Unfortunately, sometimes a puppy is not appropriate for a household, not in great health or the family was not ready for the commitment.
In this scenario, we as owners and breeders need to know what our options are and if a puppy can and should be returned to their breeder. And if so, what is the formal protocol? So, should dog breeders take a puppy back? Read on to find out.
When should dog breeders take a puppy back?
Circumstances can interfere with plans, sometimes an owner may have a financial or health change that means they cannot take care of the puppy. But who is at fault, if anyone? And should the breeder pay for expenses or should the owner pay for wasting the breeder’s time? The financial consequences and method of the return all depend on the reason the puppy is returned.
This topic is a difficult situation but must be addressed to make sure the care of every puppy continues. Regardless of an unforeseen circumstance.
When they have health problems that were unknown
Sometimes a dog will be adopted and the owner will then discover that the dog has some kind of illness. The illness may be a result of improper care by the breeders, a lack of screening, unfortunate circumstance or poor care by the new owner. All these factors affect whether the dog should be allowed to be returned.
Circumstances, where you should be able to return the dog, include an illness not being mentioned or discovered by the breeder but was present during their care of the dog. If this is just a minor cold or something that will pass without required treatment, then return should not be an option as this is circumstantial. However, if an untreated illness which has been presented and untreated for some time or a health issue as a result of poor care or poor breeding is present, this is the fault of the breeder and the puppy should be returnable.
Some breeds are known to have health issues, such as an umbilical hernia in Airedale Terriers from birth. The owner buying the puppy should be made known of any current health issues. But as there are some vulnerable breeds, the owner should be aware that these problems may occur even after the puppy is sold. Ultimately, an open conversation is required between the breeder and owner. A return of a puppy should occur if the fault is on the breeder’s behalf.
If the dog doesn’t suit the home
Sometimes a dog will not suit the household or lifestyle they are brought into. Morally, the puppy should be able to be returned as these situations can occur. However, financially, the costs may not be able to be returned to the owner. As when the dog was purchased, they should have been prepared for this possibility and how to cope with it.
Potential unknown allergies are one reason the puppy may be required to be returned. However, the owner and their family members should have interacted with dogs prior to purchasing one. Hence why the breeder cannot be blamed. Another reason includes the dog not getting along with children in the household or being too boisterous. Puppies have a lack of control as they are young animals that require training. Slow introductions will help them to learn how to behave appropriately and minimize fear in both your puppy and children. Sometimes owners cannot or will not be willing to put in this effort.
Other times the dog may just not be well suited for the family in personality. Even with all the required checks. Out of good faith, the breeder should be willing to take the returned puppy back. But owners should always understand the commitment and dedication a dog requires before the purchase.
When the puppy’s owner can’t support it economically
Sometimes life circumstances can cause unpredicted bills to climb. Thereby making it unfair for the owner to continue caring for their dog. This is another situation where morally, the breeder should take the puppy back. As both breeders and owners should have their dog’s best interest at heart.
An owner may lose their job suddenly and be unable to pay for their housing and care bills. Let alone those that come with having a dog. In this case, it may often be heartbreaking for the owner to have to part with their new family member. But it is also considered the most responsible decision if they cannot fulfill their dog’s basic needs. The basic needs of a dog include the five freedoms known as freedom from hunger and thirst, discomfort, pain, injury and disease, fear and distress and the ability to display natural behavior.
A sudden health problem or condition may arise for either the owner, family member or dog. One of which the owner cannot afford to pay. Unexpected human medical bills can be very costly. This may mean it is not appropriate or possible for you to pay for both your dog and medical bills. If it is a long term health condition with the dog, owners may be unprepared. This is not the norm when acquiring the puppy and therefore they may not be financially unready.
If the dog is aggressive
In the event that the puppy shows aggression, this is both a serious concern but one that an owner should be prepared for. Therefore, the owner can consider taking the puppy back if they do not feel the family can help with its behavior. But this is a trait that can be understood and minimized with behaviorally monitoring and training.
Aggression is usually a sign of your puppy feeling fear, pain or a general lack of training. Owners should be prepared to spend time training and understanding their dog’s behavior. Along with finding the route cause so then they can find the appropriate way to improve it. Even if an owner cannot provide the training alone, they should be prepared to hire someone who can.
