Do You Need a License to Breed Dogs in New Jersey?

by PeterHisey; Updated September 26, 2017
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While the state of New Jersey does not require a breeder's license for dog breeders, most townships and cities will require a license to start or maintain a breeding business. That's because the state authorizes cities, towns and townships to regulate most activities related to the commercial treatment of animals, subject to some state guidelines. For instance, local municipalities are forbidden to charge license fees to animal shelters and medical practices, and are limited in how much they may charge for an individual dog license.

Kennels and Pet Shops

Many New Jersey towns do not have a separate licensing classification for dog breeders. Instead, they classify premises with a certain number of animals as kennels or pet stores, depending on the layout and its operations. If a business boards pets, it is classified as a kennel. However, if an area separate from the kennel is dedicated to selling pets, it is classified as a pet store. Many municipalities charge differently for licenses to operate the two businesses. In most areas, a kennel is defined as a business that boards, breeds or sells animals, and dog breeders have to be licensed. The township of Fairfield, for instance, defines a kennel as any place where "the business of boarding or selling dogs, or breeding dogs for sale, is carried on, except a pet shop." Licenses are not expensive; the township of Plainsboro charges a kennel $100 for the initial license and a $25 annual fee for a business with 10 dogs or less; $50 for a business with more than 10 dogs.

Zoning Considerations

In many New Jersey townships, operating a business from a private residence is prohibited. Obtaining a kennel or pet shop license requires a statement from the town's zoning board that the premises are acceptable for operating a business. Therefore, if you have the land and facilities for a breeding business, you can't get a license without establishing premises in an area zoned for operating businesses.

Business License

Many towns require a business license in addition to the license to operate a kennel. You will also need to register your business with the state, particularly if you hire employees. There is no fee; your federal tax number is all you need to register.

The Future

The state legislature has introduced bills several times that ban all breeding of dogs and cats in private homes. The bills also place limitations on how many times you may breed an animal. Other bills have targeted the breeding of pit bulls and other breeds. While many kennels are already inspected by the state's Board of Health, other legislation would make it illegal to sell animals bred on un-inspected premises. To date, as of 2011, breeders and their legislative allies have defeated these measures, but the trend nationally, spurred byanimal rights groups, has been toward more governmental oversight of animal breeding.

About the Author

Pete Hisey has been a writer and editor for over 25 years, primarily in the business-to-business field. He has expertise in many areas, including retail, consumer electronics, banking, dining, agriculture and entertainment media.

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