The Pros and Cons of Co-ownership

Co-ownership is when two or more people have their names as owners on a dog’s AKC registration papers. Co-ownership can be beneficial to breeders and new owners for multiple reasons, but AKC officially frowns on co-ownership because of the legal entanglements that can ensue and will not intervene in any ownership disputes unless it has gone to court and a court has made a ruling. In those rare cases, they will stand behind the court rulings.

There are many reasons for co-ownership, but when co-owning a new puppy, it is usually the breeder who requests co-ownership and a contract written by the breeder and signed by both parties usually dictates the terms for the entire life of the co-ownership including under what circumstances the co-ownership will end. In the case of co-ownership, it is usually advised that the contract be as detailed as possible, so nothing is left to chance and no misunderstandings will come about; However, it can be difficult to think of every possible scenario that may come about in a dog’s life, so the contract should cover the basics and what the breeder and owner expect to get out of the contract, as well as, what each parties’ responsibilities will be.

The Reasons for Co-ownerships

Co-ownerships are used for show puppies for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes the new owner needs a mentor, so they co-own with the breeder so the breeder can teach them how to groom and show their new show prospect. That is one of the major benefits of co-owning for a new dog show exhibitor or someone who is just new to the breed. The breeder may also share breedings/litters with the new owner and teach them the ropes of breeding a stud dog or raising their first litters.

The major benefit to new owners is that sometimes the breeder may give them a reduced price on the puppy. Typically, a reduced price on the original puppy will come with contract terms that require the owner to give a puppy or stud services back to the breeder. If the breeder is charging you full price for the original puppy and then asking for multiple puppies back when that bitch is bred, they should be paying half of the expenses of the breeding and litter rearing and doing half the work or you may want to consider finding another breeder to work with.

Many breeders now require co-ownerships for all show puppies. They do this to protect the dog from being bred in an unethical manner. Typically once the dog has clearances and a champion title or whatever other requirement is met, the dog will then be signed over to the owner.

The other reason for co-owning is when it is beneficial for showing a top show dog. Many owners need to co-own dogs with their handlers or with backers in order to further their dog’s show career. These types of co-ownerships tend to be beneficial on both sides because backers want to co-own a top dog and owners/breeders need money to advertise and show their nicest dogs.

Pros of Co-ownership for Breeders

  1. More control of whether and when female dogs are bred. In reality this only gives you more control over the registration of puppies from the bitch, but most people are not going to breed unless they can register the puppies.
  2. The ability to mentor the new puppy owners.
  3. The ability to ask for certain responsibilities to be fulfilled by new puppy owners before the dog is fully signed over to them, such as getting the dog’s AKC champion title and completing all of the dog’s required health tests.
  4. Sharing in the accomplishments of the puppies you breed and their owners.

Cons of Co-ownership for Breeders

  1. The responsibility of mentoring new puppy owners who may or may not want your input.
  2. The actions of the new owners are even more of a reflection on you.
  3. Dealing with disputes that may arise when owners decide after the fact that they do not like the stipulations in the co-ownership contract.

Pros of Co-ownership for New Puppy Owners

  1. May have reduced upfront puppy price.
  2. Depending on the contract, the breeder may help you pay for dog show expenses or even help you handle your dog in the show ring.
  3. Dog show mentorship with a breeder that has a stake in seeing the puppy succeed. This might include handling instruction, grooming instruction, helping to train your puppy, etc.
  4. Breeding Mentorship with an experienced breeder who cares about the puppies. From this you can learn how to manage a stud dog, get breedings done, whelping puppies, raising puppies, etc.

Cons of Co-ownership for New Puppy Owners

  1.  The breeder will share in the accolades of anything you accomplish with your puppy.
  2. You will have to complete any requirements in the contract in order for your dog to be signed over to you.
  3. The breeder may ask for puppies back if you purchased a bitch. This is a fair price to pay if you were given a reduced price on the original puppy. I would be weary of any breeder who charges you full price on a puppy and then asks for a large number of puppies without paying part of the expenses and doing half of the work.
  4. There is a risk that you might decide you aren’t happy with the co-ownership after getting into it or have disputes with the breeder. It can be too late to get out of a co-ownership after you are in it. To get out of a co-ownership that is going bad, you may have to talk the breeder into signing the dog over to you (which may cost you money) or you may have to give the dog back to the breeder in order to resolve the situation.

The breeder may ask for breedings back if you purchased a male dog. It does not typically cost you anything to give the breeder breedings back to your male dog and it may help you prove the dog’s ability to sire puppies, so it is up to you to decide whether you feel that is fair and beneficial if you were not given a reduced purchase price on the dog.

