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All About Puppy Deposit Contracts & Why They Matter

Have you ever heard the phrase “No deposit, no return?” It means if you don’t invest anything, then you won’t get anything back. A more modern turn of phrase: No pain. No gain. The same is true of your puppy.

You’ve decided you want a puppy. The next step is to find a reputable breeder. Once you’ve found a breeder you trust, the next step is to sign a puppy deposit contract.

puppy deposit contracts

But what exactly is that? What does it entail? And most importantly, is a puppy deposit contract something you have to or need to do?

Let’s walk through all of your questions about these deposit contracts and help you decide if one is right for you and your prospective new pup.

What is a Puppy Deposit Contract?

We’ll put it in plain English. A puppy deposit contract is a written agreement between a breeder and a potential owner of a puppy. The contract typically outlines the responsibilities of both the breeder and the owner, as well as the financial arrangements made in regard to the purchase of the puppy.

In most cases, a deposit is required in order to reserve a puppy from a litter. Why is this? In the time of online shopping and UberEats, some might have become a little fickle. This deposit is a declaration of your interest in owning a specific breed or type of dog.

The deposit is generally non-refundable and serves as a confirmation of the buyer's intent to make the puppy part of their family. Metaphorically speaking, you’re making a good faith showing while the breeder does the work of taking care of a pregnant dog and new born pup.

What are the Basics of a Puppy Deposit Contract?

The buyer agrees to pay the seller a specific amount of money. Generally speaking, a deposit should be around $250 to $600, but this can vary greatly depending on the breeder, type of dog and other factors.

Make sure that whatever amount you’re being asked to pay, you’re comfortable with. Also, make sure that you’re comfortable with the forfeiture of money if you change your mind.

Remember that some deposits are non-refundable except under very specific circumstances.

This deposit demonstrates intent. But intents can change. Make sure that in signing these contracts (or any contracts for that matter) your heart isn’t bigger than your home.

The arrangement should also state when the final payment is due and what happens if the buyer cancels or fails to pay that amount. It's important for both parties to understand and agree to all the terms and conditions of the written agreement before signing it.

What Should You Look for in a Puppy Deposit Contract?

There are a lot of official papers to go over when you get a puppy. A good puppy deposit contract should clearly and concisely outline the responsibilities of both the breeder and the buyer.

As a potential dog owner, you should look for a contract that includes some or all of the following:

  • A guarantee of healthy puppies.

From day one, breeders should be trying to put the puppy's health first. Money should be secondary to the well-being of their dogs. This guarantee should reinforce meticulous care.

  • Details on who is responsible for veterinary costs.

While we examine every one of our puppies before we deliver them to you, you are still responsible for their initial veterinary visit to identify anything that an early examination might have missed.

Some will share this responsibility while other breeders will put the weight solely on the buyers' shoulders.

  • A refund or return policy in case of genetic defects.

Life happens. While we may not want to consider situations like this, unfortunate circumstances sometimes occur.

  • The return policy for the pup, including what will happen if the breeder can't find a home for him or her.

Not every homing situation works out. While our Matchmaking Process is wonderful, it’s not perfect. Make sure that you know the timeline and next steps for any adoption that - for whatever - reason might not be working.

  • The price of the puppy and when payments are due.

This will allow you and the breeder to know when money will change hands.

  • What could happen if you change your mind about taking a puppy after you've signed the contract.

Sometimes money - in part or on the whole - can be refunded. But, not unlike us, some breeder's deposits are non-refundable. Make sure that you’re comfortable with any investment you’re making.

While the deposit portion of our contract is separate from Puppy Health Contracts, some breeders will weave these together. Don’t hesitate to ask questions! Everyone should be in the proper headspace to make the best home for these new pups.

What are the Benefits of a Puppy Deposit Contract?

Who doesn’t love having a place in line that’s yours no matter what?

When you purchase a puppy deposit contract, you're guaranteed a pup in the litter. This is extremely beneficial, especially if the breed or coat color is expected to be in high demand.

The deposit also serves as a down payment on the puppy, so you won't have to worry about paying the price in full until it's ready to go home with you.

Keep in mind one thing: Everything is unpredictable. Whether it be shortages during a pandemic or traffic on the interstate. Even though you’ve put your money down, timing is still in play.

Worry less about your anxiousness to bring your fluffball home. Worry more about making sure that they're in the best health and spirits possible.

These deposits help the breeder as well. This initial income will allow them to fund the preliminary checkups and the first steps of the health care of newborn puppies.

It will also ensure the ability to keep staff onsite during the stressful and time-consuming days leading up to and after they arrive. Everyone wants a perfect puppy. These deposits help guarantee this as much as possible.

All in all, a puppy deposit contract is a great way to secure your spot in a litter and ensure that you get the puppy of your dreams!

Are there any drawbacks to a puppy deposit contract?

Although a puppy deposit contract is beneficial for both the breeder and the new owner, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider.

One such drawback is that it may be difficult to get your money back. We’ve mentioned “non-refundable” before but it bears repeating. If there is any fine print - we hate it, but lawyers seem to love it - know what you’re getting into from the jump.

Breeding dogs is a science but not an exact one. Things happen and plans must be changed. Be comfortable with that. But mostly, be comfortable with those you’re working with.

Remember that a contract is only as good as the people who sign it. If either party breaches the contract, there may be legal consequences.

As long as both parties are honest and reliable, a puppy deposit contract can be a very helpful tool.

To review: A puppy deposit contract is an agreement between a potential dog owner and a breeder. The contract lays out the terms of the sale of a puppy, including the price of the puppy, the refund policy and delivery arrangements.

Trust your heart, mind and wallet. If signing any document or paying any amount seems wrong or out of sync with who you are or what you can afford, walk away. We as dog lovers want everyone, including our newborns to be safe and loved. Any doubts could put you and them in danger.

We’ve come full circle. If you put in the time and effort to find the right breeder for your family, the only thing left is to put a deposit down to begin your incredible journey.

Jenna and the JLDD Team

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