Puppy Papers, Guarantees, and Contracts
by Elena Smith



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If you are contemplating buying a dog and entering into a contract with a breeder, have a lawyer review the contract before you buy the dog. Contracts are serious business, involving specific obligations on your part.

Breeders often protect their dogs from indiscriminate breeding by using legally enforceable contracts, sales agreements and/or show contracts for all their puppy buyers. Let's look at some of the different kinds of contracts you might be asked to sign.

Some breeders will enter into a "co-ownership agreement," which says that both you and the breeder own the dog. This way, the breeder maintains control over the breeding of a valuable female, as all owners must sign the AKC litter registration application.

Some show breeders will sell puppies with an ironclad "show contract" to unsuspecting novices. This may require the dog to be shown frequently at dog shows - a costly and time-consuming endeavor.

Breeding Contracts

A breeder is defined as the owner of the bitch who whelps the litter. In other words, the person who owns the mother of the puppies is the breeder.

Breeding contracts vary with each breeder. Typically, a breeder will ask for one or two puppies back from the bitch's (female's) first litter.

The breeder may also require you to pay the stud fee, which is the fee for the services of the male. If the breeder sells you a male dog, they may require you to make the dog available to be used at stud. In this way, breeders can keep the selling price of their pups down while still improving their bloodlines.

Unfortunately, some of these "puppy back" contracts can be ridiculous. Some contracts require half of very litter coming back to the bitch's breeder with the novice, of course, paying for everything. The poor novice breeder is held hostage to such selfish breeding terms.

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