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Can You Return A Puppy To A Breeder?

If you purchased the puppy from a reputable breeder, the answer is yes – you certainly can return a puppy to its breeder.

A contract is usually signed when a puppy transaction takes place to ensure the puppy’s well-being for life and to provide a return policy for all circumstances. 

Most breeders want to ensure the puppy has a safe place to stay and want to put the puppy’s needs first. 

Returning the puppy does not guarantee a refund and usually depends on the reason for the return.

Common reasons to return a puppy

A reputable breeder will always want to take back one of their puppies, regardless of age, to ensure it is well cared for. Any reason you feel the puppy may not be a good fit for your family is therefore valid. 

The best first step is always to contact the breeder to explain your situation. 

Many families are not fully aware of the commitment it takes to raise a puppy, or personal circumstances can change that require the puppy to be returned. 

Here is a list of common personal reasons people may want to provide for why they feel they can no longer keep the puppy.

  • Regret
  • Personality mismatch
  • Allergies discovered
  • Financial obligations
  • Personal situation

The first six months of owning a puppy are challenging. During this time, the puppy may not be a good fit for your family, or your circumstances allowing you to care for the puppy may have changed. 

The puppy contract, while not mandatory, is almost always signed when purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder, to protect the breeder, client, and puppy. 

For cases of unforeseen financial trouble, family issues, or health problems, there is usually a return-to-breeder clause that prevents the puppy from being sent to a shelter or re-sold.

You can return the puppy if:

You can return the puppy if

#1 The breeder is reputable.

A reputable breeder will always take responsibility for a puppy whenever needed and guarantee a safe place for the puppy to stay. 

This assurance is regardless of the age of the puppy, or your reasons for wanting to return it. 

Therefore, you should rest assured that you can always return a puppy to a reputable breeder.

#2 Your vet certifies that the puppy was unhealthy before the purchase.

If the puppy was suffering from an illness not mentioned or discovered by the breeder, this is a common reason to return the puppy.

Being familiar with the puppy contract you signed is helpful because some breeders have a health guarantee. 

This clause guarantees the puppy against genetic defects up to a certain age and sometimes, depending on the puppy’s breed, against specific ailments, such as heart problems. 

In most circumstances of a health defect, the breeder will provide a refund.

#3 Your return is within the puppy contracts timeframe.

Since all ethical and reputable breeders ensure a puppy contract is signed, a contractual agreement between the breeder and the buyer exists to define the puppy’s future. 

There is usually a return policy for all circumstances. 

Your puppy contract would guide the circumstances and timeframe that need to be followed, to ensure your return process and reimbursement.

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#4 The Pet Lemon Law applies.

Most states have a version of a Pet Lemon Law that requires sellers to provide specific guarantees for the puppies they sell. 

The Pet Lemon Law guarantees a refund or a puppy substitute if your puppy falls ill or demonstrates hereditary defects within a specific timeframe. 

Remember that your state’s Pet Lemon Law can apply even if you did not have a signed puppy contract, or if your puppy contract contradicts this.

#5 You are willing to forfeit a refund.

In most puppy contracts, the direction is clear that any puppy needing to be rehomed should be returned to the breeder, as a course of action, regardless of the reason.

While you should always be able to return the puppy, you may not always be entitled to a refund. 

The terms and conditions that would allow for a refund are usually outlined in the contract. A refund is often only issued when a puppy is returned for pre-stipulated health reasons.

You may not be able to return the puppy if:

You may not be able to return the puppy if

#1 You bought from unreputable online sellers. 

When purchasing from an online breeder or seller that is not reputable, they will most likely sever all contact once the sale is complete, meaning you may be unable to communicate with them regarding returning the puppy.

#2 You discover health problems too late.

In the case of an unethical breeder, they usually do not act in the puppy’s best interest and will not take the puppy back under any circumstance, as an ethical breeder would do. 

