in loving memory of Dan and Barbara Jessup
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Why Are Puppies So Expensive?
When I was a kid, the average "middle income" family could purchase a well bred pup from a reasonably well known and reputable show kennel for a couple hundred dollars. My family's first two Rottweilers were purchased from a very reputable show kennel in 1971 for $200 a piece. The sire was a champion, the dam was a German import titled in both conformation and obedience.
One reason pups were more reasonable then was that there was virtually no health testing. Hip dysplasia had just become "a thing". DNA testing was, of course, not even on the far horizon.
Today breeders often charge ridiculous prices for "pet" quality dogs. They can do this because after decade of "spay/neuter" campaigning, there is truly a bit of a dog shortage. (Which is why "rescues" are trucking and flying in feral street dogs for resale from China, Mexico, the middle East.)
To me producing healthy, sound members of your favorite breeds should be a passion and a hobby - never a way to make a living. And many hobbies are expensive; try boating, flying or owning horses! Below I will explain why reputable breeders need to charge what may seem like a great deal for a pup.
So You Want To Breed Bostons?
How Getting Started Can Be Very, Very Costly
THE PRICE OF THE DOGS THEMSELVES
When I decided to breed Bostons I set about finding dogs that had the look and attitude I wanted. This was tough, as I did not want the current "show" look, which too often means an animal with so little muzzle that it cannot properly cool or heat air coming into its lungs; these dogs suffer terribly in the heat.
Not being able to find my breeding stock at AKC show kennels put me at one disadvantage - I knew I would be starting "at the bottom" in the sense that I would not be able to acquire health tested stock as virtually NO breeders outside of the AKC showring bother to health test! It would take all my years of experience in dogs to find those "diamonds in the rough" that I needed.
When raising future breeding stock from puppies, I feel that it is necessary to buy two or three pups, raise them up, and hope that at least one will "make the grade". So, we have INITIAL INVESTMENT. I bought three pups, each, with shipping, cost me over $1500. I had no health guarantees; I was dealing with people who just bred their dogs and sold their pups and to hell with health testing or "improving" the breed. But here is the hitch... if I was honest (which I am) about the fact that I was looking for BREEDING dogs, all the "reputable breeders" (those who might health test) refused to sell me a dog with full registration. Why? Because by controlling the number of dogs which can be bred and registered, these "breeders" control the price of the puppies, and evidently THAT is what is important to these folks.
It is this attitude that just kills me. So-called "fanciers of a breed" would rather force others to breed dogs they get off "Craig's List" or "Next Day Puppy" or some such no matter what the consequence to the breed. I feel just the opposite. If a person says to me that they seriously want to breed, then I would MUCH RATHER they do so with one my health tested and sound pups than some untested pup!
Of the three Boston pups I purchased, they are still young and just beginning the process of getting their health clearances. However, at six months of age it became apparent that my beloved Urkle was not going to make the grade as a stud dog. He is a monorchid (one descended testicle, a hereditary trait) and quite undershot. So, added to his price (with shipping) of $1700 is the cost of getting him neutered. He will be placed as a loved pet for a $500 fee.
So you can see, that I am not even counting in the costs of health testing or feeding or housing. Just the "capital" costs of the dogs themselves. If one or both of the bitches do not pass their health clearances, I could conceivably be out almost FIVE GRAND not counting health testing, housing, feeding, etc. For this reason my pups are priced where they are - reasonable - but not "dirt cheap".
HEALTH TESTING COSTS
I get annoyed with breeders who charge more than I do and don't bother to even do basic health testing! Health testing is relatively easy these days, and yes, it can be expensive, but what price can you put on making sure the adults you are breeding do not carry any deleterious genes or have orthopedic conditions that may show up in the pups? Nothing is more ignorant than a breeder who has NEVER tested their dogs for genetic or hereditary diseases and yet claim there is "no disease in my line". Simply put, if you don't test - YOU DON'T KNOW! (And can't know in many cases).
I pride myself on doing very thorough testing on all my dogs. It does run into the hundreds of dollars on the dogs, and thousands on the Dobermans as they must have specific detailed heart tests yearly, but as a breeder it gives me an assurance that I am doing all I can to keep my beloved breeds healthy. There is NO REASON THAT PUREBREDS SHOULD HAVE A REPUTATION FOR BEING UNHEALTHY!
FEEDING AND HOUSING AND SHOWS
Obviously a reputable breeder feeds high quality dog food which is quite expensive these days. We are not JUST feeding dogs which produce pups (of which I have very few) but old friends who are living out their lives with me, occasional rescued dogs which a good breeder will help out from time to time and young dogs just coming along. In my case, I had a SUBSTANTIAL investment in fencing since I felt that my dogs deserved to have the entire 20 acres to run and play on. I don't crate or kennel my dogs except when a bitch is in heat or some are kenneled when I go to town.