Dogs, Stud Dog Contracts and Co-Ownership Contracts

By Pamela O. Kadlec


The Boykin Spaniel Society Code of Ethics states– "Members are encouraged to use clear, concise written contracts to document the sale of animals, use of stud dogs, and lease arrangements, including the use, when appropriate, of non-breeding agreements."

(Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer. I am a breeder and trainer of purebred dogs. The information below is my personal opinion and not that of the Boykin Spaniel Society)

Co-Ownership Contracts

In today’s society it is unfortunate that we require written contracts in dealings with our dogs. Some breeders have co-ownership contracts, some breeds have the option of Limited Registration, yet most people only want to buy a puppy and not have to worry about contractual agreements. It’s just a cute puppy after all, right? Sometimes the contract is to protect the buyer but mostly it’s to protect the breeder and that breeder’s kennel name.

Why co-own a dog? The main reason is to protect the breeder from a handful of shady puppy buyers. Most puppy buyers are novice dog owners who fell in love with your breed of dog and want to do what is best for the pup. There are the few out there, however, who want to own a purebred dog only to make money on them. The plan is to buy a pup and as soon as possible, breed the heck out of it and make tons of money with no care as to health issues or proper care of the future pups. The saying, "One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch" is true here. One shady character spoils it for all of the honest puppy buyers everywhere.

When my first litter of Boykin puppies were born seven years ago I didn’t have (or even think about) contracts. Due to the unscrupulous behavior of one of those puppy buyers (the poor pup was bred on almost every heat from a year-old to now so that she could generate money for her owner) now I require a 2-year contract on almost all of the puppies that I sell. My contract is very simple – I co-own the pup until he or she is 2 years old and has all of the health clearances – hips, heart and eyes. At that time if there are any problems they are discussed and a decision is made regarding spaying/neutering the pup and/or returning the dog for a refund. If there are no health issues then I sign off on the pup and only ask that the owners consult with me before breeding. I also ask that when and if the pup is bred the mate is also health tested clear of any problems. I have a written guarantee on all of my puppies and I have been very fortunate that most of the pups I have sold have been healthy and sound.

Another co-ownership contract example would be that I have a very nice, healthy, smart, trained one-year old male pup. He is not exactly what I am looking for in my breeding program but he will make someone a great hunting companion and potential stud dog. I sell him with a co-ownership contract to protect my kennel name. The dog is sold to a great person in Texas where the young dog becomes part of the family and is hunted and adored. If this dog is used at stud, first of all, I am contacted for advise and then after the pups are born, my signature is required to register the litter.

If I didn’t have a co-ownership contract, the stud dog could be bred to any female (without health clearances) and if those pups came up with health issues my kennel could be blamed. This may not seem to be a big deal to most people but when you spend years developing good, sound, smart dogs you want to protect the future generations in any way you can.

There are other breeders who have much more extensive contract and the buyer certainly needs to beware. One such contract requires you to send your dog back to that breeder/trainer for a minimum of one month training (at your expense). This breeder/trainer decides how long the pup stays for training (at your expense). You are required to have pre-liminary health checks (hips and eyes) before the pups’ first birthday and certification at 2-years of age (at your expense). If, at 2-years of age, this breeder decides ‘your’ dog is needed for breeding, that breeder can take that dog and breed it. Think about this. You own half of a dog that you paid full price for. You pay for training and all the health clearances. You have no say in who trains ‘your’ dog, who ‘your’ dog is bred to and do not have any control over ‘your’ puppies. The breeder then co-owns all of ‘your’ puppies pups with the new ‘co-owners’. You are not allowed to spay or neuter ‘your’ dog without the breeders’ permission. This is pretty good deal, for the breeder! You get to buy, feed, cover all expenses and house the pup until the breeder feels like taking your dog back.

Stud dog contracts

You have a very nice male Boykin spaniel and would like to have one of his puppies. Not only is he a great little hunting dog but he also has all of his health clearances – hips, heart and eyes are certified, the dog is free of any allergies and has a super temperament. The first thing you want to do is to find the same qualities in a female and the same health clearances. Why breed your dog to an uncertified female and take a big chance of getting (and selling others) an unsound pup?

You can breed your dogs with only a verbal contract and in 90% of the cases, everything will work out just fine. It’s that chance of meeting up with an unethical breeder that makes a contract a good idea.

The standard Stud fee is usually a puppy or a fee equal to the sale price of one puppy. In most cases, the owner of the dam is guaranteed live birth of a minimum of three (3) registerable Boykin puppies (some Boykins cannot be registered due to excessive white – see guidelines at The stud fee is not paid until the puppies are born and sometimes not until the litter registration papers are signed. If the minimum number of registerable pups are not born, the owner of the dam can repeat the breeding and pay the stud fee when the second litter is born.

If the stud dog owner wants a puppy instead of the stud fee, pick of the litter is expected. Some stud dog owners don’t know for sure if they want a puppy or the stud fee until after the pups are born. Most of us are very lenient in this regard and will allow the stud dog owner to take his/her time making a decision.

If any co-ownership contracts are required on a litter, all of this must be spelled out from the beginning. Most of us steer away from co-ownership contracts on stud fee puppies as we want to have full control over our pup. Even if I ask my puppy buyers to agree to my 2-year, non-breeding, contract I do not ask the same of the stud dog owner. Since I respect the owner and think highly enough of his dog I trust he will do right by me and my kennel. If someone uses one of my stud dogs I certainly want my pick puppy free and clear of any co-ownership.

Sample contracts

These contracts are samples only. If you wish to use them, please get advise from your attorney and amend them any way needed to suit your purposes.

bl_ball.gif - 967 Bytes2-year Co-ownership Contract

bl_ball.gif - 967 BytesStud dog Contract

bl_ball.gif - 967 BytesPam's Boykin Spaniel Home Page

bl_ball.gif - 967 BytesPuppy Buyer Guide - Boykin Spaniel Society's guidelines to finding a reputable breeder