Breeder assessment visits

Labrador asleep with a small house sat beside them

The purpose of visiting breeders is simply to ensure compliance of the scheme's rules, to offer information on how the scheme can benefit the breeder and to give an opportunity to discuss any issues face to face with one of our regional breeder assessors (RBAs). 

Upon joining the scheme every assured breeder agrees to allow an assessor access to visit their premises.

Who are the RBAs?

The RBAs are highly experienced in many aspects of dog breeding. Most of them are experienced dog breeders themselves, and will have a good understanding of the issues and problems faced by breeders. 

The RBAs are highly trained in the visit process and will have usually seen a variety of different circumstances. The scheme is open to all responsible breeders, whether they are an owner with a single animal that they plan to breed with or whether they have kennels with perhaps 50 dogs or more. While no two visits or circumstances are the same, the standards applied remain so. 

The RBAs are highly experienced in many aspects of dog breeding, whether the breeders specialise in breeding for shows, working activities or just for family pets. Most of them are experienced dog breeders themselves.

Every member of the scheme will be visited and inspected by The Kennel Club at least once every three years. We are a UKAS certification body and as such are able to offer UKAS certificates to our assured breeders. Certificated members are indicated on the list of assured breeders and every new applicant to the scheme will have undergone a successful visit prior to acceptance.

How does the visit work?

Learn more about what you can expect and what paperwork you'll need to prepare.

Before the visit

The RBA (not the office staff) will contact the breeder directly to arrange a visit date that is mutually convenient to both. An email confirming the agreed visit date will be sent to the breeder by the office and will also outline what will be expected from the visit.

Once an appointment is made, we do expect that appointment to be kept, and we do not accept cancellations. However we do understand that under exceptional circumstances an appointment may need to be postponed, and in these cases we would expect the breeder to contact us as soon as possible to provide alternative dates.

During the visit

Visits normally take between one to two hours, depending on the size of your premises, how many dogs you have and what facilities are available. 

Upon arrival, the RBA will show their identification from The Kennel Club. The RBA will wish to discuss two main areas:

  • canine management and facilities
  • paperwork and documentation

The first part of the visit consists of a discussion to understand your breeding practices. You'll be asked questions to confirm that the records we hold are correct. The RBA will want to know how many dogs you have, where they live and sleep and what your daily routine is. They will also ask questions about where you store your dog food, where it is prepared and what you feed them. You'll also be asked about your plans in case of a fire or an emergency and who could look after the dogs if something unforeseen happened to you.

Canine management and facilities

Next, the RBA will want to see where and how the dogs are kept. We recognise that many of our breeders breed dogs within their own home where the dogs live as family pets and have no special facilities. Nevertheless the RBA will want to see where they live, sleep and exercise and to see that they are happy and content.

This means ensuring that:

  • dogs are housed in clean and comfortable conditions with adequate heat and ventilation, with particular regard to the animals' health, age and breed
  • dogs are provided with suitable and adequate food, drink and clean bedding
  • dogs are exercised and visited at suitable intervals to ensure their physical and mental well-being, and are in the care or supervision of a fit and responsible person
  • dogs are kept in a secure and safe environment and provided with sufficient space proportionate to the number of dogs kept
  • facilities for the keeping of dogs are suitable and maintained in a good state of repair
  • dogs receive adequate grooming and veterinary treatment
  • reasonable emergency procedures are in place and that reasonable precautions are taken to prevent the spread of infectious or contagious diseases

The RBA will want to see the paperwork and/or the puppy pack that is given to a new owner. We often advise breeders to imagine that the RBA is a puppy buyer and they will need to take copies of the paperwork that is given with the puppy. This should include a contract of sale as well as information on:

  • feeding
  • exercise
  • worming and vaccinations
  • grooming
  • breed features and characteristics
  • socialisation
  • training

We offer guidance on paperwork for assured breeders.

During this discussion, the RBA will also want to see how the breeder keeps their breeding records. This will of course vary from breeder to breeder and there are no set requirements for how records are kept. However the RBA will want to be assured that they are at least clear and identifiable and provide an insight into the breeder's record keeping.

Once the visit is completed, the RBA may discuss any concerns they have and will be pleased to answer any questions that you have about the visit process.

After the visit

Afterwards, the RBA will complete a written report and return this to the office. It will be assessed and a copy of the report will be sent to the breeder, along with confirmation of the outcome of the visit. The report is confidential and remains a matter between the breeder and The Kennel Club.

It is very important that if there are any errors or omissions at this stage, that the breeder contacts the office in writing to ensure that they are corrected.

In some cases there may be some further actions that the breeder needs to take to continue their scheme membership. These will be detailed on an improvements sheet, which may list immediate improvements that need to be made or simply suggestions based on good practice.

If improvements are required and it is considered that the facilities fall short of the standards expected for an assured breeder, then a reasonable period of time will usually be given for the breeder to make the improvements (usually 30 days).

Once those improvements have been made, we request that the breeders provide evidence that they have made the necessary improvements required. This may simply be amended paperwork or submitting evidence such as photographs of repairs to kennels, for example. In some cases we may require a further visit to be carried out to verify that the improvements have been adequately met.

The visit process is a cornerstone of the Assured Breeders scheme and provides absolute assurance that breeders of the scheme are adopting all our principles of responsible breeding. The majority of visits are successful and most breeders find them a highly enjoyable and rewarding experience. Even those that find they need to make amendments or additions to their paperwork or canine management find the changes are easy to make and truly worthwhile. If a breeder disagrees with the findings of the RBA, there is an appeals process which may result is a second opinion.

It should be remembered that the breeder assessment visit should be an enjoyable, beneficial experience. It's an important link between us and our scheme members.

Regional breeder assessors

The following regional breeder assessors have been trained to formally assess assured breeders and are managed by Liz Wharton, the Assured Breeders Scheme Manager, and supported by Caron Bell as RBA Team Leader, in addition to covering her own area. Regular training is undertaken with the RBA team, including formal sessions and ongoing assessment and review.
  • Helen Reaney (Midlands)
  • Tania Gardner (North East)
  • Stella Coombes (East Anglia)
  • Elaine Cowling (East Riding)
  • Caron Bell (North)
  • Susan Jeffreys-Cleaver (South Wales)
  • Ruth Turner (South)
  • Jane Dean (South East)

All current regional breeder assessors have passed an initial assessment and receive continual training and assessment throughout the year. The training and assessment processes are carried out to standards audited by UKAS as part of the certification process.

If you would like to contact any of the breeder assessors, please email the assured breeder team.