Legislative Action Center

New in the GR Toolbox: Understanding USDA Dog Breeder Licensing
March 24, 2022 by AKC Government Relations

Many of the bills in Congress that impact dog breeding or breeders relate specifically to the U.S. Animal Welfare Act (AWA).   

The AWA requires licensing and inspection of certain individuals who breed and sell (transfer) pets, including dogs. The AWA is administered by the Animal Care Division of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is a part of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

Congressional canine bills often reference commercial breeders or large-scale breeders, or even the pejorative term “puppy mills”, and seek to make changes to requirements in the AWA. However, the AWA also impacts small specialty breeders, hobby breeders, and breeders who provide rescue services who typically do not fit the common conception of a large-scale breeding facility. 

AWA regulations identify which dog breeders (among others) are subject to federal licensing and inspection, and it includes a lot more hobby breeders than you might think! For example, if you have more than four small mammals (any combination of rabbits, hamsters, cats, dogs, etc.) that are female and capable of breeding, and you sell one offspring of those animals sight-unseen for a pet, you are likely subject to one-size-fits-all USDA licensing and inspections that were designed for high-volume commercial kennels, even if you are a hobbyist. 

The newly-updated resource, Understanding USDA Dog Breeder Licensing, is designed to help educate breeders and the public about who is subject to USDA breeder licensing requirements.  Visit the Breeding Regulations and Restrictions key issue page to learn more.       

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