Showsight May 2021


How Enforceable Are My Dog Contracts?

T here’s a legal side to dog breeding that we often like to forget about. Agreements and contracts that seem like complicated, messy, and expen- sive distractions that take us away from our dogs are, in fact, useful tools that can assist in the management of a successful breeding program. Solid contracts can actually allow us to focus more time and attention on our dogs. THE TOP 3 CONTRACT QUESTIONS DOG BREEDERS WANT TO KNOW Q: Do I need to call my contract a “contract” for it to be legally enforceable? A: No. A contract should have a clear title, date, and should clearly state the signatories. However, it does not need to be named a “contract.” The title should be concise and it should reflect the main pur- pose. For example, many dog breeders refer to their contracts for the sale of a companion dog as a “Pet Purchase Agree- ment,” “Puppy Contract,” or “Pet Sale Agreement.” The term “agreement” in a title is actually more common than the term “contract,” but there is no difference in meaning or enforceability. Q: What is a verbal contract, and is a verbal contract enforceable? A: When two or more parties come to an agreement without any written documentation, they create a verbal contract. Verbal contracts can be legally enforceable. That said, it is typically best practice to create a written contract in order to avoid any future disputes over a party’s obligations. It can be difficult to prove the existence of a verbal contract, as well as the terms the parties agreed to. If you do enter into a verbal contract, you might consider sending some form of written documentation (e.g., a letter or an email) confirming the agreed upon terms, to serve as

“Having been sued by a puppy owner, I will tell you that it was the contract that made the difference. Contracts matter!” – Susan Patterson, Fenwyck Labradors

Good Dog has created a Legal Resource Center with sample dog contracts, legal webinars, a breeder-friendly lawyers list and more—just for dog breeders. Learn more at

written proof that a valid contract was made. Q: Are non-refundable deposits permitted?

A: Yes. However, for all deposits (refundable or non- refundable), it is important that both the breeder and the buyer know exactly what the deposit covers and the terms of the deposit’s refund policy before any funds are exchanged.

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