Regulations for dog breeders
Dog breeding enterprises are often referred to in the community as "Puppy farms".
Government Laws regarding the management of dog breeding establishments apply to many smaller scale dog breeders as well as large commercial breeders.
Definition of a Breeding Domestic Animal Business?
The definition of a breeding establishment was changed in January 2012, to maximize the number of breeders required to register with local councils and comply with the mandatory Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing Businesses (Revision 1). Registration enables councils to inspect businesses regularly, to ensure they meet the minimum standards for animal welfare outlined in the Code.
The law requires breeders to register as a breeding domestic animal business if they have three or more fertile female dogs AND they sell dogs (whether a profit is made or not).
This does not affect the number of desexed animals an owner may have (as long as owners comply with any local council requirements regarding excess animal permits)
The exemption for this registration as a domestic animal business is if the breeder belongs to an applicable breeding organisation that requires its members to operate in accordance with a Code of Ethics. View a list of current applicable organisations.
Breeders who belong to one of these organizations will be regarded as domestic animal businesses, and required to register with their local council, if they have 10 or more fertile female dogs.
Change to definition of domestic animal breeding business effective April 11, 2015
This change reduces the exemptions from regulations for small breeders who belong to specific applicable organisations who are breeding and selling dogs or cats and have 3 or more, but less than 10, fertile female dogs. The change means that they are only exempt from the requirement to register as a domestic animal business (DAB), and from complying with the mandatory Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing Businesses, if they have less than 10 animals and no more than 2 are not registered with an AO.
- 3 fertile females – at least 1 must be registered with AO
- 4 fertile females – at least 2 must be registered with AO
- 5 fertile females – at least 3 must be registered with AO
- 6 fertile females – at least 4 must be registered with AO
- 7 fertile females – at least 5 must be registered with AO
- 8 fertile females – at least 6 must be registered with AO
- 9 fertile females – at least 7 must be registered with AO
More than 9 fertile females, or more than 2 NOT registered with an AO, means the business will be regarded as a DAB and must register with council and comply with the mandatory breeding code.
In 2012 the Government significantly increased penalties associated with breeding establishment offences. Under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (DAA), breeding and rearing businesses that are not registered as a domestic animal business (DAB) with their council, can be fined to a maximum penalty of $88,566. A domestic animal business not operating in line with the relevant mandatory Code of Practice can be fined to a maximum penalty of $88,566.
In relation to acts of cruelty towards animals, the maximum penalty for cruelty is $88,566 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA), with possible jail time of up to 12 months. The penalty for aggravated cruelty is double the above penalty and jail time.
The courts are able to ban illegal operators from participating in the breeding industry; as well as keeping, selling, owning or caring for cats or dogs for up to 10 years.
Penalty units (1 penalty unit = $147.61)
Offence amount (until 30 June 2015)
Domestic Animals Act 1994 (DAA)
Non registration of domestic animal business (body corporate)
Up to 600
Up to $88,566
Non compliance with code of practice (body corporate)
Up to 600
Up to $88,566
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA)
Up to 600
Up to $88,566
Up to 12 months
Up to 1200
Up to $177,132
Up to 2 years
Seizure of animals for non-compliance
In response to council calls for increased powers to deal with puppy farms, the legislation has been amended to give councils and RSPCA inspectors the ability to apply for court orders to seize animals from non-compliant and unregistered breeding premises.
Microchip numbers and advertisements
To allow traceability of sellers of pets, it is an offence to advertise the sale of a dog or cat unless the microchip identification number of the animal is included in the advertisement or notice.
A registered domestic animal business may use its Council business registration number as an alternative.
For information on:
- planning permits for use of premises for dog breeding;
- registration of commercial dog breeding establishments;
- registration of the individual dogs in commercial breeding establishments;
please contact your local council.