Responsible Ownership

Why do puppies cost so much?

Despite breeders having explained over and over and over why they price their puppies a certain way, and despite us trying to think of ways to say that our puppies are free, or that this is not a “job” for us or a way to make any money, the comments still have a marked note of disbelief. “They cost HOW much?” “I saw the prices and I just about fainted!” and “I can’t pay crazy prices for a puppy.”

I’m not going to try to add up again how much it costs breeders to make puppies, because I don’t think it works. And I’ve come to believe that the reason it doesn’t work is that people who see themselves as “normal” buyers think the whole thing must be rigged somehow. Those huge prices we pay for breeding and showing aren’t a reflection of objective reality; they’re something weird we do that we don’t really need to do. The buyers don’t think we’re lying, exactly, when we say that we put tens of thousands of dollars into breeding, but in the back of their mind is definitely “Well, just because YOU are crazy doesn’t mean I have to be.”

And that, really, is the root cause of the disbelief. It’s not that people are ill-meaning. It’s that they believe that there’s a real price for real dogs versus a vastly inflated price for vastly un-real dogs. They are on board with the fact that “we breeders” will pay thousands of dollars for a few of the best and most rare or beautiful dogs, because we are going to go on to show and breed them. But for regular people, aren’t there regular dogs who are born in regular homes and designed to go home with regular owners and for regular prices – let’s say no more than a few hundred dollars?

The answer – and if you’re a regular owner, you need to hear me and BELIEVE me – is NO. Not anymore.

Stop looking for a “regular dog for regular people.”

I grew up with a long and undistinguished series of “regular dogs.” They were all born within twenty minutes of our house; we’d find a puppy listing in the local supermarket or somebody would pass the word around at the 4-H meetings. They were all raised in a house, underfoot. They cost thirty, fifty, seventy dollars, “Just to make enough to spay their mom.” Some were almost purebred; many were mixtures for many generations. Some were great dogs; others were very definitely not. But they were all part of something that really did exist twenty and thirty years ago, which is a vast number of “regular dogs.”

That does not exist anymore. The way we think about dogs has taken a very abrupt turn, and we no longer believe that having puppies is part of what happens when you have dogs. The “middle class” of puppy producer, the ones who had a few litters every time they got a new female dog until they got around to spaying her, is gone. The statistics of breeding, euthanization, and rescue are very clear. The puppies that exist now are all either planned by breeders or are the result of genuine carelessness or, worse, uncaring.

The fact that the regular family puppy producer is gone is a good thing. It really is. Yes, the fact that they existed meant that it was easy to find a puppy whenever you wanted one, but that surplus of supply also meant that millions upon millions of dogs died every year. When the supermarket ad didn’t work and you had five four-month-old puppies pooping in your house, you dropped the litter at the shelter. Ten days later the shelter put them down, and the next day they put down another couple of litters, and the next day they put down some more. “Puppy season” used to be as torturous as kitten season, and just as deadly. So we should all be very glad that the bad old days are gone.

Now that they are gone, we’ve got the situation that I introduced earlier: The puppies that exist now are all either planned by breeders or are the result of genuine carelessness or, worse, uncaring. 

I’m going to leave off the uncaring producers for the sake of the “how much do puppies cost” question, because those breeders are the ones who are still filling the rescues. The websites and ads that “regular owners who want regular prices on real dogs” are seeing are all by deliberate breeders, those who produced puppies on purpose and with the goal of selling them as pets. Sometimes the goal of selling is the primary one – the reason the puppies were born – and sometimes the goal of selling is a secondary one, after the best puppies in the litter are retained for working or showing or breeding. But either way, those puppies were made on purpose.

So what do you do now?

Let’s catch up: You’re a regular person looking for a regular dog of the breed of your choice. You’ve realized that the vast group of middling-bred dogs that populated your childhood is gone. You decide you want a Cocker Spaniel, which you loved as a kid, and you go out to get one. You know that buying from a pet store is wrong. So you don’t even go there. You go to find a “reputable breeder.” What you see, when you start your research (online, of course) is a vast array of possibilities. All the puppies are adorable. You see cute purebred puppies with “champion lines” for $400, cute purebred puppies with “champion lines” for $800, and cute purebred puppies with “champion lines” for $1200. Those are the ones with prices visible. There are also a lot of websites that are obviously made by show breeders, and those don’t have any prices at all. When you inquire from one or two, you’re told that their puppies are $1200, $1600, and $2,000.

The temptation – and many would say logical conclusion – here is to say that the puppies for $400 are the ones to get.

However, I’d challenge you to think of it a different way.

Pretend you’re buying a phone.

When you go in to a wireless store and sign up for the first of what will likely be an endless series of two-year contracts, you are given a choice of six phones. Two of them are free with your plan, two are $99, and two are $199.

I would predict, and I think I’d be close to correct, that almost NOBODY is going to walk out with the free phone. If you can possibly, possibly make it work, even if it hurts, you’re going to leave with the $199 phone. If you can’t, you’ll walk out with the $99 phone – but you’ll gaze wistfully at the $199 one you’re leaving behind, and every time your phone frustrates you over the next two years you’ll say “If only I had stretched and gotten the more expensive one.”

Pretend you’re buying a car.

Stand in the middle of the Toyota lot and look around. You want a Prius. In front of you is one for $4,500, one for $12,000, one for $17,000, and one for $22,000. You qualify for all of them; the terms are all the same. Which one do you drive home?

Virtually nobody is going to drive home the cheapest car, and most are not going to go for the twelve grand one either. I can predict with a high degree of certainty that one of the most expensive two is going to be in your driveway by the end of the day.

Now WHY have you made those two decisions – about the phone and the car?

The answer is: We know how much a reliable phone and car cost, and when a price is substantially lower we we regard it with suspicion, not happiness.

Furthermore, we’re CORRECT to regard it with suspicion. A car that you spent $4500 on is going to incur a major repair bill within the next month or two. The free-with-plan phone is going to make you curse and throw it at the wall within a few weeks. And with both of them, because they were so cheap, you can bet your sweet bippy you are on your own. Welcome to the land of repair bills.

So why – WHY – do we not learn the same lesson about dogs?

Well-bred puppies are not “expensive.” They simply are what they are.

Generally the cost of a well-bred puppy is between one and three thousand dollars, which is what you should expect to pay. For that, you should expect to receive a well-bred, well-raised, well-socialized puppy, and you should (I’m going to go ahead and say MUST) get the equivalent of the 12 years/12,000 miles warranty. You should expect that if this “phone” catches on fire – if the puppy ends up with a major, unforeseen problem – you are going to be taken care of. You should also expect a lifetime of support and help for all the things that come up in the normal daily life of the dog. Think of it as lifetime technical support. If you’ve got a limp or a training problem or something is worrying you, you should have a breeder helping you figure it out. If your potential breeder isn’t obvious about what support comes with the dog, ASK HER. The answer should be quick and complete.

