Dog Licensing in Toronto

Vintage brass dog tags, used as charms on a bracelet or as an extraordinary necklace. Image by Etsy dog tags

Do I have to get a licence for my dog?

Dog owners in Toronto are required to have a licence for each dog, and to renew the licence every year, according to Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 349 (PDF version). Dog licensing allows the Toronto Animal Services department to reunite lost dogs with their owners, provide animal shelters, fund adoption programs, spay/neuter programs, and provide other essential veterinary care.

How much does a dog licence and tag cost?

As of 2016, licensing a spayed/neutered dog is $25 per year ($60 if intact), and it’s half price for seniors. Tags are included as part of the licence fee, and are to be worn at all times. Click here to see all of the current city of Toronto animal service fees.

Despite the low cost of getting a licence, and the chance of incurring a $240 fine, it is estimated that only about 20% of Toronto pets have licences. Perhaps you are also surprised at this number.

Part of the reason may be that pet owners are expected to buy licences even for strictly indoor cats, which they may find unreasonable. Also, with the advent of micro-chipping, and the option of purchasing a custom made identification tag, or already having rabies tags, many pet owners feel that annual licensing is not necessary. Another factor is the very low incidence of negative consequences. 

What are the chances of incurring a fine?

In the past five years, only 82 people have been charged for failure to have a licence. In 2014 only eight people were fined for failure to licence their pets. These numbers are incredibly low, considering that Toronto Animal Services issued 39,005 new or renewed licences for cats and 85,069 tags for dogs between Jan. 1, 2014 and July 20, 2015. 

A bell-shaped brass dog tag from Toronto in 1907


Image by
1907 dog tag

If an unlicensed dog ends up in a shelter, the owner can claim their dog, but must pay the licensing fee as well as a separate shelter release fee. At the time of this writing, it’s $40, plus $20 per day. There is also a charge of $42.84 for pick up or delivery. In addition, depending on the number of previous offences, the owner might be fined for not licensing their dog in the first place.

The latest innovation is “the chip truck”

The Chip Truck is a rolling dispenser of City of Toronto pet licences, microchips and rabies vaccines for only $35 per dog. If your dog is already licensed and you just want a microchip and rabies vaccine, it’s only $10 with proof of a current city dog licence. Here are some dates and locations to meet up with the chip truck and you can find brick and mortar dog licensing locations in your area here.

This makes it easier for dog lovers to protect our pets, as well as support the shelters and animal care services that may one day save the lives of our beloved friends.

Supporting you in providing a balanced & fulfilling life for your dog

Fluffy mixed breed with shades of brown looking at the camera with trees in the background.