Breeder 101: How to Become a Dog Breeder in Canada! (Dummy’s Guide)

So you want to be a Canadian breeder, eh? Well, you have come to the right place to learn about how to become a breeder in Canada.

It may seem like a huge undertaking, becoming a breeder in Canada is easy. All you need to become a successful and reputable breeder in Canada is a little know how. That’s exactly what this guide offers.

The ABC’s and 123’s of Becoming a Dog Breeder

Before we look at the logistics of breeding in Canada, let’s look at the basics of dog breeding. It can be very exciting setting up a new kennel and many people do it for a combination of reasons including love of the breeds.

Even with a passion for a dog breed, every breeder hopes to have a successful business for breeding.

First, before you do anything else, sit down and decide what a successful breeding business looks like. Does it mean making a good profit? Is it to produce dogs of your own line for your enjoyment?

Is it to win at Westminster Dog Show? Having a goal before you start ensures the success of your dog breeding business.

After you have your goal, there are several tasks that I recommend everyone follows becoming a dog breeder.

Breeder and newborn puppy

Newborn puppy

#1 Choose a Breed

While you may love a dozen different breeds, when you are first starting out, choose only one. Usually, we find a breed due to our own past experiences. Even with experience, make sure you research the breed as much as possible.

Once you know the breed, start looking for breeders who share your same goal for your dogs…or a similar goal. Study pedigrees of the dogs and really get to know what dogs are in the gene pool currently. If your breed is rare, this is very important as you will have a limited gene pool to pull from.

While you are doing your research, go to dog shows and other events to meet breeders. Every community is different, however, most breeds have passionate people who are willing to talk about the breed to new breeders. You may even find a mentor while you are at it.

#2 Get a Mentor

I can’t stress this more than enough. Getting a mentor is one of the best things you can do as a fledgling breeder. While it is better to find a mentor in your preferred breed, any breeder in your area or province is a great resource to have.

Not only will they offer valuable advice about the breed, but they can also guide you through legal matters while you are setting up your kennel and getting the proper permits for it.

In addition, when you have a litter of puppies, they can help you through breeding, delivering and raising a litter of puppies. You will gain more knowledge from a mentor than you will from dozens of books.

#3 Join the CKC and Breed Clubs

This pertains to Canadian breeders specifically, but you want to invest the money to join the Canadian Kennel Club. As I will mention later in this article, the Canadian Kennel Club is the only recognized kennel club in Canada. If you plan on registering your puppies, then being part of the club is a must.

In addition to the kennel club, find the breed clubs active in your area and in your breed. Join the clubs and get to know the breeders associated with the clubs. You can learn a lot from the breed club, and they will have guidelines on breeding and caring for your chosen breed.

Joining these organizations not only offer resources to you but they open up the world of dog breeding and offer you the opportunity to join a community.

Dogs from a breeder

A German Shepherd and Mastiff puppy playing during a break at training.

#4 Title Your Dog

Once you have chosen the breed and, hopefully, chosen your breeding dogs, it is time to start moving toward breeding. This often starts with titling your dog in some way or another because titling often shows that your dog is top quality.

Traditionally, when we think of titling, we often think of show, also known as confirmation. While I do show dogs, I find that it can be rather limiting and does not reflect the sole worth of a dog. A well rounded breeding dog is more than the points he gets in a confirmation ring.

Instead, I believe it is in how the breeder utilizes the dog. A good rule of thumb is to give your dog purpose. Labrador Retrievers can excel in the show ring and in hunt trials. German Shepherds are amazing at Schutzhund trials. Bloodhounds can do well with tracking and Dachshunds can excel at Earth dog trails.

Really, the sky is the limit with what you can do with your dogs. There are titles for obedience as well as specialized training. The focus is that to set yourself out from the crowd, you need to show that your dogs have a little extra that should be carried forward with their offspring. Show is an excellent way to do this but so is all the other titles you can put on a dog.

#5 Understand Health Testing and Breeding

Finally, before you produce that first litter, it is important to health test your dog. While regular vet checks are part of a good breeding program, it is not the only thing that you should consider. Every dog breed has inherent diseases, which are passed on from parent to offspring.

