What To Look For When Purchasing A CKC Registered Puppy

What to Look for When Purchasing a CKC Registered Puppy?

Seeking out a registered puppy, or a puppy "with papers," is common among prospective puppy owners. Puppy owners may want proof that a puppy is a breed it was advertised as, they may want their puppy’s Certificate of Registration, or simply wish to become a club member with their puppy and get the many benefits CKC offers. But how can buyers ensure their puppy is eligible for registration with CKC? What does it mean to be registered? We have broken down the most important considerations when looking for a CKC-registered puppy and how to ensure that the registration process goes smoothly! 

Who is CKC? 

CKC is a registration organization that keeps track of the pedigrees and lineages of over 2000 breeds of purebred and designer-breed dogs. In addition, CKC publishes and maintains healthy dog breed standards, fosters the development and improvement of dog breeds and breed health, and offers dog owners many educational resources and benefits

Does registration equate or guarantee quality, health, or value?

Contrary to popular belief, no registration from any registry organization can guarantee the quality, health or determine the value of a puppy. While dog registries, such as CKC, can do many things for dogs and breeds, such as record-keeping and establishing and maintaining breed healthy standards, they are limited in recourse involving situations outside of registration. 

What can I expect when I purchase a CKC-registered puppy?

CKC considers the person who owns the puppy's dam (mother dog) to be the litter's breeder. When you buy a puppy represented as "CKC-registered" or "CKC-registerable," the puppy's breeder must provide you with a signed original puppy registration application or Certificate of Registration for your puppy at the time of sale or transfer. See CKC Rule III.A.4. 

Once the new puppy owner receives their puppy's registration application, they must complete it and submit it to CKC, along with the necessary registration fees. CKC will then process the application immediately upon receiving it. Check out Why Register with CKC.

What can I expect upon successful registration of my new CKC puppy?

Several things happen when a puppy is registered with CKC by a new puppy owner. 

First, the puppy's ownership transfers from the breeder to the new puppy owner. Having your puppy officially registered in your name can be an enormous advantage if you ever need proof of legal ownership of your puppy. 

Second, the puppy is permanently registered into its respective breed registry or studbook, forever becoming a part of their breed's history. If your puppy has their own puppies one day, it will appear in their progeny's lineage or pedigree. A pedigree is your puppy's family tree. 

Third, your puppy will receive an official CKC Certificate of Registration. This certificate is a formal document that includes your puppy's most important information. It includes your puppy's name, color, the parents' names, breed, sex, birth date, etc. A Certificate of Registration is like a birth certificate, serving as your puppy's identity. At CKC, we believe every dog deserves an identity.

Lastly, the new puppy owner becomes a lifetime member of CKC. See CKC Rule I.A.I. 

What if the breeder doesn't have my puppy's application on hand at the time of sale or transfer?

CKC strongly discourages prospective buyers from purchasing a puppy without the puppy registration application or Certificate of Registration at the time of sale or transfer. Be extremely cautious of excuses that include: "I haven't received the registration papers from CKC yet," "The papers are in the mail," or "I'll send you the papers once I receive them." 

CKC sends puppy registration applications out the next business day they are processed. Overall, it's about a ten-day turnaround time. Breeders responsible for keeping up with their paperwork should be able to provide the puppy registration applications at the time of sale or transfer.

Suppose the registration application is unavailable at the time of sale or transfer. In that case, CKC strongly urges puppy buyers to wait until the breeder receives the paperwork before paying for and taking the puppy home. This can save prospective new puppy owners much hassle and hardship.  

Also, puppy registration applications can only be mailed to the puppy's breeder, even if the puppy is paid for and in possession of the new puppy owner. In this case, if a breeder does not provide the new puppy owner with the official puppy registration application at the time of sale or transfer, CKC can do little to get the new puppy owner the paperwork. This could leave a new puppy buyer with an unregistered puppy if the breeder fails to provide the registration papers. 

For this reason, prospective puppy purchasers must obtain the CKC puppy registration application BEFORE taking the new puppy home at the time of sale or transfer. 

How can I ensure that the puppy I purchase is CKC-registered or CKC-registerable?

Ask the breeder to see the original puppy registration application. If the litter is registered with CKC, the breeder should have a puppy registration application for each puppy. 

If the puppy is advertised as CKC-registerable, the breeder must supply a puppy registration application when the new puppy owner takes possession. See CKC rule 3.A.4. Note that agreements between the buyer and seller that assign conditions or fees for the transfer of CKC registration paperwork violate CKC membership rules and will result in the revocation of membership privileges. (Rules, I.D.2.)

The new puppy owner must verify that the registration application is signed by both the breeder and themselves in the “New Owner” section. 

When in doubt, contact CKC to verify that a litter is CKC-registered. While CKC cannot provide personal information about a member's records, CKC can verify if a litter between two parent dogs has been registered. 

