What Do You Need to Do to Transfer Ownership of a Dog?

Transferring ownership of a dog varies from place to place.
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Though most transfers of dogs between owners are informal, a written contract is always a good bet. Because you are legally responsible for the health of your dog and his behavior around other dogs and humans, it is important to complete all necessary paperwork when transferring ownership of the dog to another person.

City and State Law

Ownership of dogs is not handled by the federal government, and is instead left to individual cities and states to manage. Before attempting a transfer of ownership, consult your local laws to determine what steps you will need to take. In some states, a simply signed contract is enough; in others, you will need a notarized letter with shot records and other details. This step is especially important if your city requires you to register your dogs.

American Kennel Club

If your dog is registered with the American Kennel Club, the new owner will need to file official transfer paperwork with the AKC. On the back of the dog’s certificate, you will need to write the date of transfer, the name and address of the new owner, and the signatures of both. Mail it to the AKC with a $30 transfer fee.


One of the most important aspects of transferring ownership of your dog is ensuring his microchip information is made up to date. In order to change the information on the microchip, you will need to get in touch with the company that backs the chip or the vet who placed it. The new owner will need a bill of sale with the microchip number noted, a letter form a veterinarian establishing ownership, and a signed transfer form from the original owner.

Written Contract

A written contract establishes the terms of the transfer and is important for documenting the dog's movement from one owner to another. The contract should include the terms of the sale, all pertinent information on the dog including health status, microchip information, and age, along with the name and address of both the seller and the buyer. The contract must be dated and signed; keep a copy for yourself and provide the new owner a copy for his records.