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If you’re thinking of preparing a contract for your puppy buyers, there are many aspects to consider.

There are mixed opinions regarding the need for a contract when selling or placing a dog. Many breeders supply a contract for any relocated dog for the sole purpose of safeguarding his health and welfare. Others believe that any contract can be broken, so having one is a waste of time. I believe that a signed contract may suggest and motivate an added layer of accepted responsibility by the seller and the buyer and is, therefore, a protection for the dog, the new owner, and the breeder.

The AKC does suggest that agreements between individuals should be in writing that clearly states all obligations and circumstances and that all parties should receive a copy of the agreement. More details can be found in “AKC Procedures for Registration Matters,” available on the AKC website.

My contracts have evolved and are specific to the dog being placed, but the following are some very general points you may want to consider. It should be obvious that the overall intent is the protection of the dog.

The Buyer shall keep the dog as a household pet.
The Buyer shall provide the dog with an adequate food, fresh water, shelter, affection, and medical care upon sickness, disease, or injury. Maintenance should include an annual health exam and routine vaccinations as recommended by a board-certified veterinarian. Humane care and maintenance in accordance with all current and future state, county, and municipal laws and ordinances where the Buyer resides. A fully fenced yard or other humane means of exercise. The dog shall not be kept chained or constantly outdoors. A collar and identification tag and/or microchip. Never permit the dog to roam unattended.

  • The dog shall reside with the Buyer.
  • The Buyer shall notify the Breeder immediately if the dog cannot be kept by the Buyer.
  • The dog shall not be sold, transferred, or given to any individual or to any retail or wholesale establishment for the purpose of sale or resale to the public or to any research institution where medical experimentation or other practices take place.
  • The Buyer and Breeder agree to keep each other informed of their current addresses.
  • The Buyer agrees that it is the Buyer’s responsibility to accept the dog as described. The Breeder has provided and the Buyer has acknowledged a full disclosure of the health, habits, and temperament of the dog. The dog’s health records, from [name of veterinarian], will be supplied at time of purchase.
  • The Buyer shall have [insert number] months from the date of this Contract to return the dog for a full refund of the purchase price.
  • After [insert number] months and for the life of the dog, the Buyer may return the dog to the Breeder at any time and for any reason.
  • The Buyer agrees to sign the necessary papers to return the Breeder as sole owner of the dog in the event the dog is returned.

Contracts can become very involved when they include show dogs, dogs used at stud, bitches to be bred, or co-ownership, the last of which is quite common but is not recommended by the AKC. However, basic safeguards can be included in all contracts.

— Carol Kearney, United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club.