Elements of a Puppy Health Guarantee Contract

A puppy health guarantee contract protects the buyer, as well as the seller. Standard health guarantee clauses should be included in all contracts; however, contracts will differ among sellers and breeders.

Puppy Vaccinations

Seller should provide proof or affirmation of vaccinations in the contract. A series of vaccines are available to puppies between the ages of 6 to 8 weeks. Basic immunization should include canine distemper, canine parvovirus, canine adenovirus and parainfluenza. Vaccination against bordetella (canine kennel cough) may or may not be provided by the seller. 

Buyer should beware of purchasing a puppy that has not been vaccinated. Symptoms of disease may not be apparent until six days to three weeks after exposure. 

Health Exam

The contract should stipulate that the buyer be obligated to have a veterinarian of their choice perform an exam. Generally, contracts will request that an exam take place between two and five days after purchase. Some sellers will nullify the contract if the buyer does not provide proof of examination. If your veterinarian discovers a serious disease or defect, the seller has the obligation to replace the puppy or provide a refund. 

In many cases, sellers do not provide cash refunds. You should be aware that a replacement puppy might not be immediately available. Additionally, a puppy suffering from contagious disease could indicate facility-wide exposure among puppies. The cost of the initial veterinary exam is your responsibility. Rarely do sellers or breeders reimburse the cost of the exam. Moreover, if you decide to keep and treat an ill puppy, the seller will usually void all aspects of the contract. 

Breed Specific Contracts

Pedigree contracts usually contain clauses that are specific to the breed. Some breeds are more susceptible to particular diseases and health conditions. Reputable breeders provide clauses that guarantee the puppy to be free from breed specific defects. Breeders will often guarantee replacement or refund, if diagnosis of the breed specific disease or condition occurs within 12 to 24 months after purchase. The covered diseases are specified in the contract and in most cases must be serious or life threatening. 

Sellers will require proof of condition from your veterinarian. In some cases, the seller may request a second diagnosis. Depending upon the contract, you may be responsible for the cost of a second opinion. In the event of death, some contracts will contain an autopsy clause. Generally, buyers are responsible for the cost of the autopsy. Sellers rarely reimburse buyers for this cost. 

Obligations of the Buyer 

The obligation of the buyer to provide proper medical care, shelter and socialization are often a feature of contracts. This protects sellers and breeders from buyers seeking refunds in the event of minor illness. 

The seller may also nullify a health guarantee, if the buyer does not meet all conditions set forth in the contract. Often, breeders will include a "companion pet clause." Sellers may require the spaying or neutering of companion pets within a specified period of time. If proof of sterilization is not presented to the seller, the seller may void the health guarantee. 

Breeders and sellers often include additional clauses that are based on their own experiences and expectations. Both buyer and seller should feel comfortable with the terms of the contract.