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Do Dog Breeder Contracts Hold Up In Court?

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The majority of sales will require some form of legal contract, and this is something that is no different for the sale of puppies. It doesn’t matter if you are a breeder or a buyer, it is really important to be aware of dog breeder contracts, how they work, and what happens if you do not abide by them.

Dog breeder contract

In this article, we are going to be taking a closer look at everything that you need to know about breeder contracts and whether they will hold up in court. This will help you to understand more about the legal side of things. Just keep reading to find out more.

What Is A Dog Breeder Contract?

A dog breeder contract is a contract that is put in place to enforce the proper care of the dog by the new buyer.

It will also explain the welfare that has gone into the breeding and treatment of the dog. This is to help to ensure high standards of care from the genetics to the care of the puppy whilst in the ownership of the breeder.

A dog breeder contract can also display that both the breeder and the new buyer are aware of the puppy’s genetics, potential health problems, pet or show quality, and sometimes even their lineage.

The signing of this document will ensure that both parties are aware of everything they need to know, and it can be used as evidence of this agreement.

What Will Be Outlined In A Dog Breeder Contract?

Some of the things that will be outlined in a dog breeder contract are:

  • The quality of the dog (show or pet)
  • Any vaccinations that the dog has had
  • Whether they are spayed or neutered
  • Lineage and pedigree
  • Parental details
  • The agreed sale price
  • Whether you will be able to return a dog and for what reasons this is acceptable
  • Their AKC registration number
  • Any health concerns and health guarantees related to the dog

Some of these points are simply in the contract to ensure that both the buyer and the owner of the dog are aware of them. This will help to prevent any confusion and ensure that there will be limited to no future disputes over the agreed information.

The majority of reputable breeders will require buyers to sign a contract. Violating a properly executed legal document can land you in court, which is really important to be aware of. Below, we will explain more about what could be outlined in a dog breeder contract.

Dog breeder holding three dogs

Show Dog VS Pet

Most breeders will make the distinction between a puppy that is of pet quality and a pet that is of show quality. In the contract terms, you can find out more about the responsibilities attached to each of these.

Pet-quality puppies are those the breeder thinks will likely not grow up as candidates for showing or breeding. Show quality dogs are those that the breeder thinks have the potential to become a candidate for showing.

Breeding Health

If the dog is going to be bred in the future, then it is likely that the contract will list all of the health screenings that will need to be performed before this happens. It will also explain who makes the decisions on what breeding can take place and more.

Spay And Neuter

A lot of breeder contracts will state that pet-quality dogs should be spayed or neutered, although this is not always the case. Some breeders will even state that the owner should wait until the dog has stopped maturing before they are spayed or neutered.

Returning The Dog To The Breeder

Good breeders will not sell their puppies with the expectation of getting them back, as they want their puppies to be going to forever homes. However, the contract may include a ‘return to breeder’ clause that states under what circumstances the dog may be returned to the breeder if any.

If you are planning to rehome your dog, the breeder will often want to be notified of the change of ownership. This will allow them to be sure that their dogs are going to be responsible owners.

They may also wish to contact the new owner so they can provide any knowledge or information that might be helpful.

Health Guarantees

Even though breeders will do their best to ensure that their puppies are happy and healthy, it is possible for things not to go to plan sometimes. Some dog breeder contracts stipulate that the dog has been checked for genetic defects, specific ailments, and other conditions.

The specific details that are in the contract will depend on the individual breeder and the accepted health screening practices in the breed community in general. This is something that will depend on the breed of the dog.

Naming Conventions

Every new puppy that is born must be registered individually, and sometimes a breeder will require you to fill out the AKC registration papers, and other times they will do it themselves.

It doesn’t matter who fills out the paperwork, but your puppy will need a registered name that is different from what you call the puppy at home.

The registered name of a dog is typically longer and incorporates the breeder’s kennel name at the start of it. Some breeders will want to approve the name, but others will leave it up to you. This name will only be used when your dog is entered at AKC events

Can Dog Breeder Contracts Hold Up In Court?

A dog breeder contract is a legally binding document between you and the breeder, and it holds each party accountable if something goes wrong. If this contract contains difficult-to-meet criteria or unreasonable requests, or there is no evidence of signing, it is not always enforceable.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.