From the Irish Wolfhound Club:

All about Co-ownerships

The following posts discuss the purpose of, and what can be expected from, co-ownerships.


Anyone care to start the ball rolling on this?  and please remember our list rules! No flame wars, no names, no putting down others dogs!  Tell us your experiences, but if its bad ….leave out the names!!


I have had many co-ownerships, only one of which went bad.  The bad one involved an Italian Greyhound who was give to me by her breeder.  She had a very “soft” skittish temperament and could only be shown with great care and intermittently as she reacted quite vehemently to strong odors such as aftershave and perfume and would not show well when she got a whiff of them! She was nearly finished when her co-owner decided she must be bred to a dog known to throw the same temperament.  I refused to use this dog with her and the whole thing escalated into speaking through attorneys. The co-owner was a control freak who must have everything HIS way and to even suggest something else is to get his back up!  I finally gave her back to get this person OUT of my life.  She did finish but never had a litter for him.  I co-owned a lovely IW bitch in order to control her breeding as I knew the co-owner to have a track record of breeding only for size and looks.  I co-owned another IW male so that I could enter him in bred by classes as I was very proud of him.  I only co-own now with others who share my philosophy on breeding/showing AND we have written contracts.

Mary Jacobs  Wildrose IWs

As I said having had the good the bad and the ugly….here are some of the things that need to be taken into consideration when people are thinking about co-owning a dog.

1)    What is the reason for the co-ownership?
I have co-owned dogs for a variety of reasons.  One is because I cannot sell a show dog in the United States on a Canadian Non-Breeding Agreement. In order to be eligible to show, it has to be US registered on a full
registration, and that can only be done on a unrestricted Canadian Ownership.  The co-ownership gives me the security the dog cannot be bred without my permission. Personally it has allowed me  to get a dog that I would never have been able to purchase outright for an addition to my kennel. It has allowed me to place a show prospect puppy and have it available for future use in my breeding program, without making it live in a kennel because there is a limit to the number of dogs who can live in the house and get enough attention.

2)    What needs to be covered?

  1. a) Everything MUST be in writing!! I can tell you from past experience that the only co-ownerships that HAVEN’T worked out are the ones without a written contract.  It doesn’t matter if you are friends, that seems to go out the window when disputes come in!
  2. b) Lay out who is Primary custodian

Who will the dog live with on a day to day basis?  When will it go to its co-owner? for how long? by what method of transportation? and who will pay?

  1. c) Who pays what?

Who pays the food costs?  General Vet Care (shots, heartworm, etc)? Breeding Checks (Hips, VWD, PRA, Thyroid, Heart) ?  Accident costs? Illness?  What happens if the one responsible can’t pay?

  1. d) Is there a sign off point?

At what point does the co-ownership cease to exist?  What conditions must be met?  Stud services, litters, puppies back, championship achieved, health clearances are all things to consider here.

  1. e) If a female….who whelps the litter

Not only who is going to whelp the litter, to whom does the sales proceeds go, do you deduct expenses and split in some fashion, and who’s kennel name is on the puppies?

  1. f) If a male….

Who earns stud fees or how are they split?  Where will the breedings take place?  Who pays for AI’s, brucellosis testing etc? Are expenses deducted from stud fee revenue before splitting?  What if one co-owner wants a stud fee puppy?

  1. g) Choice of breeding partners

Does one partner have the right to veto the choice of who the dog is bred to.  Will the choice be alternated among the partners?  Must all partners agree on each choice?

  1. h) Showing costs

Who pays entries? Will a  handler be used and who pays the fees?  Will any advertising be done? What championships are required?

  1. i) What If…..

What if something happens to one of the co-owners?  What if the custodial co-owner is unable to provide a home for the dog?  What if the dog is injured in some way that makes fulfilling the requirements extremely difficult or impossible?


