting area.

Make sure anyone in your household where you are rearing the puppies follows these measures. There is no evidence that dogs can get or transmit Covid-19, but these measures are to reduce the likelihood of your pet spreading the disease through environmental contamination on their fur – so it’s essential to increase hygiene precautions.

Keep your puppies mentally and physically active – start training early, play games and let your puppies socialise with each other in the home and outdoors, where it is safe to do so.

Will vets still be on hand to assist if something goes wrong?
If your dog or puppy needs vet care during this period, call your vet in the first instance. Don’t leave the house to go to your vet if you are self-isolating.
What should I do if I need to get my puppies vaccinated or microchipped?
Guidance from the British Veterinary Association now states that primary vaccinations and year 1 boosters in dogs could go ahead (as of 14 April 2020) as an essential service, and that microchipping could be undertaken if the puppy is already in the practice for an essential service. However, veterinary practices may vary in their approach due to individual circumstance, so call your vet in the first instance to ask them what they recommend and what procedures they are carrying out at this time.
Is it safe for someone else to take care of dogs that I breed from if I'm taken ill or have to self isolate?

A friend, relative or professional may be able to care for your dog/s for you if you have symptoms, or are vulnerable or elderly, but let them know in advance if you are self-isolating and follow government guidelines when handing over your dog/s, maintaining social distancing measures. Always wash your hands before and after handling your dog/s and preparing their food, and ask whoever cares for your dog/s to do so as well.

Read further government guidelines on how to safely help others during the pandemic.

The Kennel Club Assured Breeders FAQs

Can I still apply to join the Assured Breeders scheme?

We have taken the decision to temporarily withdraw the option to join the scheme until further notice. We do not have a definitive date as to when we may re-open the new membership application process.

Please be assured that this does not prevent you from breeding nor registering dogs, and we would still actively encourage you to follow the health testing requirements and guidelines for responsible breeding

In the meantime, if you would like to register your interest in joining our Assured Breeders scheme, please email us, so that we can follow up with you once the new membership application process re-opens.

When will you be starting the visits again as mine has been cancelled?

Following a comprehensive risk assessment process, home visits have now resumed for existing members of the Assured Breeders scheme. If you are due to have an assessment visit and have not already been contacted, one of the regional breeder assessor team will be in touch to arrange your assessment visit with you. For any queries relating to assessment visits, please email us.

What happens if I can’t get my dog health tested?

In light of the developments relating to Covid-19, our Assured Breeders scheme recognises that, in some cases, health testing may be impacted. If this is likely to affect you and your breeding plans, you will be required to email the ABS team prior to the date of mating.

I have already applied, how will this affect my application?

If you have already applied, then one of the team will be in touch regarding the next steps for progressing your application. If you are awaiting a response, please email us, so that one of the team can assist you with your query.

Can my puppies go to their new homes before 8 weeks old?
What happens if I cannot pay my renewal fee?

Membership renewal notices are sent out one month prior to the annual renewal date. If payment is not received, membership status becomes inactive. Assured breeders whose memberships are inactive due to a missing payment are able to renew at a later date to bring their membership up to date, however their membership renewal date will always remain the same.

What happens to my payment now my application has been put on hold?
If your application is placed on hold, then your payment will be held in place with your application on file. Renewal payments will only be activated after your visit has taken place and your visit report completed.
I have a litter to register and a pending Assured Breeders scheme application. Can I register my litter?
Litter registration applications can still be submitted to The Kennel Club but these must be made under the standard Kennel Club registration system. Providing the requirements of registration have been met, you will receive confirmation from The Kennel Club once your litter is registered. Please note, you are only eligible to register non-Assured-Breeders-scheme litters while you are not a member of the scheme.

Health testing and screening during Covid-19

Last updated: 6 July 2020

All responsible breeders registering puppies with The Kennel Club want to ensure that health is a priority in every litter and therefore make sure that the recommended health testing and screening for their breed is in place prior to mating. Health testing and screening enables responsible choices to be made when selecting a mate and importantly ensures the likelihood of puppies produced from any potential mating having the best chance of living a happy, healthy life.

During this pandemic, many planned sessions to health test or screen your dog have had to be postponed or cancelled. To support you in making alternative arrangements and adhering to government advice and best practice at all times, The Kennel Club has provided an update on each area below and will support you in getting your dog tested or screened when this is possible in line with government advice. We want to continue to encourage health testing and screening as an essential part of responsible breeding whilst keeping you and your dogs safe at this challenging time. If you have any questions or concerns relating to canine health and welfare, please send us an email.

Hips and elbows: hip and elbow dysplasia scheme (KC/BVA)

In line with the easing of lockdown restrictions across the UK, many veterinary practices are beginning to offer additional services which can be conducted in accordance with government guidance. These decisions are dependent on individual practice factors such as staffing levels, as well as the vets’ professional and clinical judgement, and we kindly ask for you to respect your vet’s clinical and professional judgement.

CHS are now able to accept and process hip and elbow dysplasia submissions and will be holding weekly scoring and grading sessions from Wednesday 8 July 2020.

Eyes: eye scheme (KC/BVA/ISDS)

As a result of the easing in restrictions, some eye panellists have restarted offering CHS eye screenings within a clinic setting. We ask for you to respect the ophthalmologist’s clinical and professional judgement and be patient during this time.

CHS eye panellists are offering eye screenings from 7 June 2020.

Unfortunately, group eye screenings are currently unable to take place due to social distancing requirements. Guidance to support these in the future will be published soon.