What else should I ask for when purchasing a new CKC puppy?

According to CKC Rules & Registrations I.B.1. & 2.: "All CKC members are required to adhere to ethical breeding and business practices according to the CKC's Ethical Guidelines for Breeders" and "all members will follow the policies and guidelines of local and state laws regarding the proper care and housing of canines in their possession." CKC cannot vouch for, guarantee, or certify dog breeders. 

There are a few things that prospective puppy owners can do to help ensure they are purchasing a healthy puppy from a credible and reputable breeder. 

  • Seek out breeders who perform health testing on their dogs and offer some form of health guarantee in writing. Ask for veterinary records (vaccinations, health testing, genetic testing, parasite preventative, etc.). If the breeder advertises that the parents are "health tested" or "genetic tested," ask for a copy of the results. A good breeder will happily share these results and review them with you.

Some states require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection or a health certificate. These documents ensure that the puppy has been evaluated by a veterinarian recently and that there were no apparent signs of illness at the time of inspection. Verify requirements for puppy sales and transfers through your state's Department of Agriculture.

  • Ask for any health guarantees in writing. Read these guarantees thoroughly. Learn your state's laws regarding the returns of sickly puppies. Some states have a form of lemon-laws that applies to animals. Many of these states have actions to follow up on immediately taking possession of a new puppy. It's best to know what they are beforehand. 

In 2023, twenty-two U.S. states will now enact the Pet Purchaser Protection Acts. These are also known as Puppy Lemon Laws. These are designed to protect puppy purchasers if a puppy becomes sick or dies. These laws typically require breeders or sellers to disclose certain information about the puppy before sale or transfer while offering some remedy if the puppy is found unhealthy. If you live in a state without a specific pet lemon law and run into an issue with your puppy's health shortly after the sale or transfer, contact your state's Attorney General's Office or a contract law attorney.

  • Ask for photographs or videos of both parents. Not all breeders are comfortable letting strangers view their dogs in person on their property due to the risk of disease transmission and possible thefts. However, a good breeder will provide plenty of photographs and videos of the parent dogs.
  • Learn the dog's breed standard and evaluate the parent dogs. Do they look like what they should for the breed? Do they look like what you would expect your puppy to look like as an adult? Breeders cannot and should not guarantee a puppy's adult weight, color, or ability to breed. They can only estimate it based on previous litters and the parent’s measurements. Check out CKC's breed pages for more information about your puppy's breed.
  • Be careful of any dogs that are advertised as "teacup," "pocket," or "micro," as CKC does not recognize these size designations. Ask to see the parent dog's Certificate of Registration or the puppy registration application to see what breed your puppy will be registered as. 
  • If your puppy comes with a contract, review it carefully. According to CKC rule 1.D.1, CKC is not responsible for and assumes no role in enforcing independent contracts or conditions of sale, such as spay/neuter agreements, health guarantees, or breeding agreements between members, breeders, owners, or any other person involved in these matters. However, these agreements may be taken into consideration in the case of resolving grievances or complaints. Ask your puppy's breeder for clarification on any part that is unclear or not spelled out. Keep a record of all agreements, correspondences, and receipts for your records.
  • If puppies or breeding dogs appear in poor condition, poor health, or not well-cared for, CKC strongly urges you not to purchase the puppy to "rescue it from a bad situation." Instead, leave the puppy with the breeder or seller and contact local authorities who can save all the dogs involved from a bad situation and save yourself from potentially dealing with years of issues arising from unscrupulous breeding. Appropriate agencies could be your local humane society, animal control/welfare, or the USDA/state Department of Agriculture.
  • If you want to find breeders that adhere to these ethics, guidelines, and more, check out CKC's Preferred Breeders Program. This program requires dog breeders to adhere to practical guidelines with high breeding standards to support a dog breed's proper development and enhancement. Breeders must disclose routine health testing and resolve any issues with new puppy owners. 

Tip for New Puppy Owners

As you may know, the first few weeks in a new home are critical to a puppy's immediate and lifelong health. During this transition, puppies are more susceptible to accidents and injuries. They are at a higher risk of contracting severe or life-threatening diseases. Once registered with CKC, your puppy is eligible for a month of Pet Health Insurance through Metlife (not available in New York & South Carolina). This coverage can help cover the cost of many accidents or illnesses that puppies are susceptible to during their first few weeks at home. This month of coverage is available at no cost to new puppy owners or breeders. 


We understand that bringing a new puppy into your home is a big decision. You want to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible and that you get the puppy you've always hoped for. Following these recommendations will help alleviate some uncertainty surrounding buying a registered puppy. If you still have questions regarding purchasing a CKC-registered puppy, CKC's friendly staff is always available to help answer any questions. You can also check out our many resources for new puppy owners available for free online at our blog

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