If the puppy costs less than is normal, assume that it comes with no promises, no predictability, and no support.

Just like phones, just like cars. You should regard a low price with deep suspicion, and with the assumption that it is an unwise purchase. If someone comes to you and says they’re going to buy a dog for a low price, your reaction should be the same as if they told you they found a car for two grand and they’re sure it is going to be great. You don’t have to be that tiresome uncle who has the stats of every make and model since the 80s at the tip of his tongue, but you should certainly pull out a “Hey, dude, are you sure that’s smart?”

Now go forth, and find puppies, and be awesome.

Both of them down for the count.

Both of them down for the count.

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46 Comments

  • Reply bestuvall May 11, 2015 at 6:37 am

    good article but what about this? “You should expect that if this “phone” catches on fire – if the puppy ends up with a major, unforeseen problem – you are going to be taken care of. ” if your phone catches on fire you go to the store and get a new phone because they have lots of phones. what exactly is “be taken care of” mean to you? a refund? a new puppy ( when and if you have one)_? while phones and cars are made on an a assembly line ( most out of the country) dogs are no .. although we try our best to produce dogs that do not “catch on fire” some will.. what do you do then?

    • Reply Joanna Kimball May 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm

      This question should be something you and the breeder discuss before you take the puppy home. Every breeder meets this need differently. Some will replace the puppy when one of equal quality is available. Some will refund your money up to the purchase price. Others will buy the puppy back. There’s no right answer as long as you are satisfied with whatever it’s going to be. You as a buyer have to be proactive and make sure you understand (and have in writing) what would happen if something goes badly wrong.

      • Reply UrbanCollieChick May 11, 2015 at 10:05 pm

        If something goes wrong, what happens is heartbreak. And something has to happen VERY soon after purchase otherwise the “It was out of our hands because no one can 100% predict nature” thing soon comes into play.

        But I don’t get attached to my phone like I do a dog.

        • Reply Joanna Kimball May 12, 2015 at 2:07 am

          This is absolutely not true. I have always replaced puppies no matter when the issue occurred, and so will every good breeder I know. I have replaced puppies when they were diagnosed with epilepsy years after purchase. I’ve replaced puppies when they were just never quite OK, even though they lived well into middle age. My contract says three years, but I will go well beyond that if the circumstances merit it. I have never, EVER said “Nobody can predict nature, LOLBYE.” If you have had a breeder who did, they should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Reply UrbanCollieChick May 11, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    I’m sorry but this is really not true. It may seem true if you are wrapped up in the highly advertised world of “either you are a show person or else,” but with a country of 312 million people, you really take a leap presuming that people no longer breed puppies with just a few litters with a goal in mind, outside of the show world. Not everyone that refuses to be part of this sect is a BYB. There are still old fashioned home breeders.

    And BTW, the cost of these purebred puppies that have so much thought put into them, and require feeding and vet care and tests, seem to vary in price a LOT. Belgian sheepdog puppies cost considerably less than Rhodesian ridgeback puppies for example; neither requiring C sections or any other special treatment or any excess of testing. So why does one cost under a thousand while another costs more than a thousand?

    One RR breeder told me the truth. “Elitism.” Let’s get real.

    • Reply Joanna Kimball May 11, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      Aha – it’s really useful to have someone give me a case in point for the “just because you’re crazy doesn’t mean I have to be” point of view.

      Whether you can be a decent breeder without doing anything to test, title, prove, or peer review your dogs is a separate question. It’s a bit like asking if you can be a decent phone manufacturer without ever testing your product and without any thought to longevity or warranty. However, it is indisputable that if you DO test, title, prove, and peer review your dogs, they are incredibly expensive to produce and SHOULD cost what they cost.

      • Reply UrbanCollieChick May 11, 2015 at 9:56 pm

        Well not that I HAVE to give an example, but just recently I’ve been speaking to a great man who makes wine, deals with sheep and kills rats with his dogs. Terriers. Not any recognized show terriers plus he crosses various terriers with feists. He only breeds when friends and family need dogs, and his only proof of worth is that they can do the job the way they need to. No health testing, nothing expensive. Very old school. But since they go to people he knows and stays in contact with, he sees how they made out over the years by simply following them.

        Another person got their bullmastiff from a guy who just bred once or twice out of an RV. No testing. 8 years old, not the compact muzzle you see on them today, longer legs, no cancers, no joint issues, even tempered, was hanging at a crowded Brooklyn farmer’s market well behaved and sweet.

        That’s just two off the top of my head in a matter of seconds.

        • Reply UrbanCollieChick May 11, 2015 at 10:03 pm

          Oh P.S. The terrier man GIVES pups to friends and family and the family with the bullmastiff paid a few hundred. They are extremely satisfied and the man who bred his dog only has bred her a couple of times. He just knew he had a nice dog.

        • Reply Joanna Kimball May 12, 2015 at 2:30 am

          There’s a good rule to follow called “the plural of anecdote is not ‘fact.'” Our terrier, bred much the same as the ones your “great man” breeds, is a nightmare; he can’t be trusted with humans outside our family and his health and conformation are a travesty. But he can sure kill rats.

          I also have a big dog in the family, a Catahoula. Bred a lot like that bullmastiff. He’s got hip dysplasia, tore both his cruciates and required four grand in repairs in the space of a year, and they can’t keep a dog walker because he menaces them.

          So do all rat-bred terriers turn out to be awesome or do all rat-bred terriers turn out to be awful? Do all carelessly bred large purebreds turn out to be amazing or do they all turn out to be a money pit? The answer is that neither my anecdote nor yours proves anything.

          What proves something is a record of predictability over generations, built by breeders who know those generations backwards and forwards. I don’t particularly care if you work with purebreds; you don’t have to be a purebred breeder to be a good breeder. But you had BETTER know every different nuance of the pedigrees you’re putting together and you need to be able to do it reliably and predictably over many generations. Not “this one turned out pretty good,” but “I am absolutely sure they are ALL going to turn out good.”

          And, if you are going to work a dog, you have to know conformation up, down, and sideways. You’ve got to know it better than any other group of humans know it. It is completely unfair and cruel to work a dog whose body can’t work without strain or injury. That means it’s unfair and cruel to produce a dog who WANTS to work – has the fine brain and drives to work – but whose body gives out long before the end of its working life.

