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Animal licences

There are a number of premises or activities that require a licence from us to hold animals.


Before granting licences, we are required to ensure that premises hold animals in appropriate accommodation, that they are supplied with suitable food and drink, and that reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

The following types of premise or activity require some form of animal licensing:

Animal feed regulation

The Feed (Hygiene and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2005 mean that businesses involved in the production, use, transportation, storage or marketing of animal feeds must be registered or approved by us or another appropriate agency. Find out more on our animal feed web page.

Animal boarding establishment

An animal boarding establishments licence is required by anyone who wishes to carry on the business of providing accommodation for other people's cats and dogs. Although some businesses offer boarding for other pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs, a licence is not required to provide accommodation for such animals.

Dangerous wild animals

Anyone who wishes to house a dangerous wild animal as a household pet will need a licence to do so. These include, amongst many, animals such as tigers, monkeys, venomous snakes and spiders. A full list of dangerous wild animals, as well as information on how to obtain such a licence, can be found on our dangerous wild animals licence web page.

Dog breeding

For a person to operate a business breeding dogs for sale, or keep bitches that produce five or more litters during any 12 month period in County Durham, you must first obtain a dog breeding licence. However, a licence is not required for small numbers of litters where the puppies are the offspring of a household pet.

Horse riding establishment

If you run a riding school which provides riding lessons for members of the public on horses owned by you, then you will need a horse riding establishment licence. This licence is not required if your premises offer only livery facilities.

Independent greyhound track

A licence is required from us for non-members of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) who wish to operate an independent greyhound track in County Durham.

Movement of livestock

To prevent the spread of disease, all livestock movements require a licence and must be monitored. For further information on licences for moving sheep and goats, pigs, and cattle, please visit our animal health and welfare web page.

Performing animals

You need to be registered with us if you intend to train or exhibit any performing animals for any public performance that incur an entry fee or otherwise in County Durham. The performing animals registration covers appearances in premises such as theatres, schools or public parks to name a few.

Pet shop

If your business wishes to sell animals and/or buy animals with the intention of selling them as pets, you will first need to obtain a pet shop licence. This licence is required whether you are planning to sell pets at any premises, including your own home, or online. However, this does not apply to anyone wishing to make a one-off sale from home. 


A zoo licence is required if you wish to keep and exhibit wild animals at your premises which members of the public can access, with or without an admission charge, on more than seven days in any period of twelve consecutive months. This licence excludes circuses and pet shops. 

Contact us
Animal health
03000 261 016
Our address is:
  • Environment, Health and Consumer Protect
  • Durham County Council
  • PO Box 617
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 9HZ
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