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

Please regularly check the latest Government advice for your local area and region. It is important that you follow the relevant Government guidance and assess your own situation based on this information.

Find your nation’s Covid-19 guidance below:

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 guidance for families visiting?

Depending on where you are in the UK, it’s likely that it’s not possible for potential owners to visit a litter to view a puppy with their mother. You can keep in contact with and update new owners by phone, email, video calls and sending photos.
It is vital that you follow any restrictions which apply in your area, which may include not travelling out of your area and not mixing households indoors. Please check which restrictions apply to you by following the links at the top of this page and assess your own situation based on this information.

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

As a priority, we must all be following the relevant Covid-19 Government measures. Currently restrictions on non-essential travel apply across most of the UK. These vary by nation and we strongly recommend you check the guidance for your area, via the links at the top of this page, before planning or proceeding with getting puppies to their new homes.

As of 6 January 2021, guidance for each nation is as follows:

  • England – For those who are in the business of breeding, then it is allowed within the regulations to leave home to travel for the purposes of work, as long as social distancing and hygiene requirements are adhered to when taking puppies to their new homes. The use of a commercial transporter licensed for dogs may also be considered by breeders who are not considered a ‘business’. Where this is not possible, and it is reasonably necessary for the pet’s welfare, a new owner may collect the puppy. A puppy should be collected by appointment only. Further information and advice for those in England can be found on the government website.  
  • Wales – Puppies cannot be collected by new owners. For those who are in the business of breeding, then it may be permissible to deliver puppies to new owners. The use of a commercial transporter licensed for dogs may also be considered by breeders who are not considered a ‘business’.
  • Scotland – For those who are in the business of breeding, then it is allowed within the regulations to travel if necessary for work purposes. The use of a commercial transporter licensed for dogs may also be considered by breeders who are not considered a ‘business’. The collection of a puppy or kitten from a breeder is subject to the advice and rules on travel. The guidance states that travel for essential animal welfare reasons is permitted. Collection of a puppy is therefore permitted if it is essential for the animal’s welfare that they be moved from the breeder’s premises
  • Northern Ireland – You must not leave, or be outside of your home without reasonable excuse. Guidance states that you are able to leave your house for to attend to the care of an animal. For those who are in the business of breeding, then it is allowed within the regulations to leave your house to travel for the purposes of work as long as you adhere to social distancing and hygiene requirements when taking puppies to their new homes. The use of a commercial transporter licensed for dogs may also be considered by breeders who are not considered a ‘business’.

The Kennel Club and other animal welfare experts have produced further short-term emergency advice specifically for breeders and others involved in pet businesses in England. This includes advice on how to safely transport puppies at this time.

It is important to note that all other existing legal obligations still apply, including 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?

While social distancing and local area restrictions may impact your ability to socialise your puppies, here are some practical tips for you to follow at home:

  • Play different sounds to them via your phone or computer, such as traffic noises, dog barks, other animal noises, and anything else which your pup may 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. Ensure you do this at a safe social distance from people in other households that may be nearby
  • Get them used to different environments and everyday situations where you can. For example, vacuum 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?

We strongly advise that customers use online methods where possible, as there may be unavoidable delays to postal applications and during lockdown, our offices are closed and will not be able to receive or process postal litter registrations.

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

Any breeding decisions needs to be based on your individual situation and risk assessment of this. Things to consider may include the difficulties around socialising puppies in the current climate, the possibility of you becoming unwell and being unable to care for your puppies, and whether local restrictions will prevent you from accessing health screening for dogs, the vet and dealing with prospective owners responsibly.

Depending on how the situation evolves, please 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 as needed during uncertain times and changing government restrictions.

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

Please follow general Government guidance on keeping yourself safe during the pandemic and any restrictions which may apply in your area. If you are showing symptoms of the virus, please follow your nation’s advice regarding self-isolating – the links to which can be found at the top of this page.

The Government advises those symptomatic and self-isolating to avoid physical contact with their dogs and/or puppies – as hard as it may be. If you live alone and are required to self-isolate, you may be required to ask a friend, family member or professional to care for your dogs and/or puppies for you. If you cannot do this, ensure that you have an adequate amount of dog food/necessary medical supplies at home.

If you have puppies but are feeling well, please take extra hygiene precautions - 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 for 20 seconds after touching them, preparing their food, and cleaning their sleeping and toileting area. Ensure that anyone in your household follows these measures when you are rearing puppies.

Keep your puppies mentally and physically active - start training early, play games, and let your puppies socialise with each other in the home and outside, 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.

