Dog microchipping to be compulsory in Wales by 2015
Microchipping of all dogs in Wales will be brought in a year earlier than in England, the Welsh government has announced.
The move is seen as a way to improve animal welfare and develop responsible dog ownership by helping identify strays.
It is estimated 190,000 dogs will need to be microchipped before the March 2015 deadline.
Nearly 60% of dogs in Wales have chips, which have coded owners' details.
In England, compulsory microchipping will not come into force until April 2016.
Some charities offer the procedure for free but it costs about £20-£30 at a private veterinary clinic.
It involves inserting a sterile chip the size of a grain of rice between a dog's shoulder blades.
The Welsh minister for Natural Resources Alun Davies said it was increasingly important to have a method of tracing dogs back to their owners.
"Dog owners already have a duty of care under the Animal Welfare Act but it can be difficult to ensure that this duty is being met without a reliable form of identification," he said.
"By microchipping all dogs in Wales we can formalise the relationship between an owner and pet and ensure an increased level of accountability."
Mr Davies said public consultation had shown there is "overwhelming support" for the plans.
According to the Dogs Trust - which has a re-homing centre in Bridgend - the total number of stray dogs in Wales increased from 9,482 in 2011 to 10,230 in 2012.
The charity plans to offer free microchipping to dog owners in Wales before the regulations come in.
The trust's chief executive officer, Clarissa Baldwin, said: "Microchipping involves a minimal one-off cost, but the benefits last a life-time.
"The reality is that no matter how responsible an owner you are there is a chance your dog could get lost or stolen - micro-chipping is the most effective way to assist in a lost dog being returned to its owner."
The British Veterinary Association's (BVA) Welsh branch secretary, Bob Stevenson, said: "This is fantastic news for dog welfare in Wales.
"Microchipping provides veterinary practices, charities, and dog wardens with the ability to reunite lost and stray dogs quickly and safely with their owners.
"It is important to remember that microchips are only as useful as the information held on the database and we must all work together with the Welsh government to ensure that dog owners understand the importance of keeping their information up to date."
Compulsory microchipping came into force in Northern Ireland last year.