in loving memory of Dan and Barbara Jessup
I'll use myself as the real-world example. First, a reputable breeder must seek out above average animals for their "foundation". Many backyard breeders buy a dog, often just a pet dog not meant for breeding, and then end up deciding to use it as their foundation dog. But like anything in this world, the foundation MUST BE the strongest part of the structure! This means searching, waiting, buying, discarding and buying again until an animal of sufficient quality is located. With my Dobermans, this meant over a year of searching and then, finding a litter I was interested in, purchasing two bitches so that my chances were doubled of having at least one turn out to be of high quality. So, my first step, finding a foundation female, cost me $4000 (including shipping the dogs across country).
Next, of course, is the health testing that both bitches needed to go through... so as they matured the necessary DNA and OFA tests were performed (testing for DCM is VERY expensive and needs to be repeated yearly!) at a cost of over $1000 per bitch the first year, and on average about $500 each year after that.
A stud? It used to be a small breeder like myself would not keep a stud, but instead find the best male to match my female(s) and pay a stud service (the cost of one pup is the usual price). Today, sadly, the mentality is very different, and most "breeders" will not help anyone else produce a litter lest they lose puppy sales themselves! In my case, it is almost impossible to find anyone offering a quality male at stud who does the health testing I feel is the minimum. In Cairns and Bostons I have yet to find ANY breeder who health tests to my standard. It is VERY frustrating. Only when breeders work together can a breed progress.
Just as an example of costs, my first Doberman breeding I used a Polish import stud located in California. The cost of airfare, paying someone to house and transport her for me while in California, the stud fee, the health and brucellosis testing, the flight back, cost me over $3000. For my second breeding I used a stud I had purchased from Berlin, Germany (XDog). Adding up XDog's price, cost of shipping from Europe, registration hoops because of being foreign, cropping, docking, showing to his Int. Championship, health testing to date the price is over $4000.
Add to that the $30,000 fence I paid for so the dogs would have free run of the twenty acres, high quality dog food, the best of insulated dog houses, ongoing vet care, training and all the other costs associated with well-kept dogs.
Now we can begin to factor in the price of the actual raising of the pups. Cropping costs $500 to $600 per pup. For my current litter of 10 pups, that's $5000 that I need to have upfront. Associated costs include things like vaccinations, wormings, puppy pads, puppy play equipment, microchips, registration (I register each pup to myself first in order to guarantee I will stay on the microchip information for the life of the pup). It is tough to put a price on feeding a litter high quality puppy food for weeks, advertising the litter, driving hundreds of miles to the vet who does the cropping three days in a row (the vet can only crop a couple puppies a day). Just plain fun - and not added into the cost - is driving the puppies to the nearest large town to spend hours walking them individually through stores and down streets to socialize them.
Why Are Puppies So Expensive?
Well-bred dogs have always cost quite a bit more than "just dogs". Have you ever wondered why? After all, when ANY dog is bred, it has puppies, so why are some puppies so much more expensive than others?
In 1939 the average American income was $1,368 a year and the average mutt would set the family back about $5 dollars. But in the same year, a well-bred pup could cost from $50 to $150. Adult show type dogs could sell for over $1000. Here's why pups from a REPUTABLE breeder can seem expensive...
The above is just to give you an idea of some of the expenses of "doing it right". I used just one breed to demonstrate - each breed has its own challenges and expenses.
It is frustrating when unethical breeders charge prices much higher than mine and don't even bother to do minimum health testing! To me, putting the price of a puppy BACK INTO THE BREED by spending it on health testing is the least I can do for our wonderful dogs.
Is it "my" money? I don't see it that way. I see it as belonging to my dogs and to their breeds. It should be spent on THEIR comfort and the betterment of their kind.
When someone tells you they "don't need to health test" their breeding dogs I feel they are simply saying they don't care enough to be SURE, they don't care enough to invest the puppy money back into the dogs.