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Should You Buy A Puppy Without Papers?

Should you buy a puppy without papers?

To fully understand this question we must first analyze what exactly is meant by the word “papers” in this context.

Once we are clear on the definition, we can then discuss some of the drawbacks—and advantages—of purchasing a puppy without the proper documentation.

What Are “Papers” When It Comes to Dogs?

If you are a dog owner or lover, you have no doubt heard the term “papers” in the context of dogs and puppies, particularly when it comes to the “quality” of the animal.

The term “papers” refers to the registration certificate provided by a qualified registration body—such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the United Kennel Club (UKC), which is based in the United Kingdom.

While a dog’s registration certificate is “supposed” to serve as proof that the puppy is purebred, that is not always the case.

In fact, according to experts in this field, a puppy’s registration papers merely imply that the dog in question is the offspring of two other registered dogs—a mother (dam) and father (sire).

The registration certificate will also include the date on which the puppy was born.

Unfortunately, having “papers” is in no way an assurance that a puppy is supremely bred and, as a result, perfectly healthy.

In fact, as we stated above, you cannot take for granted that a puppy’s papers even guarantee that he or she is purebred.


Because registries like the AKC and UKC process thousands of requests for certificates each year, and they count on the honesty of breeders when relaying information about a particular puppy or litter.

All that is required for a puppy to receive papers from an organization is that the dam and sire be registered with that particular entity.

For these reasons, it can be difficult to ensure that a puppy’s papers are legitimate.

While most breeders are very honest and forthright people, there will always be scammers looking to take advantage of buyers.

Having papers that say a puppy is purebred allows the seller to command a much higher price, and as long as that is the case, there will always be people looking to rig the system for their own selfish profit.

While the term “papers” almost always refers to the registration certificate, there are other items of written documentation that you should definitely secure when purchasing a new puppy.

These items include:

  • Certificate of health.  Whether you get this from the breeder or secure it yourself, it is always wise to have your puppy checked out by a veterinarian to ensure its health.  This can put your mind at ease that the puppy you are buying has no major health issues.
  • Vaccination records.  To ensure your puppy is protected from certain communicable diseases, it’s vital that you receive documentation regarding the core vaccines your dog requires.  This includes vaccinations for distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus, influenza and rabies.
  • Bill of Sale.  For your protection, it is vital that you receive a bill of legal sale from the seller/breeder—a contract signed by both parties.
  • Microchip Certification.  In many states, puppies are required to be microchipped for identification purposes.  This information then goes into a large database that will allow the local humane society to quickly identify your dog should he or she become lost.

Advantages of Buying a Dog with Papers

There are a few advantages of buying a dog “with” papers, assuming those papers are on the up-and-up.

The most natural reason for requiring papers with your new puppy is to prove he or she is the genuine article.

Each year, thousands of pet sellers run classifieds advertising “purebred pups” for sale, but only a handful of them have the genuine papers to back up their claim.

Buying a puppy with papers, from a seller who is currently housing the registered, same-breed parents of that pup, can at least assure you that the higher price you are paying for purebred status is indeed justified.

There are, of course, other reasons for buying a puppy with papers.

A couple of these include:

  • You want to breed your dog.  If you are considering becoming a breeder, you will of course need to prove that your dog is properly registered.  Just like you, the buyers of your future litter will want the same assurances you received in the form of legitimate documentation.
  • You want to show your dog.  Whether your desire is to show your dog or enter him into various competitions (agility training, etc.), the proper paperwork demonstrating breed and lineage will ALWAYS be required.

Advantages of Buying a Dog without Papers

As you can see, there are several reasons why people might want to ensure that their new puppy has papers.

However, for every argument touting the advantages of this documentation, there is another reason for choosing a puppy without papers.

First, as we outlined above, having papers is not really a guarantee of anything—certainly not a distinguished pedigree.

All it means is that the parents of that puppy are registered, assuming the seller is even being truthful about that.

Papers do not always signify purebred status either.

All “papers” really tell you is that the seller was willing to shell out the money to register the new puppy.


Perhaps it’s because those papers then allow the seller to charge a much higher price for the dog—money they will eventually get because consumers love the idea of their puppy having papers—a vicious circle indeed.

Final Word

If you are selecting a new puppy just to be part of your family, or to be a trusted companion for years to come, is it really that important who his parents are?

Because that is all those papers truly represent.

Right now, millions of individuals and families are loving and enjoying a dog without papers.

These dogs are just as adorable as their documented counterparts and, in most cases, just as trainable.

Lastly, every year thousands of dogs in shelters across this great country are destroyed as their adoption period expires.

If for no other reason than this, you might want to think twice about the requirements you hold dear when purchasing your new family pet.

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National Canine Research Association of America