In all future contracts, where the co-ownership is not simply because of the US registration problem (i.e. where the co-owner has not paid full price for the dog) I will in future include a shot gun clause.  For those unfamiliar with this they are part of regular business partnerships and work like this.  There is a clause included saying that each partner can offer to buy out the other(s) if it appears that the co-ownership is not working to their satisfaction.  This person pulls the “shotgun”.  Now there is a $ figure set at the time of the contract which is a minimum amount that the other partner can up the bid buy, and if the person chooses to up the bid by this amount… the co-ownership (partnership) ends with the partner who won getting full ownership.  There is no chance for the person who made the first offer to change their bid, therefore the first offer must be reasonable, or they are inviting the partner to counter bid.

For example, say Breeder sells a dog for 1/3 of its value, plus keeps a co-ownership and insists on two puppies back before signing off, and there is a $300 minimum counter-offer.  Co-owner does their best to show the dog to its championship, but it just simply doesn’t cut it.  There is no way this bitch is going to ever finish without great expense.  The co-owner may offer the breeder the other 2/3 of the cost for the female.  If the breeder accepts this  then the dog is signed off to the co-owner and spayed.  If the breeder for some reason think that they are losing out on more by not getting the puppies….then they may counter offer and the dog would go back to the breeder.  (Lets not judge morals here…this is a simply fiction case!!!)

In a way you hope that this clause will never be necessary…but it sure would have been helpful in  the two bad co-ownerships I have had.

4)    Meeting of the minds

I think that before any co-ownership is put to paper or taken on, that there has to be a meeting of the minds of the parties involved.  Does everyone agree what the expectations are?  To one person showing could be just entering the ring, to another achieving a championship, and to another an expensive specials career.  A lot of co-ownerships take place for just that reason.  If you do  not have full agreement on what each of you expect from the dog and each other before the co-ownership is sealed, you will never have it after. There’s my “dump” on the subject….who’s going to add to it????

Shelley Camm

Hi All

Okay here’s my crew . We do not co-own our dogs any of them.   We got Andy from a very well known cairn breeder we signed the normal contract stating if we couldn’t keep him we would return him to the breeder. We had a verbal contract stating we would not breed him without prior approval. We have full registration on him. We also know he is to big for a cairn. We have since moved from Washington to California and at 5 years of age a breeder down here was interested in using him because of his kennel name not his quality. I called our breeder and she stated that it was up to us but she would rather we didn’t breed him. Andy was neutered shortly after. Taz  (red faced admission) is a pet store puppy he was neutered as soon as he was old enough.  My advice is never never go into a pet store depressed. Although Taz is the best therapy I’ve ever had. <VBG> Kasper we have a contract that again we return him if we can’t keep him and that the breeder has approval of the bitch. Maddy same type contract except hers does state that she has to attain her championship. Unless the breeder deems that she is worthy of breeding without the championship.

We did look at one litter that would have been a co-ownership we walked away. The co-ownership rules were so bad that we literally felt like we would never own the dog it would always belong to the breeder.  For instance if we wanted a bitch the rules were can’t breed without prior approval – puppy back from litter or litters – placing of puppies in homes had to be pre-approved by the breeder.  Any re-homes if that happened new homes to be pre-approved by the breeder and this was for the life of the bitch and any intact off spring.  Now please keep in mind that this was stated verbally and may not be exactly correct but this is the way I remember the conversation. We didn’t stay long enough to actually read the contract.

My feelings after reading some of the nightmares is that I don’t want any part of a co-ownership.

Janette, Joe & The DQ Crew

Well, let me play devil’s advocate here and tell you why these kind of contracts exist!

