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My sister in law (14) is doing a project on responsible breeding VS puppy mill breeding. Im not sure of the specifics but she asked me to find out the cost needed to start a breeding program, broken down, then when you have and whelp a litter the cost of that compared to what you would sell them for etc. Thanks to all who answer... im proud of her!
 

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Anyone? :/
 

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My sister in law (14) is doing a project on responsible breeding VS puppy mill breeding. Im not sure of the specifics but she asked me to find out the cost needed to start a breeding program, broken down, then when you have and whelp a litter the cost of that compared to what you would sell them for etc. Thanks to all who answer... im proud of her!
This is such a difficult question to answer. Some people can modify a room or breezeway or attached garage as a whelping area, others might build on.

We can present what we paid for ofa's screenings, etc, but how about screening all five bitches out of a sire and dam, when you only want to breed two or three of them. The information is valuable, but you cannot set it against the actual costs of this litter.

The costs of this litter, might be considered the pre-breeding vaginal screening/brucellosis test, whelping supplies used for this litter, x-rays or ultrasound to confirm pregnancy, stud fee, food for dam and pups from pregnancy to when the pups go home, any veterinary expenses that come up, wormer and first shots for puppies, advertising expence for the litter, cell phone usage for the litter. And if you add all that up and set it against the price of the puppies times how many puppies, and you do not come out ahead, you are not a puppy mill, you are just not giving the puppies away.

But there is so much more than that in raising puppies. Dogs need to be fed all year, not just when they are lactating. Training and show fees are something you are not going to incur while she is pregnant or raising the litter, but they are essential. Providing for dogs that are not being bred, but have been returned, or did not turn out, well that is still a part of the whole picture. Dumping these dogs in pounds or on the side of the road would not make you a reputable breeder, nor would leaving them to rot in a kennel for the rest of their lives, so training and working them, etc, is also a part of the overall cost of breeding dogs. Finding them a good home might be best for everyone including the dogs, but until that happens, they need to be trained and fed and groomed and loved like all of the others.

There are so many costs, that are unseen. I have spent 20,000/year on my dogs the first five years of breeding. My one little litter does not come close to making a dent in that. If I manage to have three or four litters, I might break even. If someone manages to bring in more money than they put out breeding dogs, it does not make them a puppy mill as your post almost implies.

Whether a breeder makes a profit on dogs or not has little to do with whether they are reputable or not. If they are doing the health screenings, stand behind their dogs, train and trial their dogs, put thought into their breedings and have a breeding plan, and all their dogs are not living in poor condition, poor nutrition, poor training/socialization, etc., if they make a profit more power to them.

One needs to understand that reputable breeders put their LIFE into their work. Sometimes, that means they do this as a second job, sometimes they do it as a first job. The worker is worthy of their hire. They make themselves available to potential puppy purchasers, as well as their puppy buyers, and while we love to talk dogs, the volume of time that is at times, is certainly the equal of a second job, and sometimes like to full-time. It takes a lot of time and energy to screen potential buyers. And you cannot hang a price tag on that.

So, it is not so much we do not want to answer your question, the question is just very difficult.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you. I will forward that on to her. In no way was I implying that if you came out ahead you were a puppy mill. Maybe my question was worded wrong.
 

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As Sue indicated, this is really a much more complicated question than it appears on the surface. And also is going to vary WIDELY from dog to dog, breeder to breeder and situation to situation.

In our case, we have a dedicated room at the side of our house, right off the living room, for whelping and puppies. It is an indoor/outdoor set up with a doggy door through the exterior wall of the room to a 10x10 outdoor kennel on a raised brick patio. Cost for all that, converting a former screen porch into a room and building patio and erecting kennel was around $5000. We did all the work ourselves. If we’d hired it done it would have cost probably twice that. But while very nice to have, such a set up isn’t really needed.

Our whelping box was made by my husband out of PVC privacy fencing. About $300 in materials and hours of labor to construct it. For box, flooring and exercise pen to finish off the indoor enclosure, probably total cost around $500 and again that doesn’t include labor. A homemade wood box would have been cheaper but still for box, flooring and e-pen at least $200 or so.

