Dog Breeders Discuss Contracts and Co-ownerships
Hear from top show dog breeders about their principles and experiences
Compiled by Allan Reznik
Our pet contract is designed to protect the dog/puppy. We give a lifetime guarantee on our dogs. If an owner wishes to no longer retain the dog, we will offer a full refund if the dog is returned to us. Over the years, we’ve only had two dogs returned. Both were due to a change in the owners’ life circumstances and neither owner would accept the refund.
We refund the purchase price to any owner who has run into a serious genetic health issue. No one has ever returned a dog due to a health issue, but we have refunded the purchase price to assist in any medical costs incurred in treating the animal. We also offer a replacement of the original dog without charge. We do this to ensure the well-being of any dog we have bred.
Show contracts are rare. We have always believed that a piece of paper is as good as the individual who holds it. We do not take legal action over dogs (although we could), we simply cease contact with anyone we find unethical or dishonest. Over the years we’ve had a few issues but on the whole we’ve been very lucky. Of course, choosing the individuals you work with is key to this trap door. We mostly put show dogs with friends and individuals we have known for an extended period of time or individuals who have come with a personal reference from a known and trusted person.
3. Only those we plan to breed and whose offspring are important to our program, and where a puppy from said breeding is returning to us. After we take the owed puppy, the bitch is then signed over to the co-owner. We maintain very few long-term co-ownerships. This has been mostly a good experience with few difficulties. Of course, when we have had a problem it’s been a “humdinger.” This is why “knowing” your co-owner is critical. The most common problem encountered has been a co-owner who decides they don’t want to adhere to the agreement or they don’t wish to give up the puppy we choose for ourselves. I never stop my amazement at the short-sightedness of these decisions.
4. We determine the first breeding to a dog of our choice and we take either first or second pick. We usually work this out with the co-owner. We believe in teamwork; true partnership with those we work with and mentor. We work hard making sure the people we work with are of the same philosophy.
Lehigh Scottish Deerhounds
1. I acquired my first Deerhound in 1972 and bred my first litter in 1976. I have bred a total of 26 litters to date, my last being whelped in December of 2009. I have bred seven litters in the last 10 years. Though none of my dogs have ever been campaigned with a professional handler, I have had six different National Specialty BIS winners and three all-breed BIS winners. I would not say my greatest claim to fame rests on one, or even a few, Deerhounds, or their wins. I am very proud of the body of my work to date — the overall quality of the Deerhounds I have bred.
2. Yes, I use contracts for both puppy sales and stud service. A contract is always tailored to the individual situation, though of course some things are always present. I always try to put myself in the other person’s place and also to protect the dogs involved. In my puppy sales contract, I basically stipulate the selling price, the naming scheme, whether the puppy is represented as a show prospect or not, how the dog is to be kept at home, that the dog is not to be sold or transferred without my permission, that the puppy is healthy at the time of sale, that the buyers are to keep in touch with me over the life of the dog and must notify me if they move, etc., and in the case of a male show prospect, I reserve the right to use the dog for one litter.
In the stud contract, the fee varies quite a bit, depending on the production and/or win record of the dog, and of course whether we are planning a frozen or chilled semen insemination, or a live mating. The costs involved and who pays what are spelled out. If a puppy might be taken in lieu of a stud fee, that is also spelled out, as is the age of selection of same. No contract can cover every possible eventuality, and they are somewhat unenforceable anyhow, in my opinion. I have no desire, nor means, to get into a legal battle with anybody, so it’s pretty much based on trust. The contract is so we all remember what we agreed to.
3. I do occasionally sell on a co-ownership, when it works for the buyer(s) as well as for me. Yes, this has mostly been a good experience. I have only once had a problem, and that was quite recently, and very disappointing.
4. I have not had any “common problems,” but then I have rarely tried to act upon an agreement that involved cooperation in terms of making a dog available to me for an agreed-upon purpose. I have rarely co-bred a litter. One time I leased back for a litter a bitch I had bred and sold, and had no problems at all. I did co-breed a litter back in 1988, where the co-owner raised the litter, and I had no problems with that arrangement either.
Barbara G. Rupert
Oakhurst Rhodesian Ridgebacks
1. We purchased our first Rhodesian Ridgeback in 1969 and had our first litter in 1971. Our foundation bitch produced four litters, all with beautiful long ridges. She received her ROM with her first litter. Over the last 10 years we have had 17 litters and 104 puppies. In 2010 we had two litters with 16 puppies. In 2011 we had one litter with eight puppies and are planning on a late fall litter. Oakhurst’s breeding program is noted for both outstanding conformation and temperament, having produced close to 100 champions with many achieving the highest honors, including nine all-breed Best in Shows and one specialty.
2. Our sales contract includes health guarantees for the puppies. If the buyer is unable to continue to care for the dog, we request the dog be returned to us. Pet-quality dogs must be neutered between 10 and 12 months of age. We do not insist on having show-quality specimens shown. However, we assist in the showing area or recommend a handler.
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