Breeding dogs takes time, money and knowledge. Dog breeders must understand both general and breed-specific issues, including behavior and genetic health concerns. Operating a successful dog-breeding business also requires an understanding of marketing, business management and applicable federal and state laws. Missouri law subjects dog breeders to 22 pages of rules and regulations detailing the setup and management of their facilities.


The number of dogs you own, and to whom you sell them, determines the type of breeding program you establish. Missouri law defines a commercial breeder as someone who harbors more than three intact adult females for the purpose of breeding them and selling their puppies. An exemption exists for hobby or show breeders, who can have up to 10 intact adult females if the primary purpose is exhibiting the dogs or improving the breed, and if they sell only to individuals and not to brokers or dealers.


A breeder who meets the definition of a commercial breeder must obtain a license from the state of Missouri. The law provides an exemption for hobby or show breeders, but these breeders still must register with the state annually. A state-licensed breeder might also need a license from the United States Department of Agriculture, unless he only sells directly to the pet owner.


The Missouri Department of Agriculture rules covering animal care facilities apply to state-licensed dog breeders. The rules establish minimum standards of care, housing, identification and record-keeping that dog breeders must follow. Initial applicants must pass an inspection to ensure their facilities meet these standards before they are issued a license; licensed breeders receive annual inspections. Breeders licensed by the USDA must also comply with USDA regulations.


The Missouri Animal Care Facilities rules also require a breeder to establish a formal arrangement with an attending veterinarian. At minimum, the veterinarian must provide a written program of veterinary care and must schedule regular visits to the facility. Breeders must ensure they and their employees are properly trained in providing care and daily observation of the dogs to assess their health and well-being, if there is not a full-time veterinarian on staff.

2010 Proposition B

On Nov. 2, 2010, Missouri voters narrowly passed Proposition B, the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act," which was scheduled to become effective in November 2011. Most of the standards of care requirements in Proposition B are less restrictive than, and invalidated by, existing laws. The end result of Proposition B is to severely decrease the number of dogs bred in the state of Missouri. The measure limits any breeder to no more than 50 intact dogs, regardless of the size of their facilities and staff. Missouri Sen. Bill Stouffer filed a bill to repeal Proposition B in December 2010, which the Missouri Senate was scheduled to consider in 2011.