Licensing Your Dog in California: Fees and Requirements


A dog license is mandatory in California. All dogs over four months of age living in the state of California are required by law to be licensed and vaccinated against rabies every year. Some California cities and counties also require that both cats and dogs be spayed or neutered as well as microchipped. Moreover, some California unincorporated areas also require that all cats be licensed.

Golden Retriever and her puppies

California offers pet owners the option to obtain a three-year license at a fee that is just three times the amount of the yearly license fee. As a California pet owner, you can purchase a dog license online, by mail or in person at your local animal care center. While the requirements remain the same, pet license fees vary from county to county in California. In Los Angeles County, for example, the yearly license fee for an unaltered dog is $60 while the fee for an altered one is $20. Senior citizens aged 60 or older and disabled military veterans are entitled to discounts.

Dog license fees in Sacramento, California:

  • Spayed/Neutered dog: $20 a year
  • Un-spayed/Unneutered dog: $80 a year

Dog license fees in Sacramento, California

Documents Required to Obtain a Dog License in California

To purchase a pet license in The Golden State, pet owners need to provide proof of rabies vaccination, and proof of sterilization. Some counties, Madera for example, also require that you be 18 years of age to own a dog and obtain a license. Senior citizens need to provide proof of age such as a copy of their government-issued ID card (driver’s license or passport).

Disabled military veterans, on the other hand, must provide either a disability award letter from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or a Veterans Health Administration healthcare enrollee card. All such required documents may be submitted online at the time of your pet's registration or existing license renewal.

Why Must You License Your Dog in California?

To many pet owners, dogs are like family members. However, it is not by just saying it or assuming it. Licensing your dog lets everyone know that he or she is a beloved member of the family. Additionally, you are taking an essential step in assuring the health and safety of your dogs by licensing them. Moreover, the fastest method to reunite a lost dog with its owner is through the license tag attached to its collar. 

Licensing your dog also demonstrates that you are a responsible pet owner. Any time people notice the license tag on your dog's collar while you are walking him or her, they know that you truly care about your pet's welfare.

Furthermore, by licensing your dog, you are technically assisting millions of homeless and orphaned pets as the license fees go to organizations that take care of them.

4 Golden Retriever dogs

Penalties For Not Licensing Your Dog in California

The penalties for not complying with the dog license law in California are proportional to the severity of the violation. It also depends on the city in which you live in California. For instance, the city of Long Beach will impose a $100 fine for the initial violation. If you commit the same offense one year from the date of the initial violation, you may pay a $200 fine and so on.

In the city of Sacramento, failure to comply with the law could cost you $300.

Dog License Application in Every California County

From the list below, visit your county government or animal services website for information on how to apply for a dog license online, by mail, and in person.

  1. Alameda County
  2. Alpine County
  3. Amador County
  4. Butte County
  5. Calaveras County
  6. Colusa County
  7. Contra Costa County
  8. Del Norte County
  9. El Dorado County
  10. Fresno County
  11. Glenn County
  12. Humboldt County
  13. Imperial County
  14. Inyo County
  15. Kern County
  16. Kings County
  17. Lake County
  18. Lassen County
  19. Los Angeles County
  20. Madera County
  21. Marin County
  22. Mariposa County
  23. Mendocino County
  24. Merced County
  25. Modoc County
  26. Mono County
  27. Monterey County
  28. Napa County
  29. Nevada County
  30. Orange County
  31. Placer County
  32. Plumas County
  33. Riverside County
  34. Sacramento County
  35. San Benito County
  36. San Bernardino County
  37. San Diego County
  38. San Francisco
  39. San Joaquin County
  40. San Luis Obispo County
  41. San Mateo County
  42. Santa Barbara County
  43. Santa Clara County
  44. Santa Cruz County
  45. Shasta County
  46. Sierra County
  47. Siskiyou County
  48. Solano County
  49. Sonoma County
  50. Stanislaus County
  51. Sutter County
  52. Tehama County
  53. Trinity County
  54. Tulare County
  55. Tuolumne County
  56. Ventura County
  57. Yolo County
  58. Yuba County


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