Original website address: http://www.geocities.com/learntobreed/costs.html
Many people believe that by breeding their bitch they can make a bit of money. Let's say that you may have 8 puppies that you can sell for $500 each. Wow - that's $4000, and you haven't even had to do anything except own the bitch!
The objective of this page is to provide a sort of reality check on the cost associated with having a litter. The vast majority of breeders do not make money from breeding litters. And it's not because they are bad at managing money. It's because raising a good litter costs money, and raising a disastrous litter takes even more money.
These are some of the costs that you will have to budget for:
- stud fee
- Whelping box, heat pads, heat lamps, thermometer, scissors, towels, baby scales, tweezers, hemostats, baby suction bulb
- milk replacement formula and/or goats milk, baby bottles, tubes for tube feeding, sterilising solution, nail clippers
- puppy wormer (2,4,6,& 8 weeks), puppy diarrhea medicine
- food - a pregnant female may need up to four times what she normally eats, and a nursing female will also need a lot of food. Puppies also eat much more food than what you would think
- eye certification - done at 7 weeks
Here are some of the hidden and not so hidden costs that you may not have thought about:
So you've read all this and you figure, heck I don't need all that stuff, I can do this cheaper! Well, yes you can. You might buy a few of these things listed above and never use them. Bravo for you. Unfortunately Murphy's law seems to strike, and whatever you don't have, that's what you'll need in the middle of the night.
- vet checks and health tests to make sure that the bitch is ok to be mated and whelp
- lots of extra washing for bedding in whelping box
- emergency vet trips (invariably late at night)for the emergency c-section
- emergency vet trips to save a dying pup
- time off from work that you need to take to help the bitch and to make sure that no puppies get squashed, etc - allow at least 5 days off work for this
- vet visit and antibiotics for the bitch for such things as mastisis
- advertising to sell puppies
- lots of phone calls to and from interested and not so interested puppy buyers
Ok, you're still not convinced that there isn't some money to be made in this breeding caper. So let's do some sums.
Let's assume that you have a breed that averages 8 puppies per litter that sell for $500 each - ok, many smaller breeds never have this many puppies, but let's stick with this example.
Let's look at the costs:
Okay, now go back through the list and work out, realistically, how many pups you need to breed from a litter so that you just break even. 12 - maybe. And of course, for those of us that have bred litter with that many pups know exactly how much extra work that is, especially if the bitch is not a great mum, and only has 8 working tits.
- stud fee - usually equivalent to the cost of one pup
- neonatal deaths - average 25% per litter - ok so let's say you lose two pups here (this means that so far after the stud fee, we only really have 5 left that we can sell to make money from)
- vaccinations, worming, eye certifications - that adds up to another pup (of course, you can save money by ignoring these important steps)
- food - extra food for bitch, and then food for puppies until the age of 8 weeks - that's half a pup
- emergency vet vists to try and save the dying pup, or the emergency c-section on the mum - maybe both! - that's at least one pup, and more likely two. Let's say 1 and a half pups.
- Health checks on the bitch prior to whelping - checks for hd, annual eye certifications, thyroid checks, etc - that's another pup (but if you want to cut corners and ignore these very important checks you can save money here)
- Advertising the litter and answering numerous phone calls - that's half a pup
- Time off taken from work to whelp litter - that's at least one pup, more likely two, and in some cases, equivalent to the total selling price of whole litter. Let's say one and a half pups.
- Breeder support - for the life of the pup a good breeder will be there to take back those pups whose owners can no longer keep them. Also a good breeder will keep in regular contact with her puppy owners. Let's be really conservative here and say, that's the cost of just one pup.
- And you want to keep one pup for yourself, so you can't sell that one.
Do you think I'm being pessismistic?
Well, this is the unfortunate reality of life. Breeding dogs is not a profit making venture for many breeders.
For those of you who think that you could breed a healthy litter of purebred pups, that come from champion parents, raised in a family environment in the house, provide life time breeder support, and still think you can make money out of this, please email me urgently - I need to know how you do it!
In all seriousness, raising the vast majority of litters is a labour of love. If you are about to breed your first litter I can guarantee you the following:
- You will never make as much money out of it than you thought you would. Actually it is more than likely that you won't even break even
- You will spend a large portion of the first couple of weeks of the puppies' lives awake, and you will not get much sleep
- If you've never assisted in the whelping of a litter before - you will find it significantly harder than what you thought it was
Yes, when I bred my first litter I could see that I was going to make money from the venture. I now encourage you to read the story of Bliss and find out not only how many thousand dollars I lost, and how I lost all the puppies, but also how emotionally damaging it was to me.
Now, I know better. Please learn from my mistakes, and the mistakes of many other breeders out there. Don't enter into the dog breeding business to make money. It is truly a labour of love, and it should never be seen as being a "hobby".