By Cindy Vogels
The mating of two dogs should never take place without a written agreement between the owners of the bitch and stud dog (or semen). Even though it can be argued that such agreements are difficult to enforce, disputes between the parties can often be avoided by the use of written contracts. These documents do not need to be elaborate; in fact, the simpler the better. Still, they need to address the various details involved with live breedings or the use of shipped semen, either fresh-cooled or frozen, from either a live dog or a dead or otherwise unavailable stud. Presently there is no single source for sample contracts, but some parent clubs do provide them for members.
The following identifying information must be included in all stud agreements: the name, address, and phone numbers of both owners, the breed of dog and bitch, and the registered names and numbers of dog and bitch. You also might include health clearance certifications. The breeding and approximate whelping dates should be given. As it’s only an approximation, if you don’t have a whelping calendar handy, just count nine weeks (63 days) from the median breeding date.
In addition, all stud contracts should include the fee and any extra charges. Hobby breeders traditionally don’t include additional charges which are routinely charged by professional handlers when a bitch is shipped to a stud dog, such as airport pickup, board, mating charges, and veterinary fees. A stud fee is truly just a charge for semen. Any expenses above that should be borne by the bitch owner. The conscientious stud dog owner works diligently toward a successful mating and should be recompensed accordingly.
If the stud owner is due a puppy in lieu of a fee, the contract should include a statement such as:
____Pick of litter puppy(s) by choice of stud owner.
Conditions: Stud owner agrees to make pick by ____weeks of age.
____puppy(s) constitute a litter.
If _____puppies do not survive to ___weeks, the right to choice of puppy(s) will be a next breeding, but a repeat service is at the option of stud dog owner.
Every stud contract should include a “General Conditions” section. Such a paragraph for use with live cover or artificial insemination, when the stud is living, might read:
This contact guarantees the actual mating of listed dogs only and not of a pregnancy or puppies. No fee will be refunded should bitch fail to whelp. ___puppies whelped live constitute a litter. A free service will be given by the same stud at the next heat of the same bitch if written/oral notice is given to stud owner within 90 days of breeding date. Unless such notice is given, the return service is canceled. If stud is not available, if bitch changes ownership, or fails to conceive after return service, this contract is terminated. Litter registration application will be signed after full payment of fee or possession of pick puppy(s) from the litter, but not before puppies are 10 days old. Bitch owner agrees not to knowingly sell or transfer any puppies whelped as a result of this mating to any person or firm connected with the sale or resale of dogs. All pet puppies will be sold with spay/neuter agreements, and all puppy owners will be requested to comply with _______(parent club) health protocols.
When semen is shipped, it is important that bitch owners are aware of their responsibilities for all adjunct charges. Such an addendum might read:
Fresh or Frozen Semen: Certified viable semen will be provided to a licensed veterinarian chosen by the bitch owner. All costs connected with purchase of semen collection and shipping kit, collection, shipping, and insemination will be borne by the bitch owner.
If you are shipping fresh or frozen semen from an available stud, few additional stipulations are necessary. It should be noted that:
All semen will be inseminated into one bitch resulting in one litter. Only one litter registration will be signed by stud owner. Any excess semen will be destroyed.
If you are selling semen from a deceased or otherwise unavailable stud, in addition to the stipulation above, it should be noted that:
Under no circumstances will there be a return service or a refund of stud fee unless stud dog owner is provided with veterinary certification that the semen was not viable. In such a case, stud dog owner will refund the stud fee, but will bear no responsibility for any other costs.
Paperwork can be a nuisance. Furthermore, breeders are sometimes hesitant to use contracts for fear of appearing suspicious or untrusting of their colleagues. However, written agreements can usually avoid misunderstandings which can arise between bitch and stud owners. Since the AKC heartily endorses the use of such contracts, hopefully in the near future there will be sample contracts available on their website, www.akc.org
(This article originally appeared in the AKC Gazette and is reprinted with permission from Cindy Vogels. Cindy Vogels is a breeder-judge from Denver. She has bred Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, Norfolk Terriers, Kerry Blue Terriers, and other breeds for more than 30 years.)