In this case, the Pet Lemon Law may not protect you since the illness, deformity, or health defect needs to be reported within a specific timeframe.

#3 You choose to receive medical reimbursements.

For reputable breeders, they would agree to take back the puppy at any time, even after reimbursing medical treatment for a pre-existing condition. 

However, in the case of an unethical breeder, they may assume you are keeping the puppy once the medical condition has been treated and reimbursements for the vet costs have been paid.

Hopefully, any confusion could be avoided, with clear communication, regarding your intentions for the puppy.

#4 You don’t want the puppy to end up in a shelter.

All responsible and ethical breeders will keep a returned puppy for as long as it takes to find it a new home. 

However, unethical breeders often surrender a returned puppy to a shelter, if they cannot re-sell or rehome it.

How should I go about returning the puppy?

If the puppy is healthy and your reason for returning is a personal one, then to ensure a smooth return of the puppy, you should take the following steps:

  1. Read and understand your puppy contract, especially regarding refunds, the breeder’s return policy, and stipulations.
  2. Contact your breeder with a clear explanation of why you want to return the puppy.
  3. Arrange a date to meet the breeder to return the puppy.
  4. Ensure the puppy is well-cared for the entire time it is in your care.

However, if the puppy is sick and you want to return the puppy due to an illness not mentioned or discovered by the breeder, the steps you take will be slightly different.

  1. Read and understand your puppy contract. Usually, illnesses that allow for refunds are pre-determined within the contract.
  2. Contact your breeder describing the symptoms or illness the puppy is suffering from. The reputable breeder will always put the puppy’s needs first and will ensure the puppy receives medical care.
  3. Agree with the breeder on the course of action regarding whether the puppy should be taken directly to a vet for urgent care, or taken to the breeder to deal with the puppy’s medical needs directly.
  4. Take the puppy to the vet or the breeder within the agreed time frame.
  5. Ensure the puppy is well-cared for the entire time it is in your care. Breeders are not obligated to issue refunds when the puppy has ill health due to negligence.
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Other aspects to consider

Other aspects to consider

If you are feeling overwhelmed or finding the adjustment of a puppy in your home and life extremely challenging, many considerations could ease your stress. 

Puppy stages are age-related.

As with a baby, a puppy has many age-related characteristics. These natural frustrations will improve within the first year as the puppy matures and undergoes training. Most dogs become calmer with time.

Training is important

To ensure a well-behaved puppy that adheres to your family’s way of life, it is imperative that training take place. 

Ensuring a puppy is taught all the necessary commands, boundaries and good behavior means your satisfaction as a dog owner will be guaranteed. 

Arranging professional dog training is an excellent investment in your puppy and could be life-changing for many years ahead.

Bonding takes time

In most cases, the bonding period for a new puppy is three months. 

Sometimes the toilet training, teething, and other puppy issues can be exhausting and detract from the bonding experience with your puppy. 

Having patience, along with training and maturity, you will see the bond with your puppy will be a natural progression.

What is best for the puppy

In all situations, the needs of the puppy and what would be best for it must be the primary consideration. 

If your circumstances, job, health, or other factors hinder you from caring for the puppy, you must contact the breeder to rehome the puppy.

Other legal considerations

If you have not, for whatever reason, signed a puppy contract with your breeder, there are other legal considerations. 

You can research your state’s pet purchaser protection laws and use this to guide you, as well as refer to your state’s Pet Lemon Law.

Final Thoughts 

Contacting the breeder with your doubts or concerns is always the best first step.

When it comes to refunds or stipulations regarding your puppy’s return process, adhere to the puppy contract. 

Any breeder who has not provided a puppy contract should be avoided and seen as a red flag! Unethical breeders may surrender the puppy to a shelter.

Before contacting the breeder to arrange the puppy’s return, consider persevering with training and the bonding time frame. 

Always ensure the puppy’s well-being while in your care and allow for an open and honest line of communication with your puppy’s breeder.