All About Border Collies



A lot of Border Collie pups are sold on a handshake, and a lot of those deals work out well. But most breeders, for the good of the breed and the individual pups they've bred, and for the sake of their own reputations, would be better off setting some conditions on the sale of their puppies. This can be done through the use of a simple sales contract.

A sales contract need not be terribly formal or legalistic. Breeders can simply put in writing the terms under which they're agreeing to sell the pups, and rarely will there be any problems because the agreement was not professionally drafted. Here is an example of a puppy sales contract that touches on most of the issues that concern breeders and buyers. Following it is a discussion of some alternative ways of treating each issue. Not every term needs to be included; breeders can include the ones they care about, or the ones that are appropriate in a specific situation, and leave out the others.

Contract law varies from state to state, and so we cannot give any legal guarantee that this contract will stand up everywhere. But in general, it should be an effective means of spelling out the agreements between a puppy's buyer and seller.


The Seller, _____________________, and the Buyer, ______________________, hereby agree as follows:

1. The Seller hereby sells to the Buyer, for the amount of $____________, payment of which is hereby acknowledged, a male/female Border Collie puppy, born ________________, by ___________________________, out of _____________________, in accordance with the terms of this contract.

2. The Seller will register the puppy with the American Border Collie Association, Inc., under the name ___________, and provide the registration papers to the Buyer. The Buyer shall not register the puppy or permit the puppy to be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). Because the parties recognize that precise damages for breach of this provision might be difficult to ascertain, the parties hereby agree that the Buyer will be liable for damages in the amount of $____________ in the event of any breach by the Buyer of this provision of the contract.

3. The Seller guarantees that the puppy is in good health on the date of delivery. The Buyer has the right to return the puppy to the Seller within three days after delivery and receive a refund of the purchase price if the puppy is found by a veterinarian to be suffering from any disease.

4. The Seller guarantees that the puppy is free of hereditary defects to the best of his/her knowledge. Should the puppy be diagnosed with hip dysplasia prior to its third birthday, or suffer loss of eyesight due to Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) or Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) prior to its fifth birthday, Seller agrees to refund the purchase price. Buyer may keep the dog if he/she so desires, but must present certification by a veterinarian if the complaint is hip dysplasia, or by a veterinary ophthalmologist if the complaint is PRA or CEA. The Seller does not assume any additional liability for possible genetic defects in the puppy, and will under no circumstances be responsible for veterinary bills resulting from any such condition.

5. The puppy shall not be bred unless it shall first (1) have been x-rayed and certified clear of hip dysplasia by OFA or other competent individual or organization, (2) have been certified clear of hereditary eye disease by a canine ophthalmologist, and (3) have displayed good herding ability, nor shall it be bred to a bitch or dog who does not meet these same three conditions.

6. The Buyer shall maintain the puppy in good condition, including adherence to a regular immunization schedule, heartworm preventative, good diet, and a clean and safe environment.

7. If at any time in its life the puppy is to be sold or given away, the Buyer shall so notify the Seller and give the Seller first option to buy the puppy back at the original purchase price.

8. The Seller shall not sell the puppy, or its offspring (if any), to any individual or establishment in the business of buying and selling puppies for a profit.

Executed this ________ day of ____________, 199__.

_________________________, Seller __________________________, Buyer
Signature Signature

The first paragraph of the agreement sets forth the basics--a description of the puppy sold, and the selling price.

The second paragraph provides for registration of the puppy by the seller with a border collie registry, and prohibits registration with the AKC. This provision also specifies what the damages will be in the event the prohibition is violated. This is always a good idea in cases where it might be difficult to prove the extent to which someone has been damaged by a contract's being broken. The Seller will probably want to specify a figure that would be large enough to impress upon the Buyer the seriousness of the prohibition, and also large enough so that a lawyer's fee would be covered in case the provision had to be enforced. One breeder has used the figure of $10,000.

The third paragraph guarantees the pup's present good health. The Seller might wish to shorten or lengthen the time within which a health claim could be made, or might wish to provide for a replacement puppy rather than a refund in such a case.

The fourth paragraph guarantees the pup to be free from the principal hereditary defects known in Border Collies. Again, the Seller might wish to modify this provision to shorten or lengthen the time within which a claim could be made, to specify how serious the defect must be to warrant a claim (some contracts, for example, provide a refund only where the defect is serious enough to merit euthanasia), to require that the pup be returned as a condition of the refund, or to specify the type of evidence sufficient to show that the defect is truly a genetic one.

The fifth paragraph controls the conditions under which the dog may be bred. It is not good for the breed, the dogs, or the breeder's reputation if dogs he/she has produced are bred indiscriminately, or by persons not knowledgeable enought to make good breeding judgments. There are a number of other ways of dealing with this problem, any one of which may be more appropriate in a given case than the one used in this sample contract. Here are some alternative examples:

A. The Buyer shall have the puppy spayed or neutered before it reaches the age of eight (8) months, and shall forward to the Seller a spay/neuter certificate from the veterinarian performing the procedure. Upon receipt of that certificate, the Seller shall [refund to the Buyer $_______ of the purchase price] OR [shall forward the registration papers for the puppy to the Buyer]. [Note that if the second option is used, paragraph 2 will have to be changed to say that the Buyer will register the pup and hold the registration papers for transmittal to the Buyer after evidence of spay/neuter is provided.]

B. Registration with the ABCA, as provided for in Paragraph 2 above, shall be NB (non-breeding) registration. NB registration bars registration of any offspring of the puppy. If at any time the Buyer desires to breed the puppy, he/she shall consult with the Seller, and if the Seller agrees that such breeding would be desirable, the Seller shall contact the registry and obtain the lifting of the NB restriction.

The sixth paragraph places requirements on the Buyer as to how the puppy must be cared for and maintained. If the Seller so wishes, he/she can spell out these requirements in some detail, thereby using the provision as a tool for educating the Buyer. The Seller can specify, for example, that the puppy must be kept in a fenced yard and not permitted to run loose, that it must be given a booster shot every 3-4 weeks until it is 16 weeks old, that it must be checked annually for heartworm and intestinal parasites, and the like. Such detailed provisions are unlikely to be enforced, since the breeder will probably not learn of violations, but they can be useful in making the Buyer conscious of the dog's needs. This type of provision can also be used to require the Buyer to have the pup's hips OFA'd or its eyes checked even if it is not to be bred, so that the Seller can acquire as much information as possible about the genetic health of his/her breeding lines.

The seventh paragraph would be used by breeders who wish their pups to go to permanent homes and to ensure that they not be passed through many hands. It is probably most practical for a pup who is being sold as a pet, and least practical for one that is being sold primarily for working or trialing.

The eighth paragraph is is intended to make sure that neither the pup nor its descendants will end up in a puppy mill or pet shop.

Sometimes breeders are concerned that they may scare away buyers if they insist on a contract. Most of the time, buyers' reactions are the exact opposite from what the seller fears. Particularly if they are new to Border Collies, buyers often welcome the educational features of a contract, and regard a sales contract as a reassuring sign of professionalism on the part of the seller. A good sales contract lets both buyer and seller know where they stand, and helps to maintain high standards on the part of those who breed and those who provide homes, all to the ultimate benefit of the Border Collie breed.
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