What is a “Kennel” ?

by Naomi Kane


The “Educational Book of Essential Knowledge” defines “kennel” as “A shelter for dogs; a dog house; a place where dogs are bred…”   A kennel can be a huge operation with multiple dog runs, grooming rooms and training hall or it can be the house that has a whelping area and nursery next to the sewing machine in the spare bedroom.


Most of the breeders who have kennel names registered with the Canadian Kennel Club are somewhere in the spare-bedroom category.  We probably have a “dog room” somewhere in the house and a separate whelping and puppy room.  Our bathrooms have extra long shower hoses or we have an extra tub in the basement, just for dogs.  We have anywhere from three to ten dogs and most of them sleep on the couch or the bed.  If we are really organized we have our grooming tables in a finished garage or basement and if we aren’t the grooming table is in the living room doing double duty when not in use as a place to put leashes and show schedules.  In other words we live with our dogs they are integrated into our homes as part of our family. 

When we whelp a litter the puppies grow up in the house where they are exposed to all the normal noises and routines of living with people.  The puppies that we breed grow up in the kind of environment that they are going to spend their lives in; living in a house with a family.  The “kennel” is more in the name and the line of dogs that a breeder has produced.  Small kennels have produced generations of quality dogs that shine in the ring, the field or the family room. 


Most municipalities have kennel-licence laws that refer to the large professional kennels and otherwise limit the number of dogs to two or three, even on country acreage.  Licensed kennels typically require the kennel building to be separate from your house.  Right there most small breeders are shaking their heads.  Why should dogs have to live in a separate building just because they might have a litter of puppies? 

Kennel buildings have to be a set distance away from any neighbouring houses.  Good idea for a sled dog touring business but neighbourhoods have many houses with two or three dogs and they don’t have to be five hundred feet from another house. 

Municipalities also have industrial requirements for runs and drains and fencing etc. – All of which are necessary if you are planning on running a boarding kennel, or you have fifty dogs.  For most breeders, it is prohibitively expensive and ridiculous overkill for the number of dogs and litters they have.  To comply with these licenses, a breeder would have to be independently wealthy or become a puppy farm to make ends meet.  Many municipalities won’t even contemplate new kennel licences, even if breeders where able to comply with the requirements. 


Some lucky breeders have existing kennel licences or have been able to buy a property with a licence.  They can board dogs and house their own dogs as well.   

By-laws are meant to keep things from getting out of control and are often enforced only if there is a complaint.  This puts many breeders in the uncomfortable position of flying under the radar and trying to quietly have an extra dog or two in the house and breed the occasional litter.  Many breeders would like to be able to advertise and market and speak up about issues but they are stopped by the knowledge that if they do speak up and draw attention to themselves one complaint could mean losing their beloved dogs. 

There are towns where these restrictions do not apply but, much as we would like to, we cannot all pick up and move to those areas.


Town Councils seem to have a difficult time understanding and regulating dogs.  Dog issues tend to get extreme opinions on all sides of the issue and the politicians are politicians, not dog breeders, so they don’t really understand what they are regulating.  Mention “dog breeding” or “kennel” and people go off the deep end imagining dogs barking endlessly or somehow being abused.  Everybody likes the idea of being able to buy a puppy from a “responsible breeder” but nobody wants a “kennel” next door.  Nobody would want a noisy smelly animal abusing neighbourhood eyesore and nobody wants to live right next door to even a well-run boarding kennel, since dogs do bark.  A small well-run, well-kept breeding or hobby “kennel” is probably already in your neighbourhood and isn’t bothering anybody.


In the old days, huge breeding kennels where the norm.  Wealthy dog fanciers had kennel help and bred dogs on a large scale.  This is the definition of kennel that seems to be stuck in the brains of politicians.  Today most responsible dog breeders are not wealthy socialites they are hard working folks who breed a litter when they have a waiting list, like an artist producing a piece on commission.  It is time for dog breeders to start negotiating for realistic kennel by-laws that are fair and make sense in today’s world.  

Perhaps a letter or online petition to the CKC Directors and politicians might be in order?


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