Buying and selling a puppy can be emotional. Between the excitement and apprehension lies the clear cut fact that both sides are deciding the fate of a living creature.
A puppy contract is a physical means of mediating the transaction. But, how do you navigate all that fine print?
Here’s everything you need to know.
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What is a Puppy Contract?
Dog lovers understand that owning a dog is more than just snuggles. Having a pet is a lifelong commitment to ensuring the physical and mental well being of the animal.
An ethical breeder has devoted his/her life to raising beautiful, healthy, and well-behaved dogs. Breeding takes a lot of devotion, following stringent practices, scheduling health checks, and making sure each puppy for sale receives love and socialization from the time of birth.
An ethical buyer takes over the training, financial, and medical care to ensure the puppy lives out the remainder of her life in a loving home where she is happy.
A puppy contract is a binding document between the two parties- breeder and buyer- that makes clear the expectations of responsibility, medical, and financial obligations.
With that said, no two puppy contracts are the same. The points of the contract are to be discussed between the seller and buyer to reach an agreement that makes everyone happy.
Nonetheless, the overall objective of a puppy contract should be to protect the dog.
Puppy Contract- Do I Really Need One?
Before we jump into specifics, it’s important to note that puppy contracts are not mandatory for a sale to take place.
The need for a puppy contract is totally up to the buyer and the breeder. How can you establish a solid relationship with a breeder and settle on an agreement that means something?
The trick is to do your research and know what to ask to find a breeder with a heart of gold. Then, come up with a contract and go to your attorney for legal input to ensure your contract can be legally enforced.
This video is lengthy, but it breaks down how to find a good dog breeder and make a substantial contract.
Different types of Puppy Contract
There are so many kinds of contracts involved when buying a puppy.
But to give you an idea, here are several examples of puppy contracts specific to certain expectations of dog ownership. Each has downloadable PDF contracts that you can use as a starting base for your own.
Puppy Sales Contract and Agreement
This is a standard or general puppy contract between the buyer and seller. It is pertinent for any transaction, such as buying a dog for personal companionship, family, or service.
Some breeders would include a puppy information pack – a special kit personalized for a puppy when it is given to the buyer. Not only does this include relevant documents that accompany the contract, such as health clearances, references, and vital contacts, but the breeder might include leaflets with first-time pet owner tips and product samples.
Here’s a sample of an extensive General Puppy Purchase and Sales Agreement. It can look like this, but you can edit it by removing or adding other questions or information that will suit the agreement of both parties.
Seller Name: ______________________________
Buyer Name: ______________________________
Date of Sale: ________________
Date of Delivery: _______________
Terms: ( )Outright Purchase ( )Co-ownership
Registration: ( )Full ( )Limited
Deposit: _______________ Date:_________________
Balance paid: ____________ Date: ________________ (Balance due on delivery)
Description of the puppy or dog
Gender preference: ( )Male ( )Female
DOB: ____________________ (Puppies must be 8 weeks or older before delivery)
Litter/Registration Number: _________________________
Call Name: ______________
Call Name: ______________
*** See pedigree attached.
Proposed use of the puppy or dog
( ) Pet or family companion
( ) Performance competitions
( ) Conformation events or dog shows
( ) Breeding
The seller’s opinion is the only authority required to justify this action. Testimony of other people will not supersede the seller’s judgment on this matter. Under such circumstances, all warranties are then VOID.
No other warranties or guarantees, expressed or implied, are made under this contract except as stated above.
Signed by the seller: __________________________
The buyer agrees that if at any time, and for any reason, he/she is unable to keep or properly care for the puppy/dog, it shall be returned to the seller and no one else. The buyer’s understanding and acceptance of this condition is signified here by his/her initials: ___________ on _______(date)______.
The buyer agrees to maintain the puppy/dog’s health with yearly vaccinations as specified by their veterinarian.
Special agreements pertaining to the purchase of this puppy/dog are listed below:
Signed by the buyer: ______________________________ on _______(date)______.
Witnessed by: ____________________________________________ on this date of ____________ at __________________________.
Witnessed by: ____________________________________________ on this date of ____________ at __________________________.
You can download a PDF or Doc format of this Puppy Contract Template and print it for free!
And here’s a more simple template of a Puppy Contract that you can also modify to make it more specific to what you and the buyer agreed about. It’s categorized into different situations that may affect the puppy.
The following agreement is between the Seller, the Kennel, and (Name of the buyer as expected on registration certificate), hereafter referred to as “Purchaser” for the sale and purchase of one purebred dog of the (breed name) breed.
The total amount paid for the dog is (amount), of which two hundred dollars is a non-refundable deposit.
The Seller transfers in fee all the responsibilities, privileges, and rights associated with owning a (gender of the dog) dog of the (breed name) breed to the Buyer as of the date specified below. This represents the entire agreement between Seller and Buyer in an (Outright/Co-ownership or Limited Registration) sale.
Use of the dog:
It’s agreed between the Seller and Buyer that this canine is being purchased as a family companion or for tasks fitting to its breed such as a therapy dog, search and rescue, herding, or AKC conformation and performance events.
