What is a “registered breeder” and a “backyard breeder”?

The term ‘registered breeder’ generally means one of the following:

1. Registration with a breed club or association

Dog and cat breeders are often referred to as ‘registered breeders’ when they are members of a breed association or club (which operates a stud book or register) or another breeder association.

2. Duly registered with the relevant local authority

The terms ‘registered breeder’ or ‘recognised breeder’ may also be used to refer to registration with the relevant local authority. This varies in different jurisdictions (for example, some jurisdictions have a mandatory dog breeder register) so you should check with the relevant local authority.

Registration with an association/club or local authority does not necessarily indicate that a breeder is responsible or meets good animal welfare standards.

RSPCA Australia advocates a compulsory legislated registration and licensing system and mandatory standards for the conduct of dog and cat breeding, without exemption. RSPCA Australia supports mandatory display of breeder registration/licence numbers at the point of sale and in all advertisements.

The information presented here is not intended to be relied on for legal advice and you should seek advice from the relevant authority and/or a lawyer about your individual circumstances.

Backyard breeding is a term used to describe irresponsible breeding of animals. Often this is due to ignorance or neglect where a pet dog or cat accidentally becomes pregnant because the owner has failed to have them desexed. 

Some people also allow their cat or dog to have a litter because they believe it is a good experience for their children to witness and/or every animal should have a litter. These are not valid reasons for allowing pets to breed and is strongly discouraged. In other cases animals are deliberately bred so the animals can be sold. Fortunately, in some States laws are being introduced requiring mandatory desexing of pets and/or registration of breeders to help prevent over breeding of dogs and cats. When breeding is carried out on a large scale and where conditions are poor, the term puppy farm is used.

What distinguishes backyard breeders from responsible breeders are the standards that the breeder meets and whether there is a known demand for puppies before they are bred. Where breeding has been accidental, the owner is often unaware of the special requirements for the mother and her offspring and it is often difficult to find good homes for the puppies or kittens. Inadequate nutrition, fleas and worms are common in these situations, placing the welfare of these animals at risk.

Backyard breeding contributes to the unwanted companion animal population in the community. Uncontrolled breeding and overpopulation inevitably leads to the euthanasia of healthy unwanted animals.

See the RSPCA online Smart Puppy and Dog Buyer’s Guide and the pamphlets attached below for more information.

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