Papers is the everyday term for a document or set of documents from an authorised breed registry that attests to the purebred status of an animal; its pedigree. Animal registries have their own specific documents that make up a set of "papers" for a purebred animal. These are meant to guarantee the identity of an animal and help prevent fraud.
The form of the document differs: it may be a simple certificate or a listing of ancestors in the animal's background, sometimes with a chart showing the lineage. Traditionally, there is space for the listing of successive owners; in the past the person relinquishing an animal was required to sign and date the document if the animal were gifted, leased or sold. These days, they may be required to submit details of the transfer to the issuing registry, who will reissue the certification, reflecting the updated details.
Genuine papers must have the registered name and number of the individual animal and its date of birth, the name of the attesting organization, with the logo if there is one, the name and signature of the registrar or other authorized person, and a corporate stamp or seal. A breeder may issue their own document attesting to the animal's breeding, but these are not official pedigrees.
Other information that may appear on the certification include:
- name of sire (father) and dam (mother)
- names of other ancestors, to the number of generations required by the issuing organization
- details of the litter this animal came from
- its colour and markings
- name, address and registered number of the breeder
- name and address of the original owner
Supplemental documents which may be included in the set are special registrations such as
- records of tattoos, brands and microchips,
- service certificates - (proof of mating between purebred individuals)
- a whelping, foaling, calving or litter recording,
- veterinary certification of an animal's health or fitness for breeding or racing,
Local government authorities may require other registrations, such as a dog license. Some civil authorities require special registrations under Breed-specific legislation laws. These are not part of an animal's pedigree.
Because of the prestige, awards--and in some cases--vast amounts of money to be earned in related hobbies and industries, the safeguarding of animal papers and the information contained therein is a very real concern.
Reputable registries take precautions to reduce the opportunities for fraud. Most registries have a time limit on how long the breeder has to document an animal's birth and receive papers. Some registries require permanent physical identification, such as tattooing or freeze-branding soon after birth. Still others request veterinary certification or independent verification of an animal's identity. In Ireland, for example, the greyhound racing authority requires that a steward visit the breeding kennel, inspect the puppies, describe and draw the puppies, and submit the whelping details to the registry.