While we can’t eliminate every disease, we can minimize the risk of your puppies developing the diseases…some of which can be deadly.

By doing appropriate health tests, we can ensure that our dogs are healthy. A list of health tests can be found for every recognized breed at the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

After you have successfully completed health testing, be sure to follow through on the breeding guidelines set forth by your breed club. With almost all breeds, dogs are not bred before 2 years of age and usually never after the age of 7 for females…however, this varies from breed to breed. Longer lived breeds often have a longer breeding life than shorter lived breeds because they reach their senior years later in life.

By following these five tips, you are on your way to being a successful and reputable dog breeder. Next, let’s look at a few of the ins and outs of dog breeding in Canada.

Breeder Kennel Permits

A breeder needs to provide both indoor and outdoor space for his dogs

A breeder needs to provide both indoor and outdoor space for his dogs

In Canada, you do not need a permit to breed dogs if you keep numbers low and applicable to your location. You will find that, in most cities and rural communities, the maximum number of dogs is 3 dogs per household.

However, some cities and counties allow a maximum of 4 dogs per household. Furthermore, you should be aware that some cities have special rules concerning the number of intact dogs on in a home.

With all numbers, dogs under the age of 6 months, if the mother is also on the property, do not count toward the maximum dogs. After 6 months, they do.

Likewise, if you want to have more dogs than 3 or 4, you can apply for a kennel permit. The requirements for a kennel permit vary depending on the county and province you live in.

Additionally, in some areas a limited number of kennel permits are awarded every year. Therefore, it is important to check with your local animal control office to determine if you’d be eligible.

With licencing, kennels are graded on several factors:

Space​​​​

Every breed requires different space requirements. You should expect to have at least 4 square meters of indoor space in your kennel for toy breeds and up to or over 15 square meters for giant breeds. 

This ensures that dogs have adequate room while they are living at the kennel. Furthermore, females who are nursing need twice as much space as other dogs.

Another point to consider is that outdoor space should be double the amount of indoor space available.

Housing

Dogs should be housed inside and should never be chained outside.

Environment

To have a kennel license, you must ensure that all dogs are housed in a clean environment safe from the elements. Doors and windows should be draft, moisture and insect free. 

The housing should have proper heating and air conditioning as well as proper bedding. Dogs should have access to the outdoors and should have access to clean water.

Kennel Records

First, kennel records are tantamount to the success of running a kennel. Second, for licencing, kennels need to keep accurate kennel records. All dogs should be registered with proper microchipping and pedigrees. 

Health records should be kept up to date and dogs should be routinely vaccinated. Furthermore, litters born in the kennel should be identified clearly and records kept regarding parentage and health of the litter.

These records should be kept for at least 7 years, however, it is better to keep them 10 to 15 years depending on your breed.

There are many other areas you should look at regarding your dog kennel that are not always laid out by permit rules and regulations.

In addition, be sure to check with your local area on rules that they have in place. One thing I do strongly recommend is to read A Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations. In it, you will find the parameters for your kennel space and also the practices you should follow as a breeder and employer if you employ kennel help.

The Breeder, the Breeding Kennel and the Government

Now that we have looked at the permits, it is important to touch on the Canadian government and how it will affect your breeding kennel. There are several ways that they can affect your business and it isn’t just with the permits.

#1 Importing Dogs

If you are planning on only purchasing breeding dogs from Canadian breeders, then there is no concern for this. However, if you plan to purchase a dog from out of the country, you need to be aware of laws regarding those purchases. These are:

  • If the dog is over 8 months of age, all you will need is documentation of proper vaccinations and a health record.
  • If the dog is under 8 months of age, you will need a commercial import permit. These are available through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Since there are often duty fees associated with importing a dog, it is important to have a business number and a GST number. These will give you importing numbers to make the process much easier. You can register a business number on the Canadian government website, which will also guide you through obtaining a GST number.

A breeder should protect his business and its future

A breeder should protect his business and its future

#2 Reporting Income

With reporting income, you have two options when it comes to reporting the income from your breeding dogs. The first is that you could mark your taxes as self-employed income.