We agree that the dog is not purchased for resale, nor will it be used or trained for activities that are illegal or for which it is not suited by reason, temperament, or conformation.
Specifically, it will not be used as a guard or attack dog, or to hunt or fight other animals.
The Seller guarantees the dog to be in a healthy condition and is free from any illness at the time of sale.
Further, the Breeder warrants that both the sire and dam’s hips have been evaluated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) in the US, or by the Appropriate Certifying Body in (country of origin).
The dogs have the grade of “Good” or better by OFA (or the equivalent grade in the country of origin), and are free of canine hip dysplasia. A veterinary ophthalmologist has examined their eyes and are certified by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation to be free from genetic eye problems.
In case the dog would have any genetic disease which is sufficiently serious after getting checked by two licensed veterinarians, one selected by the Breeder, to authorize euthanization of the dog the Seller agrees to:
The Breeder strongly encourages Purchaser to have the dog seen by a veterinarian of Purchaser’s choice within 72 hours of picking up the dog.
The dog may be returned to the Seller for any reason within 72 hours after the purchase, provided that the dog has not been damaged in any way. The Buyer will then be entitled to a refund of the paid price, less the non-refundable deposit.
The breeder certifies that the dog is eligible for registration under the Regulations of the American Kennel Club as a purebred (breed) and will provide the proper forms for such registration.
The Breeder reserves the right to affix the kennel names (Kennel Prefix) and supply a registry name for the dog.
If the dog is purchased as a pet, limited registration and co-ownership will be provided before neutering.
The Buyer agrees to keep the dog in a humane environment where the new owner would properly train and care for it. The dog will be properly registered and vaccinated against infectious diseases as recommended by a certified veterinarian.
The dog will only be allowed to roam in a safely fenced yard. The dog will get proper socialization and training. The Seller strongly recommends permanent identification by microchip or tattoo.
Spay & Neutering:
Female dogs purchased as pets, and canines that are judged not suitable for breeding or conformation events should be spayed before nine months of age.
The Breeder will rebate to the Purchaser one-third of the purchase price, less the non-refundable deposit, upon receipt of a certificate of spay from a qualified veterinarian, provided that the dog has not previously been used for breeding.
“Show Quality” Dogs:
The Breeder will use their best judgment and the advice of other fanciers in evaluating the puppies as to show or pet quality.
There is no guarantee that a puppy evaluated as “show quality” will be successful in the show ring as an adult, and no warranties are made to that effect. The Breeder encourages owners to participate in the sport of purebred dogs and may be available to assist Purchasers in preparing and showing dogs that are evaluated to be of show quality.
Right of Recovery/Placement:
If the Buyer won’t be able to keep the dog or provide a suitable home as per this contract, the dog will be returned to the Breeder.
The Buyer agrees to notify the Seller if any problem or situational change arises and will not leave the dog in a shelter, sell, or be given away. If the Seller finds out that the dog has been sold or given away without being informed by the Buyer, the Seller will take legal action, and the Buyer who signed this contract will be held responsible for all legal expenses incurred.
Agreed to this ______ day of 2019
Here’s how it would look like if you download it in document or PDF form:
A contract for puppies with show dog potential
Simply known as a Show Dog Contract, this written agreement guarantees that the puppy has inherent qualities to meet their breed standard. The breeder or seller has seen proof that the puppy will soon be qualified to compete in conformation events.
Breeding Contract/ Use of Stud
If you plan on breeding your puppy, this contract outlines all terms of the agreement between the stud and bitch to be bred.
You can check out our article on Dog Stud Service for a complete guide and an example contract.
If you just want to download the contract for breeding or stud service, here’s a free printable template.
Puppy Co-ownership Contract
This contract can be used by owners of show dogs or new puppies. You enter an agreement to share ownership of a puppy with a breeder.
Here’s a Puppy Co-Ownership Contract that you can download via PDF or Doc.
Puppy or Dog Adoption Contract
Adopting or rescuing a dog is a huge selfless act of love, but a contract is recommended to make the transfer of pet ownership official.
We made a Puppy/Dog Adoption and Rehoming Contract or Agreement that you can download via PDF or Doc, edit, and print for free.
The Process: How to Write a Puppy Contract
You can always make your own contract from scratch.
Or, if you want to get a thorough understanding of what can be included in one, here is a detailed rundown of each section you could include on a standard buyer/seller puppy contract.
Please note that the perfect puppy contract does not exist. You need to make an agreement suited to the needs of both parties.
Section I: Start with the Details of the Puppy Seller and Buyer
The first section of the contract needs to be very clear about who the parties involved in the transaction are. In this case, it’s the buyer and the seller.
Contracts must be filled out with accurate and correct information. Other Sellers or Breeders would ask for IDs to back-up the details provided, and contact person/s in case the Buyers changed their address or number.
Section II: All About the Puppy
This section will cover pertinent details about the puppy being sold/bought. Here, the seller will need to list the following information, so it is clear exactly what type of puppy the buyer is getting.