Please use the links at the top of the page to check the restrictions and follow the guidance which applies in your local area/nation.

What should I do if I need to get my puppies vaccinated or microchipped?

Whether vaccinations or microchipping proceed will depend on current Government guidance and any restrictions which apply in your area. We advise you to check the guidance for your local area using the links at the top of the page prior to contacting your local vet or qualified microchip implanter.

Vets are currently risk assessing each case to decide when vaccinations need to go ahead. Such assessments vary depending on which nation you live in and what restrictions apply to your local area or region. When attending the vet, it is vital you follow guidance regarding wearing a mask and maintaining social distance for both your safety and the safety of others.

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 if you are showing symptoms, or are vulnerable or elderly. It is essential that you follow government guidelines when handing over your dog, such as maintaining social distance measures, washing your hands before and after, and wearing a mask.

Further government guidelines on how to safely help others during the pandemic can be found on the government website.

The Kennel Club Assured Breeders FAQs

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.

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.

Requirements and recommendations for members of our Assured Breeders scheme

In accordance with ongoing restrictions relating to Covid-19 and the inability for some breeders to get health tests conducted, we have extended the current grace period for any new Assured Breeder scheme requirements introduced at the end of May 2020, for a further six months, so these will not come in to effect until 1 July 2021.

Can I use overseas health schemes?
As a result of current delays in the processing of submissions to the BVA/The Kennel Club health schemes, we are reminding assured breeders that we will accept results from similar overseas health schemes where applicable.

Results that are submitted from overseas tests in place of the BVA/The Kennel Club scheme will be recorded as a note on the dogs record. Please note however, that this information will not be publicly available, and will be checked manually for compliance at the point of registration.

Once government restrictions are lifted and normal activity resumes, The Kennel Club guidance will remain that breeders should use the BVA/The Kennel Club scheme, where possible to do so.

Assured breeders wishing to submit results should email these through to the health results team.
Are assessment visits taking place?

It is not currently possible for Assessors to visit breeders premises, however, assessments are being conducted remotely, where possible to do so. 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 with you about this. For any queries relating to assessment visits, please email us.

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.

Can I still apply to join the Assured Breeders scheme?

It is now possible to submit your application to join the Assured Breeders scheme

Once your application has been received, one of the team will be in touch regarding the next steps for progressing your application.

Please note that there may be delays in processing your application due to an increase in demand, however, we will aim to deal with priority cases as quickly as possible.

What happens to my payment if my application is 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

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.

With Covid-19 restrictions now in place across the UK, at this time many planned sessions to health test or screen your dog may 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 you with 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 at any time relating to canine health and welfare, please send us an email.

Customers wanting to have dogs screened during the current lockdown

For those customers intending to have dogs screened using the canine health schemes (CHS) during the current lockdown, we wish to draw your attention to the latest guidance provided by British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) relating to veterinary treatment during this period which clearly advises veterinary professionals to only carry out work that is essential for public health and animal health and welfare, in the context of the very strong ‘stay at home’ messages from government.

In a joint statement BVA and RCVS said:

“We recognise that this continues to be a very challenging and difficult time for our colleagues, and we want to thank veterinary teams across the UK for continuing to work safely so that we can all play our part in stopping the spread of Covid.

“Once again we thank animal owners for their understanding and ask them to continue to respect their vets’ decisions at this time. The range of services available will vary between practices so that vets can work in Covid-safe ways to keep their colleagues and clients safe.”

We therefore suggest that all owners consult their vet in the first instance to ask whether screening is available at this time and further to consider their personal safety and the safety of others when making decisions if screening is appropriate for their dogs and personal circumstances.

The Kennel Club and BVA ask for all owners and breeders to respect your vet’s judgement at this time if screening is not available to you during the current national lockdown. This applies to all canine health schemes that require travel and contact with others at a time of very strong ‘stay at home’ guidance from the government.

The Kennel Club is happy to offer support and advice to all owners wishing to plan a litter of puppies and consider appropriate health screening including use of CHS, for more information, support or advice please email Health. For further information please visit the BVA website.

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

The BVA team administer the hip and elbow dysplasia scheme and are now working from home and so the processing and scoring of hip and elbow submissions have unavoidably been affected. Online submissions will continue to be processed and scored, however, due to limitations with online scoring there will be a reduced capacity for scoring. Postal submissions can continue to be processed, however, these are unable to be scored during the national lockdown and will be allocated to an in-person scoring session once government restrictions allow. Unfortunately, these changes will considerably impact turnaround times and regrettably the BVA processing team are unable to estimate turnaround times until their office reopens. The Kennel Club and the BVA ask for your patience during this period.

