Buyers FAQs

Why did the Kennel Club introduce the Assured Breeder Scheme (KCABS)?

The Assured Breeder Scheme was introduced to raise the standard of breeding and to help puppy buyers ensure that they are given the best possible chance of buying a puppy that will lead a happy, healthy life.

The KCABS reinforces the basic concepts of responsible breeding practice, which includes ensuring that breeders take all of the required health tests for their breed. By bringing all responsible breeders - who believe in and subscribe to these values - together as one group the Kennel Club empowers puppy buyers to make the right buying decision and to distinguish between responsible breeders and those who deliberately commit themselves to less.

What makes Assured Breeders better than any other breeders?

Assured Breeders have all agreed to follow basic good breeding practice. This includes agreeing to give their dogs the required health tests for their breed; permanently identifying dogs if their progeny are to be registered under the scheme; following guidelines about the maximum age and frequency of litters and providing post-sales advice to their customers. There are also many recommendations that Assured Breeders are advised to follow and vast numbers of those on the scheme often go above and beyond these requirements. Every Assured Breeder is confident of his or her credentials and agrees to allow a Kennel Club Breeder Advisor to check their premises, so that we can ensure that these standards are maintained.

This is not to say that there are not responsible breeders who are outside of the Assured Breeder Scheme - but there are also irresponsible breeders, who deliberately and cynically commit themselves to lower standards and who for those reasons choose not to be a part of it. By buying from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder puppy buyers have the assurance that they are not helping to line the pockets of such breeders or risking the future and health and welfare of their puppy.

Will buying from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder increase my chances of  giving my puppy a happy, healthy life?

Absolutely. Kennel Club Assured Breeders have agreed to take the necessary steps that will give your puppy the best possible chance in life. This includes giving their dogs the required health tests for their breed, which enables them to ensure that only the healthiest genes are passed through the gene pool. Other steps, such as ensuring that they have proper whelping facilities and that the dogs are properly socialised also mean that your puppy should be well adjusted and of good temperament. Equally importantly, a Kennel Club Assured breeder will ensure that you are choosing the right breed for you and give you guidance about how to look after your dog throughout its life.

Is it ok to buy my puppy from a pet shop?

The Kennel Club would strongly advise you not to buy a puppy from a pet shop. The puppies have often come from puppy farmers, unscrupulous breeders who breed purely for profit and have no concern for the  puppies heath and welfare. Instead, puppy buyers should always see a puppy in its home environment and with its mother - so that they can see the conditions it has been brought up in and the way it is likely to turn out. They should also make sure they have all of the appropriate certification, which includes appropriate health test result certificates for that breed and a pedigree registration certificate, the authenticity of which can be checked with the Kennel Club. This is why the Kennel Club always recommend using a Kennel Club Assured breeder, who will follow all of these steps.

Is it possible for puppy farmers or pet shops to become an Assured Breeder?

Certainly not. There are many requirements of the scheme that puppy farmers and pet shops will not be able to fulfil, which include having the proper whelping facilities; proper home and kennelling standards; and fulfilling our health screening criteria, which has a cost implication and will not be appealing to those where profit is the prime motive These people will therefore not be accepted onto the scheme. Furthermore, if the standards of any of our KCABs were to slip then they would not survive on the scheme, as our system of routine and random inspections would ensure that we sift out those who do not follow good practice.

If puppy farmers cannot join the KCAB does that mean that mean all Assured Breeders breed only on a small scale?

The vast majority of Assured Breeders breed just one or two litters each year. We do have a very small number of breeders (less than 1% of our membership) who breed on a larger scale, such as organisations like the Guide Dogs for the Blind who do breed in larger numbers but these have all been inspected to ensure that their standards of care are exemplary.

Why do you allow Assured Breeders unlimited access to the Find a Puppy service?

We do this in order to promote and help those breeders that have subscribed to the basic standards of responsible breeding practice. These breeders will find that an Assured Breeder badge appears next to their litters, on the site, in order to empower buyers to make responsible buying choices.

Given the importance of health testing, does the Kennel Club insist on health checks from those breeders that it is endorsing through the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme?

It is essential that all Kennel Club Assured Breeders health screen. Breed specific requirements are made where an official Kennel Club scheme is in place and where the results can be independently verified. Fulfilment of requirements is checked automatically at the time of registering a litter, from data stored on our registration database.  Puppy buyers can check these results on the Kennel Club's online health test page.

Breed specific recommendations are made where there is either no official scheme in place or where there may not yet be enough evidence, research or uptake of screening, to suggest that a problem is significant in a specific breed.  We make these types of schemes KCABS recommendations to help raise the profile of such schemes and Kennel Club Assured Breeders are strongly encouraged to follow recommendations for their chosen breeds.

We are constantly updating and reviewing the list of ABS requirements and recommendations and the Kennel Club's Charitable Trust gives grants to continually advance research into dog diseases. As soon as an inherited disease is found to be significant in a breed, a test for it has been developed and an official scheme adopted, it is likely to then be added to the list of KCABS requirements, after consultation with the relevant breed clubs.


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