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Welfare of Dogs (Scotland) Bill


This Member’s Bill was introduced by Christine Grahame MSP. It proposes to improve the welfare of puppies and dogs by:

  • strengthening the regulation of breeding and selling or giving away dogs in Scotland

  • establishing a more responsible approach to acquiring a puppy or dog

The Bill requires the Scottish Government to make changes to the system for licensing dog breeding. The result will be that more breeders will need to have a licence.

The Bill also makes the Scottish Government set up a puppy litter register. Any litters that are not born under a dog breeding licence, but which the litter owner wishes to sell or give away, must be registered. Registration must be done before puppies can be advertised, sold or given away. The Bill sets out what a person must do to register a litter of puppies. It will be an offence not to comply with the registration system.

There will be some flexibility for Scottish Ministers to decide how to set up and operate the register.

The Bill also requires the Scottish Government to make and publish a code of practice. It sets out what the content of the code should be. The code should describe the process that is to be followed by:

  • a person who wants to sell or give away a puppy or dog, and

  • a person who wants to buy or take on a puppy or dog

You can find out more in the document prepared on behalf of Christine Grahame MSP that explains the Bill.

Why the Bill was created

Christine Grahame’s aim for the Bill is to improve the health and welfare of dogs. She believes that bringing more breeders into the licensing regime and introducing a registration process for unlicensed litters will help achieve this.

The member’s view is that buying a puppy or dog in a responsible way can also make a difference to the welfare of the animals, and to the nature of the puppy trade. This is the aim of the code of practice. The member believes the code will help to influence the behaviour of those getting a puppy or dog and improve responsible dog ownership.


You can find out more in the document prepared on behalf of Christine Grahame MSP that explains the Bill.


The Member in charge of the Bill, Christine Grahame MSP sends the Bill and related documents to the Parliament.

Welfare of Dogs (Scotland) Bill as introduced

Related information on the Bill

Additional Member in Charge

An additional member in charge is another member designated by the member in charge. Designation of another member as member in charge can be made at any time, but is normally made at the time of introduction. It gives the member who introduced the Bill an assurance that any necessary procedural steps can still be taken if they are unavailable for a period or on a particular occasion. Emma Harper, MSP is the additional member in charge for the Welfare of Dogs (Scotland) Bill. 

Financial Resolution

The Presiding Officer has decided under Rule 9.12 of Standing Orders that a financial resolution is not required for this Bill.

Stage 1 - General principles

Committees examine the Bill. Then MSPs vote on whether it should continue to Stage 2.

Who examined the Bill

Each Bill is examined by a 'lead committee'. This is the committee that has the subject of the Bill in its remit.

It looks at everything to do with the Bill.

Other committees may look at certain parts of the Bill if it covers subjects they deal with.

What is secondary legislation?

Secondary legislation is sometimes called 'subordinate' or 'delegated' legislation. It can be used to:

  • bring a section or sections of a law that’s already been passed, into force

  • give details of how a law will be applied

  • make changes to the law without a new Act having to be passed

An Act is a Bill that’s been approved by Parliament and given Royal Assent (formally approved).

Delegated Powers and Law Reform committee

This committee looks at the powers of this Bill to allow the Scottish Government or others to create 'secondary legislation' or regulations.

Read the Stage 1 report  by the Delegated Powers and Law Reform committee published on 08 October 2020.

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