How To Read A Puppy Warranty/Guarantee
Advice From A Lawyer, continued...


Not all puppy sellers have their warranty on their website. Ask to see it BEFORE you part with a deposit or pay for a puppy. READ it. BE SURE you understand what it provides. And if it is anything like the one below, DO NOT BUY FROM THAT SELLER. With good care, a healthy puppy should be a member of your family for a decade or more. Buying a puppy is a serious decision and one that can involve a lot of unexpected expense if the puppy has serious medical problems. Take your time and be sure that, not only are you are getting a good puppy, but your rights are protected if something should go wrong.

Let’s take a warranty typical of those offered by puppy mills and commercial puppy importers and go through it in detail. I did not make this one up to scare you needlessly. It is real, and it is typical of those offered by unscrupulous puppy sellers. I copied it on January 22, 2007 from the website of a California commercial puppy importer at . Even though warranties offered by other commercial importers and puppy mills vary in their exact provisions, almost all make it clear that the seller will not refund any of your money under any circumstances, no matter how sick or defective a puppy he or she sells you, and will not reimburse you for any veterinarian bills you are forced to incur if he or she sends you a sick or defective puppy. That is completely unreasonable. You should not buy from anyone who tries to give you a “guarantee” that guarantees only that you will be stuck with any problems.

To make it easy to follow the discussion, the exact words of the “Guarantee” appear in regular typeface and my comments appear in red italics. The first thing to observe is that the “Guarantee” has a place for YOU to sign, but none for the Seller to sign. In fact, the seller does not even have her name or address on the “Guarantee.” Does that give you a clue as to who the “Guarantee” is designed to protect?


Date of Purchase: _________________________________________________________________

Agreed Price: __________________________________________________________________

Pet's Gender: __________________________________________________________________

Pet's DOB: __________________________________________________________________

Pet's Color: ___________________________________________________________________

We have made every effort to provide you with a healthy puppy.
Breeder guarantees that all vaccinations and worming are current.


Why isn’t the guarantee transferable to another person? If the puppy does not comply with the guarantee, the seller should stand behind it even if the puppy has been transferred. Good breeders, who want to be sure that their puppies are going to good homes, may provide in the contract that the puppy will not be transferred to someone else without the seller’s consent, but that should have nothing to do with the guarantee.

BUYER AGREES to have the puppy examined by a veterinarian WITH IN 48 HOURS OF OWNERSHIP. Seller must be informed immediately of the examination's result via e-mail or fax. Failure of this will result in cancellation of the guarantee.

Requiring that the buyer have the puppy examined by a veterinarian within two or three days of purchase is reasonable. After all, puppies are living things and can get sick after purchase. Having the puppy examined promptly helps determine whether a puppy that gets sick shortly after arrival at the buyer’s home was sick at the time of sale or became sick because of something to which the puppy was exposed while in the buyer’s possession. HOWEVER, a provision that the guarantee is cancelled if the seller is not immediately informed of the results by email or fax is simply designed to cheat the buyer. It is reasonable to require the buyer to notify the seller immediately if the veterinarian says the puppy is sick and should be returned. It is NOT reasonable to void the warranty for failure to immediately fax or email the results to the seller if the veterinarian does not find anything seriously wrong at the initial examination but the puppy later turns out to have a genetic disorder.

If the examination indicates that at the time of sale the animal was unfit for purchase due to illness, disease or congenital disorder the animal may be returned immediately for an exchange of another animal of the same breed and comparable quality.

This is unreasonable. If the seller sold you a puppy that was unfit for purchase, you should be able to get your money back. That is particularly so if the animal is suffering from a contagious disease, because there is a high probability that the replacement puppy will have been exposed to the same disease.

There is also another problem here that is less apparent. If the puppy was shipped to you, how are you going to return it? You need to have a health certificate to ship a puppy. If your veterinarian has found the puppy to be diseased, the only way you will be able to return the puppy is by returning the puppy in person or hiring a private person to return it for you.


That’s reasonable.

