Is It Okay To Buy a Dog Without Papers? Does It Really Matter? (2024)

A cute little yellow Labrador puppy standing outside with the sun shining behind him.

Choosing to bring a new dog into your life is a big deal. There are a lot of things to think about when you are choosing the right dog for your family. One of the things to consider is whether or not you want the dog to be registered. Is it okay to buy a dog without papers?

Dogs need to be registered to participate in certain events and breed purebred, registered puppies. If you plan to buy a new dog or puppy, make sure you understand what it means for a dog to be registered.

Is it okay to buy a dog without papers? It is okay to buy a dog without papers as long as you aren’t worried about their pedigree, don’t plan to breed them, and won’t be entering them in dog shows or field events that require certain types of registration. Unregistered dogs are typically much less expensive and make wonderful pets.

If you are thinking about buying a puppy or dog, you may be wondering if you need to ensure the dog is registered or has papers. Read on to learn more about what pedigree papers mean and why you may choose to get a registered dog or may prefer one that isn’t.

Buying a Dog Without Papers

When you purchase a dog from a breeder, you may have an option to buy your pup with or without papers. Some breeders do not offer papers at all, and most breeders charge more for the dog if he has papers.

You will need to decide what you plan to do with your dog and whether or not papers are necessary or worth the extra cost.

What Pedigree Papers Are for a Dog

Pedigree papers show that a dog is purebred. They also show the dog’s lineage and are similar to a family tree.

People who plan to breed dogs for certain traits or characteristics often choose their dogs based on their pedigrees.

A dog does not have to have papers to be purebred, but the pedigree provides proof that the dog comes from a line of purebred dogs.

Advantages of Buying a Dog With Papers

There are advantages to owning a dog with papers. Whether or not those advantages matter to you depend on your intentions for your dog.

Some of the advantages of having a dog with papers include: 

  • Participation in dog shows
  • Participation in field events
  • Medical history
  • Breeding rights

Disadvantages of Buying a Dog With Papers

While there are no real disadvantages of buying a dog with papers, the puppies are usually more expensive. A breeder may sell you a dog without papers for a much more affordable price.

If you do not plan to breed your dog, show him, or enter him in field events, it may not be worth the extra cost of papers.

Also be aware that most of the time the papers will only be for limited registration, meaning that you will not have breeding rights for the dog even though he is registered and your property.

Advantages of Buying a Dog Without Papers

You may decide that you prefer to buy a dog without papers. There are some advantages to this option. The most obvious is cost. Dogs without papers are more affordable.

Another advantage is that there’s less paperwork. 

If you want your dog’s papers, you (or, in most cases, the breeder) will have to complete the paperwork to register your dog and have their pedigree put on file. There will also most likely be a breeder’s contract to review and sign. This outlines your many responsibilities as the new owner and may require you to spay or neuter your dog within a certain time frame.

By choosing to get a dog without papers, you can focus on choosing your dog based on the personality and specific characteristics that you see and love.

Disadvantages of Buying a Dog Without Papers

There are some disadvantages to buying a dog without papers. You won’t be able to show your dog or enter it in certain events. You also won’t be able to sell your dog or any of their puppies as a pedigreed, registered dog.

A cute little Havanese puppy sitting outside on the lawn.

What Is Limited Registration for Dogs?

An option called limited registration allows you to register the puppy when you buy it but prevents you from registering any future litters the dog may produce.

This is a good option if you want to have the ability to enter your dog in events (except conformation shows) or want to be able to prove that it is purebred but don’t plan to breed it.

Can I Register My Dog Without Papers?

If you bought your dog without papers but now want to register him, you have that option. It can be a little difficult and time consuming.

You will need to prove the dog’s lineage back to the last registrable family member. You will have to obtain this information from your breeder.

How Much Is a Dog Without Papers Worth?

The cost of a dog depends on many things. Age, breed, breeder preference are the most common factors that determine the price.

While dogs who do not have papers are often significantly more affordable than a comparable dog with papers, it’s impossible to give an exact price range for dogs without papers.

Can Unregistered Dogs Compete in Events?

There are some events that only allow registered dogs to compete, but there are many that have no restrictions. Check with the event coordinator to find out if your dog can enter.

Even the AKC has events for dogs who are not registered. These events are called AKC Performance and Companion Events.

Other organizations may also be more lenient about a dog’s registration status.

Related Questions:

How Much Does It Cost To Register a Dog?

If you want to register your dog with a pedigree in the AKC, you can expect to pay around $46. There are certain types of registration that have different costs.

Registering a litter of puppies is only $25, with an additional $2 for each puppy.

Registering a litter that was conceived through artificial insemination costs around $30 plus an additional $2 per puppy. 

Can You Sell Puppies Without Papers?

Yes, you can sell puppies without papers, but you will have to inform the buyer that they are not registered. If both of the parents are registered, you can register the litter.

You can also simply inform the buyer that the parents were registered, and they have the option to register their puppy if they choose.

Some people may not care if the puppies are already registered as long as they know they can do it later if they choose.

Is It Illegal To Sell a Dog Without Papers?

It is not illegal to sell a dog without papers, but it is irresponsible to claim that a dog is purebred if there is no proof of it.

When a dog has papers, you can trace the lineage back to show that he has come from a line of purebred dogs.

While you may think or even know that the dog’s parents were purebred, without a pedigree to prove it, you can’t make such claims. 


When it comes to deciding if you want to buy a registered dog or an unregistered dog, it comes down to your own personal preference.

If you have plans to do activities with your dog that will require registration, then it’s a good idea to buy a dog that is already registered.

If you are just looking for a good family pet, it shouldn’t matter if your dog is registered or not. Consider the pros and cons of both options, and choose the one that is best for you.