All puppy/dog contracts will include the canine’s date of birth, breed, gender, registered and call name, color, and coat, as well as any markings or necessary description. Some would have a section asking for registrations, growth charts, whelping documents, and microchip data on the contract, or it can be attached.
Pedigree & Registration Documentation
If the seller agrees that the puppy being bought is a purebred, not only does it need to be stated on the contract, but other documents must be provided as proof.
Make sure you get a pedigree certificate in the puppy information pack.
Don’t forget to inquire about the Parents
Your best chance of figuring out how a puppy might turn out or what types of genetic diseases she is predestined for is to learn as much as you can about the parents.
A reputable breeder will provide a medical history and health clearances that show the puppy’s bloodline has been screened and cleared of illnesses common in their breed. List this on the contract.
It’s also good to have a list of the parents’ titles, awards, and lifetime achievements.
Medical procedures, therapy & vaccinations
The puppy’s health, up to the point of sale is in the hands of the breeder. An ethical breeder will have kept up with vet checkups and vaccinations. They should list any medical attention, injections, and medications on the contract if there’s any.
On the contrary, sometimes a breeder will sell a puppy without having seen a vet even once. They must state that it is the buyer’s responsibility to ensure medical care.
Usually, if this is the case, a puppy return contract can be discussed. This is an agreement between the seller and buyer that there is a return period where the buyer can give the puppy back to the breeder if they are not satisfied with their purchase.
The puppy’s training & Potential
Was the puppy bred and reared to have a special skill set? Some pups come from a long line of champion show dogs or are bred for service, herding or hunting. Make sure to list this in the contract.
If a training course has been administered and completed, include the certification and trainer contacts in the puppy information pack.
Closing with further remarks
As noted, a description of the puppy’s appearance is essential. Sometimes, a puppy might display rare markings, eye colors, or other distinctive characteristics.
If this is a purebred, pictures and explanations need to be attached to the contract because sometimes, certain markings can either make a dog more valuable or be considered a flaw.
Section III: Payment Details
Next, you’ll want to conjure up a section that carefully outlines the total cost breakdown of buying a puppy.
Make sure to list the payment method, the payment process, and if there will be an installment system with payment due dates.
Note for show dogs: It is not uncommon for buyers to not pay a penny when getting a dog from a breeder. Instead, a lean agreement is set up where the breeder gets first pick of the litter born of this dog.
Will this puppy be shipped?
Outline how the puppy will be picked up by the buyer.
Sometimes this is done on the spot after the contract is signed. Other times, if the puppy is located far away, shipping is made possible.
Is there a right to return the puppy?
Remember how we touched upon a return option for the buyer? This section is exactly for outlining the return policy. It is decided upon by the seller.
Rehoming can be an option, where the puppy (at any point in its life) can be returned to the seller if the buyer can no longer take responsibility for it.
Section IV: The Final Agreement of Signatures
This is probably the most crucial section of the contract. All parties need to print, sign, and date the contract to make it binding and official.
Don’t hesitate to reread the contract or even note of any part of the document that you want to further discuss with the Seller or Buyer.
5 Quick Tips to Keep in Mind When Purchasing a Dog with a Contract
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be! When it comes down to it, a puppy contract is a small part of the final transaction.
What ensures the well being and happiness of a puppy is the amount of time and research you put into finding a reputable breeder.
On the seller side, doing business with a buyer that puts in the time, money, and dedication to meet, tour, and learn about the process says a lot as well.
Prepare yourself, be honest about your intentions and listen to your instinct when it comes to recognizing red flags and walking away, no matter how cute a puppy might be, or for the breeder- how tempting the money is.
Here are our most helpful tips for establishing a puppy contract with substance and trust.
Don’t put all of your faith in a contract.
At the end of the day, a dog is a property and no contract can control the actions of a buyer/seller. If you meet with the person you want to do business with, and their actions are questionable, walk away.
Don’t pay a deposit until you’ve dotted the I’s and crossed the t’s.
Be thorough in how you conduct your business. Sit down and talk about your expectations. Then, write them down together! This is your contract. Don’t pay a deposit until both parties have reached an agreement.
Stay true to what you expect.
For example, if you are a breeder and you want to sell your puppies to a caring, dedicated owner, take the time to give detailed explanations about daily care, such as exercise, training, feeding, and medical.
Use this discussion to study their reaction. Do potential owners care? Are they interested in and wanting to know more? Are they getting impatient and irritable? Use these cues to help decipher if this is the type of person you want your puppy to go home with.
As a buyer or seller, it isn’t uncommon to not agree with some requests listed on the contract.
Be open about your feelings and see how the other person works with you to find a resolution you can both agree on.
Remember, you don’t want to put all your trust in a paper contract. You need to be
smart and base a long relationship on personal compatibility.
Don’t take red flags lightly.
If you feel uncomfortable, listen! Sure, you took the time to meet this person, and you want it to work out, but if the person seems unstable, RUN! There are plenty of other breeders/buyers out there.
What do you think about puppy/dog contracts? Let us know what you think by commenting below!