Reprinted with permission of the author, Val Garcia
Well, lets start by taking at least a year to decide what lines you want your dog from – and then who knows how long it will take before you can actually get a pup from that line. You have invested a lot of time, money on phone calls, probably dealt with much frustration along the way. Cost of pup? $800.00 to $2000.00 – PLUS transportation or shipping cost to get the pup from there to here!
Okay, you have the pup – is it going to turn out? Is it going to get all its clearances (heart, hip, elbows, thyroid, eyes, etc.)? Is it going to finish the title you are after whether it be obedience conformation or field? At this stage you have invested a minimum of an additional 2 years. Not to mention the cost of entries, handlers if you go that route, equipment for grooming and other grooming supplies, the cost of gaining clearances, travel cost, feeding, time, training, crates, leads, etc.
Lets say you got that far — and believe me it isn’t easy to get this far — how long have you been researching pedigrees to find that perfect stud dog for your bitch? I know that researching pedigrees for potential stud dogs is a nonstop endeavor for me — investment of tons of time, phone calls, reading up on lines, research, research, research, frustration, flying to national specialties shows to personally look and interact with the dogs takes years and a great deal of money..
Now that you have found your perfect stud dog, are you going natural or AI? There are substantial costs involved in doing the actual breeding; shipping your bitch or collecting, preparing and shipping semen, stud fees, progesterone testing, vet bills, long distance calls, contracts, travel time. Did the bitch come in at a time the stud was available? Do you have a backup stud lined up, who is available if she comes in early/late and Plan A is out on the road on a circuit? There are a host of problems that can happen when using and shipping chilled or frozen semen, hopefully neither dog has an infection and the timing was exactly right for the breeding to “take.”
Your bitch has been bred. Did it take? Hopefully no Pyometria occurs. Does the pregnancy go smoothly? How many pups does she have 0? 15? Are you going to sonogram the bitch? Did the bitch need an emergency cesarean? Did the bitch even survive the whelp? Did the puppies survive the whelp? (Did YOU survive the whelp?)
Are the pups all healthy? Any pups require special needs – maybe like tube feeding every two hours? Any pups die before two weeks of age? Other costs: Vet bills, dewclaws, docking, vaccinations, worming, micro chipping or tattooing, lots and lots of time (like at least 4 straight weeks of your full time vacation??), whelping box, heat lamp, scales, record keeping, cleaning, additional electrical bills (due to heat, air conditioning, washing and drying towels), cleaning and disinfecting solutions, extra bedding from being changed every few hours, socialization, beginning crate training, lots of lost sleep (yours not theirs), weaning, food, litter, supplements, registration, screening puppy buyers we all know that takes hours upon hours, answering millions of questions from those that will be buying a puppy from you, phone calls from potential puppy buyers at all hours of the night, puppy packets that have your heart and soul put into them, puppy buyer visitations, pictures, videos, puppy temperament testing, puppy evaluations. Did any of the puppies get exposed to some “bug” during a puppy visitation no matter how meticulous you were about making sure everyone washed up, took off their shoes, etc.? Pet contracts, show contracts, litter registration cost, long distance phone calls, guarantees, explaining why pet pups must be spayed/neutered.
Okay the pups go home – however we never stop our responsibility to that pup no matter how old. The buyer calls you a zillion times with questions or complaints like “why is he taking so long to housebreak?” or “He hasn’t pooped in two days, is that OK?” To which you patiently and supportively answer all questions, no matter how many times you’ve explained it to them before. So, hours and hours of phone time or face to face time, helping them learn how to groom their pup or actually doing the grooming for them, maybe boarding them while they are out of town, offering advice when they call or when you see they need it — if they want to do competition – helping them along the way. They don’t want the dog anymore (for whatever reason)? We take them back and start over again, spending time finding the next perfect home for THAT dog. We are always there – someone to depend on – someone that really cares about that dog that they bred. Someone that cares that that dog is getting the best that their owner can offer.
So $800.00 for a pet pup that will live hopefully 12 years — that is a little over $66.00 a year or about 18 cents a day — so anyone that thinks we make money doing this has NO CLUE!!!! — They just can’t understand that we do it because we love the breed and we continue to strive to improve the breed – we breed for ourselves to hopefully produce a better dog – people that are outside will have a very hard time understanding or believing this.
Yes, it is true that paying 800.00 for a pup doesn’t guarantee that you won’t have any problems – but the odds are definitely in your favor that you will have a sound dog and know what to expect from the puppy you are buying and a breeder that will be there to support you. When I hear people say “I can get a puppy from the paper for $200″ – I tell them you are not comparing apples with apples – how much information can that person give you about that puppy’s pedigree? How many generations back? What questions do they ask you? Or do they ask any questions other than do you have $200 cash? Are they there for you when you leave with that puppy? HA! Often that “bargain” pup ends up costing you a whole lot more in the long run than our “expensive” pups because of the problems that pop up almost from the start — believe me I have heard the horror stories and I am sure all of you have too. In addition, if they balk at paying $800 for a pup, what is going to happen if they have to pay a veterinarian for care?
I apologize that this post turned out so long – it just gets tiring hearing people want something for nothing. Yeah, I’d like a Mitsubishi 3000GT for the price of a Geo Metro. To me, my dogs are a passion and are priceless to me.