Then there are all the supplies that must be on hand. Bulb syringes, thermometer, hemostats, surgical scissors, heating pads, heat lamps, dental floss, quick stop, oxytocin, syringes and needles, suture and needles, puppy ID collars, puppy feeding pans, gram scale, baby scale, laundry baskets, towels and blankets by the truckload (and laundry soap to wash them), cleaner and disinfectant. At least $200 in general whelping supplies, though of course most are reusable from litter to litter.

Not counting the dedicated room and kennel, just the whelping box and enclosure and supplies we’re at about $700 for initial investment for supplies. All stuff you need whether you’re having one litter or ten litters.

The next biggest variable is the bitch. This will vary widely as well. Does one get an adult, proven broodbitch to start with? A green dog to raise and train and title and eventually breed? Or start completely from scratch with a puppy?

We tried the adult, titled, proven broodbitch route once. $5000 for a dog, plus $900 shipping. Between stud fees, shipping to and from stud for natural breedings and also trying AI breedings (paying for semen collection, shipping, and transcervical insemination by a reproductive specialist) we racked up another $5000 or so trying to breed her 3 times. And we never got any puppies out of her. So over $10k invested for no pups at all. She ended up being spayed and becoming the couch queen. She was a fantastic dog and wonderful companion, but that’s a pretty darned expensive house pet!

We tried the adolescent green dog route twice. Both were purchased at 15 months old for $1800. Thousands more invested in the next few years raising, training, titling and health checks. One worked out and ended up becoming our foundation bitch. The other had reproductive problems and was unable to conceive a litter. $3000 or so invested in trying to breed her and then in testing to find out why she didn’t get pregnant, before she was spayed and placed with a family. So for the one, all that money and time invested paid off in puppies. For the other, thousands of dollars, years of time and lots of heartbreak over not being able to get puppies.

Then there’s going the puppy route. Cheaper initial investment, but much greater risk as to whether the puppy will develop into a good breeding candidate. Will it pass health checks? Get titled? Will adult temperament and structure and everything else be suitable for breeding? And then if yes to all that, will it be able to reproduce or will it have reproductive problems. I prefer the puppy route myself, but also accept that choosing this route means that realistically I’m going to end up washing out 2 or 3 pups for one reason or another for every 1 that turns out to be a good breeding candidate. Including one we raised and got through the whole health testing and titling process and then decided not to breed. So thousands more dollars invested in those wash outs, plus months or years of time, and again a lot of emotion and disappointment when they don’t make it. And that’s starting with well bred pups from known bloodlines who were carefully selected as possible breeding candidates from the beginning.

Many other costs can’t even be quantified. Hours spent researching pedigrees and bloodlines, not just on the internet but many hours of long distance and international phone calls as well, and the phone bills that go along with that. Trips to training and seminars and trials to see dogs in person and talk with people in person, and the gas, hotel, and other travel expenses associated with that. Bloodline research software for the computer. Kennel/breeding management software for the computer. Quarterly genetics CDs from the SV in Germany. Membership dues and training fees in various GSD and training clubs and organizations. All stuff a breeder should do IMO, but the costs of which can’t be broken down on a litter by litter basis.

And then there's the question of just general upkeep. I wouldn't consider normal feeding and vetting and all the paraphernalia that goes along with dog ownership as a true breeding cost, because we'd have dogs whether we bred them or not, so those costs are always going to be there. And in terms of general maintenance we don't do anything differently with the breeding dogs than with the non-breeding dogs. Same for training costs. We'd train and title whether we bred or not. So I don't see those really being direct breeding costs eater. What would be different is that we'd probably have fewer dogs in general to care for and train if we didn't breed. So in that sense breeding does raise the cost because it means more dogs, and doing all those things with the dogs who are retired from breeding or who were never breeding dogs in the first place, and the young dogs that will hopefully be breeding dogs in the future, as well as the actual breeding dogs themselves.
 

