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Costs Involved with Raising a Litter!

Information for breeders and clients


    I am asked quite often why puppies cost as much as they do. There are breeders out there that sell their puppies anywhere from $500 to $5000. So, why do some breeders charge more than other breeders for their puppies? Part of the problem is we have such a range of what people do while raising their puppies. Thier are some people who basically throw two dogs together, that do not care at all about their dogs and do nothing but the bare minimum while raising them many of these are puppy mills, then there are breeders like us that go above and beyond, making sure we have the best lines, health, Temperaments and so much more. 


This is an average of the base expenses that you will see in a well-run breeding program. This obviously will change due to where you live due to vet and supply costs being different in different places, but this will give you an idea. 


I will be doing this chart based on my breed, but this will vary within different breeds. Inflation, etc.


First you have initial costs before you even breed: 

Cost of a breeding Dog: 

Most breeders will find breeding dogs from breeders that already do health testing on their adults, due to this the cost of a breeding dog is more expensive. A breeder will pay for the puppy price plus a breeding fee. This ranges quite a lot in price. I have seen puppies from health tested parents with breeding rights range from $3000 to $15000. 


Cost of Feeding per year: 

Average cost of good quality food is $50-$85 per bag per adult per week and per ill average $75. this also depends on breed of dog plus, taxes. If we assume one bag per week, that equals around $3900 per year in food costs per adult. Plus $200 per year for vitamin supplements. 


Vet Care Per Year:

Vet Care includes vaccinations, deworming, flea and tick preventative. If there is no other treatments necessary (such as ear infections, injuries, etc.) this cost will come to around $400 per year per adult. But obviously could get much higher.

Exercise and Waste Disposal

The adults must take out and socialized 4 times a week minimum for general health. including parks and stores this takes gas and disposal bags. and when home the amount of waste can grow fast so you must have proper disposal for waste in your area. and keep this area disinfected such as yard and home. some have kennels and these take a lot of work and specialized disposal for the building and sanitary equipment for the bedding areas. you're looking at cost from $1000 to thousands a year. 


Health Testing: 

Health Testing for every breed is different, but just doing Hip and Elbow Testing and breed specific DNA's, you are going to pay around $1000. If you do eyes, patellas and other blood panels it can get upwards of $2000 and registering it with OFA.

Personal Training 

Take breeding and whelping courses. as well as courses understanding your breed and the needs of the dog this help to inform you customers with up-to-date information. keep yourself educated about your breed of dog this is helpful for your clients and yourself for issues and traits. and of course, helping the whelping mother even if you are using a veterinarian for the whelping of the mother.


Therefore, if we add these all up, we are looking at between $7200 to $20200 plus.  for the breeding dog before you even breed them (Let's assume around 2 years old. But, if we say on average, we are probably looking at around $12000 (although I have had expenses well above this). 


Then we will go through the cost of raising a litter. Our average litter is 8 puppies, so we will base it off 8 puppies. 


Breeding Misc costs:

Progesterone Testing: $120 to $600 

Brucellosis Testing: $150

Ultrasound: $100

X-ray: $120

Stud Fee: $2000 to $6000 if used per tie.

Cost of supplies needed before breeding:

Whelping Bed: $1250 (Can be used for several litters)

Kuranda Bed: $160 (Can be reused for several litters)

Towels, blankets, whelping pads: $600 (Can be used for a couple litters)

Toys and Treats: $200 (Can be used for a couple litters)

Whelping supplies: $300 (New things each litter)


Training Supplies:
Crates for crate training: $500 (Can be used for several litters)
Litter Boxes: $100 (Can be used for a couple litters)

litter pads for bathroom training $80


Then when the puppies arrive:

Dewormer: $35-$50 per puppy by veterinarian every 2 weeks for 8 weeks $400

Food: $420

Milk Replacer: $200

Pellets for Litter Box: $240

Microchips: $380

Health Exam: $400

Vaccination: $380

NuVet Vitamins: $80

Fecal Tests: $500

Heart worm, Flea and Tick Preventative: $200

Gas for getting them used to the car and vet trips: $100

Laundry Soap, Cleaners, Disinfectants, Paper Towels: $200

Puppy Packages (harness, leash, small bag of food, toys, blanket, etc.) : $1200 to $2000

AKC Registration $340

AKC Breeder of Heart Certification $45 

AKC Prepaid Registration Fee $385

AKC Folders Each Puppy $10

AKC Microchip Lifetime Reunite Registration Fee $45 Per Puppy $280

Electric and water for laundry of puppy bedding 3 times a day for 8 weeks $180

Puppy I.D. collars $40


For a total litter cost of: $8660-$10897 plus

​$1410 of which is good for up to 3 litters before needing to be replaced, so each litters cost will be around $7250 min.



