France : A new law to limit private breeding of dogs and cats and Internet trade of these animals

On 7 October 2015, a French ordinance “related to the trade and protection of companion animals” has been published. It aims to limit the uncontrolled private/non-professional breeding of dogs and cats and the resulting trade, most of the time done through online classified ads.

Up to now, the French law provided that private people were allowed to breed dogs and cats without respecting any requirements or paying any tax, as long as they do not sell more than two litters a year. In practice, enforcement of this law proved to be impossible[1], resulting in unfair competition to license/ professional breeders and uncontrolled online market. Therefore the new law aims to revaluate the status of breeder and make the dog and cat market more secure and controllable. With the new law, up from 2016, anybody who wants to sell one dog or cat will have to be declared at the Tax Services, and get a unique tax number (called SIREN). This number will have to be written in all classified ads for selling dogs and cats and online platforms will have to create checking systems to check the validity of the SIREN number. Moreover, potential buyers will be able to check themselves the validity of this tax number and will have access to the data of the seller (like his complete name and his postal adress)[2]. This is an encouraging first step for a better traceability of the online sellers and therefore for better protection of the buyers.

In addition, the ordinance also sets some new requirements aiming to improve the welfare of companion animals involved in commercial practices. Among others, there will be stricter requirements regarding the training of dog breeders or shelter staff. Before that, only the sale of dogs and cats of less than 8 weeks were prohibited. Now it also applies to free-gift of dogs and cats. Moreover, in case of free-gift of the animals, the ad will have to precise explicitely that no monney will be asked, in order to avoid SCAMs.

Another good progress for animal welfare brought by this law concerns confiscation of abused animals. Now, the Courts have to decide during a trial for mistreatment if the animal will be given to a charity. Up to now, it was necessary to make a second legal complaint after the condemnation of the owner to take the animals away and give them to a charity.

Finally, the ordinance also aims to protect companion animals other than dogs and cats. The trade of these animals in non-specialised markets and fairs will be prohibited as well as the “self-service” trade of these animals.

A big step forward has been probably reached with this new Law. Force private individuals to be declared to the tax authorities will probably limit the temptation to breed and sell animals, which was done until now in an unresponsible way. However, enforcement might stay complex as it is easy to use the SIREN number of somebody else. 

Limit private breeding and consequently online trade of animals is a major concern in Europe. As an example, Belgium has adopted last year stricter rules regarding private breeding of cats, making mandatory sterilization of any cat sold or given for free.

The provisions of the French ordinance will get into force on January 1 2016.



[1] It appeared that it is impossible to check how much litters private people are selling as the trade happens often privately via classified ads


[2] A small derogation is planned only for non professional breeders selling animals registered in the French Book of Origins (called LOF). These sellers will not need a SIREN number when they sell less than 1 litter a year but they will have to register each of the animals produced in the book of origin, even the ones not fitting with the breed standards




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