The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Resource material › Dog Control › Microchipping Questions and Answers

*This document is in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. You need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. You can download a free version from the Adobe site.


How will microchipping stop dogs from biting people?

No laws can stop dogs biting and any dog has the potential to bite. Microchipping was introduced for two main reasons. It enables a dog to be linked to its owner, so if it is stolen or lost, dog and owner can be reunited. Secondly it can identify a dog which has been aggressive and classified as dangerous or menacing. This is especially important if a dog owner attempts to disguise the dog's identity.

Microchipping is one of a package of measures including greater powers for councils and the National Dog Database, which together enable councils to better manage the control of dogs leading to improved public safety.

Which dogs have to be microchipped?

Microchipping is required for all dogs registered in New Zealand for the first time, with the exception of working farm dogs. Dogs classified as dangerous or menacing, dogs impounded but not registered and dogs registered but impounded twice are also required to be microchipped. Whilst dogs have to be registered every year microchipping is a once only requirement.

Owners must take their microchip certificate or the dog so it can be scanned, to their council so that the information can be recorded and placed on the National Dog Database. Until the information is recorded by the council owners have not met their legal obligation.

Some estimates are it will cost about $100 to microchip each dog – is this true?

It should cost less than $100 to microchip a dog. Anyone may implant a microchip so long as a vet or council verifies it has been done according to the regulations.

The one-off cost of the microchip is between $12 and $20 plus any insertion and verification fee. Insertion and verification could cost up to $70 but your vet may reduce the cost if insertion is done at the same time as vaccination or another procedure.

Some councils also offer microchip insertion services either as a free or subsidised service.

How will microchipping help in instances of lost, stolen or injured dogs?

A microchipped dog that is picked up by council officers or injured and taken to a vet or animal welfare agency can be easily identified and quickly reunited with its owner if it is registered on the National Dog Database. If a microchipped dog is stolen it will be identified when re-registered or when picked up by council officers.

What happens if a microchip is not put in properly and cannot be scanned?

It is important the microchip is inserted in accordance with the regulations. Dog owners should ensure that the person microchipping their dog is familiar with the regulations.

If it is not verified as being done properly (i.e. if the microchip doesn’t work or meet the required standards, or is not implanted on the back, towards the neck between the shoulder blades) the owner will need to have a new one inserted.

If it has been inserted correctly and verified by a vet or council, there should be no problem in scanning it.

Can the microchip ‘move around’ in the dog (and cause problems)?

The chances of this happening are very small. A survey published in the British Journal of Small Animal Practice, reported that of an estimated 2.3 million animals implanted with microchips in the UK, there had only been 165 instances of a chip moving. This study also reported that there were only another 122 instances of other adverse reactions (such as infections or failure).

A large number of dogs picked up by animal control officers are unregistered. Won’t microchipping make this compliance problem worse?

There will always be irresponsible owners who don’t comply with the law. The package of measures that includes microchipping is aimed at giving more powers and tools to councils so they can tackle these owners and improve compliance.

From 1 July 2006 unregistered dogs picked up will automatically be registered and microchipped before release, making it much easier to track them. Registered dogs impounded more than once will also have to be microchipped.

The National Dog Database (NDD) makes it easier to track these dogs and owners as they move around the country.

National Dog Database

How does the database work?

The database holds details of all registered dogs, their owners and any infringements that may have been issued against an owner or person in charge of a dog. When a dog is picked up by council officers they will be able to check the database, locate the owner and contact them.

Will database information be available to vets and SPCA officers?

Only authorised council representatives can access the database. However, under the Dog Control Act, vets and the SPCA can phone the council to access the owner information for legal purposes (such as treating a dog). The Department of Internal Affairs has limited access to general information on the database for policy development purposes.

Why do people have to supply personal details when registering a dog?

Personal details are important for locating owners of dogs that are roaming, lost, stolen, injured or have attacked. Many people have the same names but can be differentiated from one another through date of birth. This reduces the chances of an infringement notice being sent to the wrong person. This is especially important given that often owners move without telling council of their new address.

Who has access to personal information on the database?

Only authorised council staff have access to the database. The law entitles specified persons such as police, SPCA officers and vets to ask councils for information on the owner of a dog for lawful purposes (such as treating an injured dog).

Why is the breed that I call my dog not on the NDD list?

Generally, internationally recognised breeds are listed on the NDD. Your dog's breed name may be an “also known as” name which is already on the list.

Why are there only 11 choices in the colour list?

These have been identified as the main colours with sub-base colours as a reference. This ensures there is a national standard to recognise dog colours.


What is the Government doing about improving dog safety awareness to reduce dog attacks?

Increased public awareness of safety around dogs, particularly for children, is one of the best ways to reduce attacks in the long term. As part of an initiative to encourage safe behaviour around dogs a dedicated dog safety website has been developed and can be accessed at

In 2007 the Government directed that work should take place on further initiatives:
    • enhancing the data available on dog safety and control
    • development of guidelines for councils on implementation and enforcement of the Dog Control Act 1996
    • development of consistent education messages
    • addition of Presa Canario to Schedule 4 - the list of dogs banned from importation into New Zealand
    • a discussion paper on policy options
    • the Dog Control Amendment Bill (No.2) which proposes a number of legislative changes.