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.
If breeders who belong to one of these organisations and have 11 or more fertile females, they will be required to register with their local council as a domestic animal business and apply to the Minister for Agriculture for Commercial Dog Breeding approval.
In 2012 the Government significantly increased penalties associated with breeding establishment offences. Under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, 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 $99,330 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986), 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.
Domestic Animals Act 1994 (DAA)
|Offence||Penalty units (1 penalty unit = $165.22)||Offence amount (until 30 June 2020)||Jail time|
|Non registration of domestic animal business (body corporate)||Up to 600||Up to $99,330||N/A|
|Non compliance with code of practice (body corporate)||Up to 600||Up to $99,330||N/A|
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA)
|Offence|| Penalty units |
(1 penalty unit = $165.22)
| Offence amount |
(until 30 June 2020)
|Up to 600||Up to $99,330||Up to 12 months|
|Up to 1200||Up to $198,600||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 and source number from the Pet Exchange Register is included in the advertisement or notice.
Please contact your local council for more 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.
Animal Welfare – It's your duty to care.