          So – fine with me if you want to breed ratting terriers or no-brand mastiffs. But you have to know every single pedigree you’re considering COMPLETELY (to me that means having bred, had your hands on, or thoroughly investigated every dog to the fourth generation) and you have to be incredibly tough on conformation and breed only the soundest dogs to the soundest dogs. You have to consistently test and prove your dogs and put your name and reputation behind their predictability and health. If your breed has known common health problems that have genetic tests, you should do those tests. And you have to stand behind them and support your owners, taking back any dog who ever needs a home, throughout their entire lives. If you do all those things, what price you sell for is immaterial. You’re a good breeder.

          Somehow, however, I doubt either your RV guy or your ratter is doing those things.

          • UrbanCollieChick May 12, 2015 at 1:30 pm

            Regarding anecdote, you asked me for examples and I was able to give you two rather easily.

            Then you followed up with an anecdote of your own, a terrier with horrid health that can kill rats. The example I gave you was of a breeder that doesn’t breed dogs of horrid health. He however, uses breeds and “races” of dogs that have nothing to do with dog shows. They are old working dogs that still exist in America as yet not tainted by the constraints of closed registries. Nope, no testing. Follows the dogs as I already said. And they do the work.

            If the dogs have problems, he is within easy reach and will take them back.

            My problem is that this sort of thinking about what people are paying for stems from dog shows. They caused a lot of congenital issues and now they want tests for them to make up for it. If diversity were allowed in the first place instead of eugenics, a lot of these issues would not exist. But instead, breeders support closed gene pools, the dogs get more and more inbred and the breeders cry out for tests.

            If you want to talk data, there is loads of data regarding purebred dogs, mostly from shows, that give a significant incidence of genetic issues to dogs on closed gene pools.

            Look at Dobermans. 58% DCM rate and perhaps more by now. Only one gene has been found behind this and it’s suspected to have multiple genetic causes, singly or in concert. All from a founder. And this is considered a form of a dominant genetic issue, not recessive. So what do you do? Get rid of over half the breeding Dobermans? THen you have an even more limited gene pool. Yet I hear no real plans by the breed clubs in America or the AKC of outcrossing.

            Look at what the Dalmatian had to come to before even a smattering of outcrossing to pointers was permitted.

            This show world has more limitations on dogs than freedoms to save them. Why should I pay thousands into that system?

            Even if you WANT to do tests, you don’t need to enter into shows to do them. So why pay for anyone’s hobby?

          • Joanna Kimball May 12, 2015 at 3:56 pm

            If you want to discuss whether closed stud books and the idea of dog shows are wrong (and those are two totally different concepts, by the way – dog shows in no way lead to closed stud books and closed stud books in no way lead to dog shows), that’s a discussion that is worth having.

            However, what you’re doing is saying “I disagree with closed stud books. Therefore, my hero is a dude who breeds with zero health testing or health history and with no real criteria of any kind except that they can kill rats.” That is NOT going to solve any of the problems you have brought up, and in fact it’s going to cause more.

            You honestly have no idea whether his dogs are healthier than the population of purebred terriers, because he doesn’t do any testing or health checks. So all you have is an impression that they are in good shape based on his stories about a few of them. That is NOT data. But you want to hold him up as an example to breeders. His dogs could have a 60% DCM rate, but you’d never know it because he’s not testing and his dogs have no inclusion in a health registry and are not subject to any kind of tracking.

            I’ve followed the non-AKC and non-show breeders with the same interest as I’ve always followed show breeding. For more than a decade I’ve read the NAVHDA discussions, the ABCA discussions, etc. They are IN NO WAY in better shape than the AKC breeding community. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen more inbreeding and more of a disregard for genetic health in those communities than I’ve seen in AKC. And “I don’t care what it looks like as long as it can work,” which as a direct quote is a badge of pride in many of those communities, is not somehow an improvement on “I don’t care if it can work as long as it is built beautifully,” which NO SHOW BREEDER HAS EVER SAID EVER. OK, maybe they say it in the privacy of their living rooms, but they don’t say it publicly and they’d get slammed hard if they did.

            So: short version – dog shows and closed registries are two separate issues. There’s no hidden paradise out there of working registries that keep dogs outcrossed and healthy. And if you don’t test your dogs, you haven’t the slightest idea of what they carry or will produce, so saying they are healthy is at worst a lie and at best a statement without any facts backing it up.

          • UrbanCollieChick May 12, 2015 at 4:47 pm

            Dogs with DCM generally don’t last long. If his dogs had a 60% DCM rate, you’d know it sooner or later.

          • Joanna Kimball May 12, 2015 at 4:58 pm

            That’s not true. Only certain causes of DCM (like the SAS you are talking about in Dobermans) make dogs not last long. MVD and primary DCM develop slowly, over years, and are often lumped into “middle age,” “slowing down,” “just tired,” etc.

          • UrbanCollieChick May 12, 2015 at 5:21 pm

            And those other forms of DCM don’t show on testing anyway until….they show. Plus only one form of DCM has the gene known for it; it was only very recently found. Breeds well known for DCM have holter monitor testing year after year but it’s not as if every dog destined to have DCM has holter monitor results from day one. It develops when it develops. A test did not find this problem in Dobermans for example. It was found because Dobermans kept dropping dead.

            “I don’t care if it can work as long as it is built beautifully,” which NO SHOW BREEDER HAS EVER SAID EVER. OK, maybe they say it in the privacy of their living rooms, but they don’t say it publicly and they’d get slammed hard if they did”

            You BET They’d get slammed and you know why. Because it’s wrong! But it’s so true of so many of them and it happens all the time.

            But you’re basically shouting out that show breeders are not selfish, and then you are openly stating that yes, some are, but all that matters is that they hide it?????

            And I don’t disagree that breeding for work does not guarantee freedom from congenital defects that one cannot see. “Working dog” people linebreed/inbreed, delve into popular sire syndrome, etc, as much as anyone. It’s a huge problem and it DOES get discussed by many good people.

            There have even been some working border collie folks who argued that a certain amount of dysplasia in dogs adds to their flexibility in hip movements. Which is such bullcrap! What stinks is that while some of those people may be old school farmers with a certain ignorance about health and biology outside of what gets them by, a lot of it is influenced not by day to day work, but by trialing; the sport/hobby form of such work. While some say it’s just another tool to evaluate breeding stock, the lure of competition and being the “Best” at something has a way of taking what should be an evaluation and twisting it into something full of politics and selfish goals. Competition can bring out the worst in people. Appeal to ego is an awful thing.

            There are no absolutes but the goal of looks, and the insane levels of money spent on it, are the most meaningless reasons of all to spend cash. When even defects that one can see with the eye are not only ignored but outright rewarded, for their novelty, regardless of what the dog has to live with ( bulldogs, other extreme brachycephalics, lousy hips, excess bacteria-harboring skin,……. or just anything that shortens lifepans to 7 years or so, something is very very wrong.