So, if we assume that everything goes well and no C-Section ($1500-$3000), no injuries ($200-$1000), no supplementing ($100-$300 per puppy), or any other unforeseen issues. The cost of raising one litter once you pay for both the Dam and Sire and everything else listed, is between $20000 and $29000. With the average cost being around $23500. So, with 8 puppies in order to pay for one litter would need to be sold for $2937 each. If the Dam has 4 litters and retires at 8 years old the cost per litter would go down since you don't have to pay for the female again or the whelping bed/kuranda beds and some supplies, but all other costs remain the same. An extra cost per litter of $7250 plus food, vitamins and vet care for parents over 2 more years works out to about $8450. This would work out to a cost of $1526 per puppy. This is in a perfect world where nothing goes wrong with any of the puppies or the adult dogs. This also doesn't take into account if the adult dogs need teeth cleaning ($300), ear infection treatment ($50), have any extra vet cares for anything (potentially 1000's). This also doesn't account for when you have a female or male that doesn't pass their health testing and you have to start all over with a new male or female or a female that can't get pregnant for some reason or a female that loses their litter. This at minimum will cost $2500 for what you have put into them beyond their initial cost, even though they won't be able to have any puppies. But, in many cases will cost much more. 


Obviously, some of these costs will go down as you have been breeding longer, since a male dog can be bred to more than one female and some supplies will last longer than four litters. Also a breeder that has been breeding for a long time will have lower costs for breeding dogs as they go simply because they will keep puppies back from their own breeding programs, so will only be loosing the pet price on those dogs. But, other costs will go up and are not accounted for in this article, including treats for parent dogs, toys for parent dogs, beds for parent dogs, any injuries, infections or other miscellaneous vet care and much more. 


Another thing to consider is the fact that raising puppies takes a lot of time. I know for myself, I do not leave the house in the first 2 weeks, as i want to monitor them and avoid things like the puppies being laid on, injuries, etc. I am up with the mother hand delivering the puppies, which usually lasts about 12 hours. After that for the first week, I am weighing puppies daily, spending time doing early neurological stimulation, washing their whelping pads and whelping area and much more. After the first week, I am weighing puppies weekly, puppy photoshoots weekly (which takes more time to do each week), videos, cleaning their area a few times a day, disinfecting daily, Early Neurological Stimulation then Rule of Seven Socializations, among other socialization, litter training them, crate training them. If the weather is good, outings outside. All of this takes time. I probably spend an average of 224 hours just in the things I have to do with the puppies (since i won't count just time playing with them). Then on top of that I spend many hours emailing families, talking to them on the phone and meeting with them in my house to visit their puppy. Then after the puppy goes home, there is also many times that I will be emailing or talking to families on the phone and sometimes visiting them in their home. Just for the emails, phone calls and visits alone before they leave my house, I probably spend on average 6 hours per family (many times more than this). Working out to 48 hours per litter or more. If I charged myself out at $15 an hour, that would be $3360 per litter. And lets face it, $15 and hour would not be a fair wage for what most breeders do. And this is being on call all the time and not being able to go on vacations with your family because it is hard to find someone knowledgeable to watch puppies. This also does not account for the time that a good breeder spends in constant research ensuring they are up to date with all the latest studies and research to keep their dogs healthy and happy. I know for myself, I have spent countless hours doing research on anything and everything that has to do with my breed. It is also very important to note that many breeders do not have another job, as it is difficult to get the time off a full time job to dedicate the time needed to raise a litter of puppies and take care of the adults. i am fortunate to have a farm to raise some healthier food items for my dogs and other incomes that allow to me offset most expenses and provide other services that we offer including discounts and donations of some of our wonderful dogs. 


I also have extra expenses myself for a variety of other things.

 These things include:

24-hour live cams $480

subscription cost for live camera $65 per year

web site subscription, design, updates and domain cost $600 plus per year

web site ecommerce 8% per transaction

county tax 3% sale

card fees we pay 3% per Transaction.

Cameras to monitor puppies when I am not home. ($100's)

Extra data on my phone for using the cameras remotely.

Computer for the business

Printer and Papper ours is commercial.

Software for Pictures and Quickbooks Software

Accounting costs

Costs of hiring people to help with puppies time to time

Camera for pictures

Air purifier for puppies

Props for pictures

Extra supplements for my females after they have their puppies

And many other things

Overall, nobody that is breeding correctly and for the love of the breed and preservation is doing it to make huge amounts of money. I hope that those that have great breeding programs do eventually make money, as they work extremely hard and sacrifice a lot to produce exceptional puppies. Being a breeder is hard work, it is stressful, exhausting and can be frustrating dealing with public perception, but all of those things don't matter when you see the puppies you produce in loving homes, with great families that you spend hours screening. It is amazing how you can have a horrible day and go over to the area your litter of puppies are in and lay down and let them crawl all over you and all of a sudden you can't even remember why you were having a bad day. Or you see a child or adult that has struggled with different issues, and you watch as your puppy has brought them out of heartache and pours happiness into their lives. That is why I am a dog breeder and preserve this wonderful breed there is nothing I would rather do! 

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