By doing this, you can get deductions from home office use and the various equipment that you need to run your kennel. The second is as an official business. By doing this, kennel expenses, including the purchase of dogs, can be used for tax deductions on your income.

If you choose to do the former, no business number is needed. There are many benefits to having a business number, therefore, I recommend you obtain a business number anyway. Most kennels are registered under sole proprietorship, which are usually under your given name.

#3 GST

If you are just starting out, you do not have to register a GST number in Canada if you make under 30,000 a year, all businesses that make over 30,000 a year must register a GST number.

After 30,000 a year, you need to charge GST to all dogs sold to Canadian citizens and will have to file your GST earnings every quarter.

Of course, there are benefits to having a GST number, including rebates for your use of home and kennel expenses. As a result, this could mean extra funds for your kennel during periods when you are not producing litters.

#4 Grants

There are many grants available for new businesses in Canada, including for breeding kennels. You may not qualify for all of them, I do recommend that you take the time to read through them and to apply for some. They can be an excellent way to help create start up capital for your new business.

To prevent any problems as you grow bigger, I recommend that you follow the tax and licensing laws that are recommended by the Canadian government. You can find out more about what you need as a dog kennel at this website.

Are they Purebred?​​​​

The pride of a Siberian Husky Breeder

Purebred Siberian Husky Puppies

When we look at purebred dogs, there are three things to remember. First of all, puppies produced by breeding two of the same breed — for instance, two chihuahuas — together are considered purebred in much of the world.

However, this is not the case in Canada. According to the Canadian Animal Pedigree Act, dogs are not legally purebred until they are properly registered with the Canadian Kennel Club.

Also, all of their offspring are only purebred if they are also registered by the CKC. Finally, all purebred dogs sold to new owners, must be registered within 6 months from the date of purchase.

In efforts to reduce puppy mills in Canada, the Canadian Animal Pedigree Act has determined that only dogs registered with the Canadian Kennel Club are considered to be purebred.  Make sure that your kennel dogs adhere to the Canadian Animal Pedigree Act.

Understanding Breeder Registries

As you can see, it is important to understand the kennel club registries that are working in Canada.

It is important to note that there are many, the only official registry recognized by the Canadian government is the Canadian Kennel Club. All purebred dogs in Canada should be recognized by the CKC, it is important to note that dogs can be purchased from other countries with very little difficulty.

Once your dog is here, it is certainly very important to transfer the dog’s registration to the CKC because he will not be considered purebred by the Canadian Animal Pedigree Act until he is. Transferring registration is quite easy. Breeders will need to fill out a form and provide registration papers and a 3-generation pedigree of the dog.

A breeder focuses on form and function.

Hunting dog hard at work

A word of caution the Canadian Kennel Club does not recognize all country kennel clubs, including the Ukrainian Kennel Union. It is noteworthy to mention that Ukrainian dogs can be registered by the CKC after an evaluation of the foreign-born dog.

Take a look at this video for step by step explaination on registering your dog with CKC.

How To Advertise Innovatively

One thing that I want to mention is that Canada offers several different ways to advertise your puppies. First, you can advertise on the Canadian Kennel Club’s puppy list. Second, you can advertise your dogs on a few other sites, including:

Breed Clubs

Many breed clubs have a list of dog breeders offering litters and stud dog services. Take advantage of these lists and advertise your kennel.

Canuck Dogs

First, like breed clubs, Canuck Dogs has breeder lists and they are an excellent resource for finding shows and dog events for your dogs to compete in. Second, the top dogs in Canada are ranked on the site.

Kijiji

Breeders are split regarding Kijiji. First, there seems to be a large number of unethical breeders on the site.

Second, many people purchase their puppies from Kijiji. If more reputable breeders advertised on Kijiji, a larger number of puppy buyers would learn the best options for purchasing a furry family member.

And this is the basics of starting a kennel in Canada. It isn’t too difficult. Starting out, start small and keep business numbers, licenses and permits to a minimum. As you add to your kennel, you can grow your business to fit your needs and to adhere to the rules of Canada.