Are Backyard Breeders Illegal? (Expert Answer)

If you’re new to the world of dog breeding, you may be wondering if it’s legal to breed dogs at home. 

You may also be curious about how much it costs to become a licensed dog breeder in California and how many dogs I can legally breed under this license. 

Well, as long as your backyard isn’t on public property and you have no more than 5 adult female dogs at any given time, then yes backyard breeding is totally legal! In fact, there are even plenty of reasons why people would want to get into this line of work:

Illegal designer dog breeding


Key Points
Backyard breeding is often unregulated and can lead to unhealthy offspring.
While backyard breeding itself is not necessarily illegal, certain practices like animal cruelty or neglect can be.
Ethical breeding practices prioritize the health and well-being of the animals.
Choosing to adopt animals instead of purchasing from backyard breeders can help reduce the demand for unethical breeding practices.

Are Backyard Breeders Illegal?

You might have heard that it’s illegal to breed dogs in your home. That may be true if you don’t have a license or registration with the state or local animal shelter. However, there is no law against breeding dogs in your own home as long as they are healthy and kept in clean conditions. 

If you want to sell puppies from your backyard breeder business, then you will need to register and get a license from either the state or local animal shelter where you live.

 If you’re considering getting a dog, it’s important to support responsible dog breeding practices to prevent potential health or behavioral issues down the line. Check out our expert advice on why backyard dog breeders are bad for dogs to learn more.

Do I Need A License To Breed Dogs?

If you’re thinking about breeding dogs, it’s important that you understand the laws surrounding dog breeding in your state. In most states, it is illegal for individuals to breed animals without a license from the local animal shelter. 

A dog breeder license will allow you to legally breed up to four dogs at a time, but some states restrict this number even further by requiring that all dogs be spayed or neutered before they can be bred. Once issued, a dog breeder’s license must be renewed every year at an annual cost of approximately $100 per license.

If you want to become a dog breeder and obtain your own business license, then there are specific requirements that all businesses must meet in order to qualify for this type of license:

  • You must have adequate facilities (such as an indoor/outdoor kennel).
  • All dogs need proper vaccinations against rabies and other diseases which are common among animals like bunnies.

How Do I Get A Dog Breeder License In California?

If you would like to become a dog breeder in California, the first step is applying for a dog breeder license. You can apply for a dog breeder license by completing an application form and submitting it with the required documentation.

The backyard breeding of animals can contribute to the overpopulation of certain species and increase the likelihood of health problems among offspring. Read our expert advice on why backyard breeders are bad to learn about the risks involved.

Are Backyard Breeders Illegal In The United States?

Backyard breeders are illegal in some states. Backyard breeders are legal in other states. When it comes to dog breeding, there’s no universal answer for how it works across the country it varies from state to state and even from city to city. 

For example, backyard breeders are illegal in New York City but not at all on Long Island. In California, where I live and work as a dog trainer and behavioral consultant with my husband by day (and our dogs by night), backyard breeders are legal if they’re operating out of their own property as long as they have a license and follow certain regulations laid out by state law.

What Are The Requirements For Getting A Dog Breeder License In California?

In order to get your dog breeder license in California, you must be 18 years old. You also need a business license and a veterinarian’s license before applying for the dog breeder’s license. 

Once you have these licenses, you can apply for one from the state of California as long as there isn’t anyone else living at your residence who has previously been convicted of animal cruelty or neglecting animals (this means if someone else with a past record lives there too).

The practice of backyard breeding is a topic of debate among animal lovers and experts alike. Check out our expert answer to the question of whether backyard breeders are good or bad for animals to get a comprehensive view of the issue.

How Much Does A Dog Breeder License Cost In California?

The cost of a dog breeder license usually varies depending on the number of dogs you are breeding. Once you decide to become a dog breeder, you need to get your hands on some good quality food for them and make sure they have plenty of room to roam around in. 

For example, if someone owns three dogs, they would only need one permit since they own only three animals; however, if someone owns ten dogs then they will need two permits since they own ten animals. 

If this person wanted another permit for another five dogs then he or she would have to purchase two more licenses for $50 each (assuming that was their price).

How Many Dogs Can I Legally Breed With My Dog Breeder License In California?

In the state of California, you can breed up to 4 dogs with your breeder license. You can keep up to 4 dogs at home with your breeder license. You can sell up to 4 dogs with your breeder license. 

You can give away up to 4 dogs with your breeder license. And you can adopt up to 2 puppies per year from a licensed house during the lifetime of your dog breeding facility.

Raising backyard chickens for their eggs is becoming an increasingly popular trend, but it’s important to know how to do so safely. Learn from our veterinary experts about whether backyard chicken eggs are safe to eat in this informative article.

What Is The Process For Getting My Own Backyard Bred Dog?

Visit a local animal shelter and find a dog that you like.

Ask the shelter for permission to adopt it (some shelters will not allow this, so be prepared with other options). If the shelter says yes, ask what fees are involved in adopting the dog (there may be adoption fees or other fees associated with taking care of an animal).

Get to know the dog before deciding to adopt it; ask questions about its behavior and past history if possible (for example: “Where did this dog come from? Who were its previous owners?”). Be patient while you learn more about each other you’ll want a pet who is good-natured enough to live with your family!

