How to Properly Build and Maintain a Dog Kennel

The joy of owning animals is one that many families get to experience thanks to loving, caring dog breeders and care providers across the country. These families also rely upon trustworthy, knowledgeable caretakers to watch their animals while they are traveling or away at work. If you are hoping to house dogs for breeding or invest in your own kennel there are many considerations you need to take into account before you can provide a loving home for these animals.

So what do you need to know before you begin planning your new animal shelter or dog kennel? First and foremost you should be aware of the federal and state regulations that will impact the type of shelter you build and the design of the building.

Federal Rules for Housing and Sheltering Animals

To protect all animals and ensure they live in a happy healthy environment the government has set forth several rules and regulations that relate to the housing and caging of animals. These laws were put into place in 1970 and still stand relatively unaltered today.

Condition of Animal Living Spaces

The majority of the federal regulations address the design and layout of animal shelters. All shelters and housing facilities must be "maintained in good repair", meaning all structures must be structurally sound, all windows and doors must open, close and lock correctly and any interior or exterior damage must be repaired in a timely manner.

It's not only the exterior and structure of the building that is important, but also the interior. All interior walls and ceilings must be painted. The entire structure must be cleaned on a regular basis and be made entirely from non-hazardous materials. If you are considering placing cages in your dog kennel there must be enough cages to house each dog individually and all animals must have enough space inside the cage to stand freely, lay down and turn around. Dogs must also be given room to exercise and play both indoors and outdoors. Playpens, or "runs" as they are referred to in legal documentation, must be at ten feet long and the minimum width required varies based upon the size of dogs housed in the kennel.

Living facilities must also provide adequate shelter from heat and bad weather. These shelters must be large enough that all dogs can stay completely dry and maintain a healthy body temperature.

Necessities for Healthy Living

Beyond just the size and design of the shelter an appropriate dog kennel must also provide certain necessities for the animals. First off the structure be well lit, a source of light, equal to 30 candle power or more, from either natural or man-made sources must be present at all times.

Both cold and hot water shall be available at all times from a source within the shelter. The building itself shall be clean, and the routine removal or dirt and waste should take place every night. In addition, the kennel must be kept at a reasonable, comfortable temperature at all times.

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Boarding and Shelter Licenses

On top of providing adequate living facilitates, some states also require kennel owners to possess a boarding or shelter license. Most states have their own Animal Welfare Act, which will specify whether or not a license is needed in your state and how to procure one. Most licenses cost between $25 and $100 dollars to obtain and must be renewed yearly. Most applications require proof of the health of your animals, documented no more than 30 days prior. These licenses may also require proof that living conditions and kennels are compliant with all federal and local regulations.

Some states with stricter laws about the boarding of animals may also require a phone or on-site interview with the owner. During an on-site interview all housing facilities must already be built with all areas available for the inspector to walk through. Records of these interviews will be kept on file and the owner of a kennel may be subject to subsequent inspections in any complaints. Some licensees may also have their license revoked upon receiving a complaint and will not be eligible to reapply for another license for 365 days. Listed below are states which require one or both licenses:

States Requiring a Boarding or Shelter Licenses

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Special Circumstances for Owning a Kennel by State

  • Colorado: If the owner of a kennel or animal boarding facility is the recipient of a complaint documented by an authority they are subject to investigation and may be convicted of a civil penalty, which can result in a fine of up to $1000 per violation.
  • Georgia: If a person owning a kennel or animal shelter fails to obtain a license they are subject to convicted of a misdemeanor. If animals are to be sold, or adopted by anyone not directly affiliated with the shelter itself it must be guaranteed beyond reasonable doubt that all animals are in good health.
  • Indiana: Dogs may not be kept in a cage with a wire floor unless there is a structure in place which keeps the dog off the wiring. All dogs must be taken outside for a run at least once per day.
  • Louisiana: No one person shall keep more than 75 dogs over the age of one-year-old at any time. If found to violate this regulation the owner is subject to conviction of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 or six months imprisonment.
  • Nebraska: State authorities may suspend an owner's license or file an injunction or restraining order at any time, with reasonable cause, against any individual who has violated the state's standards or animal care, or who makes threats to violate regulations. All animal handlers must wash their hands immediately before handling sick animals, and sick animals are to be taken to a licensed veterinarian within a reasonable time. Dogs must be given the opportunity to socialize daily.
  • Pennsylvania: All kennels must be equipped with a smoke alarm and means to adequately put out a fire. All dogs must visit a licensed veterinarian at least once in a six month period, and all kennels and housing structures are to be inspected at least twice per year.

Author: Conrad Mackie