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Puppy papers, Guarantees, and Contracts
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Puppy Search

There are three main sources of AKC registered puppies - serious breeders, pet shops, and backyard puppy producers. The best quality puppies come from serious, ethical breeders who breed as a hobby, only for the betterment of the breed and not for monetary gain.

It's not always easy to find the serious, dedicated breeders. A good place to start is the American Kennel Club, 51 Madison Avenue, New York, NY, Ask for the address of the secretary of the national club ("Parent Breed Club") of the breed you are interested in. You will find the majority of ethical breeders belong to and support their national breed club.

Because of club politics and personality clashes, which are rampant in some clubs, including the French Bulldog Club of America, many responsible breeders don't maintain memberships. If other club members feel comfortable with them and can vouch for them, that's fine too.

The French Bulldog Club of America does have a code of ethics that breeders are expected to abide by, but they do not always and the FBDCA has no way of enforcing that code of ethics. Do not trust that just because they belong to the club that they are honest.

The national breed club can put you in touch with breeders near you who can supply you with information about the breed and who may have puppies. Please note that just because a breeder belongs to a club this does NOT mean they are ethical. Please do your homework and don't assume since they are part of the club that they are ethical.
In searching for a quality puppy you may find yourself bogged down in some peculiar doggy terminology. This terminology needs to be understood in order to make a rational decision on selecting both a breeder and a puppy. Let's go over some of these terms.

AKC Papers

This is perhaps the most confusing issue when it comes to buying a dog. "AKC papers" means different things to different people. Some people think "papers" means the AKC registration slip. Other people think "papers" means the dog's pedigree (the family tree listing his ancestors.) Which is it? Of what value are "papers" anyway?

The truth is, the term "papers" is meaningless. "Pedigree" and "AKC registration slip" on the other hand, are very meaningful. You need both.

Just because you have the pedigree of your dog doesn't mean he is AKC registered. In order for a dog to be eligible for AKC registration, both parents of the dog must have been registered with the AKC.

All AKC registered dogs have a pedigree and their records are kept by the American Kennel Club.

The best quality AKC show dogs are all AKC registered. However, the worst looking, most pathetic puppies can also be AKC registered and not even resemble the breed for which they have "AKC registration papers." AKC registration has nothing whatsoever to do with quality.

Even puppy mills have AKC registered puppies! The requirement for registration is that both parents were AKC registered and were the same breed.

Champion Bloodlines

"Champion bloodlines" is another statement commonly used by people who produce puppies only for money and know little - if anything - about the breed. They may have discovered in the pedigree that some of the puppy's distant ancestors were Champions, and use this fact to bolster the quality of the litter and the price of the puppies.

A Champion is a dog who has earned a certain number of points in competition against other dogs of the same breed at AKC sanctioned dog shows.

Being a Champion does say something about a dog's quality. In reality, the saying "It is what's up front that counts" is true in dog pedigrees. The closer the Champions are to the puppy (for instance, if his sire and dam -mother and father -were both Champions) the better the chance the puppy will be a good example of the breed.

True "Champion bloodlines" show an impressive pedigree in which nearly every dog in the pedigree is a Champion. This demonstrates hard work, time, and effort which represents many years of dedication to the breed by serious breeders.

If you are contemplating buying a dog and entering into a contract with a breeder, have a lawyer review the contract before you buy the dog. Contracts are serious business, involving specific obligations on your part.

Breeders often protect their dogs from indiscriminate breeding by using legally enforceable contracts, sales agreements and/or show contracts for all their puppy buyers. Let's look at some of the different kinds of contracts you might be asked to sign.

Some breeders will enter into a "co-ownership agreement," which says that both you and the breeder own the dog. This way, the breeder maintains control over the breeding of a valuable female, as all owners must sign the AKC litter registration application.

Some show breeders will sell puppies with an ironclad "show contract" to unsuspecting novices. This may require the dog to be shown frequently at dog shows - a costly and time-consuming endeavor.

Breeding Contracts

A breeder is defined as the owner of the bitch who whelps the litter. In other words, the person who owns the mother of the puppies is the breeder.

Breeding contracts vary with each breeder. Typically, a breeder will ask for one or two puppies back from the bitch's (female's) first litter.

The breeder may also require you to pay the stud fee, which is the fee for the services of the male. If the breeder sells you a male dog, they may require you to make the dog available to be used at stud. In this way, breeders can keep the selling price of their pups down while still improving their bloodlines.

Unfortunately, some of these "puppy back" contracts can be ridiculous. Some contracts require half of very litter coming back to the bitch's breeder with the novice, of course, paying for everything. The poor novice breeder is held hostage to such selfish breeding terms.

Spay/Neuter Contracts

Some contracts require you to spay or neuter you dog as part of the deal. These are used by serious breeders when the puppy is not of show quality, or when they feel the puppy should not be bred for other reasons.

One way a spay/neuter contract can be enforced is by the breeder withholding the AKC registration form until proof of spaying / neutering has been received from a veterinarian. As spaying and neutering is usually done between 6 and 8months of age, this can mean a long wait for AKC registration.

The AKC now has a "Limited Registration" which some breeders use to discourage a dog from being bred. Limited Registration means that your dog is registered with the AKC, but its offspring won't be. Obviously, this does not prevent a dog from being accidentally bred!

It only means that if puppies are produced from this accidental breeding, they will not be eligible for AKC registration.
If your dog turns out to be worthy of showing or breeding, your dog's breeder can have the Limited registration lifted. Regular registration can then be applied for.

Pet vs. Show Quality

Sometimes puppy producers use the term "show quality" to get more money for a pup. They may actually have no earthly idea what true show quality is!

An experienced breeder and dog show exhibitor will rank their puppies at about six weeks of age. They will try to determine which ones are most likely to be competitive in the show ring. The most competitive pups ("show quality") in the litter will be kept or sold to people who are interested in showing; the rest ("pet qualify") are sold to people who have no interest in competing at dog shows.

Pet quality pups, which may not be physically perfect according to the published breed standard of excellence, may go to owners interested in obedience, tracking, or field work. The dog's conformation, or physical features, is not judged in these areas of competition.
Show quality pups usually cost more than pet quality pups. However, no master how good the pedigree, there are some pups in most every litter which are definitely "Pets."

You'll note that the term "pet quality" doesn't mean there is something wrong with the dog. It simply means that in the breeder's opinion, the puppy is not competitive for its AKC conformation championship.


An ethical breeder will often provide the buyer with a written guarantee. There are two types: health, and show quality.

The first type covers health and genetic defects. For instance, a guarantee may state that the animal is free from hip dysplasia, which is a crippling genetic defect. In most medium to large breeds both parents should be OFA certified es free of hip dysplasia. This independent certification can only be done on adult dogs, and is preferable to a simple X-ray showing the dog is clear of hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia isn't the only genetic defect to be guaranteed against. Each breed is prone to different genetic health problems. Should any of these develop in the puppy, the breeder should return the money paid or replace the puppy.

The other guarantee covers a puppy that is sold as "guaranteed show quality." It would state that the puppy's conformation (good looks) are such that when he is shown, he will achieve an AKC championship.
If the show puppy doesn't grow into a show dog, the breeder can do one of two things. She can either refund the difference between a pet and show quality puppy or replace the puppy with one from the next available litter. Beware of breeders that claim every pup they have is a show puppy.

Proof of neutering or spaying of the previous puppy is usually required. The buyer should be able to keep the puppy if he wishes to do so.
Armed with knowledge about puppy papers, contracts, pedigrees and guarantees, buying a fine quality puppy from a serious breeder can be easy.


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