I created a special page dealing directly with contracts because I have been
hearing a lot about puppy buyers either getting the raw end of the deal or not
having understood just what the contract meant.  My goal is to help people be
better informed and perhaps, long term, raise the bar a bit with some breeders
who have flimsy contracts.

I don't claim to have a perfect contract, nor do I say this is all-inclusive.  It's
simply a guide.
1)  Ask for an advance copy of the contract before buying a puppy.  Given email, this
should not be a problem.  If a breeder refuses, I would look elsewhere.  You have a
right to know what the guarantees are, be able to ask questions, and if needed, get
clarifications hammered out -in writing- prior to picking up the puppy.

Most pet contracts should be pretty cut and dried.  

2)  For most pet owners, the primary area of concern will be the health guarantee.  
Does the breeder -force- you return the dog in exchange for another dog/refund?  
Will you be able to do that emotionally?  If so, what happens to the dog once he/she
goes back?  Will the dog be euthanized and if so, will you be able to handle that
emotionally?  A common ploy for people who don't want to have to uphold a
guarantee is to force you to return the dog with the threat that the dog will be
euthanized.  Most people can't bear the thought, understandably, and as such the
breeder washes their hands of it.  It's unfair.  

For hips in particular, what does the breeder require for the guarantee?  Do you
have to go to their vet and no other?  Do they not accept the opinion of the board
certified specialists at OFA?  If this is the case, I would look elsewhere.  Some
breeders require you to use their vet and only their vet because time/distance might
be a deterrent to a pet owner and as such, the breeder gets out of their guarantee.  
The idea that a regular day practice veterinarian's opinion is superior to board
certified specialists who do nothing else but look at thousands of xrays is laughable
at best.  PennHIP or a similar organization (if you live outside the US) should also
be acceptable.

Even if you don't intend to breed your dog, it really isn't a bad idea to have their
hips xrayed.  In addition to the 'guarantee' aspect of it, it's good to know early if
there's a problem so you can start joint support early.  

Do the parents have their hip and other clearances?  PLEASE do not accept
anything but 'YES'.  Breeders should be able to show proof of these clearances.  
"There has never been a problem", "It doesn't run in the lines", "He can jump just
fine, look!", "She weight pulls just fine" are all bogus excuses.  Dogs can hide an
incredible amount of discomfort.  Run the other way, this is not the kind of person
you want to deal with.  
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