How to become a dog breeder
If you’re someone who loves dogs and is also looking for a change of career, have you thought about becoming a breeder?
Being a dog breeder can be an incredibly rewarding job, but it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.
The role involves huge amounts of time, work and effort – you’ll need to be 100% committed to breeding safely and by the book, to ensure the health of your pooch and every litter of pups that they produce.
Before we explore what it takes to become a dog breeder, have you checked that your dog is covered with pet insurance?
Whether your hound is used for breeding or not, it’s important that you have cover in place to help with the cost of treatment if they became ill or injured, and many providers (such as the ones on Go Get It) do not cover dogs who are used for breeding.
Go Get It is the UK’s only dedicated pet insurance comparison website. Working with a carefully selected panel of pet insurers, we can help to save you time and money by comparing quotes on your behalf and finding the right policy for you.
Is dog breeding right for you?
First things first: before you take the leap into becoming a dog breeder, you need to be certain it’s the right career for you.
The Kennel Club – the UK’s leading organisation dedicated to dog welfare – has created a checklist for people who are contemplating dog breeding. Here are some of the things you should consider before you go any further:
● Can you commit the time required to raise a litter until the pups can be taken to a new home (typically around eight weeks)?
● Could you confidently offer puppy-related advice to new owners on things such as diet, training, health issues and rearing?
● Can you afford the suggested health tests for the bitch before mating her, and for her litter where necessary?
● Could you confidently help your dog during birth (known as ‘whelping’) if she needed assistance, and pay for a caesarean if she were to encounter any problems?
● Are you confident that you have the knowledge to raise the litter in the right way – for instance do you know about worming, socialisation and vaccinations?
● Could you find good homes for the puppies and could you take back and/or rehome dogs if required?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to all of the above, then you may enjoy a career as a dog breeder. As the Kennel Club points out, there are certain hallmarks of a great dog breeder:
● They give thought and consideration to things like temperament, soundness and health problems.
● They believe that every litter bred is an improvement on the parents.
● They plan out every litter in advance to ensure that every puppy is produced and bred in the best environment.
● They hold themselves fully accountable for every puppy they breed and ensure that they are always available should new owners need help, advice and information.
If you’re seriously interested in becoming a breeder, here are some things that you’ll need to consider before you can start raising puppies.
The costs involved
Before you commit to becoming a dog breeder it’s important that you’re aware of the costs involved. Pets4Homes lists what some of these are:
● Breeding stock. Pedigrees aren’t cheap and you can expect to spend a great deal more if you want to purchase a show-quality pooch. Also, some sellers charge more if they know you plan to breed from the dog and won’t be getting them neutered or spayed.
● Stud services. If you’re breeding from a bitch, you’ll either need to pay for your own male (stud) or pay fees for the right stud to father your litter. These costs can quickly mount up, especially if you need to make regular trips back and forth.
● Dog care. Whether you own the bitch or both the bitch and stud, you’ll obviously need to account for costs of their care over their lifetime – for things like food, toys, vaccinations, microchipping and pet insurance. It will amount to thousands of pounds.
● Health screening. If you want to breed your dog then you’ll need to arrange and pay for some pre-breeding health tests to be carried out.
● Mating and delivery. In some cases there could be costs if your dog was to have any troubles with mating and delivery. Issues are more common with certain breeds – for example 80% of English bulldogs need delivery by caesarean due to their large heads, while French bulldogs typically can’t even mate without assistance because of their narrow hips.
● Raising the puppies. As well the costs to feed and care for your puppies, you’ll need to pay for things like compulsory microchipping and vaccinations, and registration with the Kennel Club.
Other possible costs to consider include veterinary fees if your dog or a puppy requires a non-routine appointment, council registration, premises usage, third party liability and advertising and marketing your dog breeding business.
Joining the Assured Breeder Scheme
The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme is arguably the most recognised dog breeding scheme in the UK. It works to promote good breeding practices and is committed to working with breeders and buyers to raise healthy pups.
Joining the scheme is a great way to prove to buyers that you’re trusted and look after every dog in your care to the highest possible standards
. In return for being part of the scheme, you’ll be able to use the scheme’s literature and logo to promote your litters.
Annual membership also allows you to advertise for free on the Kennel Club’s Find a Puppy Service, which will show buyers that you’re an Assured Breeder.
Understandably, you’ll need to meet certain breeding standards in order to be a recognised member of the scheme. These include things like:
● Making sure all breeding stock is registered with the Kennel Club and providing the dog’s signed registration certificate at the time of sale.
● Prioritising the health of breeding stock and puppies and utilising health screening schemes suited to their breed.