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Wow! This is all such interseting information. I know that breeding is expensive, but when broken down I see how much of an investment it really is.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, this is just what she was looking for, when her report is done ill post it.
As Sue indicated, this is really a much more complicated question than it appears on the surface. And also is going to vary WIDELY from dog to dog, breeder to breeder and situation to situation.

In our case, we have a dedicated room at the side of our house, right off the living room, for whelping and puppies. It is an indoor/outdoor set up with a doggy door through the exterior wall of the room to a 10x10 outdoor kennel on a raised brick patio. Cost for all that, converting a former screen porch into a room and building patio and erecting kennel was around $5000. We did all the work ourselves. If we’d hired it done it would have cost probably twice that. But while very nice to have, such a set up isn’t really needed.

Our whelping box was made by my husband out of PVC privacy fencing. About $300 in materials and hours of labor to construct it. For box, flooring and exercise pen to finish off the indoor enclosure, probably total cost around $500 and again that doesn’t include labor. A homemade wood box would have been cheaper but still for box, flooring and e-pen at least $200 or so.

Then there are all the supplies that must be on hand. Bulb syringes, thermometer, hemostats, surgical scissors, heating pads, heat lamps, dental floss, quick stop, oxytocin, syringes and needles, suture and needles, puppy ID collars, puppy feeding pans, gram scale, baby scale, laundry baskets, towels and blankets by the truckload (and laundry soap to wash them), cleaner and disinfectant. At least $200 in general whelping supplies, though of course most are reusable from litter to litter.

Not counting the dedicated room and kennel, just the whelping box and enclosure and supplies we’re at about $700 for initial investment for supplies. All stuff you need whether you’re having one litter or ten litters.

The next biggest variable is the bitch. This will vary widely as well. Does one get an adult, proven broodbitch to start with? A green dog to raise and train and title and eventually breed? Or start completely from scratch with a puppy?

We tried the adult, titled, proven broodbitch route once. $5000 for a dog, plus $900 shipping. Between stud fees, shipping to and from stud for natural breedings and also trying AI breedings (paying for semen collection, shipping, and transcervical insemination by a reproductive specialist) we racked up another $5000 or so trying to breed her 3 times. And we never got any puppies out of her. So over $10k invested for no pups at all. She ended up being spayed and becoming the couch queen. She was a fantastic dog and wonderful companion, but that’s a pretty darned expensive house pet!

We tried the adolescent green dog route twice. Both were purchased at 15 months old for $1800. Thousands more invested in the next few years raising, training, titling and health checks. One worked out and ended up becoming our foundation bitch. The other had reproductive problems and was unable to conceive a litter. $3000 or so invested in trying to breed her and then in testing to find out why she didn’t get pregnant, before she was spayed and placed with a family. So for the one, all that money and time invested paid off in puppies. For the other, thousands of dollars, years of time and lots of heartbreak over not being able to get puppies.

Then there’s going the puppy route. Cheaper initial investment, but much greater risk as to whether the puppy will develop into a good breeding candidate. Will it pass health checks? Get titled? Will adult temperament and structure and everything else be suitable for breeding? And then if yes to all that, will it be able to reproduce or will it have reproductive problems. I prefer the puppy route myself, but also accept that choosing this route means that realistically I’m going to end up washing out 2 or 3 pups for one reason or another for every 1 that turns out to be a good breeding candidate. Including one we raised and got through the whole health testing and titling process and then decided not to breed. So thousands more dollars invested in those wash outs, plus months or years of time, and again a lot of emotion and disappointment when they don’t make it. And that’s starting with well bred pups from known bloodlines who were carefully selected as possible breeding candidates from the beginning.

Many other costs can’t even be quantified. Hours spent researching pedigrees and bloodlines, not just on the internet but many hours of long distance and international phone calls as well, and the phone bills that go along with that. Trips to training and seminars and trials to see dogs in person and talk with people in person, and the gas, hotel, and other travel expenses associated with that. Bloodline research software for the computer. Kennel/breeding management software for the computer. Quarterly genetics CDs from the SV in Germany. Membership dues and training fees in various GSD and training clubs and organizations. All stuff a breeder should do IMO, but the costs of which can’t be broken down on a litter by litter basis.