Be aware that a change in behavior can take a long time period. Usually, it takes a few months to see a noticeable change depending on the behavior and situation. Therefore, owners should leave a large amount of time to assess what the issue is and if there has been any change. If an owner has made a significant attempt at changing and understanding the dog’s behavior and the aggression still exists, it may be that the household is not appropriate for your puppy and returning them is a decision both parties should consider.
When should dog breeders refuse to take a puppy back?
A good dog breeder must be prepared to take puppies back if they are concerned about their welfare. Puppies should not just be considered profit to high-quality breeders but living creatures that deserve good lives. However, some owners may be misinformed or returning the dog in hopes of gaining their money back without good motives to do so. Breeders must be aware when they are able to and should consider declining a returned puppy.
If the dog is injured due to negligence
A breeder should not have to refund an owner if a dog has sustained an injury due to negligence. A good example of this is if a dog has broken a limb from being left outside. They were not monitored and no precautions in the garden were been placed beforehand. Accidental injuries do happen. However, when an owner wants to return a puppy with an injury caused at their home and demands a refund, this can be classified as negligence.
If the breeder is concerned, the dog should be taken back. The owner should not be refunded. Depending on the evidence, the owner can be asked to pay for health and medical bills surrounding the puppy’s injury. This should be dependant on the severity of the injury, how it occurred and if this has occurred before. It may be that the dog has been injured due to a freak accident. The owner may feel too concerned or guilty to own the dog, therefore negligence is not involved. However, this still does not mean that the breeder owes a refund to the owner as they had no involvement.
When the owners can’t look after the dog for a certain amount of time
Situations do come up where owners will ask to return the puppy temporarily or permanently due to them being busy for a period of time. This may include a business trip, exam period, holiday, or admittance into the hospital. It is an odd situation but one that is not unheard of.
Owners will often explain that this time period is incredibly stressful for them and they are not sure if they can provide the appropriate care for the dog at this time. Overall, the owner is putting the dog’s needs first, but difficult situations will come to all pet owners and that does not mean rehoming is the option. Breeders may offer their services as temporary dog boarding kennels of which the owner should pay for
If the dog “can’t be trained”
If an owner comes to you and says that the dog is un-trainable, know that this is untrue. Every dog can be trained with time and patience. Some may just take longer to train than others. Breeders should remain calm at this suggestion and aim to educate owners instead of taking the puppy back.
Untrained dogs can be difficult to handle. Higher levels of aggression, furniture being torn up and urination on carpets can all be incredibly frustrating. First-time owners may come to breeders frustrated and overwhelmed and it is our job to help reassure them that this is normal, and there are things they can do to do to help with the change. Advise them that you can hire dog trainers, even for one session, to help them learn how to properly and permanently alter unwanted behavior.
A general time frame cannot be given as every dog is different, but certain breeds may be easier to train than others, providing them with this knowledge may help.
Pet purchase protection laws: why breeders need a contract
Although all breeders should care about each of the puppies they sell, and many do, dog breeding is still a business for many breeders out there. Breeders need to protect themselves financially to avoid misinformed, negligent or non-committal owners returning a puppy and demanding repayment. By having a set state of rules in a contract, any situation that arises will already be signed and agreed to, avoiding messy arguments and saving time for both parties.
By using contract clauses, you can ensure that money is returned to a buyer when it has been agreed to prior. Furthermore, a contract can ensure the return of a puppy when they are in unfit circumstances and thereby ensuring they are well cared for through pet protection laws. In your contract, you may agree upon the owner holding possession of the puppy, unless there is a reasonable concern of abuse or neglect, thereby the puppy will be returned to the breeder.
Composing your own contract can be difficult. Finding an understanding of all the affecting loopholes and your legal rights can be other-whelming. We recommend looking up breeder’s templates that you can easily alter. You can also contact law professionals to write you up a contract, although this can be much more expensive. Here are a few contracts we recommend:
All breeders are involved in their industry because they love dogs and love their work. We all want to ensure that each puppy is finding a happy forever home. However, breeding is a business and breeders deserve to be financially secure, as do the owners who are buying. Therefore, a fair contract thoroughly read through can allow both the breeder and owner to feel safe financially and about the welfare of the puppy in all circumstances.
So should dog breeders take a puppy back? The answer is it depends. Circumstances and behavior can influence our choices. We need to make sure as owners and breeders that our dogs are being put first and all their needs are being met, however, it is best to do so. Financial security is also important to create a trusting foundation between breeders and new owners.