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New Microchip Laws: Information For Breeders

With the introduction of the new laws around compulsory microchipping for dogs, even some of the most exacting and well respected breeders have been left wondering about what now comes under their realms of responsibility, and what is the responsibility of the puppy’s new owner. Here we have summarised 5 of the top FAQs asked by breeders after the legislation was introduced to help you understand more about your obligations.

Who is responsible for microchipping puppies?

As a breeder, it is now your responsibility to be the first registered keeper of any puppies delivered by your dog. You must ensure that your details are registered in a government compliant microchip database, and that all pups are chipped by the time they are 8 weeks old, even if you plan on rehoming them. If you are found to not have done so, there are now applicable fines that you may face having to cough up for for each single breech of the new microchip laws.

Can’t the new owners microchip them instead?

No, it is solely your responsibility unless a relevant exemption applies (see below). No breeder or owner is now permitted by law to transfer ownership of a puppy who has not yet been microchipped. All pups of 8 weeks and over need to have a chip in place prior to sale, and the breeder’s information recorded on the chip as the dog’s first registered keeper.

Are there any exceptions to the rule?

Yes, there are two main exceptions that may apply. If the puppy is has been certified by a vet as a ‘working dog’ and had it’s tail docked, then the time limit for microchipping is extended to 12 weeks. It is still illegal for working dogs to be passed to new owners prior to being chipped though. The other exception is if a registered vet has certified that the dog is not currently well enough to be chipped without undue harm to it’s health. In these cases, a certificate will be issued by the vet stating the reason why chipping has not yet taken place, as well as containing a recommendation for a timescale in which micro chipping should be reconsidered. If this time lapses and the pet is still deemed not healthy enough to get chipped, the vet may extend the timeframe with a new certificate being issued. In these cases, breeders are allowed to pass the puppy over to their new owners, along with the relevant certificate, and it is then the new owners’ responsibility to ensure their pet is chipped by the date that is on the paperwork.

What’s the best age to microchip a litter of puppies?

Whilst there’s no definitive guide, most experts advise that microchipping should not take place before a puppy is 6 weeks old. Prior to this, they are too young and, in most cases, too small for the procedure to be appropriate. Now that there are legal requirements on breeders to get puppies microchipped prior to being 8 weeks old, there is a fine balance to be struck. We would recommend microchipping puppies at 8 weeks, just before they are rehomed.

Who can microchip puppies?

Only those who have been properly trained to implant microchips may chip puppies, although this doesn’t necessarily have to be your vet. Whilst vets are the obvious choice, there are also specialist microchip practitioners who have been trained and assessed under courses that are approved by the Secretary of State, as well as those who have had training that includes practical experience of microchipping prior to April 2016. For professional breeders, it may be worth considering attending an approved microchip course, which allows you to become a certified microchip practitioner. Once a microchipping course has been attended and you have been assessed, you will then be qualified to record and implant microchips yourself following best practices in animal welfare.