Puppy Contract – Helpful Tips & Templates

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Welcoming a new puppy into your home is an exciting thing! But sometimes, problems can occur after the fact. For example, what do you do if the puppy turns out to have genetic health problems?  

A puppy contract is a way of mediating the transaction between puppy buyers and breeders and providing some protection for both parties.

Read this guide for everything you need to know about puppy contracts, including six free example puppy contract templates!

What’s A Puppy Contract?

Whats A Puppy Contract

When you buy a puppy from a licensed, ethical breeder, you’re purchasing a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog. The breeder will carry out basic health checks, and a board-certified veterinarian will ensure that the puppy doesn’t carry any genetic health conditions. Puppies are often socialized and even partially potty trained before being released to carefully vetted and matched homes.

So, there’s a lot that goes into producing the perfect puppy. But things can sometimes go wrong, and a puppy contract is designed to protect the breeder, the buyer, and the dog.

There are different types of puppy contracts, and all are, to some extent, customized, depending on the requirements of both parties.

Do I Need A Puppy Contract?

You don’t need to have a puppy contract for a sale to happen. That’s purely something for you and the breeder to agree on.

Before you draw up a contract, do plenty of research into the breeder. Draw up a contract between you, and then speak to your attorney for legal advice to ensure that the contract is legally enforceable.

Types Of Puppy Contract

There are many different kinds of contracts that are applicable when buying a puppy, and we’ve included examples of the most common ones.

1. Puppy Sales Contract & Agreement

puppy for sale

A puppy sales contract and agreement is a pretty generic contract between the buyer and the seller that’s often used as standard. This kind of contract is applicable to all transactions, including buying a dog for service, companionship, or as a family pet.

You might receive a puppy information pack with this kind of contract that includes relevant documents, such as:

  • health clearances
  • references
  • contact information
  • product samples
  • first-time pet ownership tips

You can use the basic template and add or delete items to suit your requirements.

2. Contract For Puppies With Show Dog Potential

show dog

This form of agreement is generally known as a Show Dog Contract. This kind of contract essentially promises the buyer that the puppy they are buying has the inherent qualities necessary to meet the AKC’s breed standards.

The contract states that the seller or breeder of the puppy has seen documentary proof that the puppy will soon be qualified to compete in shows. 

3. Use As Stud/Breeding Contract

breeding

If you intend to breed from your puppy, you’ll need a contract that sets out all the terms of the agreement made between the bitch to be bred and the stud.

4. Puppy Co-Ownership Contract

Puppy Co Ownership Contract

A Puppy Co-Ownership Contract is often used by owners of new puppies or show dogs who wish to enter an agreement to share the ownership of the puppy with the breeder. Successful show animals can command a high stud price, as can their puppies, and this kind of contract can make show dog ownership more affordable.

5. Puppy Or Dog Adoption Contract

Dog Adoption

If you decide to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue, that’s a wonderful thing to do. However, it’s a good idea to have a contract to ensure that the transfer of ownership or the adoption agreement is official.

How To Prepare A Perfect Puppy Contract

As we previously mentioned, you can edit and change the puppy contract to suit your needs. Alternatively, you can draw up your own contract from scratch. Remember to include everything that’s pertinent to the needs of both parties.

In this section of our guide, you can learn how to create what each section of the puppy contract should contain.

Section I – Buyer and Seller Information

In the first section of the contract, you must include details of the two parties who are involved in the transaction. In the case of a puppy contract, those two parties are the buyer and the seller. 

The information contained in the contract must be accurate and correct. Note that some breeders or sellers will request buyer IDs to confirm the information provided in case the buyer has changed their telephone number or address.

Section II – Information About The Puppy

Section II of the contract should contain all the relevant information about the type of puppy that is being bought or sold. In this section, the seller must list the information listed below so that the buyer is clear on exactly what kind of puppy he is purchasing:

  • The puppy’s date of birth and time of birth
  • The puppy’s breed
  • The puppy’s gender
  • The puppy’s kennel name and registered name
  • The color of the puppy’s coat and any markings or other description

Some contracts also include a separate section that contains details of registrations, whelping documents, growth charts, and microchip information. That information can be attached to the contract or included as separated documentation.

Pedigree and Registration Information

If the puppy is being advertised by a reputable breeder as a purebred dog, that must be clearly stated on the contract, and several other documents should also be included as proof. Check that a pedigree certificate is included in the puppy information pack.

Information About The Puppy’s Parents

An ethical breeder generally deals with several generations of puppy parents and your best way of knowing how your pup might turn out or what possible inherent health conditions he might inherit are to find out as much as possible about the puppy’s parents and grandparents.

