If you're thinking of buying or adopting a dog
If you and your family are interested in buying or adopting a new dog from a reputable breeder, rescue organization, a local shelter run by your municipality or local humane society, there is information you should consider.
Canada has strong animal health requirements for the commercial import of dogs that are less than 8 months of age but it is possible that dogs bred for commercial sale may have been exposed to other diseases or parasites that are not apparent when they are imported, or where they are kept in Canada before being sold.
Before taking a dog home, you should consider asking for:
- the dog's vaccination records and other veterinary medical history
- additional information about the where the dog was located before being offered for sale
- information about policies on returns or assistance with medical bills if health issues are found after buying or adopting
More information to help with your dog ownership decision
Canadian Kennel Club
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
Humane Society International (Canada)
National Companion Animal Coalition
Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada
Roles and responsibilities
Importers are responsible for ensuring the health of the animals in their care. They must also verify and follow all relevant import requirements before entering or re-entering the country. This includes complying with other federal, provincial/territorial or municipal requirements prior to travelling. Please check in advance to avoid surprises and delays.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for regulating the importation of animals, including dogs, into Canada in order to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases that could negatively impact the health of both animals and humans. CFIA veterinarians administer and enforce the humane transport and import requirements at the border. CFIA veterinarians inspect all import shipments that require a permit. They are available to provide inspection services when requested by the Canadian Border Services Agency.
- Statement on Cancellation of Import Permits for Dogs from Ukraine
- Statement on Dog import from Ukraine incident
Canada Border Services Agency
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for inspecting certain commodities at the border on behalf of the CFIA. If an animal is found to be non-compliant with the CFIA's humane transport and/or import requirements, CBSA may refuse the animal entry or refer it to the CFIA for further inspection.
Provinces and territories
Provinces and territories are responsible for the protection and humane treatment of animals once imported.
Cities and municipalities
Cities and municipalities are responsible for business licensing and by-laws related to animal sales.
Dogs less than 8 months of age
All commercial import shipments of dogs less than 8 months of age require an import permit which specifies the conditions for import. There will be some variations in the permit conditions depending on the country of origin and the exact age of the animals but for most shipments, the import permit will require documents showing each animal:
- has been microchipped or tattooed
- has been vaccinated for rabies (if older than 3 months)
- has been vaccinated against canine distemper, hepatitis, parvo virus, and parainfluenza and the kennel of origin has not had a case of these disease in the 90 days before shipment
- was born in kennel that participates in a program approved and supervised by the government of the country of origin or a kennel certified by an official veterinary inspector of the central veterinary service
You should be cautious about importing a dog you have never met or when buying from an on-line broker in Canada so that you don’t unintentionally support puppy mills, find yourself with a sick dog, or worse, face the heartbreak of having to euthanize your new pet.
More information on import permits and humane transport
- Overview of dog import requirements (travellers and commercial)
- Country specific import requirements – Automated Import Reference System
- Health of Animals Regulations Part XII: Transport of Animals-Regulatory Amendment - Interpretive Guidance for Regulated Parties
- International Air Transport Association's Live Animal Regulations
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