In Vermont, all dogs over the age of six months must be licensed with the town clerk. All licenses, whether mandatory or voluntary, expire every year on March 31 and must be renewed annually by April 1.
Process, Types, and Fees
Regardless of the timing, the process for dog licensing is always the same. To obtain a dog license, an owner must provide the town clerk with proof of the dog’s current rabies vaccination (unless exempt) along with the required fee. The amount of the fee will depend on the type of license sought.
There are four different types of dog licenses, we discuss each below.
All dogs more than six months old must be licensed annually by April 1. The cost of a license is $4.00 for each neutered/spayed dog and $8.00 for each unneutered dog. These base fees increase and decrease by 50 percent, depending on when in the year the license is obtained. Mandatory state surcharges of $1.00 for the state rabies control program and $4.00 for its spay and neuter program are added to this fee. Towns with an established animal and rabies control program also have the option of imposing a $10.00 surcharge to each license for the sole purpose of funding this program. Altogether, these fees establish the minimum required charge for licensing a dog. 20 V.S.A. § 3581.
Pet Dealer Permit
A pet dealer permit must be obtained by “any person who sells or exchanges or who offers to sell or exchange cats, dogs, or wolf-hybrids, or any combination thereof, from three or more litters of cats, dogs, or wolf-hybrids in any 12-month period.” 20 V.S.A. § 3541(10). This permit does not apply to pet shops licensed by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets; animal shelters; or rescue organizations. A pet dealer permit costs $25.00, which is in addition to the base licensing fee that applies to each dog. If the permit fee is not paid by April 1, the cost of the permit increases to $37.50. Upon issuance of the pet dealer permit, the town clerk must provide the pet dealer with the following: a copy of Animal Welfare Regulations adopted by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets relating to dogs; contact information for the Animal Health Section within the Division of Food Safety and Consumer Protection of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets; and information from the Department of Taxes on sales tax obligations for the sale of pets. The permit must be prominently displayed on the premises on which the dogs are kept, and the premises are subject to inspection. 20 V.S.A. § 3681.
Breeding License (special)
A breeding license is only available for dogs kept for breeding purposes within a proper enclosure, which state law defines as “a locked fence or structure of sufficient height and sufficient depth into the ground to prevent the entry of young children and to prevent the animal from escaping. A proper enclosure also provides humane shelter for the animal.” 20 V.S.A. § 3583(a)(1). The breeding license – previously known as a “special” license – is distinguished from other licenses in two ways. First, it is the only optional license. Second, it is the only license whose fee is in place of – not in addition to – the base license. The cost of a breeding license is $30.00 for the first ten dogs and $3.00 for each additional dog. The state’s rabies control program fee of $1.00 still applies, but only to each license sold – not to each dog. 20 V.S.A. § 3581(f). For example, if a breeding license is sought by an owner breeding eight dogs, the cost of the license would be $31.00: $30.00 for the breeding license and $1.00 for the mandatory state rabies control program fee.
Working Farm Dog License
A person who owns a working farm dog and intends to use it to herd or protect livestock or poultry or to protect crop must obtain a working farm dog license. A working farm dog is defined as a dog that is “bred or trained to herd or protect livestock or poultry or to protect crops and is used for those purposes and that is registered as a working farm dog pursuant to subsection 3581(a) of this title.” 20 V.S.A. § 3541(9). The cost of this license is $5.00 plus all other licensing fees. 20 V.S.A. § 3581(a). A dog with a working farm dog license is exempt from town regulations prohibiting barking or running at large when it is herding or protecting livestock, poultry, or crops on its farmer’s property.
The town clerk must keep a record of all issued licenses, including the name of the dog’s owner or keeper, and the name, registered number, and description of the dog. 20 V.S.A. § 3589.
More information about license requirements and fees on our Vermont Dog and Wolf Hybrid Licensing webpage.
Susan Senning, Staff Attorney II
VLCT Municipal Assistance Center