Program Overview

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health developed a program to recognize licensed commercial breeders who demonstrate excellence and exceed the standards and practices of the commercial breeder law. This program was developed with the input of an advisory task force comprised of licensed commercial breeders, veterinarians who work with commercial breeders, and Board of Animal Health inspectors and staff.

Participation in this program is voluntary and breeders have the opportunity to demonstrate excellence by earning any of five badges. Refer to the Breeder Excellence Program FAQ for more detailed information on requirements for earning each badge. A breeder who earns all five badges is awarded a Breeder of Excellence designation.

Participation in this program is not a full guarantee that animals from these facilities are free from disease or underlying health conditions.

Qualifying Breeders

The following licensed commercial breeders qualify for the Breeder Excellence Program and have earned badges.

Minnesota Licensed Commercial Dog Breeders: Breeder Excellence Badges Earned
BreederCountyBehavior and Socialization BadgeCanine Brucellosis Screening BadgeContinuing Education BadgeFacility Management BadgeHealth Screening BadgeBreeder of Excellence Badge
Fieldstone KennelsMille LacsBadge earnedNot earnedBadge earnedBadge earnedBadge earnedNot earned

Apply for the program

To qualify for the Breeder Excellence Program, a breeder must be licensed with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and must not have had any violations with the Commercial Dog or Cat Breeder program during the most recent licensing period.

Applicants must complete the following documents and submit them to the Board (refer to the Breeder Excellence Badges Checklist).

Required documentation may be submitted by email at companion.animal@state.mn.us or mail to:

Minnesota Board of Animal Health
Attn: Companion Animal Division
625 Robert Street North
St. Paul, MN 55155

Badge requirements:

Behavior and Socialization Badge

  • Enrichment plan outlining activities in two out of three of the following enrichment categories:
    • Animal-to-animal interaction.
    • Human-to-animal interaction.
    • Environmental stimulation.
  • A copy of a log outlining enrichment activities demonstrating at least 60 days of plan implementation.

Canine Brucellosis Screening Badge (dogs only):

  • Breeder Excellence Canine Brucellosis Screening Agreement.
  • Copies of canine brucellosis test results for all adult dogs on the premises.
  • Inventory of all adult dogs on the premises.

Continuing Education Badge:

  • Proof of 20 hours of Board approved continuing education or 12 hours of continuing education and proof of membership in a relevant association for all individuals listed on the license application.
  • Documented evidence of a formal training program for all facility employees.

Facility Management Badge:

  • Completed Biosecurity Plan.
  • Completed Emergency Response Plan.

Feline Immunodeficiency (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (FeLV) Screening Badge (cats only):

  • Breeder Excellence Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Screening Agreement.
  • Copies of Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus test results for all adult cats on the premises.
  • Inventory of all adult cats on the premises.

Health Screening Badge:

  • Documentation that all adults in the facility have had a comprehensive wellness examination by a veterinarian within the last 12 months.
  • Documentation signed by a veterinarian verifying an onsite assessment of all animals in the facility has been conducted within the last 12 months.
  • Written directions from a licensed veterinarian, detailing recommendations for health screening of all breeding animals in the facility.
  • Documentation, including test results and health records, verifying veterinary recommendations have been adhered to.

Board administrative staff will review the submitted program application and all associated documentation to verify badge requirements have been met. An onsite inspection may be required for additional verification. Once the Board has determined that breeder has met all necessary qualifications, a badge will be awarded. Inspectors will audit program participants to ensure they meet all badge requirements during their routine inspection and may conduct additional inspections as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Breeder Excellence Program?

A statutory program to recognize people who demonstrate commercial breeder excellence and exceed the standards and practices required of commercial breeders in Minnesota.

When did the Breeder Excellence program start?

The Breeder Excellence program officially started July 1, 2020.

Can any dog or cat breeder be in the Breeder Excellence program?

Only commercial dog or cat breeders licensed with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (Board) can apply to be part of the Breeder Excellence program.  A commercial dog or cat breeder must not have had any violations with the Commercial Dog or Cat Breeder program during the most recent licensing period.

