Dog Collar Laws in the UK

Written by: Sondra Wolfer

Lost dogs happen. If your best friend goes missing, you’re most likely to get him back if he’s been microchipped and always wears a dog collar with identification. Beyond being a good idea—it’s the law. As of last year, all pet dogs in the UK are required to have a microchip in addition to wearing identification on their collars. Read on for a rundown of the information that must go with your dog wherever he roams.

UK Dog Identification Requirements

Under The Control of Dogs Order 1992, every dog in public must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on the collar or on a plate or badge attached to it. The Kennel Club recommends including your phone number on the dog collar or tag.

When your dog is safely at home, you can take off his collar to give him the freedom to enjoy a good scratch behind his ear. But whenever you take him in public spaces, he must wear his collar and identification. It’s probably best to put it on even if you have an enclosed back garden because dogs have a way of discovering or even digging escape routes. If you take your dog in public without this identification you could face prosecution and a fine. Additionally, if your dog is found without identification, he can be seized and considered a stray.

The following dogs are exempt from the collar ID requirements:

● Dogs registered with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
● Any pack of hounds
● Dogs while being used to capture vermin
● Working dogs while they are driving or tending cattle or sheep
● Dogs on official duty for the Armed Forces , Customs and Excise, or the police
● Dogs while being used in emergency rescue work
● Dogs while being used for sporting purposes

Note: most of the exemptions apply only when the dog is participating in the work or sport. Guide dogs and hounds are subject to separate regulations.

Mandatory Microchipping

As of April 2016, all dog owners in England, Scotland, and Wales are required by law to have their dog microchipped and keep the microchip information up to date on an authorised database. The requirement has been in effect in Northern Ireland since 2012. Owners must have their dogs outfitted with microchips by the time they are eight weeks old. The law aims to lower the stray dog population in the UK and hold owners accountable if their loose dogs cause harm.

Microchipping involves inserting a tiny chip with a digital code under the loose skin at the back of your dog’s neck. When the chip is scanned, your contact information is retrieved from the database. Government authorised databases are:

● Animal Tracker
● Identibase
● MicroChip Central
● MicroDogID
● National Veterinary Data Service
● Pet Identity UK
● Petlog
● ProtectedPet
● Smartchip
● UK PETtrac

Your vet can microchip your dog for you. Some vets, charities, and local authorities microchip for free. If you fail to microchip your dog or don’t keep the database information up to date you are given 21 days to comply before facing a £500 fine.

Do Microchips Replace Dog Collar ID’s?

No. The microchip law did not replace the identification tag law. The microchip is an important backup if your dog slips out of his collar. But if your dog is lost, having your information readily available is the best way to get him back fast and save yourself possible kennel fees.

Owning a dog is loads of fun, but it isn’t all games of fetch and snuggles on the sofa. Having a furry best friend is a big responsibility. You are fully in charge of his health and well being. Thankfully the effort it takes to make sure your dog has proper identification is minimal. If the information is ever needed, you’ll be glad your dog has it: the rewards of a happy reunion are immeasurable.


3 thoughts on “Dog Collar Laws in the UK

  1. Su greenwood

    Is the penalty for no microchip and collar I’d £5000 or £500 ? I’ve seen both mentioned. Thanks.


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