How to Open a Business for Breeding Pets

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A pet breeding business, if run successfully, can be a rewarding enterprise both financially and personally. Whether you want to breed cats, dogs or iguanas, there are strict regulations for all commercial breeding. To open a business for breeding pets, you not only need a solid business plan and adequate finances, you need to make sure you are following all legal requirements.

Decide on what animal you would like to breed. The most common animals kept as pets in the United States are fish, cats and dogs. If you don't already have some background with a specific animal and species, consider both personal preferences and consumer demand in your area.

The American Kennel Club, the organization that maintains the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world, lists the top three most popular breeds as Labrador retriever, Yorkshire terrier and German shepherd. The most popular type of cats are Persian, Maine coon and Siamese. The most popular type of fish are goldfish, but there are wide variety of fresh and saltwater tropical species.

Other types of pet animals that are bred include rabbits, iguanas, snakes, birds and many other less popular species.

Determine breeding regulations. The regulations are different depending if you are breeding at the wholesale level or are breeding to sell to individual pet owners. Facilities that breed and sell animals at the wholesale level are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal Care program under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). You must apply for an AWA license from the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). You need to pass a complete, pre-licensing inspection of the prospective animal facility to make sure you are in compliance with all the regulations. If you pass, you will be mailed the appropriate paperwork to complete and submit. A license will then be mailed to you so you can begin operations.

If you plan to breed animals just to sell to individual owners, your individual state has the authority to govern breeding regulations. Local governments might also have their own laws. To determine what laws apply to you, consult the governmental divisions that cover animal welfare for your state, city and county.

Specialize your business. Unless you have a multitude of experience in working in the animal breeding business, you will need to develop a name for yourself. Consider specializing in a specific breed of animal, whether that is British bulldogs or African cichlid fish. Check out the list of breeders in your area to determine the level of competition. Consider if the animal is a popular pet or one that is valued because it is highly expensive and rare. Ask around at local pet stores about what is selling and what customers are talking about buying.

Develop a business plan. Apart from all the normal elements of a business plan, there are specific things you should consider for a pet breeding business. These things include cost of animal care, specific insurance needs and costs to add additional animal storage facilities. Consult with other breeders to see how long it generally takes to get off the ground and get your name recognized as a trusted breeder. Consider the fluctuations in the popularity of specific species. A pet that is all the rage one year might be undesirable the next. Take that into account when considering the variety of species you plan to breed.

A good business plan can be created with help from the Small Business Administration's (SBA) website, the proper software and a business plan writer.

Do all the necessary paperwork. Apart from the animal regulations mentioned above, you will need to register your business name, obtain all necessary state and local permits and obtain a tax ID. provides a guide that will walk you through all the tasks that need to be completed according to your state and city requirements.

Get the financing. If you need a loan, check with your local bank to see if you can obtain a small business loan. See if you qualify for one of SBA's loan programs and check to see if there are any available grants available you might qualify for.

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