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About the Standards

The Canine Care Certified standards were developed after years of study and pilot research following a specific request from the professional breeding community for guidelines in best practices. The program requires mandatory compliance with standards for the responsible rearing, handling and rehoming of dogs raised by professional breeders. They are not intended to provide guidance on how to breed dogs.

The standards were written and tested in collaboration with breeders, veterinary and animal science experts, state regulators and animal welfare organizations.

The certification program has been pilot tested with professional breeders since early 2015.

Five Pillars of Care

Professional breeders seeking to be certified must meet or exceed rigorous standards for physical and behavioral welfare in areas such as nutrition, veterinary care, housing, handling and exercise.

The Canine Care Certified program provides additional measures of assurance that breeders of certified dogs are attending to their dogs’ physical, genetic and behavioral health, and are committed to continuously raising the bar on the care and attention they offer to their dogs. The program requires mandatory compliance by professional breeders with best canine care practices.

Certified breeders must comply with Standards for Care of adult dogs and puppies that far exceed current regulatory programs as designated under the following five pillars of care.

Physical Health Logo
Physical Health

Only veterinarians may perform any necessary alterations and surgeries. Breeders must also create comprehensive physical health plans for preventative care and treatment; genetic testing and health screening are required.

Behavioral Health Logo
Behavioral Health

Caretakers need to create a behavioral wellness plan, both for preventative and treatment, as well as provide exercise and follow specific socialization standards for adult dogs and puppies.

Environment Logo

Enriched, high-quality spaces must be provided by breeders with access to the outdoors and multiple flooring surfaces.

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Breeding life and retirement

Adult dogs at retirement cannot be sold for research; breeders must follow established limits for retirement and rehoming.

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Caretaker expectations

Breeders must participate in continuing education, must use low-stress handling procedures, and be transparent with stakeholders and compliant with best practices.