            And again, there are only tests for a handful of issues compared to what’s out there. And for some things, the tests guarantee nothing ( like HD). All a breeder can do for a multitude of conditions is to just see what offspring develop from a pairing and if there are problems, make adjustments accordingly. So if for all of those other maladies, it’s a matter of watching and tracking ( and how many people really know what ever happened to every single puppy that ever came out of their home when they are breeding dogs to sell?), it seems the impact of testing is not a HUGE impact after all.

            For all the tons of HD testing over many years, HD is still a large problem.

            Probably because it’s not that straightforward a malady to start with.

      • Reply UrbanCollieChick May 11, 2015 at 10:02 pm

        Conversely, I’ve known people who paid good money for a “well bred” and “tested” GSD, doberman, etc, only to have it come down crashing with EPI, DCM, etc.

        Frankly, of all the genetic issues with dogs today, few have any tests available for them at this time.

        And this still doesn’t explain my belgian sheepdog vs Rhodesian Ridgeback example, where you have two examples of breeds that most people really only do limited testing on, yet breeders tend to charge under a grand for the first and over a grand for the second.

        Two breeds, each pup a large breed more or less, should cost roughly the same per pup for food, housing, medical, on average. Why the disparity other than a higher snobbery sect behind one over another? And why should anyone pay for hubris?

        • Reply Joanna Kimball May 12, 2015 at 2:38 am

          I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that either RR or Belgian breeders do limited testing. RRs get hips and elbows, eyes, thyroid, and heart. The Belgian breeds get hips and elbows, eyes, thyroid, and usually heart. Neither of them is available from reputable breeders for under a thousand dollars. It’s been years since I asked my friends who breed either one about what they are charging, but based on their answers back then, the puppies of both breeds are going to be between one and three thousand, probably close to the midway mark of that range.

  • Reply Lauren May 11, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    I’m sorry, but I have to agree with UrbanCollieChick.

    I know what health testing costs and honestly, I’m not going to go any further than that. In other posts, you have mentioned the cost of high-quality food. I have 2 neutered dogs, do you think I let them scavenge for food on the side of the road because they’ll never make puppies?
    No, high quality food is a cost of having dogs whether you breed, show or not. Same with standard (non-breeding) vet care costs.
    Showing IS really expensive. And it’s your hobby, and something you do to sell puppies to other people in that circle. Which is fine. I have hobbies too, and some of them make money. But this is a choice you make on a way to spend your time and money that is, in a very large sense, unrelated to breeding.
    Yes, yes, I know all the arguments for – and against – the conformation ring as a proving ground. Are there people who show males? Of course! All the cost, a teeny fraction of the sales potential. And yet they still do it, because it’s a hobby; ie. something that you because you enjoy it. There are even people who show dogs, get a bunch of nice ribbons, and then have them fixed. What I’m saying is that it is your choice to show, and also your choice to try to recoup that money by puppy sales.Don’t get me wrong! Those are choices you are fully entitled to make!! But it’s not something your puppy buyers should automatically owe you for. And depending on your definition of quality, not a guarantee.

    What really bothers me here, is there are a lot of assumptions of quality and service in this, that you and I both know aren’t true. Name the breed, and I can pull up 5 websites for puppies in the price range of your choice, and every one will be a puppy mill (or, as the AKC likes to call them “commercial breeder”) and the ones cashing the big checks get to do it because of pieces like this, that equate cost with quality. I raise animals and I am free to slap any price tag on them I like, for any reason, or no reason, so how can we draw assumptions about what you’ll get for that? And implying that low cost equals lack of care, caring and support is really a slap for anyone involved in rescue (which you have previously mentioned that good breeders should be). I rescue cats and adopt them out for less than the price of the vet visit a person would pay if I hadn’t already had all that stuff done and I’ve still been in touch with people for their next cat, the one they found in a box, long after the cat they adopted from me died of old age.
    Because quality of after care – like showing, like breeding – is a *choice* that people make, and a high price tag no more guarantees it than a low one cuts it out.
    Unlike cars or phones.

  • Reply Caren May 11, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Thank you Joanna

    I agree with all you have said.
    I would add, which you have said in the past. Do your due diligence, ask the breeder the questions beyond the standard. Go to the breeders home, see what you see, decide what you want to see in the upbringing of that puppy, for the one you are bringing back to your home. Develop a relationship, build trust and then make your decision if you will be getting what you are paying for.

    If it ends up being the right “click” you will be friends for the life of the dog, or longer and go back to the breeder or that breeders referral for the next dog. You will send photos, share good times and bad, call with questions, call with news — there will be no one who wants to talk about your dog, as much as your breeder.

    If you’ve accidentally found a commercial breeder, (or one that isn’t there for you for the life of your dog) you will know quickly – they won’t want you to be calling and asking questions and
    talking about your wonderful new addition to your family ! At that point you have learned a lesson, which I hope you take note and remember that there are breeders who will serve you for the life of the dog. You just need to find them.

    • Reply UrbanCollieChick May 12, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      Then why the disparity between one and THREE thousand dollars?

      And by “limited” I meant there is no special over the top testing for special congenital defects known in a breed, generally, like the way Cavalier King Charles Spaniels need testing for particular heart and brain conditions they are known for.

      BTW, breed clubs generally encourage various types of testing but it’s not mandatory, or really enforced. Even for breeds like RRs for example, testing is highly recommended but no one HAS to do it.

      And hip testing at puppyhood doesn’t guarantee against hip problems down the line anyway, as HD is a progressive issue. Testing parents is good but is not a guarantee of puppy outcomes.

      It’s genetic but also can depend on other factors and a “roll of the dice” to an extent.

      • Reply Joanna Kimball May 12, 2015 at 4:14 pm

        At three thousand dollars each, the good breeder is still losing money. At one thousand dollars, the good breeder is just losing more money. If you treated show breeding like an actual business, with true cost accounting, you’d have to charge about twenty thousand per puppy to break even.

        So the question about why some at one thousand and some at three thousand is NOT about “making money,” and it’s not about what goes into the breeding. Every breeder prices their puppies individually, based more on emotion and impressions than anything else. It comes out of a big soup of how much your same-breed breeding peers typically charge, how much (on average) well-bred puppies cost in your area, observations you’ve made about vet costs, etc. You want the purchase price to be a significant investment for the family, not because you’re mean but because investments are made cautiously and with a lot of research.

        Some breeders stir that soup and come up with twelve or fourteen hundred as a number; others stir the same soup and come up with twenty-five hundred. The difference between those two numbers is not very important, and I say that as a person who has never had any money. At both numbers the breeder is losing money; neither number reflects what went into the litter. If you’re a good match with the more expensive breeder and puppy, you should make that happen. If you’re a good match with the less expensive breeder and puppy, you should make that happen.