And then there's the question of just general upkeep. I wouldn't consider normal feeding and vetting and all the paraphernalia that goes along with dog ownership as a true breeding cost, because we'd have dogs whether we bred them or not, so those costs are always going to be there. And in terms of general maintenance we don't do anything differently with the breeding dogs than with the non-breeding dogs. Same for training costs. We'd train and title whether we bred or not. So I don't see those really being direct breeding costs eater. What would be different is that we'd probably have fewer dogs in general to care for and train if we didn't breed. So in that sense breeding does raise the cost because it means more dogs, and doing all those things with the dogs who are retired from breeding or who were never breeding dogs in the first place, and the young dogs that will hopefully be breeding dogs in the future, as well as the actual breeding dogs themselves.
 

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If a more dollars and cents breakdown is helpful, here's one for the history of one of our broodbitches, Raven. Though again, this is going to vary widely from breeder to breeder so is hardly representative of breeders as a whole. Just one example.

Initial price: $1200 (in this case we bred her ourselves, but price still applies)

Health testing.
Hip/elbow prelims: $150 (and we get x-rays cheap compared to what most have to pay. I'd say the going rate for a set of OFAs is more about double this.)
Hip/elbow OFAs: $185
OFA DM: $65
OFA Cardiac: $35
OFA Patellas: $35
CERF: $35
Thyroid panel every couple of years: $150x2=$300 thus far
So total for health checks: $805


Titling costs. She has a slew of titles, way more than would be considered required for proving breed worthiness. As I said in the previous post, I couldn’t even quantify the thousands of dollars, or thousands of hours (time is money!), spent training to this level, or break it down on a puppy by puppy or litter by litter basis. But let’s just say it’s a LOT. All her titles represent well over $1000 just in trial entry fees alone.

So cost of one broodbitch, just in terms of purchase price, health testing and titling costs is $3000. And that doesn't include any regular upkeep of the dog for her lifetime, or any of the training that went into those titles since I only counted the actual trial entry fees. So saying $3000 is beyond being conservative.

Now for breeding. Just going off memory here so not accurate down to the last dollar, but not far off.

Litter 1 – 8 puppies

Pre breeding vet check up and brucellosis test: $100
Progesterone tests to time ovulation: 4 x $50 = $200
Stud fee: $1000
Travel to stud 300+ miles away (gas, 2 nights hotel, etc…): $300
Ultrasound to confirm pregnancy: $90
Additional food for dam for last few weeks of pregnancy and through weaning: $200
Wormer for puppies: $55
Albon for puppies: $70
Food for pups from weaning through sending home: $300
Vaccinations for pups: $75
Fecal test for pups: $50
Microchips for pups: 8 x $15 = $120
AKC registrations: $180

Total litter cost of $2740. For 8 pups equals $342.50 per pup. But none of that figures in all that went into the bitch before breeding her, or the costs of the whole puppy whelping and raising set up with whelping box and kennel and assorted supplies. That is just the costs directly attributable to this particular liter.

As far as profit. One pup given away for free. Other 7 sold for $1200 each. Total puppy income of $8400. So on paper, that shows a profit of about $5660, which comes out to around $700 per pup. Though it only appears to be profit since we're not including any of the costs that went into having a good broodbitch or the appropriate facilities for whelping and raising a litter.

But now figure in all the time. 24 hours non stop vigil for whelping. At least 2 hours per day devoted to the pups in the first 4 weeks or so until weaning, and at least double that from weaning through to when they go home, at least 3-4 hours per customer interviewing and screening them, and many more hours spent on people who didn’t make the cut to even be considered for a pup, all the pedigree research that happened prior to the breeding, 3 days out of town travelling to get the breeding done, vet visits, preparing meals for the pups and cleaning up after them, doing laundry practically around the clock, etc… In terms of dollar per man hour, we’d make more “profit” flipping burgers. If the costs of raising and maintaining the bitch for the previous years and doing everything needed to prove her breed worthy were figured in, we’d be paying them for the privilege of flipping their burgers.

