Breeder breach of contract - Lawyers chime in?

I recently purchased a purebred dog from a very reputable breeder. Both parents are AKC registered champion show dogs. Without boring you with all the details, some unfortunate circumstances caused the breeder to place all of the puppies from the litter into “pet” homes.

As expected, the breeder and I both signed her spay/neuter contract which basically required two things:

  1. Spay/neuter the dog between 20-24 months old
  2. The dog MUST be registered with the AKC within 30 days of receiving the puppy “even if it is going to a pet home”

Here’s the dilemma: I never received the AKC papers when the puppy was delivered to me (she was sent via transporter from a different state), only the health certificate required for travel. When I questioned the breeder about the papers, she said that she was waiting for the AKC to send them and would forward them to me once they arrived. Two months later, still nothing. When I inquired about them again, the breeder mentioned that she had decided not to register the pups since they were all in pet homes, won’t be shown, and won’t be bred. Honestly, I really don’t care about the papers, but I WOULD like to spay her at a year old after her first heat.

My question: Has the breeder already voided the contract because she refused to send me the required papers to register within the 30 day period? If so, does that mean I can legally spay her before 20 months old with no recourse? Just curious. I did sign the contract and will abide by it if I have to but if it is already null and void?..

Depending on how the contract was written & signed, failing to meet the requirements of one part, does not automatically void another section.

Have you talked to the breeder about this?
Have you asked her why she has the age requirement for the dog being altered?
Depending on the size/breed, waiting until after physical maturity to alter the pet is often better for the dog.


I haven’t mentioned it to her yet but the age requirement for the spay/neuter is for the reason you mentioned. It is the health benefits of reaching full maturity. My vet claims that we would be well within the health benefits after the first heat which I would wait for. I also have two other dogs, both altered, that I have to worry about. Not the worry about unwanted pregnancy, obviously, but temperament changes during the cycle that might make it difficult to manage combined with the fact that my male dog may still attempt to tie with her. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky, and my puppy will be easy going during her heat cycles…or be one of the lucky ones who starts her cycles really late.

Like I stated earlier, I was just curious about the contract validity. I generally try to play by the rules so if I have to wait, then I will. Afterall, I did sign the contract and knew what I was getting into.

INAL, but I would wonder if this would be considered a material breach of contract? Hopefully someone can chime in. As I understand it, even though there is a breach, it does not necessarily make the contract null and void. The seller does have a responsibility to correct the area not fulfilled by the contract (IE the registration papers). I would be really interested to know if you could challenge the breeder’s contract in the sense that they are not a veterinarian yet they are advising parameters on veterinary care, if that makes sense. I hope a legal eagle chimes in. I really hate when breeders do this type of thing. The litter deserves papers despite whether or not the breeder wants the litter affiliated with their stock. To me, that is irresponsible breeding.


Interesting scenario! It seems that the breeder has breached the contract by failing to get the AKC registration. That means you have a claim for a breech of contract, and may be entitled to remedies - but does not in itself nullify the contract. You could argue you are entitled to damages ($) for the difference in value of a dog with AKC papers vs one without. You could also claim you made the purchase in reliance on getting the AKC papers, and you received “non-conforming goods” (a dog without papers) which you are not accepting and want to return (which you already stated is not the result you want).
If you spay the dog prior to 20 months, the breeder could also claim you are in breech. However their damages are more difficult to quantify. I suppose either they can claim some reputation risk (you spay early and the animal ends up under size or with health problems that make them look like they breed inferior animals) or animal welfare argument, which is difficult to prove. (They would have a stronger case if you didn’t want to spay the dog, vs. wanting to do it early)
From a practical standpoint, I imagine unless you are dealing with a very special personality I would think the risk of legal ramifications are very low. It’s your dog, if you spay it and not say anything most likely nothing would happen. Does the contract require you to send them a copy of the spay certificate?


To be honest ( I am an honest person) I would spay when it is best for you and the puppy . When the breeder feels it is fine to breech the contract when it suits them (not registering/ sending the papers) , I don’t see how the other part can be upheld/ enforced.


Early would end up in over-size more than under :wink:


Oops, thanks for the education!

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I think you should do what is best for YOUR dog.

Never mind the fact that sometimes the first heat can happen and you would not even notice. Of course your altered males will most likely tell you, but even then you still may not know.

If the breeder cared about her breeding operation and her reputation, she should have registered her dogs regardless if they are “pet” homes or not.

Something about this does not sit right with me.


The contract asks for a letter from the vet so she would know if the spay was done early. My fear is that based on breach of contract that she could come and take the dog back. I doubt it would come to that, but you never know.

I agree that something doesn’t sit right. I was quite surprised she doesn’t want the litter registered as they are of wonderful show quality. The dad of the litter did quite well at Westminster this year, so I doubt the reason is that she doesn’t want the puppies representing her kennel.

Typically, the only time a judge will side with the breeder on a breech of contract, is if there is a monetary penalty listed for each particular stipulation within the contract.

I will add, if the breeder sold these pups as being AKC registered/register-able, then the breeder MUST provide the paperwork, according to AKC rules.


I didn’t realize the AKC requires that papers are provided. I wonder what the recourse is to her if the AKC finds out that she didn’t provide the paperwork? I don’t wish any ill will on her as I think that she is a good person and is fanatical about finding good homes for her dogs. I appreciate that about her. But it is interesting that she decided not to provide them if the AKC requires it. Surely, she knows that?

Again, I really don’t care about the papers but I do register them for the breeders. This isn’t my first rodeo with purebred dogs. I just thought I had found a loophole for getting the spay done early. It sounds like that isn’t the case, though. Darn. :upside_down_face:

What do you think the reason is for refusing pups papers? Genuinely asking.

I would contact AKC and let them know. I had issues with registration on one of my dogs and was able to get it resolved through them.

If she really is a good responsible breeder and it’s not something health wise, I’d suspect an inbred “oops” litter, like mom and son or siblings or dad and daughter and she doesn’t want it readily known.


According to the breeder, all of the puppies from the litter are in pet homes so they won’t be shown or bred so there was no reason to register them. Also, the mother of the litter is getting older, so this was likely her last litter. I think that factored into it, too.

Ordinarily, I would agree with you, but this was an intentional pairing for her to try and keep one.

A little late here, but if you have this in a contract, you should spell out in clear english that if obligations are not met, then you are owed a sum of money. The reason for this is that if you try and resolve this in the courts it will be very expensive and take a very long time and who knows what your outcome will be. if you say simply that if you dont get the papers in the contract you are owed $1000 this is a pretty cut and dry case that can be handled in small claims court pretty easily. Small claims court cant order the person to register the dog, but they will have no problem entering in a judgment My rule of thumb is that anything under $45,000 the only people that are going to make out are the lawyers.

Something I learned the hard way is that someone can be completely in breach of contract, but even so, there is no practical avenue for enforcement.

This sounds like one of those situations.

What can she do to you if she finds out you spayed the dog before 20 months? Legally, it’s going to cost her more to take action than whatever she could potentially gain.

I think the bigger risk is making an enemy who may drag your name through the mud on social media. However, I don’t think that’s something worth living in fear over.

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unless this dog is tattooed my comment to the breeder IF They Ever inquired was is it died, got run over, send them a photo of a squashed something

if chipped have my vet remove the chip then rechip the pooch then do as I wished

other option is to return pooch to breeder (get a look alike from the pound then send it back)