        • Reply UrbanCollieChick May 12, 2015 at 5:01 pm

          There are dog selling for $20K or more but are specially trained for certain kinds of herding work ( often top in their field depending on trial winnings, etc), protection work, etc. And many of those dogs are people who DO make money either farming or in the security field, etc. And it’s not like all of those people don’t do any testing, though clearly some do not.

          But HD testing of parents over the years has not led to a lower incidence of HD in offspring. And a dog can have “Fair” hips and still be bred, depending on the person. Yet litters from tested parents from a breeder can be from Fair or Good dogs, and those breeders may choose to charge the same.

          Stud fees often make some of the money back for breeders as well. Not that they are exhorbitant. But why $20K??? Because the person is into show breeding?

          Again, as someone else said, that’s paying for a hobby. A hobby that isn’t needed for dog breeding to begin with and that teaches no valuable skills to the dog.

          This statement is no doubt true, and while people have a right to charge what they will, this can mean all sorts of things that aren’t necessarily fair. I don’t expect purchasers to find it good cause to say, add a thousand on top. To what? To protect puppies from people who aren’t serious?

          When people are really wealthy, they can be the least serious of all. I’ve met plenty of rich people who toss animals out without a care in the world because they are simply used to the throwaway mentality. Whatever they toss, they can always get another version of when they feel like it.

          Last year I spoke with a nice lady who adopted a GSD. The original owners imported her all the way from Russia and then she dumped it on a shelter because the kids weren’t interested anymore. Lovely sweet dog too! Shameful.

          I also spoke with an RR breeder who actually told me to my face “Anyone who breeds these dogs and tells you they are not making money, is lying.”

          Not fair for me to say that one person speaks for all BUT, if one person said it, and thinks it, it stands to reason others do too. The dogs on the premises were however, healthy and cared for, in a house, with clean bedding, bright eyed, active, decent weight but not roly poly, and the owners were well spoken and nice people. There were testing records to read too. Offhand no average puppy buyer would have any reason to think twice about putting a deposit down.

          • Michelle May 28, 2015 at 6:43 pm

            I breed Dachshunds my pups are $1500 I show and I do performance. I breed once every year to two years. I do not make money. If I had more than that many litters I would go bankrupt! Even if there was money made I would not be ashamed cause I did it ethically! As far as inherited diseases we are not GOD! Genetics are a crap shoot! People need to relalize that realization. We good breeders do our best to control it. All these diseases which i believe a lot are caused by environment and lack of nutrition from diet. Yes, it can be that simple. No one is perfect in this. No One!! We can only do what is ethical and the good breeders do it ethically! The world is not perfect, only GOD is. We are not in control of anything. Shit happens and we good breeders try our damdest to try and fix it. The backyard breeders who breed 6 to 10 litters a year are making the money, which tells me they are not investing anything and doing it unethically.

          • Michelle May 29, 2015 at 4:53 pm

            and yes, if you are not investing and putting titles on your dogs in performance or conformation you are not breeding for a purpose. Therefore you are a backyard breeder. Your only purpose is money.

  • Reply Sharon Marquis May 11, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Good article. Now if we could just get the public to read it!

  • Reply Joanna Kimball May 11, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    When I breed my dogs, I do not figure the cost of finishing their championships into the cost of producing a litter. I SHOULD, if I was doing it honestly, but I don’t. I also don’t figure in feeding, exercising, normal vet costs, training, etc. I figure only health testing, the cost of the breeding itself, the cost of whelping, the cost of raising the litter the way all litters should be raised, and the cost of getting them out the door to serious and good buyers. This consistently ranges from $5,000-$10,000 per litter. This is to sell, on average, three pet puppies for $1200-$1400 each. So I am deeply in the red on every single litter waaaaay before we even start talking about showing, feeding, training, or normal maintenance.

    This article is not about rescue – I have always been firmly pro-rescue. But rescue sets its fees in a completely different way than breeders set their prices.

    • Reply Michelle May 28, 2015 at 6:48 pm

      People who get dogs from rescues, guess what? it’s still a purchase! My local rescue and a pretty nice one for a non profit. charges $800. Like i said it’s still a purchase no matter how you look at it. Now we have rescues importing dogs. What a racket!

  • Reply Michael Romanos May 11, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    The cost of buying a puppy is partly tied up with a form of inflated commercial desires.

    In New Zealand which is a fairly high cost of living country, pure bred common-breed puppies are up to half the purchase cost to a new owner than they are in the USA and there is no good reason for this.

    NZ has probably the second most dogs per capita behind the USA so we are a canine-conscious country.

    Probably the top reason is that most breeders in NZ treat puppy breeding as a hobby whereas in the USA it can be regarded as an enterprise.

    • Reply Kristin Bibeault May 12, 2015 at 11:03 am

      “Probably the top reason is that most breeders in NZ treat puppy breeding as a hobby whereas in the USA it can be regarded as an enterprise.”

      This.

      • Reply Joanna Kimball May 12, 2015 at 4:27 pm

        New Zealand is the size (population wise) of Kentucky; you have 450,000 dogs in the whole country. We have 78 million dogs.

        I often see people compare much smaller countries to the US, usually saying that something that is done there should be done in the US. But it doesn’t work that way; a huge amount of why something happens a certain way in the small country is just because it’s so small. Sweden, for example, can register every dog in the country and keep health results on every dog in the country because they have ONE PERCENT of the US’s dog population.

        In Norway, well-bred purebred dogs are twice as expensive as they are in the US. In New Zealand, your impression is that well-bred purebred dogs are less expensive (this, by the way, has not been my experience when I’ve priced dogs from NZ, but I will trust you). Norway is not doing anything wrong; New Zealand is not doing something right. It’s just that in different countries dogs cost different amounts. In the US, our massive size means that the range of prices is much larger. Again, not because we’re doing anything right or wrong. Just because we are huge.

  • Reply Bonnie May 23, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    Coming from the Philadelphia area, I would have agreed entirely with this post. But I recently moved to rural New Mexico, where nearly everyone keeps multiple dogs and working breeds, and it seems that around here the old way is not only still alive but predominant. No one does early spay and neuter, dogs often are unsecured, and while there are plenty of completely careless owners there are also many I consider good. Especially those who have property and livestock with working dogs. If the dog is a good worker, it gets bred a couple times. Pups sold for entirely reasonable prices IMO (usually dogs are mixed or crosses, if purebred not papered) under $300, often more like $50.

    We are picking up a puppy from a working ranch down the road from our property next week, great working parents and wonderful owners. I can’t find it in me to feel at all guilty paying $200 for exactly the kind of dog I want from a family rather than driving who knows how far to pay at least 3x that to a reputable show breeder offering nearly the same thing.