Litter 2 - 12 pups.

Not going to break it all out again, but to sum up stud fee was higher, travel costs lower, costs for caring for all the pups proportionately higher as there were half again as many pups, time spent a whole LOT higher as 12 is more like having 2 litters at once and most socialization and outings had to be done twice, broken into 2 trips of 6 since 12 is just way too many pups to keep track of at one time. Kept 2 pups ourselves so no income from them. I don’t feel like doing all the math but profit would still come out to about the same in terms of per pup costs and profit.


Litter 3 - 2 pups???

We're still waiting to see if we even get 2 live pups, and this situation really illustrates the other side of breeding.

Pre breeding vet check up and brucellosis test: $100
Progesterone tests to time ovulation: 5 x $50 = $250
Stud fee: $1500
AI breeding costs as stud is 2000 miles away and stud owner decided she doesn’t want to do natural breedings with him to outside bitches any longer.
Semen collection and shipping kit: 2 x $104 = $208
Semen collection at stud’s vet: 2 x $174 = $348
Transcervical insemination at our repro vet: 2 x $272
Ultrasound to confirm pregnancy: $90
Second ultrasound to make sure she’s still pregnant: $90

Already $2858 invested. Per the most recent ultrasound, she only has 2 live pups in there. So costs are already at $1429 per puppy and we will still have all the associated care and raising costs and time coming up in the next few weeks. Plus if things don’t get a move on in the next day or two, we may be facing a c-section to the tune of another $1500 or so. Also wouldn’t be out of line to add in another $1000+ in costs for the 2 previous AI breeding attempts with the same stud (but different bitch) that produced no puppies before finally getting a breeding that took and produced this hopefully upcoming litter of 2.

Likely one pup will be given away to a close friend for free, on a co-own, and the other sold for $1500. Which means in terms of bottom line on this litter we're already taking a huge loss, and will get even deeper in the hole before it's said and done and pups go home. A whole lot deeper if a c-section is required.

Of course, a lot of corners could be cut in a lot of places. Feed cheaper food, less vet care, not registering the individual pups, not microchipping, cheaper vaccinations and wormers, etc… And using one’s own stud is the most obvious cost cutter. But as every bitch is different, her ideal breeding match is also different. Thus the chances of a breeder having a stud, or even multiple studs, that are truly good matches for all their bitches is slim and in many cases using an inhouse stud is sacrificing quality of the pups for cost and convenience.
 

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I would encourage anyone interested in doing a paper on "Puppy Mills" to also look into how the Animal Rights people are using this term to make laws that will affect all breeders, "responsible" or not. They are using that term as a Trojan Horse . Because it brings out such emotion in the general public, it is easy to manipulate using it.
 

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....Pre breeding vet check up and brucellosis test: $100
Progesterone tests to time ovulation: 5 x $50 = $250
Stud fee: $1500
AI breeding costs as stud is 2000 miles away and stud owner decided she doesn’t want to do natural breedings with him to outside bitches any longer.
Semen collection and shipping kit: 2 x $104 = $208
Semen collection at stud’s vet: 2 x $174 = $348
Transcervical insemination at our repro vet: 2 x $272
Ultrasound to confirm pregnancy: $90
Second ultrasound to make sure she’s still pregnant: $90

....$2858 invested.......add in another $1000+ in costs for the 2 previous AI breeding attempts with the same stud (but different bitch) that produced no puppies....finally getting a breeding that took and produced this hopefully upcoming litter of 2.

Likely one pup will be given away to a close friend for free, on a co-own, and the other .......
PRICELESS!:fingerscrossed: Because its mine!
 

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I would encourage anyone interested in doing a paper on "Puppy Mills" to also look into how the Animal Rights people are using this term to make laws that will affect all breeders, "responsible" or not. They are using that term as a Trojan Horse . Because it brings out such emotion in the general public, it is easy to manipulate using it.
Very very true. This term was coind by people whose belief is not that animals should be well bred and in good home but by people who's ultimate belief is that humans are a stain on the planet and this world would be better off without them.
 
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