Consider carefully the terms of any co-ownership. If you have any doubts or feel that the breeder may be asking for too much, then don’t do it. There are lots of puppies being sold without co-ownerships. Once you’ve taken the puppy home and its become a part of your family, it can be very difficult to get out of a co-ownership.


Show 12 Comments


  1. Marion Daniel

    My friend found out several years ago from an AKC rep that if a dispute regarding breeding a co-owned bitch arises, the AKC WILL SIGN IN PLACE OF THE BITCHES BREEDER/CO-OWNER in order to get the litter registered.

    My friend sold a show bitch on a co-ownership. The bitch turned out to have an unsuitable temperament for breeding (she bites!).
    The owner (new to breeding dogs) proceeded with plans to breed the bitch after she gained her championship and health clearances.
    My friend notified the owner that as the breeder/co-owner she did not want the bitch bred and offered to replace her. She was ignored and could see that the
    custodial owner was going ahead with breeding plans. We brought this issue to the AKC rep at an American Spaniel Club show and
    were told, “The AKC has no interest in the squabbles between co-owners, and we will sign in place of the co-owner who will not sign
    registration papers”. My friend was so upset that she promptly took her name off the bitch. She was bred, even though my friend
    sent information to the stud owner begging her not to breed to this bitch. She did so anyway, which is a violation of our club’s Code of Ethics.

    I was one of the people bitten by the dam, and now her daughter has growled and lunged at one of my young dogs. . How can reputable breeders protect our breed when the AKC works against us?

  2. Tonna Carlo

    I was contacted by a breeder who said that the Chinese Crested puppy male I liked on her Facebook page was available. Full price $1,500.00. I had seen this Puff black pup and was very impressed with the pup and Am. Can. GCH, BIS pedigree so said I would love to see him. Shortly later she said that one is taken but the black and white brother was available and to go to the handlers house and see him.
    A very nice youngster but ears were still taped at over six months. They usually are standing well by four months. I was given a contract that stated that I was buying a show dog. Had to show to championship. Must have medical screenings. Must have breedings cleared by breeder. Puppy back when bred. And on co ownership with breeder. Also I could not discuss the terms of the contract with anyone.
    Then came the fun. Professional handler showed a female and two male littermates. I showed my boy. Handler competed againsed me at every show for a year and a half. They finished the female and put one male up to #1, Am. Can. MBIS, MBISS, SGCH. I just couldn’t compete. They collected the black male then neutered him.
    The AKC sent me a copy of my boys registration and told me that there is no reason why i, as the owner in possession of the purchased dog, I could breed him to my bitches.
    The breeder is a newcomer of about 5 years, never handles her dogs, always pays her handler. Is not a member of the breed clubs. I’ve never met in person. Went to a couple of big shows when her dog was nominated. And is fairly well off financially.
    I have been showing Chinese Cresteds since AKC recognition. Finished champions. Founding member of the Pacific northwest Chinese Crested Club and Trophy Chairman.
    I plan to follow almost all required stipulations in my contract but as the Purchaser/Owner, I will breed my boy here in the future. I at least have the AKC behind me stating that the cintract is inly worth the paper it is written on.
    I also have a background in Law Enforcement. Criminal Law and Police Science.
    I was told that if any dispute arising from this contract was to go to court that the adage of posession is 9/10ths of the law and I have full right to Exersize that statute. Also the facts of her selling a show dog as stated that still does not have erect ears due to the breeder having dog boarded who didn’t tape the ears during that critical stage of development and was taped when I got him States fraud. Selling a prospective show dog with the full knowledge that said dogs ears were neglected during development. Ears still won’t stand.

  3. Nice My friend sold a show bitch on a co-ownership. The bitch turned out to have an unsuitable temperament for breeding (she bites!).
    The owner (new to breeding dogs) proceeded with plans to breed the bitch after she gained her championship and health clearances.
    My friend notified the owner that as the breeder/co-owner she did not want the bitch bred and offered to replace her. She was ignored and could see that the am bulldog puppies

  4. Have you ever considered writing an e-book or guest authoring
    on other websites? I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss and
    would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers
    would value your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel
    free to shoot me an email.

  5. I put a bitch out on co-ownership that has a small hernia. I am supposed to get a litter of puppies back, show her to her Championship, and they are to get a 3rd pick puppy back. The young college girl said she can’t come to me now because she is a service dog and that she has had vet(s) tell her that the health is jeopardized with breeding her due to her hernia and now she is theirs ….done deal…what???

  6. I would love to use your article in the newsletter for the Hungarian Pumi Club of America. Could I have your permission? I will give you (if I could have your name) credit as author.



    • You can use it as long as I am given author credit. Sorry I didn’t see this earlier.

      Crystal Nolen

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