    I do think you make great points but they don’t quite apply all over the country IMO, or to everyone’s needs/desires. And I just don’t see how paying a person whose family dogs have had a litter $50 for a puppy is going to make the slightest bit of difference in whether they have another litter. Puppy mills are a totally different animal.

    If I wanted, say, another Doberman like our oldest dog (a rescued poorly bred Dobie with emotional problems, no severe health issues so far but it’s only a matter of time) I would certainly go many states away and pay $2500 in the hopes of getting a happy functional puppy!

  • Reply Michelle May 28, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Bonnie do not ever assume that people who show their dogs dont work their dogs. People have different standards and yours obviously may not be as high as others when it comes to dogs. It seems to me you are justifying yourself for buying a mutt. Whatever makes YOU feel good then go for it, its America, but dont generalize or assume good breeders. Thats the problem with people!

    • Reply UrbanCollieChick May 30, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      True Michelle. People have different standards. The AKC herding instinct test will pass almost any dog for example, whereas people who could care less about the AKC and do real ranching and farming test dogs amongst themselves and are fairly choosy. They have infinitely higher standards.

      And then there’s anything in between.

    • Reply Bonnie May 30, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      Not sure where you got that. Most respected breeders of working pure breeds seem to enjoy working their dogs (and the dogs love it too). Many title them in several different things…

  • Reply Shelley May 29, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    When comparing puppy prices to other countries, you also need to take into account what the standard is for the cost of lving in that country. For example in Denmark salaries sound outrageous until you realize they pay a 51% tax. Even between the US and Canada which can almost blend into one melting pot there are huge discrepancies – in the US the poor are poorer and the rich are richer. Face it, a puppy is a luxury purchase, nd the purchase price is only a tiny part of what that dog is going to cost over its lifettime. The thing is do you amortize the cheaper priced puppy over it shortened lifespan and add medical costs for all the issues that will pop us, or do you put out a bit extra on a dog more likely to live a longer life with fewer medical issues. The phrase “pay me now, or pay (the vet) later” comes to mind.

    • Reply UrbanCollieChick May 31, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      And isn’t it sad that people are feeling they practically have to be wealthy in order to have a dog? Don’t get me wrong. I love dogs and I’m not saying people shouldn’t be prepared to care for them, but the elevated status from the family dog or a working animal to “furbaby” has incited a dog-related industry that MAKES having them more expensive.

      Advances in vet medicine give people so many options that people feel obliged to pay $6K for that TPLO for a torn CCL, and they go back and forth over whether or not to get chemo and radiation when their dog gets cancer. There are physical therapists, water facilities, herbalists, etc. Then there’s the choices of trainers, some of which charge far more than others, and for what, well, it’s not always clear. There is no single accreditation required by law for trainers or behaviorists, so the owner has to rely on their judgment and research and hopefully will have a good sense of what is worth paying for and what is not, as they sort through the folks who still follow old ways, CM ways, “Pure positive” ways etc. To say nothing of extra activities that they may also feel obliged to pay trainers for, like agility, because they have an active dog ( breeders push these on people all the time so they can say more of their pups are titled), when really, just some good offleash play, trick training at home or personal bikejouring would have done just as well.

      Also, since people work, the walker and daycare places have become rather indispensable. The American way keeps everyone so busy and so devalues the home life ( contrary to some politicians screaming “family values”), that it’s hard to ask for someone to be around most of the time. Thus crates are sold to just about everybody, etc.

      And don’t forget about all the food options now. Highly concerned owners paranoid about whats in the food have been great fodder for these businesses ( I’ve thought about getting into it myself!). Most dogs will do fine on the $2 can even though an owner may splurge for the $4 can, with no proof it will do any better by the dog.

      Some of this is spurned also by the increase in digestive disorders, in part thanks to the generations of inbreeding that have been taking place (EPI in GSDs is a classic example).

      A higher puppy price absolutely does NOT have a direct correlation to a decrease in likelihood of medical issues. Yet another way people are duped into thinking they need to be rich to have a dog. Look at all the people buying English bulldogs or Frenchies and so on, which cost a fortune thanks to C sections. Think THOSE dogs won’t cost a lot at the vet? Think again! They are fraught with issues between the oddly shaped faces and bodies.

      And lots of other dogs cost $$$ too, both in initial price and later on. Danes, Dobermans, Bernese Mtn Dogs, the list goes on.

      My neighbor adopted a mutt from the North Shore Animal League 17 years ago. He only put the dog to sleep recently. Lived its life with basic exercise and on ALPO. Okay I’ll honestly say I’d have chosen a better food but wow, the dog was happy its entire life and did well right up until near the end, when renal problems took hold. The owner didn’t go to the Nth degree financially and didn’t need to. Luck? To some degree. But even if he’d had his issues a few years earlier, would he have been a cruel man for not seeking extensive and extraordinary vet care? The money saved from not doing that could go towards giving a new, healthy dog in a shelter a home. Or maybe a mixed pup from an accidental litter from a country home, or anything in between.

      Europeans who pay taxes at the rate of half, also have other values. They spend more time with family, they exercise and get out more in general, they have an innate sense of what to expect from an ANIMAL, not a “furbaby.” And many of their kennel clubs have strict rules against certain breeding practices like merle x merle breeding, sibling x sibling mating or parent x offspring, etc. Some are even incorporating the Estimated Breeding Value calculations when looking at pedigrees as a guide for mate choices. It’s had some positive results.

      If I’m going to pay more for a dog, I’d rather pay for that. The AKC never even considers making these moves under the excuse of maintaining breeder freedom.

      Freedom is not an entitlement. It has to be fought for, or earned by deeds. I don’t see that happening in a lot of cases here.

    • Reply BFANCI August 4, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      Getting into a discussion of whether one should charge more for puppies from dogs that have been shown, made Champions, and health tested versus two dogs in someones back yard is totally unequal. After nearly 30 years of breeding and showing my dogs, and seeing many examples of the backyard ones in my grooming shop (which supports my dogs), I am convinced of the BIG difference. Breed type, correct conformation, health issues, longevity, and many other factors like correct coat, healthy eyes, allergy problems, the list is long. Not to mention, WHERE was the puppy raised, wormed, given vaccinations at the correct intervals, socialized, handled by humans, and on and on. The care, effort and time spent by a good breeder is worth millions to a family dog. I am pricing my pups very reasonably compared to some of my peers, but yet, they are not cheap. I use the example of would you go out and buy a Yugo or would you like a Cadillac ? I have Cadillacs 🙂

      • Reply UrbanCollieChick August 5, 2015 at 10:26 am

        The problem is BYB is a phrase created by modern times, purported by both show breeders who seem to act as if they are suddenly the only people qualified or with the right to breed dogs, and supported by AR which, ironically, can be the enemy of ALL people breeding dogs, for show, just as pets, or for other purposes such as hunting, herding, even guide dogs. It’s become a term that covers practically ANYONE not following a precise set of standards.