If all goes well during this period, then decide whether or not this is the right pet for your family’s needs! Some people love cats but others prefer dogs; some families want pets that require lots of attention while others enjoy having quieter companions around instead.”

How Can You Tell If Someone Is A Backyard Breeder?

If you are trying to determine whether or not someone is a backyard breeder, there are several tell tale signs:

Look at the dogs. Are there any sickly-looking ones? If so, this could be an indication that they are breeding in poor conditions and maybe even neglecting their dogs.

Look at the home and yard. Is it clean and tidy, with no visible signs of dog messes? Does it look like an animal has been living there recently? Do the animals appear well cared for and healthy in general? 

Are there multiple dogs in one small space (even if they don’t seem to be fighting)? These things can all point toward a breeder who isn’t keeping good care of their animals.

Look at social media pages associated with them. Do these pages seem professional looking and full of useful information about dogs as pets or show dogs (or both), or does it seem like they’re just posting pictures of cute puppies without any sort of purpose behind those posts other than getting likes/followers/etc.? 

Did I mention that this should always be done anonymously if anyone finds out who reported them then they might retaliate against said reporter; making sure that no one knows who made note of this information would go far toward ensuring safety for everyone involved – including yourself!

Chickens can provide a fun, low-maintenance addition to a backyard. If you’re considering raising chickens, be sure to check out our veterinary experts’ advice on whether chickens are good for your yard to get an idea of what to expect.

Do I Have To Register My Backyard Bred Dog With The Local Animal Shelter Or The State?

If you are breeding dogs at home, you need to register your dog with the local animal shelter and with the state. The state will require you to have a license for selling dogs, but it might also require you to pay for a “Kennel Permit” if there is more than one breeder living on the premises.

If someone sees that there are unlicensed dogs in your backyard and reports them as being “illegal” or “backyard bred,” then that person may be mistaken. If they report this information correctly, then they could mean that there are some restrictions on breeding certain types of dogs (such as Pit Bulls). 

In addition, if an unscrupulous person wanted to harm another person by reporting their dogs as being illegal breeders, then this type of threat could cause serious problems for both parties involved!

What Happens If Someone Sees Me Breeding Dogs At Home And Reports Me To The Authorities?

If someone sees you breeding dogs at home and reports you to the authorities, they could fine or even jail you. They could also take away your dog breeder license if they caught you doing it illegally!

Signs of Bad Breeding Practices

Red flags to watch out for when considering a breeder
Lack of Veterinary Records
Over-breeding or breeding animals that are too young or old
Profit-Oriented without proper care for the animals
Unsanitary Living Conditions

What Are Some Reasons Why Someone Would Want To Be A Breeder?

There are many reasons why someone would want to be a breeder. Some people have the desire to make money from breeding dogs, some do it for fun, and others do it because they feel like they’re making a difference in their community by helping out local animal shelters and rescue organizations.

There are also breeders who specialize in certain types of dogs or are very particular about what type of dog they want to breed with another dog, which means having their own “backyard” kennel where they can keep the puppies until they’re ready for adoption into homes (and not before).

If you love animals and want to share your home with some wonderful pets while giving back at the same time then consider being one yourself!

Comparison of buying from a breeder vs. adopting from a shelter
Buying from a breeder
Opportunity to choose specific breed or qualities
Risk of supporting unethical or bad practices
Potentially healthier or more predictable breed traits
No history or socialization with other animals or people
Potential to build a relationship or connection with the breeder

Chickens can provide a fun, low-maintenance addition to a backyard. If you’re considering raising chickens, be sure to check out our veterinary experts’ advice on whether chickens are good for your yard to get an idea of what to expect.


Breeding dogs is a time-consuming and expensive hobby, but it can also be very rewarding. Breeding is not just a way of making money; it’s an art form that takes dedication and commitment. 

It’s important to remember that any breeder who wants to make sure their puppies are healthy will have taken all the necessary steps before they reach their new home with you. If you think this might be something for you then now would be the perfect time to start!

Further Reading

What Is a Backyard Breeder?: The RSPCA provides an informative guide on the basics of backyard breeding, including practices to avoid and how to make sure you’re adopting animals ethically.

Puppy Mills: The Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) offers resources on the dangers of puppy mills, including how to identify and report them.

Backyard Breeding: A Regulatory Nuisance, Crime, or Precursor?: This article from Animal Law details the problems associated with backyard breeding and potential legal solutions to the issue.


What are backyard breeders?

Backyard breeders are individuals who breed animals, most often dogs, in their own homes or backyards without proper regulation or oversight.

Why are backyard breeders a problem?

Backyard breeding often results in unhealthy, genetically compromised puppies or animals with behavioral issues. It also contributes to the overpopulation of certain species and can potentially create a market for puppy mills.

How can you identify a backyard breeder?

Backyard breeders often advertise online, through social media or classified ads. Lack of veterinary records, excessive profit motive, and a lack of proper living conditions for the animals are all red flags that a breeder may be operating unethically.

What is the difference between backyard breeders and responsible breeders?

Responsible breeders follow the breeding standards set forth by organizations like the AKC and prioritize the health and well-being of their animals. They often have a smaller, more specialized breeding operation and can provide veterinary records and other documentation to potential buyers.

What can I do to help stop backyard breeding?

You can help prevent backyard breeding by choosing to adopt animals from reputable shelters and organizations, speaking out against unethical breeding practices, and educating others on the dangers of backyard breeding.