Puppy Paperwork: certificates, contracts, and endorsements

Puppy Paperwork: certificates, contracts, and endorsements 1

When you buy a pedigree puppy,  there is some paperwork which you should be aware of and which you should check carefully before taking your puppy home.   It is tempting to leave all this until the day that you collect your puppy but by this time you will probably have invested a good deal of time and emotional energy into your new companion.  Better by far to get these questions and checks out of the way in advance where possible

Health test certificates

Your breeder should have tested your puppy’s parents for any diseases which are an issue in this breed of dog.   It is important that you ask about these tests before visiting the puppy, and very important that you see these certificates and check the information in them before agreeing to purchase the puppy.

Common tests applicable to many breeds are eye tests and hip scores.   An annual eye exam certificate should state that the parents of your puppy are free of disease at the time of the examination which should have taken place within twelve months of your purchase.    A hip or elbow score examination is carried out only once in the dog’s life and both your puppy’s parents should have scores below the breed mean.

The best time to see these certificates is on your very first visit to the breeder.  This is then out of the way.  No reputable breeder will ever mind being asked for certificates,  most will have them ready for you when you visit.

Contracts of sale

Many breeders nowadays will give their puppy buyers a written contract when they collect the new puppy.  A good sales contract should be fairly brief and clearly laid out.  It may include an undertaking by the breeder to take your puppy back at any time in the future should you be unable to care for it.   It will also set out the conditions under which the purchase price of your puppy could be refunded,  and recommendations for you to have your puppy checked out by your vet shortly after purchase.

Most importantly your contract must include information about any endorsements that have been placed on your puppy’s registration.  If this information is not provided for you the endorsements are likely to be invalid.

What is an endorsement?

When you buy a pedigree puppy it may come with ‘endorsements’ on its pedigree registration.   These are stipulations that the breeder has made regarding any attempts YOU may make to breed from your dog or to register your dog with a foreign kennel club.

The purpose of these endorsements is to give the breeder some control over what happens to puppies that she has bred,  with regard to ensuring the health of the breed and the long term welfare of her puppies.   The only person who can place an endorsement on registration is the owner of the puppy at the time the endorsement is placed.  And with certain exceptions, only the person placing the endorsement can lift it.

The breeder cannot prevent you from breeding from your puppy but if you disregard the endorsements on your puppy’s registration and breed from your puppy without fulfilling the conditions set down by the breeder you may be unable to register his or her progeny with the Kennel Club.

The breeding endorsement sets out certain criteria that you must fulfill in order for the endorsement to be lifted.  These criteria are usually referred to health standards which you will need to prove your bitch has met.   Once you have met the conditions of the endorsement it will be lifted by the breeder.

Where disputes arise over endorsements,  the Kennel Club will adjudicate and may in certain circumstances cases lift the endorsement without the permission of the breeder.

This probably sounds more onerous than it is,  normally all you will have to do to get the endorsement lifted is have your bitch’s hips and eyes tested before breeding. Something you would want to do in any case.

Registration Certificate

Your breeder will register her litter of puppies with the Kennel Club.   The KC is the national registering body for pedigree dogs in most countries and registration with pet lovers clubs etc is not recognized by other countries or organizations as evidence of pedigree.

Some breeders are quite slow about registering their puppies and may not have the registration certificate ready for you when you collect your pup.  This is not ideal and you will need to decide whether you are prepared to take the puppy ‘on trust’.   I recommend you do not do this unless you know the breeder very well.

If you do decide to take the puppy before his registration certificate is available for you,  you should ask for copies of the pedigree certificates of both parents.  You should also be very confident that the bitch has not had more litters than permitted by the Kennel Club   (currently four)   and is not outside the age limits that the KC sets on breeding bitches (currently more than eight years or less than one).  These limits may change over time and are published on the Kennel Club’s website.   If the breeder has failed to fulfill these KC requirements or mated two dogs which are too closely related (brother to sister,  parent to child)  your puppy may be permanently denied registration, no matter how illustrious her parents are.

It happens,  so take care.

Information pack

Finally,  your breeder will provide you with an information pack when you collect your puppy.   This should contain comprehensive advice on caring for your puppy,  including information on feeding and training your dog.

Many pedigree puppies come automatically with a few week’s insurance.  This information should be in your pack.  If you breeder is a member of the KC accredited breeder scheme you should also have a feedback form to fill in and return to the KC