Seller is not responsible for any airborne viruses or other illnesses contracted after the dog has been exposed to a new environment (i.e. influenza, parvo, pneumonia, etc.), and no refund or exchange will be made for a dog under these circumstances.

That’s reasonable, so long as the seller remains responsible for any disease that was contracted while in the seller’s possession, even if the symptoms were not apparent at the time of shipment.

No monetary refunds will be made. Seller does not cover veterinarian bills.

This is totally unreasonable and violates California law. It may also violate the law in your state. If the seller sends you a sick puppy, the seller should be responsible for the veterinary bills. If you receive a puppy sick with parvovirus – one of the more common diseases puppies contract – you can easily run up $1,500 in veterinary bills in 2 or 3 days. Puppies with diarrhea often become dehydrated rapidly and often die. They need intravenous hydration to save them. That is an expensive procedure. Under this “Guarantee,” a buyer receiving a sick puppy would have to pay the veterinary bills himself, pay to ship the puppy back to the seller, and take his chances with another puppy which might also be sick and run up another huge bill. Think that’s an exaggeration? Several buyers of imported puppies have found themselves in EXACTLY that dilemma.

Seller guarantees one year for any genetic or hereditary problems. This includes severe dysplasia, demodectic mange, kidney/ heart pancreas, spine and liver problems of a severe life threatening or altering nature. If the puppy passes away within this one year, purchaser will pay to have it autopsied. If the reason for death was GENETIC OR CONGENITAL, we will provide a replacement puppy of equivalent value.

This is another unreasonable provision. Many serious genetic problems do not become apparent or very severe until the animal is older. Suppose, for example, you get a puppy who has mild hip dysplasia at one year of age, and is so crippled by age 3 that it can no longer walk. Under this “Guarantee,” the buyer gets nothing.

Note that the buyer never gets his money back. After undergoing the heartache of losing a puppy to a serious genetic problem, would you really want to chance taking another puppy from the same seller? If not, you get nothing. Note also, that the buyer, in addition to having to pay all the veterinary fees up to the time of the puppy’s death, also has to pay for an autopsy. What happens if the puppy does not die on its own, but has to be euthanized because it is in pain? Does the “Guarantee” give the buyer anything? It does not say.

Suppose the puppy develops a serious, life altering disorder that is not life-threatening, such as blindness or lameness. Are you really going to send the dog back to the seller after it has been a member of your family for a while? Good breeders want dogs to stay with good owners under such circumstances, and will reimburse all or part of the purchase price or help with the veterinary expenses. A seller who provides that you get nothing if you do not return the dog is banking on the fact that you will fall in love with the dog and that the seller will thus escape any responsibility.

Seller must be notified of the problem within 48 hours, and have two reports of two different veterinarians, stating the same problem.

Think about this! The buyer has to have an autopsy done, notify the seller within 48 hours, AND get a report from a SECOND veterinarian. This means that while you are grieving for your lost puppy, you have to take its dead body to a second veterinarian for examination. Why? There is only one reason: to make getting a replacement puppy so difficult that no buyer will bother.


What does this mean? It means that this seller has had puppies with these problems so frequently that the seller knows there is a good chance that your puppy will suffer from one or more of those disorders, but the seller wants it to be your problem, not his. No breeder can guarantee that puppies will not develop allergies or other problems late in life, but these problems should NOT be present in a puppy at the time of sale or at a young age, and a seller should be responsible and help with the cost if they do occur. I know of several buyers of imported puppies who have found their young puppies to have had skin allergies so severe that their regular veterinarians referred them to veterinary dermatologists -- and THAT GETS EXPENSIVE.

I, the purchaser hereby acknowledge, that I received a copy of this document. I accept the terms and conditions of the guarantee for congenital or hereditary disorders printed on this document. The purchaser acknowledges that he or she understands and agrees to the terms of this document. No refunds, store credit only.

The one thing that is clear from this “Guarantee” is that the buyer NEVER gets his money back, no matter how defective or sick a puppy the seller sends. That’s just not fair!




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Phone Number: 951 - 657- 1006