Dog breeders have been warned of the rules surrounding their puppy litters – and of the hefty fines and jail times that they could face if they break them.

During the pandemic, there was a massive surge in the demand for dogs, as people did not want to stay in lockdown alone.

Because of the rise in demand, the prices for puppies have skyrocketed, resulting in many people enquiring about breeding dogs themselves.

However, there are many rules that people need to follow when breeding dogs, breaking them could lead to some serious consequences, including a sentence of up to six months in jail, WalesOnline reports.

Government figures indicate 560,000 puppies are born in England each year, and according to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, 88% are born to unlicensed breeders.

Becoming a licenced breeder means proving the puppies are well cared for and happy, and without the licence, breeders across the country are selling dogs from unsuitable premises and separating puppies from their mothers before they are ready.

So if you’re looking to breed your dog, or your pet has got pregnant and you’re not sure what to do, here’s advice on who needs a breeding licence and how you can get one.

Do I need a breeding licence?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you’ll need a breeding licence if you run a business that breeds or advertises dogs for sale, or if you breed three or more litters in a year and sell any of the puppies. In Scotland, it’s five or more litters.

Your local council will be able to tell you more about costs and details, but your licence will either be valid for one, two, or three years.

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Basically, if your dog gets pregnant once or twice you won’t have to worry about a breeding licence, but if it happens three times in a year, or if you advertise the puppies for sale, you’ll need a licence to ensure the dog and puppies’ welfare.

The Government website explains: “You must prove that you can meet the licence conditions.

“These include showing that the dogs are – kept in suitable accommodation, provided with adequate food, drink and bedding, exercised regularly, transported in safe and comfortable conditions, protected in case of an emergency, like a fire, and protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease.”

It’s important to get a licence not only to keep tabs on the dogs’ welfare, but also as the council may be able to advise you on how best to take care of the puppies if you are inexperienced.

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Be aware that puppies should never be separated from their mothers until they are at least eight weeks old.

Vet4Life has tips on caring for a pregnant doghere .

What happens if I breed dogs without a licence?

If you or a business breeds dogs without a licence, you could go to prison for up to six months, or get an unlimited fine.

You could also get an unlimited fine if you break the conditions of your licence.

So if your dog or another in your household gets accidentally pregnant twice in one year and you’ve sold the puppies, then it’s best to get them spayed, or look into getting a breeding licence, as one more litter in a year could get you into trouble.

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