● Allowing the breeding premises to be assessed by a qualified Kennel Club Assessor to make sure it complies with the standards of the scheme.
● Only selling puppies bred by you personally and raised in a safe environment which adheres to all requirements set out in the scheme.
● Allowing all potential buyers to see the puppies with their mother, brothers and sisters, in the environment in which they were born and bred.
Get your dog breeding licence
As the Gov.UK website states, you need to have a licence if you:
● Run a business that breeds and sells dogs.
● Breed three or more litters per year and sell any of the puppies (this changed from five to three litters as of 1st October 2019).
You’ll need to get in touch with your local council in order to obtain a licence – costs vary between councils.
Either a vet or dedicated inspector will visit your home or premises to assess your eligibility for the licence. They’ll be visiting to see that you’re taking the welfare of dogs seriously, for instance that they:
● Live in appropriate accommodation.
● Have plenty of food, water and bedding.
● Get enough exercise.
● Are transported safely and comfortably.
● Are protected in the event of things like the spread of disease, fire or another emergency.
If they are confident that you are taking good care of your dogs then they will issue you a licence which, in most cases, will be valid for one year.
If you’re going to continue being a breeder after this time then you’ll need to renew your licence.
Changes to regulations
New regulations came into place in October 2019 that affect breeding in England, with no changes to legislation in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
As well as changes to the licensing requirements mentioned above, a star rating system was introduced.
This is designed to reward high-performing dog breeders and assist buyers in making informed decisions about the breeders they choose to purchase puppies from.
Breeders with a five-star rating receive a three-year licence, will pay less and will be inspected less frequently, while breeders at the other end of the scale will pay more for their licence and be inspected on a more regular basis.
There was also new regulation related to risk rating, where the breeder’s compliance history is evaluated to determine whether they’re a low or high-risk operator. Of course, if you’re just starting out as a breeder then this won’t apply to you.
Before and after whelping and breeding
Before you begin breeding your bitch, the Kennel Club states there are a number of things you need to do (if you haven’t already):
● Get the dog transferred into your ownership.
● Microchip and DNA profile the dog if necessary.
● Talk to the breeder of your dog (if buying a bitch) as they may have some useful information to pass on to you.
● Get yourself a Kennel Name (an exclusive word or phrase associated with your and your dogs).
● Make sure that your dog’s records don’t include a breeding endorsement.
● Get all necessary health checks carried out, including elbow grading and hip scoring.
● Make sure the hound is healthy and right for breeding (i.e. that it has a good temperament).
● Make sure the health of your stud is good.
Before whelping, you’ll need to plan what facilities are most appropriate, for instance by sorting out bedding and designating a safe and comfortable space for your bitch to give birth.
You’ll also need to make sure you have all the right equipment to deal with the birth of the litter, as well as tell your vet when the dog is due and have their contact details to hand just in case.
When the litter of puppies have been delivered, then you’ll need to register the pups with the Kennel Club – it’s best if you can do this as soon as possible so that you can give new owners the registration certificate when they pick their puppy up from you. You’ll also need to:
● Advertise your puppies for sale – for instance on the Kennel Club’s Find a Puppy service.
● Make sure all puppies are sold with a puppy contract.
● Make sure you your puppies are microchipped before going to their new home.
If you’re after any more information on dog breeding – for instance on using your stud for breeding or on DNA profiling and parentage analysis – your best bet is to check the Kennel Club’s thorough guide.
Pet insurance from Go Get It
The Go Get It team are passionate about dogs and are committed to helping owners protect their pets with cover, for a price that’s right.
The leading pet insurers we work with offer different levels of cover for you to choose from. Look for these when running a pet insurance comparison:
● Accidently Only – which covers vet fees for unexpected injuries. These policies are suited to pet owners who wish to cover accidents and injuries only.
● Time Limited – where new conditions are covered for a year. These policies suit owners looking to cover the cost of veterinary treatment for a year each illness or injury.
● Maximum Benefit – means there’s no time limit for new conditions during the policy. These are for owners who want to cover the cost of any veterinary treatment up to a set limit for each illness or accident.
● Lifetime Cover – which covers new conditions including at renewal. These policies are for owners who want total peace of mind that continuing costs of any veterinary treatment for illnesses and injuries are covered during the pet’s lifetime.
If you take out a policy with Go Get It you’ll enjoy a whole host of benefits such as:
● No upper age limit
● Puppy cover from eight weeks
● Multi-pet discounts offered on many policies
● Cover from £1,000 up to £15,000 per year
● Emergency boarding
● Complementary medicine
● Special diets
● Third party legal liability up to £2m