After reading yesterday’s post you might be asking yourself, “What is co-ownership?” and why would someone want to co-own a dog or puppy? The contract surrounding a dog that is co-owned by the breeder and the buyer will vary from breeder to breeder.
When a responsible breeder sells puppies he or she sells them on AKC Limited Registration. This means the puppy can never be bred (usually the breeder will include a mandatory spay/neuter clause in their contract), and the puppy/dog is not eligible to compete in the breed ring (ie: AKC conformation shows). This is how a breeder will sell the majority of their puppies, as the majority of a breeder’s puppies will go to pet homes. A puppy on Limited Registration is still eligible to compete in all other AKC competitions except the breed ring – they are eligible to compete in rally, obedience, agility, hunt tests, etc.
A breeder may also sell some puppies to show homes. In order to be eligible to show the puppy must be sold on Unlimited Registration, and this includes the rights to breed. Selling a puppy on Unlimited Registration to just anyone can be risky, as irresponsible breeding can very quickly ruin the lines a breeder may have spent 30 years or more working to create. With this in mind, co-ownership comes into play, especially with female puppies, and/or inexperienced show homes. In my case, I will co-own my puppy with the breeder, but I still have to pay the full purchase price. The puppy will live with me, and I will be responsible for the care of the puppy. In almost all ways this puppy will be my puppy. The AKC papers will show two owners (me and the breeder).
The breeder will have a say in the puppy’s life, however. The breeders co-owning rights will come into play with showing and breeding the dog (in my case bitch), and these rights will be clearly written out in the contract before I purchase the puppy. In some cases, the breeder might co-own until the puppy becomes and AKC Champion. In other cases the breeder will have the rights to the bitch’s first litter, and the litter will have the breeder’s kennel name prefix on all the puppies. In this instance, I might be given one puppy. Another scenario could be the breeder getting pick of the litter from the first litter. Co-ownership can be risky, but it can be an amazing way to learn. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for me to purchase a female puppy on Unlimited Registration without co-owning. The breeder being active in the puppy’s life and career will help me learn about showing, grooming, the breed standard, breeding and much more. I am looking for a breeder to help mentor me, and be very involved with the puppy. This means I need to find a breeder I trust completely.
As far as expenses go, very frequently the buyer (me) would be responsible for all daily expenses and vet care. Sometimes, the breeder might split entry fees with the buyer, but this is rarer. Sometimes the breeder will assume the costs associated with breeding the first litter if the breeder has rights to that litter – vet care, stud fee, etc. – but not always. Sometimes expenses associated with showing and breeding (including health clearances) will be split down the middle, but sometimes these will be assumed by the buyer.
Co-ownership is more frequent with females than males, and many breeders will only sell a female on unlimited registration to an experienced show home. I am still learning, but from what I understand co-ownership is more prevalent with females because a female will only be bred a certain number of times in her life – usually two or three times, sometimes four times. So each breeding must be very carefully considered and planned. The owner of the bitch/dam of a litter owns the puppies and can sell them and ensuring responsible breeding and selling of these puppies is critical to preserving good show lines. A male can sire countless litters, but it is usually the bitch owner who picks the male to sire a litter, and not the owner of the male who reaches out to bitch owners to use their male. Of course, the owner of a stud has the right to be selective in what bitches they breed their stud to.
When it comes time to draw up a contract I will require everything be spelled out ahead of time. Who will cover what expenses, what rights the breeder has, what assistance the breeder will give, if full ownership will ever be transferred to me the circumstances surrounding that, etc. It might sound like a lot, and sort of a less than ideal situation, but if done right co-owning a dog can be an invaluable learning experience. I will be able to avoid many novice mistakes by having a breeder there to help me along the way, and at the end of the night, it will be in my house that the bitch lives, and when not showing she will be my beloved companion. With a breeder I trust this could be one of the greatest opportunities of my life, and now it’s finding a breeder I trust, and the right litter that is so important!