Updated: Jun 21, 2022
Sometimes getting what you want is simple. Other times, things are a tad more complex. Procuring a pup and working out a solid breeder contract can be the same.
There are times when you can walk right into a pound and, within an hour, the most adorable panting canine is riding home in the car. But what if what you seek is a more nuanced venture. Once you’ve found the breeder of your dreams and they've agreed to let you select one of their puppies, there's still one more thing to do before you can bring your new pup home: signing the breeder's contract.
Congratulations! You’re so close to sharing your life with your new puppy. To make sure this happens without any hassle, let’s run through everything that you’ll need to look for in this seemingly intricate document.
Why You Should Always Get a Contract When Buying a Dog
What’s a contract? Like a lousy wedding toast, let's allow Merriam-Webster to define it for us real quick.
A contract is “a binding agreement between two or more persons or parties, especially: one legally enforceable.”
Sounds simple enough, right? You want this, they want that. Plain and simple. Black and white. The why is a pretty important part of the entire endeavor. A contract spells out the terms of the sale and protects both the buyer and the seller.
You want to know what you’re getting into. And once you’re in this binding agreement, you’ll want to see what you’re on the hook for. The opposite side of this same coin is the seller. They want to know that they’re turning over one of their precious litter to a responsible party.
The “why” of these contracts is simple. They make sure all parties are on the same page and have the most important entity as the top priority: the puppy.
A quality dog breeder should include a number of items in your contract to protect the best interests of both the buyer and the dog. This document lays out the expectations and responsibilities of both the breeder and the buyer.
What to Look for in Your Breeder Contract
When you're looking for a dog breeder, it's important to be aware of what should be in the contract. A good contract will ensure that both the breeder and the buyer are protected. It should spell out the responsibilities of both parties, as well as the expectations and guarantees that are being made.
The contract should include information on the dog's health, vaccination history, and any microchip information. It should also specify what is included in the sale (such as food, toys, and veterinary care).
Most importantly, it should state what will happen if the dog is ever returned to the breeder. An efficient contract will also include a clause that allows the breeder to take back the dog if the buyer can no longer care for it.
Some other items you may want to look for in a contract include:
The quality of the dog
Puppies don’t just appear from the clouds as much as we might hope against hope that they do. You’ll want to know as many details as are available on who their parents are and how they’ve been treated during and since birth.
The health of the dog
From day one up until you meet their cute and cuddly face, you’ll want to be educated on how their health has been documented and in what state they are in currently.
The refund or replacement policy if something goes wrong
Money is not the important part of this entire contractual procedure. But if things do go awry, you’ll want to know how to get your money back or how another puppy might take the place of the first one.
The breeding and sale conditions
There could be certain stipulations that you must abide by once you come into possession of your pooch. Certain failures to do so could result in forfeiture of the puppy, certain monies or both.
The return policy
If for some reason, your new puppy needs to be reclaimed by the breeder, you’ll want to have what the specific protocols are for this process.
Each of the above should give you a good bit of insight into how your puppy was being raised so that you can continue to care and support them.
There could be multiple contracts for a number of different specific topics with your breeder. Some breeders will combine everything into one lengthy document. Don’t let that throw you.
While we have been dealing with breeder contracts specifically in this article, a health guarantee is a horse of a different color. For everything you need to know about those, check out our guide right here.
Keep an Eye Out for Red Flags
While red flags are the scourge of the dating world, they’re quite helpful when examining puppy contracts.
One sign of a bad breeder is if they refuse to provide you with a contract at all. If they don’t want to put into writing what's being agreed to, chances are they don’t want to have to answer to you if things go South.
Word is bond. If they’re not willing to assist you in getting all of the information you need, don’t hesitate to seek out another breeder.
It's also important to check the breeder's references and see if any complaints have been filed against them with the Better Business Bureau. Facebook and Google reviews are very telling. But it takes a special kind of angry and upset to make an official complaint. No one's ever going to get all 5-star reviews, but be certain to consider the source.
While it might not be the easiest thing to do, move forward with another breeder if you have to. You never want to get tied into a contract that is unfair to you, your family or your dog.
Questions to Ask Your Potential Breeder
We don’t only recommend questions, we insist on them. But when looking for a breeder, it's important to ask the right questions.
Here are a few to get you started:
Are the puppies raised in a home environment?
What health screenings have been completed on the parents?
What is the Guarantee of Health?
What genetic tests have been conducted on the puppies?
How are the puppies socialized?
What type of food and supplements do you give your dogs and puppies?
How often are the dogs exercised?
Do you provide a written contract?
What should I do if I have problems with my dog after I take him or her home?
If for any reason, your breeder doesn’t seem interested in answering questions, move on. We know we’ve said it before, but it bears repeating.
Good contracts are a sign of a good breeder and a responsible owner. Knowing what you’re getting as well we what you’re getting into can make or break your future. The more definite the details outlined in your contract, the less wiggle room for any mistakes or misunderstandings that may pop up in the future.
Be sure to ask your breeder lots of questions. Carefully read over the contract before signing anything. With a good contract in place, you can be sure you're getting the best possible puppy for your family. The day after your pup arrives, your family will be a little bigger and a lot merrier!
Jenna and the JLDD Team