How does the program work?

Commercial dog and cat breeders that exceed the standards and practices required of commercial breeders have the opportunity to earn up to five different badges in the Breeder Excellence program. A commercial breeder that earns all five badges will be recognized as a Breeder of Excellence. Program badges are good for one-year only and qualifying breeders will receive a new badge each year that they apply they qualify.

How will I know if a commercial dog or cat breeder is in the Breeder Excellence program?

A commercial dog or cat breeder may display any or all badges earned at their facility or in any advertising. The Board will maintain a list of commercial dog and cat breeders in the Breeder Excellence program on this page.

What are the five badges for the Breeder Excellence program?

Behavior and Socialization BadgeBehavior and Socialization

To qualify for the behavior and socialization badge, commercial dog and cat breeders must:

  • Establish and maintain an enrichment plan that outlines activities in two out of the three following enrichment categories: (1) animal to animal interaction, (2) human to animal interaction, and (3) environmental stimulation.
  • Create a log of enrichment activities detailing at least 60 days of plan implementation to be reviewed and approved by Board inspectors.

Canine Brucellosis screening (dog breeding facilities only)Canine Brucellosis badge

To qualify for the canine brucellosis screening badge, commercial dog breeders must:

  • Present copies of test results verifying that each adult dog (dogs 28 weeks of age or older) in their facility tested negative to two approved canine brucellosis tests performed at least 12 weeks apart.
  • Present copies of test results verifying that each dog added to the facility not tested as indicated above was isolated until tested negative to two approved canine brucellosis tests performed at least 12 weeks apart.

Continuing EducationContinuing Education badge

To qualify for the continuing education badge, commercial dog and cat breeders must:

  • Submit proof of at least 20 hours of Board-approved continuing education for all individuals listed on the license application; or
  • 12 hours of Board-approved continuing education and proof of membership in a relevant association for all individuals listed on the license application.
  • Present documented evidence of a formal training program for all facility employees.

Facility ManagementFacility Management badge

To qualify for the facility management badge, commercial dog and cat breeders must:

  • Submit a written biosecurity plan to the Board for review which outlines the facilities disease prevention protocols including isolation of sick animals, cleaning and disinfection of the facility, personal protective equipment for staff members and policies for visitors.
  • Submit a written emergency response plan to the Board for review which outlines facility management’s response to natural and man made disasters including a detailed evacuation plan and an alternate care plan if primary staff are unavailable due to unforeseen circumstances.

Feline Leukemia (cat breeding facilities only)Feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency Screening badge

To qualify for the facility management badge, commercial cat breeders must:

  • Present copies of test results verifying that each adult cat (cats 28 weeks of age or older) in their facility tested negative to an approved test for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).
  • Present copies of test results verifying that each cat added to the facility not tested as indicated above was isolated until tested negative to an approved test for FeLV and FIV.

Health ScreeningHealth Screening Badge

To qualify for the health screening badge, commercial dog and cat breeders must:

  • Present documentation verifying that all adult animals in the facility have had a comprehensive wellness examination by a veterinarian within the past year.
  • Present documentation verifying that a licensed veterinarian has conducted an onsite assessment of all animals in the facility within the past year.
  • Present copies of results of health screening performed under the direction of a licensed veterinarian on all adult (28 weeks of age or older) intact animals in their breeding facility. Screening may include genetic or disease testing and/or parasite and disease screening.

If a breeder isn’t in the program, how can I find out if they meet any of these requirements?

The Board encourages anyone looking to acquire a new pet to contact the breeder directly to address questions about the animal you wish to purchase or their breeding facility.

If a breeder is participating in the Breeder Excellence program, does that guarantee that every dog or cat purchased from their facility will be free from genetic or contagious disease(s)?

Enrollment of a breeder in the Breeder of Excellence program means the annual qualifications for a badge of excellence at the time of application had been met. Successful enrollment is not a guarantee or warranty by the Board of Animal Health of an animal’s health or fitness. A purchaser should work with individual breeders or refer to Minnesota Statutes 325F regarding their consumer rights.