A good breeder will be able to provide you with a full medical history, health records, and health clearances that demonstrate that the puppy’s parents and grandparents have undergone health screening and are clear of any common diseases and illnesses that are known to affect the breed. That information should be clearly indicated on the contract.

If the puppy’s relatives have won any awards, titles, or lifetime achievements, that information should be listed on the contract.

Info About Puppy Health

The puppy’s health, up to the time of sale to his new owner, is down to the seller or breeder.

Reputable, ethical breeders will be able to show you records of their puppy’s veterinary checkups, vaccinations, and deworming treatments. Any medical attention, drugs, or injections that the puppy has received should also be recorded on the contract, if applicable, together with details of the qualified veterinarian who looked after the puppy.

If the puppy has never been seen by licensed veterinarians prior to sale, the breeder must state on the contract that it is the buyer’s responsibility to provide proper medical care for the puppy. In such cases, there should be a puppy return clause included in the contract. That states that there’s a period during which the buyer can return the puppy to the breeder or seller if they are unhappy with their purchase.

Training And Puppy Potential

Many puppies come from a long bloodline that includes champion show animals, service dogs, hunting, or herding hounds. If that applies to your puppy, it should be shown in the contract. That’s especially important if you’re buying a dog to do a specific job, such as shepherding or to work in the hunting field as a bird dog.

 If the puppy has undergone any form of specialist training, the certificate and trainer information should be included with the contract in the puppy pack.

Further Remarks

As we mentioned earlier, the contract must contain a description of the puppy’s appearance.

Puppy’s sometimes have rare colors, markings, eye colors, or some other distinctive characteristic. That’s essential information for a buyer of a purebred dog that’s intended for a career in the show ring, as certain colors and markings can make a puppy more or less valuable and might even be regarded as a serious flaw.

Section III: Payment Details

The next section of the contract handles everything to do with payment details. 

There should be a breakdown of the total cost of buying the puppy. Information about the payment method used, the payment process, and whether an installment agreement is in place, including payment dates.

Show Dogs

Sometimes, in the case of show dogs with a track record in the ring, a buyer might not pay anything for the puppy. Instead, a separate “lean agreement” is set up whereby the breeder is assured of the first choice of the first litter of puppies that the dog produces when it retires to stud.

Shipping Information

Usually, a puppy will be collected by the buyer. However, sometimes, puppies are shipped from their breeder to the buyer.

In this section of the contract, it must be stipulated how the puppy is to get from the seller or breeder to the buyer. Shipping costs and who is responsible for paying them must be agreed upon and noted in the contract.

Puppy Return Contract

The seller can decide whether there is any form of compensation or return agreement included in the contract. For example, some breeders will agree to take the puppy back and refund the buyer if the puppy turns out to have some sort of serious health condition that wasn’t picked up during the initial health screening.

Sometimes, there’s an option included in the contract for the puppy to be rehomed in the future if the buyer’s circumstances change and he is no longer able to honor his ownership responsibilities.

Often, the breeder insists that the dog is returned to them rather than being placed in the care of a rescue or passed on to a friend of the buyer.

Section IV: Final Agreement Of Signatures

The final section of the contract is the most crucial. All the parties involved in the sale must print, sign, and date the contract so that the document is official and legally binding.

Before you sign the contract, be sure to read it thoroughly and raise any concerns with the buyer or seller.

Example Of Puppy Contract

Now you know a little more about potential puppy contracts, here’s an example of a basic puppy contract and sale agreement for you to work with.

General Puppy Contract And Sale Agreement

  • Seller Name: __________________
  • Address: ________________________________________
  • Phone: ______________________
  • Buyer Name: __________________
  • Address: ________________________________________
  • Phone: ______________________
  • Date of Sale: ____
  • Date of Delivery: ___
  • Terms: ( )Outright Purchase ( )Co-ownership
  • Registration: ( )Full ( )Limited
  • Price: _____
  • Deposit: ___ Date:_____
  • Balance paid: _ Date: _____ (Balance due on delivery)

Description of the puppy or dog

  • Breed: ____________________
  • Gender preference: ( )Male ( )Female
  • Color: ____________________
  • DOB: ____________________ (Puppies must be 8 weeks or older before delivery)
  • Litter/Registration Number: _________________________
  • Sire: ___________________________________
  • Call Name: ______________
  • AKC#: __________________
  • OFA#: __________________
  • Dam: __________________________________
  • Call Name: ______________
  • AKC#: __________________
  • OFA#: __________________
  • *** See pedigree attached.