        Disease testing can be useful, but it’s NOT stopping the overwhelming number of problems caused by show breeding.

        What IS “correct”? Who gets to decide and why? Quite often what is considered correct is deemed worthy by a very small group of people and it becomes a nonsensical rule, damning anyone who strays from it for the sanest of reasons.

        I’m sure people here have noticed the overwhelming number of videos and articles circulating examining breeds from the 1900s as compared to today. Bullmastiffs, dachshunds, collies, dobermans, GSDs certainly, and the list goes on. TONS of these dogs are being pushed to ridiculous limits in terms of exaggeration. And it’s ALL being dubbed “correct.” And a lot of these changes are if anything, DETRIMENTAL to the health and longevity of these dogs.

        Correct coat. Labradors can pop up in black and tan, and rhodesian ridgebacks occasionally have liver & tan. GSDs were once brindle ( and no I’m not referring to Dutch shepherds, I know the difference). These are all perfectly fine colors, but you won’t find them allowed in the show ring because alas, they are not “correct.” It’s not that there’s anything wrong with them. They don’t have the health risks associated with merle, which is considered correct and in fact, is so desirable that many SHOW breeders have performed the unscrupulous act of breeding merle dogs together!

        Sidebar: BTW I’m the first to say show breeders are not guilty of this alone. Yes, an amateur who hasn’t done their research can inadvertently make the same mistake, and breeders of Australian Koolies – a working breed/type not recognized by any kennel club for the ring – are doing this in spades!!!

        Quite frankly, the more I speak to people the more I come across folks who got a dog, mix or breed, from some person just down the road a piece, who simply bred their dog to another dog, and the puppies came out fine and actually were well tempered and without exaggeration and lived long wonderful lives with families.

        This is the way it’s been done for quite some time, before the word BYB came to be.

        Championship. What does that really mean to the average family? What does it get them? That “CH” in front of a long pompous name on a piece of paper means absolutely nothing to anyone but someone in the show circle. It means someone was dubbed of better “type” based upon show rules than some other dogs in the same breed. And that type is, frankly, based more and more on whimsy than ever before. What becomes HOT in the ring frequently is not the way it was, is not the way it ever USED to be, and serves no real purpose.

        I see how the “type” of the border collie has changed thanks to show breeders. It’s become an uptight, rigid standard that has absolutely nothing to do with any practical purpose. The ACD has become a sausage dog right along with the labrador, and many of them, in attempts to change them, have developed terrible temperaments. Not just sharp but downright nasty.

        Yugo vs Cadillac? The ridiculousness of that comparing biological beings with their complexities to cars with a basic assembly plan notwithstanding, Cadillacs are not such well made cars. They are luxury items that had a name that used to mean something. But as with many cars today, they no longer stand up to their old reputation; yet another American car frequently encountering more and more problems. They are mere status symbols but are a charade. Perhaps this comparison by a show person really symbolizes what show people continue to dupe themselves into believing, that they are breeding a superior “product” when in fact the item before them is falling apart.

  • Reply How much does a puppy cost? Purchase price, adoption fees, discounts, expensive puppies, cheap puppies, and a bunch of other words. | Ruffly Speaking June 26, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    […] (This article is from 2008: For my most current article on puppy cost, please check out WHY DO PUPPIES COST SO MUCH.) […]

  • Reply JR August 1, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    I completely get the “you get what you pay for” idea and that why it costs so much. My problem with breeders and the cost is the near impossibility to get in touch with them and how rude they have all been. If I go into a dealer ship to spend 45K on a new car instead of 20K on a used one and the sales man tells me to fill out a loan application before he’ll even tell me if the car I want is available, let alone answer a single question, then I leave and take my business else where. Unfortunately, with good breeders few and far between they seem to have come to the conclusion they can be rude because the customer has no where else to go. It’s disgusting. I have contacted so many breeders and simply asked if they have any litters planned in the near future so I know if it’s worth my time to fill out an application, and they tell me they can’t answer without one. It’s stupid, then they say it takes then a long time to respond because they are so busy. Wouldn’t it be easier to answer the question instead of wasting everyone’s time with the application when you might not even have what the buyer wants. Not to mention I’m sick to death of giving out all of my personal info and filing out applications to be told the next litter isn’t planned yet or none available. I wish I could find a breeder with manners. And let’s be honest here, 1 litter a year let’s say you get 5 dogs, then you charge $3K each, that’s $15K per year you breed Don’t tell me your aren’t making any money here, I know what it costs to have a dog even with food and vet bills, $15K would cover the life of the dogs you breed easily, meaning the 2nd or 3rd time they are breed is all profit. So far, my experience with breeders had made me want to give up and find a rescue or even roll the dice and take my chances with a less reputable breeder. I think that is sad that you all are discouraging regular people from buying properly breed dogs.

    • Reply UrbanCollieChick August 3, 2015 at 12:18 pm

      My experience has been that a lot of breeders insist upon non-refundable deposits and make you pick puppies at a mere four weeks of age, which is a little early to really assess true personality or anything else that may make a good match for a family. And oh, if you’re not happy with that there’s a list of people waiting. Can we say “sales pressure?”

      This seems to be a way of combatting the risk of people backing out supposedly, and being left with puppies underfoot that are 8 weeks old. And then, if they aren’t sold soon, before you know it you have a bunch of 12 week olds and on my, at that age they are over the hill and soo hard to sell.

      IOW, these lovely breeders really just want their money in hand and the dogs out from underfoot.

      Which is a lovely attitude to have when you claim to “love the breed.”

      This isn’t just something that happened to me once. This has happened to me and others I know, many times. It’s rather commonplace, including among people that show and do disease testing.

      What’s really ridiculous is if the breeder really has those other people waiting in the wings, then that’s equivalent to a backup list. And guess what? Those people often ARE the backup list. So the breeder not only can make money just on the sales price, but from time to time, on additional deposits by people who decided the deal wasn’t the greatest.

      I can understand that a breeder may not have what someone is looking for because nature is not following a business plan. If someone wants a calmer dog, a dog of a certain gender or color, and the litter isn’t even on the ground and people are asking, well, you CAN’T guarantee anything. Naturally!

      I wouldn’t even be offering any money then. But I do believe in preliminary research on who breeds for what and establishing a relationship.

