A USDA license is required of all dog/cat breeders who have five or more breeding females and sell the puppies/kittens at the wholesale* level – either to a broker or directly to a pet store.
*A wholesale transaction is the transfer of a dog/cat for compensation to a person or business that then resells that animal to the end consumer.
Breeder -> Pet Store
Breeder -> Puppy Broker -> Pet Store
Note: A USDA license is also required in retail sales (direct to end consumer) where the buyer, seller, and dog are not physically together and the transaction is made sight-unseen (e.g. online puppy sellers).
Breeder -> End Consumer (sight-unseen, not an in-person transaction)
Breeders who sell only in a face-to-face transaction, regardless of the number of breeding females, do not need a USDA license.
USDA licensed breeding facilities are only required to adhere to Animal Welfare Act basic survivalist standards, NOT to humane standards.
When you purchase a puppy or kitten from a USDA licensed breeder, it DOES NOT guarantee quality or humane breeding. USDA licensed is often referred to as a “license for puppy mill cruelty.”
Read more: Puppy Mills are USDA Approved