Puppy Farming - what the KC does

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 address.

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 litters.

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

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