Many Facebook and related forums have restrictions on posting prices and therefore puppy shoppers often wonder what typical puppy pricing might be. Similarly, shoppers often post questions like “Why are these puppies so expensive” and receive responses from other shoppers either blaming breeders for price gouging or claiming to have gotten a perfectly healthy puppy for $500. While this post is not meant to establish a set price, it is intended to explain what you should look for in pricing and the dangers of a discounted dog.
Let’s start with an example of a purebred Cavalier puppy and what a quality breeder (please see the post on locating a respectable breeder) paid make that puppy available to you:
While I’m sure some people will be inclined to debate these expenses, I want to assure you that these are on the low end because they don’t include a lot of expenses that buyers don’t consider such as raising a dog for 2.5 years and then learning they are not capable of breeding, have a genetic condition which makes them ineligible to breed, raising a bitch who then refuses to nurture her first litter and therefore can’t be bred again, etc. It also places no value at all on the time, energy and love respectable breeders give their dogs.
Now, using our hypothetical and again assuming this is a respectable breeder, the female will not be overbred, bred too early or bred later in life. And, again remember our $14,550 number is only for the first 2.5 years of ownership so many of these costs will repeat. Let’s assume the female will be bred 3-4 times.
Litter #1 – 4 puppies. For this breeder to get close to “breaking even” she would have to get $3600+ per puppy and in doing so this does not account for the medical expenses of the puppies themselves. Instead, she sells these puppies for $2000 to pet only homes. She spends $80+ per puppy on initial vet visits, additional funds on food and countless hours monitoring puppies, screening prospective buyers and getting puppies to their new homes.
Breeder will now incur an additional round of expenses for post pregnancy care for the bitch, annual testing and annual ownership. As she owns the dogs another year and returns them for certifications, she invests another $3,140 in annual cost of ownership and increased medical testing.
Litter #2 – 5 puppies. The breeder gets lucky with additional puppies but one fails to thrive. She is forced to invest funds in this puppies health but despite all efforts the puppy does not make it. She again sells the remaining 4 puppies for $2000. She’s still in the whole $1690 plus the additional costs of the puppy that doesn’t make it. This again does not include the $80+ per puppy on initial vet visits, additional funds on food and countless hours monitoring puppies, screening prospective buyers and getting puppies to their new homes.
Repeat another year of ownership and another round of testing.
Litter #3 – 3 puppies. All are healthy. One is “show quality” (please see our post on what this means) and can bring a higher price. She’s able to sell one puppy for show at $3000 and decides to sell another puppy for full rights to recoup some of her expenses. She almost breaks even but she’s unsure if she should breed this dog again. The bitch has shown less interest in this set of puppies and has struggled nursing them. She decides to retire this bitch and keep the other female puppy as a future breeder. Lots of puppies in loving homes but no actual earnings. She offers her male out as a stud to another breeder to try and get some of her money back. That stud cannot be used for this new female as they are related, and quality breeders don’t inbreed their dogs!
Again, this is a hypothetical but one I’ve seen repeated many times. Sometimes a dog never breeds, sometimes you only get 1-2 good litters, sometimes you’re lucky and have a dog that loves being a mom and successfully has multiple litters which helps recoup lost money from the others. That being said, that point of this example is NOT that a puppy should cost $2000. The point of this example is the following:
Again, knowing what to pay for your puppy is inevitably entangled with the quality of breeder you are talking to. Every day, I see people looking for discount dogs, recommending breeders who regularly appear on the SPCA alert lists and ignoring red flags because they’ve fallen in love with a puppy. We hope this example helps you understand why we recommend you ask the right questions, be willing to sit on a waitlist and understand the dangers of a discount dog!
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