First let me tell you that this extremely restrictive contract might be the kind you would have to sign but a less restrictive contract would be signed by someone well known to this breeder.  I t has happened and continues to happen this way:  young couple approaches breeder A they have looked around and decide they want to get started in X breed.  They have read to start with the best bitch they can find and have heard that A has the very best.  So they promise to rear the puppy properly, show and train her and breed to a compatible male.  Along the way

  1. a) they have a baby and grow tired of the dog who is skinny un-groomed, has two single points and is tied in the garage.
  2. b) they finish the bitch who is real star and while at the national specialty they meet breeder B who is bigwig in the breed and fall under her spell.  Breeder B either convinces them their bitch is really trash and should be spayed (so they DO) or that it must be bred to their stud dog who is totally unsuitable for this bitch and the puppies have five legs and are the wrong color.  Couple and breeder B blame the bitch.  Couple turns on breeder A and spreads nasty rumors.
  3. c) couple finishes bitch  gets friendly with breeder C who never does the necessary health clearances for the breed and convinces them these are all unnecessary.  Breeds to Breeder C’s dog and presto–litter full of horrible hereditary blindness or whatever.  Again, the bitch is blamed.  Or lastly
  4. d) couple finishes bitch, breeds lovely litter of puppies and then since they are new to the breed and don’t know who all the slick operators are, inadvertently sells most of them into slavery in puppy mills.

Mary Jacobs  Wildrose IWs

I will only sell puppies on a co-own basis, including limited registration requiring neuter on pets.  On the few pups sold for show, most are non- breeding contracts, period, but dog(s) remain intact for showing; it also allows me (or a family member) to show the dog for the new owner in the bred- by classes.  The few that are sold to others with breeding privileges are on a strict approval basis, and now that the AKC as of January requires both co- owners to sign off on litter registration that has some “teeth” to it that was not present before on dogs (previously any one co-owner of the male could sign off on the registration) but was required on bitches (makes much more sense the new way).   I have agreed to similar arrangements on the dogs that I have now, three co- owned, three solely owned.  The most recent has a new clause that I had not seen before, but that I like – no breedable contracts/sales of pups bred from a solely owned dog without the breeder’s approval.  Not only do I agree with that without any reservations as to the potential meeting of the minds, but I like the provision so much I intend to incorporate it into my own.  The reason it protects me and the people from whom I have my dogs from someone undesirable trying to “back-door” their way into a pedigree that they couldn’t get approval to breed to up-front, thereby preventing dogs with that pedigree behind them ending up in pet shops, or rescue, or in a significant diluting of the quality that was achieved with great difficulty.   I would never, ever, require breeding, or showing or any other provision than those stated above, except for providing a good home, and in one instance, approval before euthanasia because they put down a dog through bad advice from a vet that should not have been put down.  I don’t think they are bad people, but I do want to strengthen the bond where they seek further advice before such drastic action, to protect them as much as the dog and myself.   The one thing I think is the WORST possible clause – a litter back or puppy- the dog is to be THEIRS, to live with them as a family member.

Every other consideration is and should be secondary to that focus.  Intact males can change in personality after being used at stud; bitches should only be bred and whelped by those with experience to avoid harm to the dogs.  (If you don’t have it – learn it by sitting in on breeding and whelping with someone who does have experience first.  Everyone has to start somewhere, but an IW is not a guinea pig to practice on!).  Nor do I believe that dogs or bitches should ever have leave their families to be shown or to be bred or to whelp a litter. Home is where the heart hound is — and should stay!  Other than protecting the dog/bitch, and secondarily the bloodline, that should be the overwhelming focus of any contract, co-own or otherwise.

Although not an actual contract provision (although maybe it should be?) is one regarding multiple intact dogs in a household.  I am not sure I would be comfortable with someone having an intact dog and bitch who is not experienced (and sh*t, which is the variable spelling of “stuff’, can happen even to knowledgeable and conscientious people),  or two intact males for example, if they were not familiar with helping them get along and to work through dominance problems.  It is one of those things which can easily lead to one or the other dog(s) needing to be re-homed if not done carefully, and can result in some nasty injuries when there is a problem — even can result in the death of one of them, particularly if there is a size discrepancy.  Or a mixed breed puppy litter resulting from a breeding between a dog of one breed and a bitch of another in the house.  It is a touchy subject, and one that must be handled supportively rather than dictatorially, but it does need to be addressed, and if there are concerns, then the contract is the place for it, under the heading of re-homing, as the best place I can think of for it. Just a few more of the areas that can be covered in a good contract, but hardly all of the potential ones.

