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The Law & You

As well as complying with Dogs Victoria’s Constitution, Rules and Regulations, Codes, Policies & Procedures, members must also be aware of their responsibilities under state and local laws. While these laws apply to all dog breeders, Dogs Victoria members are required to comply with all codes, regulations and laws as a condition of membership. Failure to do so may result in the suspension or expulsion from Dogs Victoria.

State Legislation

Dog owners in Victoria must comply with:

  • The Domestic Animals Act 1994
  • The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986
  • The Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Dogs

These laws and your local council by-laws will relate to minimum standards in the keeping of dogs, animal welfare and the prevention of cruelty, the number of dogs you may have on your property, their registration requirements and the maximum number of fertile female dogs that can be kept.

Dogs Victoria members who are registered breeders must comply with these and other laws relating to breeding and keeping to dogs, regardless of how often you breed. These include:

  • The Domestic Animals Act 1994 s5A Applicable organisations and recognised organisations
  • Code of Practice for the Breeding of Animals with Heritable Defects that Cause Disease

In 2017 the Domestic Animals Act was amended by the Victorian Government with new provisions around the breeding and selling of domestic animals.  These wide changing provisions make it   illegal for pet shops to source and sell puppies and kittens, unless they are from an approved shelter, rescue or pound.  It also places restrictions on the commercial breeding of dogs and cats and increases powers for statutory authorities and police that are investigating animal cruelty and welfare cases.  A short summary on the most relevant changes for Dogs Victoria members is provided below. 

Applicable Organisation Status

Dogs Victoria is the only Applicable Organisation (AO) for pedigree dogs in Victoria.  Our AO status allows members to have a number of important exemptions (in terms of breeding and keeping of entire dogs) and substantial discounts for council animal registration.

The changes to the Act have clarified the processes for organisations to apply for AO status and for renewal. In addition, the Act outlines in more detail the obligations on AOs in order to keep their status, including reporting on compliance measures in order to keep AO’s self-regulatory status. AOs are expected to ensure members meet high standards for the breeding and keeping of domestic animals, in exchange for the important exemptions for members.

Numbers of permitted fertile females for breeders

Under the changes to the Act, Dogs Victoria breeders (as members of an AO) may keep up to 10 (ten) fertile females.  Any more than this, and the breeder must apply for approval as a Domestic Animal Business (DAB) with the local council as well as for Commercial Breeder status from the State Government (through the Department).  Commercial Breeders are to be capped at 50 fertile females and must comply with Victorian Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing Establishments, as well as new provisions within the Act and in Guidelines and Codes to be set by the Minister. The cap will apply to any new applications from 2018, but existing Commercial Breeders have until 10 April 2020 to reduce numbers.

Non AO members who breed dogs or cats may have up to 2 (two) fertile females before being required to apply for DAB and Commercial Breeder status.

It is important to note that these numbers are a cap set by the State Government and that Local Government (Council) local planning laws may place additional restrictions on the numbers of domestic animals that can be kept on a premises, as well as further requirements or restrictions around use of land for the purposes of breeding.  Please see the Local Laws information below for further information.

State based Pet Exchange Register (PER)

From 1st July 2019, any person who advertises to sell or gift a puppy, kitten, dog or cat will now be require to include a source number, which will be obtained from registering on the State based Pet Exchange Register (PER).    The display of this source number number will be in addition to the inclusion of unique microchip numbers (also required under the Act) and the ANKC statement of membership (which includes the breeder’s Dogs Victoria number) on advertisements.

The PER will identify AO breeders (including Dogs Victoria breeders) as Recreational Breeders and registration on the PER will be current for period of 12 months (after which another application needs to be made). Dogs Victoria breeders (unless approved DABs) will be required to register themselves on the PER, as will non-AO breeders (who will be known as Micro-breeders on the PER).  Local Councils will register their DABs/Commercial Breeders and council registered animal rescues.

Further information on the changes for Dogs Victoria breeders can be found at the Departmental website here.   Dogs Victoria has also created a FAQ page on the website here and members with further questions can email the Dogs Victoria legislation email at

Please refer to the Dogs Victoria pet exchange register and source numbers fact sheet here for more detailed information. 


15 Dec 2017 – the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farm and Pet Shops) Bill 2016 passes parliament and shortly after becomes law, amending the Domestic Animal Act.

10 April 2018 – unless specified otherwise (see below) the changes the Puppy Farm Bill makes come into effect.

1 July 2018 - Pet shops will no longer be able to sell puppies and kittens sourced from breeders. They may sell puppies and kittens that come from foster/shelters/pounds.

1 July 2019 - all advertisements for dogs and cats must include the animal’s microchip number and the unique source number generated by the Pet Exchange Register.

10 April 2020 - Existing dog breeding businesses must have reduced their fertile female dog numbers to 50 or less by not replacing retiring dogs.


Local Laws

As Dogs Victoria holds AO status, Dogs Victoria members are entitled to certain exemptions and discounted fees under local government local laws. These are:

  • Discounted annual registration fees (due in April each year)
  • Exemptions from mandatory desexing regulations
  • AO Breeders are allowed up to 10 (ten) fertile females under the Domestic Animals Act (see above), noting that local zoning and planning laws for use of land may place restrictions on numbers of animals without a permit and/or on breeding of domestic animals.