Proposed use of the puppy or dog

  • ( ) Pet or family companion
  • ( ) Performance competitions
  • ( ) Conformation events or dog shows
  • ( ) Breeding

Seller Agreements

  1. This puppy/dog is a purebred _____(breed)_______. This puppy/dog is of typical temperament and structure and embodies the basic standards of the ___(your dog’s breed)____ breed.
  2. The pedigree furnished is correct.
  3. The puppy/dog is: registered __________ registerable ____________ with the AKC.
  4. The registered name is/will be _______________________________________; or
  5. The kennel prefix ______(your kennel name)_______ must be used as the first word of the registered name or be used in the name.
  6. AKC Registration papers will be filled out after the sale is complete and will be forwarded to the buyer once the AKC returns them.
  7. The registration is ______(full or limited)______. Puppies sold on limited registration may not be shown in AKC conformation shows or bred. The buyer’s understanding and acceptance of this condition are signified here by his/her initials: ________________ on _______(date)____.
  8. The purchase price of this puppy/dog will be refunded if the buyer furnishes the seller with a veterinary certificate indicating that the puppy/dog is unwell or unsound and returned within 72 hours from delivery. The Seller will reimburse no veterinary or shipping costs.
  9. If the buyer has paid by check, the purchase price will be refunded only if or when the buyer’s check has cleared and been credited to the seller’s account.
  10. The puppy/dog’s sire and dam are both OFA certified as free of hip dysplasia and come from many generations of puppy/dogs who are also free of hip dysplasia. The puppy/dog is expected to be free of hereditary crippling hip dysplasia. However, no guarantee of such is or can be made or intended herein.
  11. The puppy/dog is healthy at the sale and has had immunizations enumerated in the attached health record.
  12. If at any time the buyer is unable to keep or care for the puppy/dog, it must be returned to the seller. The puppy/dog may not be transferred or sold by the buyer. The buyer’s understanding and acceptance of this condition is signified here by his or her initials: ___________ on ____(date)_______. The seller will endeavor to place any returned puppy/dog as advantageously as possible. If a purchase price is obtained for the puppy/dog, it will be refunded to the original buyer, less any costs of placement. If the puppy/dog is placed free of charge, no money will be returned to the original buyer. No veterinary or other costs of keeping the puppy/dog or any other costs incurred by the buyer resulting from their ownership of the puppy/dog will be paid by the seller to the original buyer of the puppy/dog under any circumstances.
  13. The seller in no way guarantees that this puppy/dog shall win in conformation and or performance events.
  14. The seller agrees to provide advice and information on showing and grooming to the best of their ability, to help the buyer of a show or performance potential puppy/dog present the canine to its best potential.
  15. If the seller determines, by any means, that the puppy/dog is not suitably cared for or that it has been mentally or physically mistreated, the seller has the right to take full possession of the dog and its duly signed AKC transfer papers/registration, without compensation.

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: __________________________

Date: _________________

Buyer Agreements

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.

  1. Should the puppy/dog become ill or unsound, any and all costs of treatment will be the responsibility of the buyer.
  2. The buyer agrees to keep the puppy/dog in an appropriate lean weight to maximize the puppy/dog’s soundness and longevity.
  3. The buyer agrees to feed only those puppy/dog foods acceptable to the seller, and in particular, agrees not at any time to feed the puppy/dog a “raw,” BARF, vegetable, or home-cooked diet.
  4. The buyer agrees to contact the seller about any changes to the puppy/dog’s diet and to abide by the seller’s decision regarding any change in food. The buyer’s acceptance of this condition is signified here by his/her initials: __________ on ___(date)____.
  5. The buyer agrees to socialize, train, and keep the puppy/dog in a manner acceptable to the seller.
  6. If, at any time, the seller finds that the puppy/dog is being kept, treated, or allowed to behave in a manner not acceptable to him/her, the buyer agrees to surrender the puppy/dog to the seller. It shall include all of its registration documents, with ownership transfer adequately signed.
  7. The buyer agrees to allow the seller access to the puppy/dog and to the premises where it is kept, to evaluate the condition therein.
  8. The buyer of both pet and show/breeding puppies shall obtain OFA hip certification (Penn Hip is not acceptable) as soon as possible after the puppy/dog reaches 24 months of age. This will help us continue to provide the healthiest, happiest, and soundest pets possible.
  9. The buyer agrees not to sue the seller and to pay any and all court or attorney fees incurred by the seller should any suit be brought against the seller regarding this puppy/dog by any person. The buyer signifies acceptance of this condition by initialing here: __________ on ____(date)____.
  10. The buyer acknowledges that special coat care, conditioning, training, and feeding are necessary to produce a competitive __(breed of the dog) __ in conformation and performance events and that this care and training is his/her responsibility.
  11. The buyer agrees that the Seller should approve any dog or bitch being bred to this (breed of the dog). All breedings must be done by contract, and any dog/bitch bred to this (breed) must have OFA hip certification of good or better and any other health clearances requested by the seller or typical for the breed.
  12. No bitch shall be bred to this male (breed) except by artificial insemination unless the seller approves pre-breeding medical workup results for the bitch to be bred. Please refer to our breeding article for appropriate testing of the bitch before breeding.
  13. The buyer agrees to make this male (breed) available to the seller for breeding at no cost, and not to castrate this male puppy/dog.
  14. The buyer agrees to consult with the seller over any and all matters dealing with the reproductive system of this female (breed). This bitch may not be spayed, even for medical reasons, before consulting a suitable canine reproductive veterinarian.

