In the The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 the requirements for dog breeding to be licensable are:


Breeding dogs

  1. Either or both of the following—

(a)breeding three or more litters of puppies in any 12-month period;

(b)breeding dogs and advertising a business of selling dogs.

Concerning 8 (b), is there a difference between advertising a product and advertising a business? From a pure english reading of this, one could say that an advert saying "Come buy a puppy from a specific litter ready at date X from location Y" is advertising a product but "Come buy a puppy from location Y, we have the best puppies" is advertising a business, but this seems a pretty fine line on which to base the licensability of activities upon.

How should this wording be interpreted in respect of how one could advertise the availability of puppies without requiring one to get a licence?

  • People buy and sell things privately all the time without operating a "business". Curious that the definition does say "either", which leaves things open to interpretation of what frequency might cause someone to presume you are in the business of breeding dogs, but if it's just one litter I can't imagine anyone needing a business license to sell your puppies. Oct 23, 2023 at 19:47
  • @MichaelHall Indeed. However the question "Is this comercial practice a business" is a difficult one. It seems from this rule that as long as you do not "advertise a business of selling dogs" it does not matter if you are operating a business. It is worth noting that with some cross breeds going for £1-2k/puppy two litters can be a substantial amount of money.
    – User65535
    Oct 23, 2023 at 19:58
  • I agree, and the regulation is very poorly written. Because really, (in my opinion...) a proper "business" doesn't truly exist until named and established as a legal entity via issuance of a license. Prior to that it is just an individual person selling puppies, and if you advertise the puppies as such you cannot be said to be advertising a business. Anyway, I look forward to seeing a useful answer and will delete these comments if you like once I know you have read this. Oct 23, 2023 at 20:33

2 Answers 2


Advertising by a business of their product is "advertising a business."

For HMCR, there is a bright line - if your activities earn more than £1,000 a year, you're running a business for tax purposes. It's also the point at which you are required to register. The court is likely to consider that to be persuasive but not determinative and will assess all aspects of the dog-breeding activity to determine if it is a business or a hobby.

Note that selling goods on a one-off or irregular basis (such as selling the puppies your pet dog had after getting busy) is neither a hobby or a business. Unless and until you do it regularly enough.

  • 1
    I am not sure how the two paragraphs are consistent? If I sell five puppies for £1-2k each (which seems to be the going rate) I am well over over the HMCR bright line. If the activity needs to be regular that is very different from "a bright line" in my interpretation.
    – User65535
    Oct 25, 2023 at 5:33
  • I agree with your comment and would like to see a more definitive answer. That said, if your puppies are worth £2000 each, one litter might be a mistake, but two is definitely a business. Get your dog spayed, or suck it up and get a business license! Oct 25, 2023 at 16:50

You need to look at SCHEDULE 1, PART 1 which basically says it is business if you make a profit.


Business test

  1. The circumstances which a local authority must take into account in determining whether an activity is being carried on in the course of a business for the purposes of this Schedule include, for example, whether the operator—

(a)makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit, or

(b)earns any commission or fee from the activity.

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