Protect your pup with a dog bill of sale

Adding a dog to your family is an important event, and you want to be sure your purchase of the dog is legal and binding. Find out how to use a dog bill of sale for your purchase.

by Brette Sember, J.D.
updated May 11, 2023 ·  2min read

Although a dog is part of your family, it is also a purchase (sometimes an expensive one!), so it's important to be certain that you get a dog bill of sale when you buy your puppy or dog. This will prove your legal ownership of your new family member.

Little girl with closed eyes blissfully holding a puppy

Basics of a dog bill of sale

A dog bill of sale is similar to a receipt, but it includes more details, so that it is legally enforceable proof you bought your specific dog or puppy and are the owner, whereas a receipt would not identify the animal as clearly.

A dog bill of sale should include:

  • Names and addresses of the buyer and seller
  • The price paid for the dog or puppy
  • A description of the dog, such as breed, color, markings, sex, age, names of its parents if it is a purebred, etc.
  • Details about any property being sold along with the dog (such as a kennel, dog food, and so on)
  • Whether the seller is making any warranties (that is, promises about having clear title to the dog) with the sale
  • Signatures of the seller and buyer

How a bill of sale is different from an adoption or pet contract

If you get your new dog from a shelter or buy them from a breeder, you will likely be asked to sign a pet contract or adoption contract. This kind of contract is more wide-ranging than a bill of sale. A bill of sale documents the sale only—what's being sold, to whom, and for how much.

An adoption or pet contract differs from a bill of sale because the contract usually includes agreements about things you as the owner will do—such as spaying or neutering your dog, keeping the dog as an inside pet, and sometimes registering the dog with the American Kennel Club.

The contract also may specify that the seller will make a home visit to see how the dog is adjusting and that, if the dog is mistreated, the seller can retake possession of it at any point in the future. The adoption contract might state things the seller agrees to do as well, such as provide a certificate of health or make sure the dog receives vaccines or deworming before it comes to your home.

A seller could combine a bill of sale and adoption contract into one document, including information from both types of documents into one legally enforceable contract. This document would serve as legal proof of ownership, just as a bill of sale would.

Using a dog bill of sale

The seller normally draws up the dog or puppy bill of sale. This document can be very short, using the elements discussed above. You may wish to consult with an attorney about bills of sale in your state to ensure the proper language is used. You also can use a dog bill of sale template to create one.

A bill of sale helps ensure that your dog purchase is legal and enforceable. It also makes clear the terms of the sale to both parties.

Ready to start your bill of sale? START A BILL OF SALE NOW
Brette Sember, J.D.

About the Author

Brette Sember, J.D.

Brette Sember, J.D., practiced law in New York, including divorce, mediation, family law, adoption, probate and estates,… Read more

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.