Special agreements pertaining to the purchase of this puppy/dog are listed below:

  • Neutering: ____________________________
  • Showing: _____________________________
  • Other: _______________________________

Signed by the buyer: ______________________________ on _______(date)______.

***************************

Witnessed by: ____________________________________________ on this date of ____________ at __________________________.

Address: ________________________________________________

Phone: __________________________________

Witnessed by: ____________________________________________ on this date of ____________ at __________________________.

Address: ________________________________________________

Phone: __________________________________

Remember, you can use this basic contract to draw up a puppy contract and sale agreement. Feel free to edit and add information as you see fit.

5 Tips to Bear In Mind When Buying a Puppy with a Contract

A puppy contract is only a very small part of making a successful purchase. The most important aspect of finding a happy, healthy puppy is the research you put into finding a reputable breeder.

From the seller’s point of view, he’s more likely to do business with someone who puts the time and effort into researching, visiting, and learning about the breeder’s business. Breeders invest a lot of time and money into producing perfect puppies and they won’t sell to people who lack the knowledge and means to care for the puppy properly.

From the buyer’s perspective, you must be clear about what you want from your puppy, and be on the lookout for red flags that can set alarm bells ringing about a breeder.

Now, here are some helpful tips and advice on buying a puppy with a contract.

1. Don’t Rely Exclusively On A Contract

When it comes down to it, a puppy is an item of property and a contract can’t legislate for the unpredictable actions of a seller or buyer. 

If you get bad vibes about the person you’re dealing with, and you find their actions questionable, walk away from the deal, no matter how cute or lovable the puppy might be. 

2. Don’t Part With Any Money Until The Contract Is Finalized

Although that sweet little puppy is just begging to be taken home with you, don’t pay the breeder or seller a penny until you’ve discussed your expectations in full and drawn up the contract to your satisfaction.

Don’t part with any money until the time of purchase when both parties are in full agreement.

3. Don’t Change Your Expectations

Always be true to what you expect and want from your purchase. 

For example, if you’re the seller or breeder, and you want all your puppies to go to dedicated, knowledgable, caring owners, take the time to explain in detail about the exercise, care, feeding, medical requirements, and feeding. 

You can use that discussion to see how the potential owners react. Do they care? Do they ask lots of questions and want to know more? Are they impatient and anxious to grab the pup and go?

All those clues can help you to decide whether this person is the ideal owner for your precious puppy.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Disagree

Many times, the buyer and seller won’t agree on everything within the contract. Be prepared to discuss your concerns and queries and rewrite any parts of the contract that are not satisfactory to you.

5. Don’t Ignore Red Flags

If you don’t feel comfortable about the agreement, the breeder’s kennels, the buyer’s knowledge and experience, or anything else that feels like a red flag, walk away. There are lots of alternative reputable breeders out there!

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed our guide to puppy contracts. If you found the information helpful, please share the article.

A puppy contract is there for the protection of the dog, the buyer, and the seller. You can use a basic puppy agreement template, like the one we’ve included here, or make a few adjustments to accommodate your requirements.

Did you buy a puppy with a contract? What do you think about the idea of puppy contracts? Are they a waste of time?

 Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.

Meet our writer

Alison Page was brought up with dogs and various other pets! For a few years, Alison worked as a Practice Manager in a small animal veterinary clinic. Alison is now a full-time writer, specializing in creating articles on the care and training of dogs, cats, and fish.

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