Each local government council or shire will have its own Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP), which cover issues such as:

  • Numbers of dogs permitted in different land zones in that council area
  • The requirements, processes and costs for excess animal permits
  • Regulations around animal waste and its disposal
  • Regulations around animal nuisance (barking, wandering, acts of aggression)
  • Define areas in that are on-leash, off-leash and dog-free and times dogs may be in dog areas

Dogs Victoria members should be familiar with their local council or shire’s DAMP. It is a condition of membership that Dogs Victoria members comply with the relevant local laws and ordinances for their area.

As each local government area will have its own regulations on the use of land for the purposes of breeding, Dogs Victoria members who are registered breeders are advised to contact their local councils for further information on local planning laws. Dogs Victoria members should be aware that their local councils may inspect their premises to ensure that the all permits and requirements for the keeping (and if appropriate, breeding) of dogs are being met. Animal inspectors are empowered to act as per the appropriate state and local laws.

It is a condition of membership that Dogs Victoria members may also be inspected by Dogs Victoria to ensure compliance with relevant regulations.  Should an inspection be arranged, members should ensure that all local council permits, dog registrations and documentation (including relevant records) are in order.

For more information on local laws please contact Dogs Victoria.

Prohibited Procedures on dogs

Victoria has legislation that prohibits a number of cosmetic procedures being carried out on dogs. These are:

  • ear cropping
  • debarking
  • tail docking

Victoria law only allows prohibited procedures to be performed in Victoria by a registered veterinary practitioner for therapeutic reasons or, in the case of debarking, in accordance with the Code of Practice for the debarking of dogs.

It is an offence for any other person to conduct a prohibited procedure on an animal (with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment of 12 months).

At the same time as the prohibited procedures offence was introduced, two new offences relating to prohibited procedures were also introduced into the Act.

These related offences state that:

  • the owner or person in charge of an animal must not allow a prohibited procedure to be conducted on an animal; and
  • the owner or person in charge of an animal cannot show or exhibit an animal, or allow an animal to be shown or exhibited, where the animal has had a prohibited procedure conducted illegally on it.

The legislation provides exemptions for the showing or exhibiting of a dog that has had a prohibited procedure if that dog is from other Australian states and territories or imported and the procedure was legally performed.

If the procedure was carried out on the dog in Australia, a veterinary certificate stating that the procedure was done in accordance with the law of the relevant jurisdiction is required to allow the animal to be shown.

For imported dogs, the importation or supporting documentation needs to show that the procedure was undertaken prior to importation and that it was done legally according to the laws of the jurisdiction in which the procedure was carried out.

Dogs that were born, or have resided in Victoria, and have been to be taken into another state or territory to have a procedure conducted on them to avoid Victoria's legislation will not be permitted to be shown or exhibited. The exemption to this are dogs that have been tail docked, debarked or ear cropped prior to 12 December 2007.

Further information and details of these provisions are detailed in the Frequently Asked Questions section on Prohibited Procedures webpage on the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources website.

Dogs with a Natural Bob Tail

Dogs with natural bob tails do not fall under the provisions of Clause 82 of the new Act. Members of Dogs Victoria that own a registered dog with a veterinary confirmed Natural Bob Tail or those whose tails were shortened prior to the enactment of the legislation can apply for an ID card that can be carried in a wallet or purse so that you have it available at all times when out and about with your dog. The application for this form can be found at Members Forms.

Other laws that Dogs Victoria members should be aware of

There are also Regulations and Codes that relate to:

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources website also outlines guidelines for:

  • Dogs in moving vehicles
  • Dog confinement
  • Dog excrement
  • Microchipping and registration
  • Animal welfare and responsible dog ownership

For more information please contact Dogs Victoria.

Codes affecting those that are involved in fostering and rehoming of dogs

Many affiliated breed clubs and Dogs Victoria members are involved in the fostering and rehoming of dogs.

There are codes of practice and guidelines that apply to the fostering and rehoming of dogs which members and breed clubs should be aware of.

These are:

  • Code of Practice for the Management of Dogs and Cats in Shelters and Pounds - this is made under the provisions of Section 5a of Division 4 of the Domestic Animals Act 1994. It covers the handling, treatment and care of animals along with transport vehicles and animal housing.
  • Guide for Victorian Dog and Cat Community foster care networks and rescue groups - this provides with guidance on meeting minimum legislative requirements and maximising the welfare of domestic animals being cared for and rehomed.

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources webpage provides a general explanation of the legislation relating to animal rescue. However, is not an exact replica of the legislation and should not be used for legal purposes. Members and breed clubs involved in fostering and rehoming are advised to be familiar with the relevant legislation and regulations relating to animal rescue.

Other legal matters

While this page provides information and links in relation to the care, breeding and welfare of dogs, Dogs Victoria members should be aware of other legislation, regulations and guidelines that may be of relevance, such as around:

  • The selling of an animal and ownership rights
  • Contracts and the enforceable, legal obligations of the buyer and seller
  • Health guarantees and veterinary checks
  • Returns of pups or dogs to the breeder
  • Renting with pets
  • Body corporate regulations around pets

While Dogs Victoria may be able to provide general guidance on these matters members are advised that they should obtain expert legal advice for specific issues or problems.

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