Dad Writes Up Incredibly Detailed Family Dog Contract For His Family

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 Tuesday, 5th April 2022 Tuesday, 5th April 2022

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Health Guarantees

Puppies are not widgets – if they were, not only would they not be anywhere near as cuddly, but they would be interchangeable, and a “defective” one would simply mean inconvenience, not heartbreak. While reputable breeders do their utmost to ensure that their puppies are the healthiest and soundest possible, sometimes things do not go as planned, just as with we humans.

Some breeder contracts guarantee all against genetic defects (usually up until a certain age), while others guarantee against specific ailments, such as heart problems, sometimes under certain conditions. Some breeders, for example, will guarantee against hip dysplasia, but only if the owner takes common-sense precautions, such as not running a puppy continuously on a hard surface until a year of age, and sometimes for large breeds, even longer. These specifics are dependent on the individual breeder, as well as the generally accepted health-screening practices in the breed community as a whole. After all, health concerns in a Chihuahua will be different from those in a Great Dane.

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The Perfect Puppy Sale Contract

Unfortunately for you, it does not exist. You have to create it yourself. Different breeders and different buyers have different needs and require different clauses. If a client buys you a puppy because his parents are champions, they will require different terms and clauses that if you are selling a family puppy to the regular household. Each puppy in the same litter sometimes requires different contracts.

There are, however, skeletons and templates that will help you visualize and see the main clauses a contract of sale for dogs and puppies must include. Depending on your situation (the breed, the purpose, and type of the dog), it is essential for you to edit the template(s) you have chosen. For the most basic sales, you can just do with the template directly.

A puppy Lab waiting for his new owners! (Credits:
A puppy Lab waiting for his new owners! (Credits: / Ready to Rumble / CC BY-ND 2.0)

Who Needs a Family Dog Contract?

Family dog contracts aren’t always necessary, but they can be really helpful for some situations. Here are some scenarios in which it’s a good idea to draft up a canine contract: 

  • Your family is preparing for a new puppy. Family dog contracts are pretty useful for families embarking (get it?) on their first dog-owning adventure.The same goes for adopting a new shelter dog.
  • Your kids want a dog, but you’re less enthused. Family dog contracts are particularly important when the kids are the primary pooch pushers. If the adults aren’t super stoked about bringing home a furry friend, each child needs to clearly understand the responsibilities associated with having a dog. Adults will probably end up taking care of the four-footer in some way or another, but setting these expectations ahead of time can help cut back on family canine contentions. 
  • You and your partner want a pooch. Bringing a fur baby into your lives is a big step that requires plenty of compromise and adjustment. You and your partner should discuss how you’ll take care of your furry friend, budget for him, and what you’ll do in the event of a breakup for the safety of your dog. 
  • You and your roommates want to get a dog. Even though you aren’t actually family members, roommates can benefit from dog contracts too. Make sure you determine who the primary owner is so that the pooch is always well-cared for with each new lease. 

The Process: How to Write a Puppy Contract

You can always make your own contract from scratch

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.

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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.

The Weird Stuff

While most contracts are straightforward and even boring, occasionally you might find some head-scratchers. Consider, for example, the breeder who required that puppy owners send her a photo of the dog every December. Her explanation, however, made sense: A photo lets her see if the dog is in good condition, and during the holiday season most people are inclined to take and send photos anyway.

Would that demand for a yearly photo op hold up in a court of law? Without seeing the document, or knowing the circumstances, who knows? While most breeders are more concerned about the spirit rather than the letter of the law, others do choose to exercise their legal rights. Reading through and discussing the contract with the breeder before you pick up your puppy should answer your questions and alleviate any concerns. If there’s something in the contract that makes you truly uncomfortable, and the breeder is unyielding about changing it, you might reconsider your options.

No matter how much you research, or how many books you read, in the end buying a puppy is an act of faith. You are trusting that the breeder has done her level best to produce a healthy, well-adjusted puppy, and the breeder is trusting that you will take care of your new family member to the best of your ability, hopefully, long enough to see its muzzle gray. Ideally, the breeder will be available every step of the way for questions, concerns and, at the very end, a shoulder to cry on. If a contract seems so restrictive or punitive that it suggests your relationship with the breeder will be more combative than caring, then that should give you pause.

Though a puppy’s infectious cuteness is hard to ignore, the best advice is not to sign any document that you have no intention of honoring – not just because you might get sued, but because it’s the right thing to do.

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