To support you in getting your dog tested we have organised a number of multi-breed health screening days which are being held in late 2020 and early 2021. Appointments are being looked on a first-come, first-served basis and can be booked now via our online shop. Find a health testing clinic near you.

Eye testing: additional information

Eye testing during Covid-19

The BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme is based on a clinical eye examination carried out by expert veterinary surgeons to identify inherited and non-inherited eye conditions in dogs. Making informed decisions using these results can enable breeders to reduce, or eliminate, the risk of inherited diseases appearing in future generations.

Due to Covid-19, some planned sessions to health test or screen dogs have needed to be postponed or cancelled, sometimes at short notice. Not all eye panellists are able to offer eye testing at the moment and, consequently, there is a particularly high demand for testing in some areas.

When booking a BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme examination, please ensure that you consider the following points:
  • Book your appointment well in advance. The panellist will be unable to offer eye testing at short notice due to unavailability of appointments. However, please bear in mind that rapid changes of government policy, and local conditions mean that bookings made well in advance may also need to be postponed or cancelled
  • Prioritise testing for dogs that you plan to breed from in the near future. Whilst it is important to have dogs tested to know their status and for data gathering, it may be necessary to delay some testing to free up time for more urgent cases
  • Avoid travelling too far (although this may not always be legal or possible). Travelling long distances can mean greater risks and this should be a major consideration at the current time
  • Contact breed clubs/societies and the BVA to find out about planned eye testing sessions. There may be sessions running near you that you are not currently aware of and that you may be able to participate in

Please check the latest government advice for your area and use this information to assess the risk of your individual situation. As with all aspects of life during the Covid-19 pandemic, you should follow social distancing measures when attending the appointment. There are three simple actions we must all adhere to in order to protect each other: wash hands, cover face and make space.

Please ensure you cancel your appointment as soon as possible if you experience any symptoms of coronavirus.

Please refer to this list of eye panellists currently offering eye testing. Find a health testing clinic near you. Alternatively, we would recommend contacting your local breed club for further information on future health screening sessions.

We hope you can appreciate that the eye panellists are doing their very best to balance the health and welfare of your dog with the safety of everyone involved. Please follow the BVA's advice and respect your vet, especially during this challenging time.

If you have any questions please email The Kennel Club's health team.

DNA testing (all conditions)
We anticipate that only some DNA testing will be impacted during this period. Many breeds are recommended to have DNA testing for a number of conditions, including eye conditions.

Please be aware of the latest update from the Animal Health Trust with regard to DNA testing services.

Requirements and recommendations for members of our Assured Breeders scheme

In light of the developments relating to Covid-19, our Assured Breeders scheme recognises that, in some cases, health testing may be impacted. If this is likely to affect you and your breeding plans, you will be required to email our Assured Breeders scheme team prior to the date of mating.

With regard to DNA testing, only some DNA testing will be impacted and so you should check with the DNA test provider and wherever possible this should be in place at point of registration as per requirements and recommendations.

*Timelines are provided as a guide only and may be subject to revision, in accordance with government advice and guidelines.

Hearing testing (BAER)

In line with the easing of lockdown restrictions across the UK, some clinicians are starting to offer BAER testing as long as government guidance can be adhered to. These decisions are dependent on individual practices and clinicians and we kindly ask for you to respect your clinicians' decision.

Refer to our page on BAER testing for more information or to speak to a provider for advice.

Heart testing

Under certain circumstances some heart testing clinics are offering their services, however, these decisions are dependent on individual practices and clinicians and we kindly ask for you to respect the cardiologist's decision.

To support you in getting your dog tested, we have organised a number of multi-breed health screening days which are being held in late 2020 and early 2012. Appointments are being looked on a first-come, first-served basis and can be booked now via our online shop. Find a health testing clinic near you.

For advice on heart testing, or for those with concerns, The Kennel Club is happy to support contact with a Veterinary Cardiovascular Society cardiologist for support, advice or to book a future heart testing session. Please send an email to our health team.

Respiratory Function Grading Scheme (BOAS) (The Kennel Club/University of Cambridge)

Regional approved assessors are now able to offer assessments, as long as government guidance on working safely, practice polices, and any local restrictions are adhered to. Please bear in mind that these decisions are down to the individual assessor and we kindly ask for you to respect their decision. Read more information on the Respiratory Function Grading Scheme and browse our list of regional approved assessors.

To support you in getting your dog tested we have organised a number of multi-breed health screening days which are being held in late 2020 and early 2012. Appointments are being looked on a first-come, first-served basis and can be booked now via our online shop. Find a health testing clinic near you.

Please be aware of advice and guidance on BOAS and information that supports the scheme. If you have any queries or concerns, please email our health team instead of contacting individual regional approved assessors.

What can you continue to do for dog health?

Whilst health testing and screening is difficult during this period, you can still help support your breed and contribute valuable information and data by completing our online health surveys. Health surveys enable The Kennel Club to gather data on specific conditions and the overall health of a breed. This helps us in supporting health research projects, communicating with owners in regard to the health of your breed, prioritising Kennel Club funding and resources to support tackling health problems and to work with other organisations who are looking to make an improvement in dog health.

Please check regularly for updates and to see if we have added a health survey for your breed or conditions that may affect your breed.

Your contribution to the improvement in dog health is really important and it is the small actions that will make a big difference for dogs.

We thank you all for your patience and we want you to know that we are here to support you. We will continue to update this page regularly with our most up-to-date Covid-19 guidance.