Puppy Contracts: Did you bite off more than you could chew?
If you are among those of us who got a new four-legged friend during lockdown, you probably had to sign a puppy contract. These contracts usually contain general information, such as your puppy’s parents, date of birth, the purchase price and the delivery date. But beyond that, puppy contracts may set out breeder warranties and a number of restrictions on you as the new owner. Let’s take a closer look at the fine print:
Keeping in mind that is impossible to comprehensively control genetics, the Breeder should still give certain warranties, such as a general health statement about the soundness of the dogs within the breeding program, that your puppy is free from specific genetic diseases, i.e. hip dysplasia, and that your new friend has been vaccinated in accordance with a veterinarian’s recommendations before delivery.
Most properly drafted puppy contracts will place a number of requirements on you, starting with having Fido examined by a vet within a certain timeframe to verify the vaccination status, a healthy weight and other delivery warranties given by the Breeder. Take note if there are other immediate requirements for the breeder warranty to come into effective, such as taking your puppy to socialization/obedience classes or maintaining a certain diet until a predetermined age.
It is common for breeders to require that your puppy lives indoors with you, maintains a healthy weight and receives age appropriate exercise. You might feel that how you feed or exercise your puppy shouldn’t be the breeder’s concern. However, take into consideration that the breeder has warranted your puppy’s health and that is free from hip dysplasia, for example. Obesity or age inappropriate levels of exercise are a major contributing factor to hip dysplasia and thus, would void the breeder’s warranty.
Pet Puppy vs. Co-Own
The majority of breeders will distinguish between a puppy being sold as a pet or a co-own. Commonly, co-own means that the puppy will live with you and be your responsibility/liability, but at the same will remain a part of the breeder’s breeding program. While both contracts usually contain a non-breeding clause, pet puppy contracts will require you to spay or neuter your puppy and co-own contracts prohibit breeding outside of the breeder’s program. It is not uncommon that a co-own contract turns into a pet puppy contract after a predetermined number of breedings.
Take a close look at the breeder’s and your remedies in the event either of you breaches the contract. Most properly drafted contracts will include significant financial damages payable to the breeder if you are in contravention of a material clause, such as non-breeding. In case the breeder is in breach, your remedies are mostly limited to a replacement puppy or a partial/full refund of your purchase price.
If you are a breeder and would like to update or polish your contracts, or if you have questions about a puppy contract you singed, please feel free to get in contact with us.