Commercial dog breeders

Six dogs playing togetherThe Victorian Government has delayed the commencement of the commercial dog breeder scheme, that was due to commence on the 10 April 2020, as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Any dog breeder who wishes to keep between 11-50 fertile female dogs on its premises was to apply for commercial dog breeder approval prior to 10 April 2020.

Due to the restrictions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19), a Governor in Council (GiC) exemption order has been put in place under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 to delay commencement of the commercial dog breeder scheme, until further notice.

With the GiC order in place, councils are permitted to renew the registration of impacted breeding domestic animal businesses (DABs) keeping more than 10 relevant fertile female dogs on their registered premises without being approved as a commercial dog breeder.

The GiC order continues the prohibition on breeding DABs acquiring any additional relevant fertile female dogs.

A relevant fertile female dog is a female dog that is over 12 months of age and hasn’t been rendered permanently infertile.

View the GiC exemption order (PDF, Gazette website) (refer to page 720) published in the Victorian Government Gazette.

To ensure sufficient time to process commercial dog breeder applications, Animal Welfare Victoria is requesting applications to be submitted as soon as possible.

How to apply or renew for commercial dog breeder approval

Commercial dog breeder approvals are valid for 12 months for the initial application and three years for renewals.

For initial applications and renewals the fee is 200 fee units ($2,962 as at 1 July 2020). Renewals must be submitted no later than 60 days before expiry of the current approval.

This is the process:

1. Register with local council to become a domestic animal business

To become an approved commercial dog breeder, businesses must apply and be registered as a breeding domestic animal business with local council. To be registered as a domestic animal business, a business must:

  • satisfy planning permit requirements and receive a planning permit, if required
  • receive an excess animal permit from their local council, if required
  • register as a domestic animal business with their local council in accordance with the Domestic Animals Act 1994 and local council requirements
  • comply with the Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing Businesses 2018

2. Application and payment for commercial dog breeder approval

After the business is registered as a domestic animal business, an application to become an approved commercial dog breeder can be made to the Minister for Agriculture. Complete the application form:

Application for approval or renewal is made via the same form.

To assist with your application, our guidance notes should be read while filling in the form. They explain each requirement in detail:

Documents that need to be included with an application include:

  • a three-year business plan that includes — the number of current and proposed employees, their roles and qualifications as well as the number of current and proposed dogs and breeds
  • education and training policy for staff and volunteers
  • health management plan for each breed of dog
  • retirement plan for each dog
  • exercise, enrichment, socialisation and handling policy
  • an agreement with a veterinary practitioner to provide veterinary services to the business
  • responsible pet ownership information, complaints procedures, returns procedure, and sales guarantee policy

A business plan template has been prepared to assist with your application:

Send completed applications by email: DAS@agriculture.vic.gov.au or post to:

Minister for Agriculture
c/- Animal Welfare Victoria, Domestic Animal Services team
475 Mickleham Road
ATTWOOD VIC 3049

The required fee is 200 fee units ($2,962 as at 1 July 2020). Applicants can pay the application fee by credit card or cheque. If emailing an application, please post credit card details or cheque to the above address or phone (03) 8377 4645 for other payment options.

3. Approval process and inspection

Animal Welfare Victoria will review applications to ensure they contain the required information, liaising with the applicant as necessary. Valid applications will then be forwarded to the Minister for Agriculture for consideration.

A property inspection by an authorised officer and in the presence of the owner will usually be conducted. Such an inspection will be requested by the Chief Veterinary Officer, who makes a recommendation to the Minister for Agriculture. Animal Welfare Victoria will contact the applicant to arrange a suitable time. The proprietor will need to make themselves available in a timely manner in order to meet the timeframe associated with the approval process.

The Minister for Agriculture will provide written notification of the outcome within 40 days of receiving the valid application and fee.

4. Eligibility

Commercial dog breeder approval may be refused if the proprietor has been found guilty of:

Commercial dog breeder approval may also be refused if:

  • the Minister for Agriculture reasonably believes that the applicant has failed to comply with the Domestic Animals Act 1994 or Domestic Animals Regulations 2015
  • the Minister for Agriculture reasonably believes that the applicant has not, or will not be able to, comply with the conditions of being an approved commercial dog breeder.

Ongoing compliance requirements for commercial dog breeders

Once approved, commercial dog breeders must follow certain procedures and meet certain requirements for ongoing compliance. These procedures and requirements include:

  • allow an authorised officer to monitor compliance on the premises (in accordance with the Domestic Animals Act 1994)
  • ensure full ongoing compliance with the Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing Businesses 2018
  • ensure that there are no more than 50 (or the approved number of) relevant fertile females on the property
  • submit an annual report each year
  • maintain public liability insurance of $10 million
  • ensure staff hold appropriate qualifications — managers must have a Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services (or equivalent) or 5 years' experience working in animal husbandry, staff with animal husbandry duties or responsibilities must have completed the Breeding Dogs and Cats in Victoria e-learning course.

Commercial dog breeder annual reporting requirements

An annual report must be submitted to the Minister for Agriculture each year and include the following information for that reporting period:

  • the number of breeding and non-breeding dogs on the premises, including breed and sex of each dog
  • the number of litters of puppies born
  • the number of puppies sold, including the breed of the puppies
  • the number of relevant fertile female dogs and all other dogs retired
  • the number of relevant fertile female dogs and all other dogs sold
  • the number of relevant fertile female dogs and all other dogs that were euthanased, or died of other causes, and the reason for the euthanasia or death
  • the number of puppies returned under the sale guarantee
  • details of the number of new staff commenced and evidence of their qualifications
  • a document that contains a summary of each complaint received regarding business practices, staff members and puppies, including a summary of the responses to those complaints
  • details of any disease outbreaks and response to the outbreak
  • the specified dog details for each dog kept on the premises
  • the details of any changes to any information provided in the business plan and attachments provided in the application
  • a copy of an agreement with a veterinary practitioner to provide veterinary services to the business if the provider has changed since giving information previously
  • a copy of the current certificate of public liability insurance for the breeding domestic animal business.

To assist commercial dog breeders, an annual report template has been prepared to help owners meet the requirements:

Annual reports are to be sent by email to DAS@agriculture.vic.gov.au or post to:

Minister for Agriculture
c/- Animal Welfare Victoria, Domestic Animal Services team
475 Mickleham Road
ATTWOOD VIC 3049

Assistance is available by contacting Animal Welfare Victoria on DAS@agriculture.vic.gov.au or calling 8377 4645.

Page last updated: 06 Jul 2020