      And again, paying $3K doesn’t necessarily mean you get what you pay for. You can have a dog given all the available test for illnesses a breed is prone to, and it may still come down with something. Because 1. These breeds are very interrelated and that can cause health issues. 2. Most health problems don’t have tests for them anyway. 3. A lot of costly breeds are breeds where you’re just asking for trouble, such as with English bulldogs. 4. Temperament….it’s never a guarantee.

      That last one is why I hate any form of a guarantee/warranty on a puppy contract. You simply cannot guarantee living things. And by the time a lot of these issues happen, the family is attached.

      • Reply Joanna Kimball August 3, 2015 at 6:50 pm

        I have absolutely no idea what breeders you have dealt with, but that is categorically not the way good breeders work. In fact, show breeders would NEVER even LET you pick a puppy at four weeks. That’s before evaluations and therefore before we know which puppies are show/pet/performance. And as for puppies being harder to sell at 12 weeks? Never. If anything, they become more expensive as they grow.

        Seriously, I can’t even go on to answer the rest of what you’re saying because you are so obviously not in the galaxy of good breeders that anything else is just going to be “Yeah, you had that experience because you didn’t go to a good breeder.”

        • Reply UrbanCollieChick August 3, 2015 at 7:55 pm

          These were show breeders. Believe me.

          And they were already making their assessments. Sometimes they would keep one already assessed early on. Other times they were trying to push an owner to show a dog or at least title it in something, or perhaps even consider a co ownership.

          But even if a number of breeders who show dogs do not work this way, it doesn’t make anything else I said any less true.

  • Reply UrbanCollieChick August 5, 2015 at 10:29 am

    P.S. When I said “They don’t have the health risks associated with merle, which is considered correct and in fact, is so desirable that many SHOW breeders have performed the unscrupulous act of breeding merle dogs together!” I meant to add that merle is correct for many other breeds like collies and Australian Shepherds.

    I leave you this. One of those many circulating items asking why have things changed?

    http://imgur.com/gallery/YxodC

  • Reply beltrams August 24, 2015 at 1:29 am

    It is indeed very interesting what has happened to puppy procurement and dog ownership in the US over the past few decades. In short it’s gotten very expensive and surprisingly elitist.

    The longer answer is that things have indeed changed as Joanna said. Middle class breeders have gone away – pushed out actually by a variety of circumstances. Breeders raise very elite, selected puppies for top dollar and even rescue organizations now have long adoption application forms, often demanding authorizations for surprise home visits months or even a year after the adoption, and so on. I suppose that some of all of this is good in that it cuts down on casual dog ownership, especially now since so many households have nobody home all day anymore. That and yards (if any) are much smaller, road traffic and other hazards are much greater, and so on. Everything seems to be conspiring to make dog ownership for the non-specialist, average person less and less possible.

    I myself grew up in the 1970s in a town of 13,000 people that had almost 1300 registered dogs. Dogs were everywhere. Six out of the eight homes on my street had a dog. When I was in elementary school, it wasn’t uncommon for 5 or 6 dogs to walk to school with the kids and then find their way back home themselves after the kids went to class. For the sake of the dogs I don’t want to go back to *that*, but I don’t want dog ownership to be the sole province of the very rich or otherwise very elite person (meaning dog show or breeder specialist) either.

    By way of comparison, I have some acreage and was thinking of getting a family dairy cow and, because we don’t need a huge milk producer, I was thinking of a Jersey and very likely, one of the up and coming mini-Jersey cows because they eat so much less and give less milk. Well, a decent full-sized, registered Jersey will run $800 to $1200 and a mini, because they are relatively scarce and in demand – a registered mini-Jersey can run $2000 to $3000, but in my mind, that’s perfectly acceptable because a cow can throw, at best, one calf a year, and obviously, it may well throw a male so increasing the supply of minis would take some time. Bitches, however, can throw half a dozen or more pups a year. Cows likewise have *lots* of genetic testing and breed, sire/dam selection analysis. Heck, there’s even sexed semen available now, but I suspect that if cows could birth 6 calves a year, even the mini-Jerseys wouldn’t be anywhere near as expensive as $2500 each.

    While I’m glad dog shelters kill less animals than years ago, I am not sure this new dog world of highly selective testing and breeding is producing dogs that are any healthier than years ago.

    I suspect that we humans are grossly over-thinking dog breeding and ownership these days, simply because we can.

    • Reply UrbanCollieChick September 8, 2015 at 5:44 pm

      Good points all Beltrams. I’ll add too, that I spent this Labor Day weekend visiting a friend in Johnsonburg NJ, a tiny town just a stone’s throw from Blairstown and Frelinghuysen. Very Germanic, lots of old farms, as well as some of the more show doggish folks in touch with the elitist. It’s an interesting place. If elitists are near it’s because the remote and simple qualities of the area attract a lot of well-off people who seek out peace and quiet and simplicity; a down home environment.

      We spoke of some breeders we know in the area of different dogs. We discussed breeds we liked. She said she liked Bernese Mountain dogs and knew a well reputed breeder somewhere in the area. She leaned in and said “The pups cost $3,000!”

      To which I replied “And to think, they have so many problems now. Like a lot of cancer.”

      Why would anyone want to pay $3K for a dog so prone to cancer? It’s not unusual at all for these dogs to die before age 10.

      From http://www.bmdca.org/health/diseases.php

      “In the 2005 BMDCA Health Study, 67% of all dogs that died succumbed to some form of cancer. ”

      There are problems going on today far beyond what buying from a “reputable breeder” can do. All these breeders do is follow the standard recommendations of using the few disease tests available. There are still far too few encouraged to break from the closed gene pool train. I’m glad that at least Joanna has no general problems with crossbreeding but the idea needs to be spread far and wide. Breeders seem to care far more about breeder “rights” than the health and future of dogs. When you have all your “rights” that means you have the right to use outdated, mythological misguided “knowledge” of genetics, and make your mistakes the hard way. The dogs are the ones who suffer for it.

  • Reply Elaine Oakes August 31, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    If any potential buyers read this, I have one more warning. This was on the local TV news consumer help segment a few months ago.
    A young woman wanted an English Bulldog puppy and looked on the internet. She found a very nice looking one for about $500.00 and thought that was reasonable (the price would be a very big red flag for anybody with a little experience). She sent her money and waited for instructions about picking the pup up at the airport. She never got instructions, and the seller strung her along for a while. When she contacted the reporter, he checked the website and got in touch with the seller. He finally got a home address, but when a reporter from another station checked it out, the homeowner didn’t have dogs and had never heard of the puppy seller. She started out annoyed with the reporter but then put the blame on the culprit.
    Bottom line, the puppy as advertised didn’t exist. The photo (which was of a quality pup) was lifted off somebody else’s website.

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