Microchipping for dogs and puppies has been a legal requirement since 2016 and covers all dogs in England, Wales, and Scotland. Microchipping law in the UK states that all puppies must be chipped before they are eight weeks old. This means it is the breeder’s responsibility to arrange this, and the puppies should not go to their new homes without their microchip in place.
A microchip is a permanent form of identification for all dogs. Details are held on a national database, and as long as the owner details are updated when needed, it should make it much easier to reunite dogs with their owners (or keepers), should they get lost or stolen.
The microchipping procedure
A small computer chip, which is roughly the size of a grain of rice, is inserted by needle under a puppy's skin, normally around the neck area. That chip will hold a unique code that will tally with the puppy’s details and the registered keeper details. It is not painful and is over very quickly.
Once the microchip is registered, the vet can scan the puppy with a handheld device, pick up the microchip, and bring up the breeder’s details.
When to get my litter microchipped?
While younger puppies can be microchipped, it is best to leave it until they are seven or eight weeks old, so it is not as uncomfortable for them.
There are some exemptions to this. Puppies certified as working dogs by a vet and that have had their tails docked, can have the period for microchipping extended to 12 weeks. However, the litter CANNOT be sold until then, so they will need to stay with the breeder until microchipping occurs.
A vet can also legally exempt a puppy from microchipping if it has health issues that will be affected by the procedure. These exemptions tend to have a time frame attached to them. If the breeder plans on selling the puppy before it is microchipped, they will need to provide the legal veterinary exemption certificate to the new owner.
Any owner or keeper found with a dog or puppy that doesn’t have a microchip will be given 21 days to rectify this, or they could face a £500 fine.
As a breeder, once the puppy is sold, you can go into the database and change the owner (also known as the keeper) details. Alternatively, the breeder will need to provide ‘transfer of keepership’ documents to the new puppy owner (much like a V5 form when buying a car), and it becomes their responsibility to change the details.
Where to get puppies microchipped?
Microchipping can only be carried out by trained people. Vets and veterinary nurses (under the supervision of a vet) can provide this service for a small fee. Some breeders can implant the microchip themselves, but you must have completed an approved training course and have been fully assessed as a competent person.
If this is something you might be interested in doing, contact The Kennel Club for a list of approved training centres.
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