Papers is the everyday term for a document or set of documents from a recognised 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. Usually, there is space for the listing of successive owners, who must sign and date the document if the animal is gifted, leased or sold.
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.