Code of Welfare for Dogs issued

10 June 2010

All dog owners will be interested in the minimum standards of care and recommended best practices outlined in the Animal Welfare (Dogs) Code of Welfare 2010 issued today by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC).

The code applies to anyone responsible for dogs, including those that have them as pets, show dogs, working dogs or those used for breeding or sport. It offers practical information and 21 minimum standards relating to all aspects of dog ownership and care, including water, food and body condition, containment and shelter, breeding and inherited disorders, behaviour, training, tail docking, transportation and euthanasia.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 it is the legal responsibility of all animal owners to ensure that the physical, health and behavioural needs of their dog(s) are met and that they receive high standards of care.

"The code is intended to encourage all those responsible for the welfare of dogs to exceed minimum standards and adopt best practices of husbandry, care and handling," says Dr John Hellström, Chairman of NAWAC.

"It sets standards in regards to inherited disorders in dogs. These standards are for anyone breeding dogs and selling puppies, not just dog breeders. They are intended to support initiatives from other organisations, like the New Zealand Kennel Club's Accredited Breeder Scheme."

The code also allows for tail banding of puppies less than four days old by appropriate people acting under a quality assurance scheme. "The New Zealand Kennel Club already has a scheme for accrediting tail banders, but there is nothing stopping another organisation setting up their own" says Dr Hellström. NAWAC felt that it was unable to ban tail docking under the Animal Welfare Act without more information on the effects of current good practice. Instead it placed tight restrictions on the practice and will look at the issue again when the code is reviewed.

The Code of Welfare for Dogs was issued by the Minister of Agriculture on the recommendation of NAWAC – an independent Ministerial advisory committee. The code was drafted by a group convened by the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) and reviewed by representatives of animal welfare organisations, breeders, farmer representatives, local councils, veterinarians and members of the public.

Copies of the code and the explanatory report that accompanies it are available online at or by request from

Issued by:
Lisa Gibbison
Senior Communications Adviser
Phone: 04 894 0432 or 029 894 0432



Last Updated: 22 September 2010

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