Cheryl T

<<My feelings after reading some of the nightmares is that I don’t want any part of a co-ownership. >>

While I admit my 1st co-ownership was less than perfect, I guess I still cannot say I’d  *never* be in one again, but it would have to be with a special person.    I don’t think its possible for absolutely everything to be covered and that’s where mutual trust and understanding comes in.   I remember calling my co owner and telling her the wonderful day I had lure coursing with some afghan friends.  Well, I was hardly prepared for the response…. I was never suppose to do that again.  Didn’t I know I ran the risk of breaking her legs?????  In this case, I didn’t agree with the co-owner, the bitch was over 1 yr and the field was very nice.  I explained that I felt this was a safe and fun experience for my IW.(we only did it a few times)  Her opinion of obedience was that my bitch would sit in the breed ring too, which I told her I did NOT believe.  But I think she was very happy for the 2 2nd placements and a highest scoring hound for the legs on her CD, and perhaps she has changed her mind about that since.  I guess what bothered me the most, was that I felt she more or less claimed the 2 puppy bitches from the litter, leaving me with the 2 males. I knew that thru the yrs she looked forward to a bitch puppy from ‘our’ girl.  I already had a prior singleton bitch from her 1st breeding.  Or the fact that the stud dog service changed from cash to a wheaten bitch and she felt in a bind and she couldn’t say no.  It was just not the way we had discussed it.  I didn’t argue… I just let it go.  It was more important to me that she signed off on my bitch (spayed with her  2nd C-sec).  I thought I would live and learn that’s all.  (I’m not a confrontational person either). I just made a mental note that I’d never do that to anyone.  I was in love with one of the males very much, he is my Darby.  He’s my sunshine and the joy of my heart.  His mother, Mian is the reason my days are bright and have meaning,  we are soulmates!  Since then, Darby had 1 testicle atrophy so no breed ring for him.  :o(
I still have his singleton sister, Kizzie, tho who has the nickname “wild child”  VBG
ps I’ve wished nothing but the best for my 1st co owner.  We rarely talk but she kept her puppy bitch and I hope that she will always speak to me, if for nothing more than to share health information and updates.
Here’s one stipulation I’ve heard of; it’s not in the contract I signed when Maeve came to live  with me, but may be worth considering: that the owner abide by all local regulations regarding dog ownership, including registration,  vaccination, leash laws, any additional fees for maintaining the dog intact (if the dog is to be shown), and any limits on the number of dogs that may be owned in the particular area.

This may be important in places like Denver where, if you have more than
the limit and someone complains, you’re faced with an urgent need to re-home or return, which is clearly not in the best interests of a dog. I know for myself, the limits seem pretty immaterial until I look at my beloved fuzzy faces, and think: what if I had to choose which of you to send away?? I can’t  contemplate this, tho some people do so every day, and how would any of you feel as breeders to learn that a pup was living ‘with friends’ of the owner, because the owner had exceeded a limit or had been ticketed for ‘dog at large’ too often??

terri (and maeve, theo, and wiglet piglet)

<<how would any of you feel as breeders to learn that a pup was living ‘with friends’ of the owner, because the owner had exceeded a limit or had been ticketed for ‘dog at large’ too often??>>

to me that might violate the stipulation in my contract to keep the dog in the best possible physical and emotional health and would result in some serious discussion, hopefully not resulting in legal action to repossess the dog.  If the friends truly cared about the dog then I would probably allow it.  I sold a neutered Ch male to a young man who was suddenly transferred to Hawaii and chose not to put the dog through quarantine but to give him to his parents, with my blessings.  I think what upsets most of us is that we hear about this stuff after the fact!