All veterinary practices will be operating at a reduced capacity as they also take steps to protect the health of their staff.  This may mean they are unable to provide a radiography service for hip and elbow dysplasia submissions at this time, so please be prepared to reschedule radiographs if necessary.

Hips and elbows: Customers waiting for results for dogs screened pre-January 2021

As of 5 January 2021 England entered a third lockdown since the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic. This means that unfortunately the processing of results for the British Veterinary Association/ Kennel Club hip and elbow schemes are being continually impacted. This is due to the quality and consistency measures of scoring and grading for the schemes, which require two scrutineers and members of the BVA canine health schemes (CHS) team to travel into central London to undertake scoring sessions in Covid secure conditions. It is essential to the efficacy of the scheme that this process is upheld at this time even given the logistical challenges that the pandemic presents. Changes to the process are being considered and trialled, but will only be implemented once the existing quality and consistency standards for the scheme are met.  It is essential that The Kennel Club and BVA maintain the integrity of CHS which has been in operation for 65 years.

Furthermore BVA has to ensure the safety of its staff and of the scrutineers when co-ordinating the sessions. Due to Covid restrictions a number of sessions have had to be postponed and rescheduled and we hope that customers of the scheme will respect that delays have been caused by the unprecedented circumstances we are now all trying to work and operate within.

The following actions are now being taken to ensure that customers receive results from screening at the earliest possible opportunity;

  • The BVA premises in London will remain open for scoring sessions each week during the current lockdown.
  • Increasing the number of scoring sessions taking place.
  • Increasing the number of X-rays scored at each scoring session.

It is hoped that these actions will enable a return to normal turnaround times by Spring 2021.

We hope that customers will be reassured by our continued commitment to ensuring they receive their results whilst we also maintain the integrity of the schemes and the service provided. We ask for customers to be respectful and patient with CHS team members during this extremely challenging time for us all. Abusive behaviour towards the staff will not be tolerated.

Eyes: eye scheme (KC/BVA/ISDS)

Some of the BVA/KC Canine Health Scheme eye panellists may be able to offer eye screenings as long as government guidance on working safely, practice polices, and any local restrictions are adhered to. However, although members of the public are permitted to travel to access veterinary services, the overall message of the national lockdown in England is to stay at home. Veterinary professionals are required to exercise clinical and professional judgement to assess and triage essential animal health and welfare needs in the context of the lockdown and we are asking all animal owners and breeders to respect their vets’ judgement and be patient during this time.

In England, under the new guidance for the national lockdown, group screening cannot take place and all sessions due to be held during this period will unfortunately be postponed or cancelled. In Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales (after the firebreak lockdown), group screening can go ahead.

You can find a list of CHS eye panellists offering testing on the BVA website. 

Eye testing: additional information

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 Health (The Kennel Club).

 

DNA testing (all conditions)
We do not anticipate that DNA testing will be impacted during this period. Many breeds are recommended to have DNA testing for a number of conditions, including eye conditions. To find your breed bundle or more information on the DNA tests The Kennel Club recommend for your breed, please use the links provided below;
Hearing testing (BAER)

Some BAER providers may be able to provide this service as long as government guidance on working safely, practice polices, and any local restrictions are adhered to. However, although members of the public are permitted to travel to access veterinary services, the overall message of the national lockdown in England is to stay at home. Veterinary professionals are required to exercise clinical and professional judgement to assess and triage essential animal health and welfare needs in the context of the lockdown and we are asking all animal owners and breeders to respect their vets’ judgement and be patient during this time.

Find out more about future appointments or how to speak to a BAER provider.

Heart testing

Under certain circumstances some heart testing clinics may continue but please bear in mind that non-essential appointments should not continue and heart testing for pre-breeding screening may be cancelled or rescheduled. Veterinary professionals are required to exercise clinical and professional judgement to assess and triage essential animal health and welfare needs in the context of the lockdown and we are asking all animal owners and breeders to respect their vets’ judgement and be patient during this time.

For advice or concerns regarding heart testing, The Kennel Club can support contact with a Veterinary Cardiovascular Society cardiologist for support, advice or to book a future heart testing session.

Please email Health (The Kennel Club).

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

The Kennel Club administers the scheme and due to the nature of our respiratory function grading scheme assessments, they should not take place in line with current government advice, to ensure we keep assessors, owners and their dogs safe during this challenging period. Please be aware of advice and guidance on BOAS and information that supports the scheme and please email Health (The Kennel Club).

 

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.