This article deals with the breeder's responsibility to ensure spaying or neutering of most of the puppies in the litter.


by Pam Green (copyright 1994)

There are two basic plans for ensuring spaying and neutering :


Ie find a vet who will do pediatric spay / neuter, and get it done before the pup goes to the new home. This is by far the most certain way, as it is absolute certainty. If your vet is not familiar with early spay/neuter, there was an article on it in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, vol 191, #5, Sept 1, 1987 by Leo Lieberman DVM. Doubtless there have been more recent articles in the vet literature, but that's the one I know about. Also your vet could get information from the UC Davis VMTH, as early spay/neuter is now part of the curriculum at the Vet School. I believe that it would be a wonderful progress for dog welfare if all vets and all breeders would come to recognize that instead of doing pre-sale ear cropping on their future family companion puppies, they should instead do pre-sale spay/neuter. (Update 2003: for some years now pediatric spay / neuter for puppies and kittens has the official blessing of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

At some point in the future we may hope for simpler and possibly lower cost means of permanently sterilizing young puppies. Currently underdevelopment for commercial use is an immunization technique to render the zona pellucida (which surrounds the ova) impenetrable by sperm; developer Zonagen hopes to have this ready for sale within a few years.


(a) Your contract must contain a promise to spay / neuter before the age of 6 months and you must specify appropriate means of enforcement. I would suggest the following specific language : "Buyer/adopter understands and accepts that this puppy is not under any circumstances to be used for breeding. Buyer/adopter promises, covenants, represents, and warranties to Seller/ Breeder that this puppy will be spayed/neutered prior to 6 months of age (= date x/y/z) and buyer/adopter promises, covenants, represents, and warranties that this puppy shall not under any circumstances be allowed to produce any puppies. Buyer and Seller agree that failure to spay / neuter or production of puppies, accidentally or deliberately, would be an irreparable harm in view of the current canine surplus population in this country which results in death of millions of dogs per year in Pounds and Shelters. Therefore Buyer and Seller agree that these promises to spay / neuter and to absolutely prevent puppy births shall be enforceable by legal action for Specific Performance to compel spaying/neutering and shall be enforceable by legal action for Liquidated Damages of $1000 if the puppy has not been spayed/neutered before the age of 8 months plus Liquidated Damages of $1000 per puppy born if this puppy shall ever bear/beget any puppies." Not only will such a clause put the fear of God into your Buyers, but it actually gives you potent legal weapons. "Specific Performance" means that you can ask a judge to tell them : "do it now or go to jail for contempt!" "Liquidated Damages" are pre-agreed monetary damages for situations where the actual amount needed to compensate for the harm would be difficult to determine.

(b) You must either register the puppy under AKC's "Limited Registration" = non-breeding registration, or else withhold registration until the puppy has actually been spayed/neutered. Limited Registration allows participation in all obedience and working ("performance") events but does not allow the individual's offspring to be registered, thus decreasing their salability and price --- but of course not actually rendering the dog incapable of reproduction, especially by accident !!! Limited Registration can later be revoked to full breedable registration, so it is a tool genuinely responsible breeders use to allow the decision to be post-poned until dog is older and can be assessed for hips, working ability, or whatever the breeder sees fit. If instead you choose to withhold registration papers, your contract will have to have language along lines of "Buyers agree that registration papers will be withheld until the puppy has actually been spayed/neutered and proof delivered to the Seller. If puppy is not spayed/neutered before age of 6 months (=date), the registration will be withheld permanently." There are newer AKC rules which specify that a puppy must have individual registration applied for within a certain time limit after birth, and I think that limit is 6 months (check with your bitch's breeder, as I'm not sure of rules).

(c) You could also provide a "carrot" by specifying in the contract that a fairly convincing part of the price will be rebated if the puppy is actually spayed / neutered before 6 months = date x/y/z, with proof delivered to you (you may even want to require them to bring the pup to you with stitches still in --- or merely call the vet to confirm. I would suggest that the rebate be 1/3 to 1/2 of the price. If your normal price for a "show" (= potential breeding candidate) puppy were $750, a spay/neuter rebate of $250 would be appropriate, as that would bring the final price down to $500 which is probably current high end of market for non-show, non-breedable puppies. (Update : those prices were as of 1994; today in 2003, they would be a whole lot higher.)

reccomendations for responsible breeders :

Of these two plans, the get it done yourself system is a lot simpler and more certain to get the needed result.

I would also recommend offering in the contract a rebate for going through obedience class and/or for earning the "C. D." = "Companion Dog" obedience degree. I would suggest a rebate of $100 for this, which would basically pay their class fee and entry fees for 3 trials (the test must be passed three times) ---- most Bouvs actually can get the title in 3 to 4 trials after going through a well taught novice class, provided the owner "does his homework" and gets some pre-trial experience by going to a few "matches" = trial-like training events = practice for trial participation. If the puppy owner will make the personal effort needed to train the dog to this modest level of competence, that owner will be highly resistant to ever later abandoning the dog (think of it as an "immunization") and of course the dog will also become much more controllable and easier to live with and the owner will become much more capable of teaching the dog to understand and obey. As an alternative to specifying the CD title, you could instead specify the "C.G.C." = "Canine Good Citizen" title, which need only be passed once and is completely on leash and in many ways demands far less training.


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site author Pam Green copyright 2003
created 4/12/03 revised ?/?/03
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