Thinking Puppy? The Truth Behind Professional Breeders

Paws For A Minute® - Puppy Series: What goes into the cost of a well-bred pup?

Ready for a new puppy? Many people break down their search by picking their breed first. Lab, German Shepherd Dog or Poodle, whatever your fancy all can be found on the internet. Remember though, not all pure bred dogs are well-bred!

All pure breeds can be found in the shelter and/or breed rescues. Often healthy fabulous dogs can be found in every city. Sometimes it may take a bit of research, calls or asking veterinary staff but rescuing a desired pure breed dog is possible. If you choose to find a professional breeder on on-line beware, not all breeders are reputable.

The show breeders often do not advertise and the professional breeders can be mixed in with other puppy mill type breeders. The best thing to do is have knowledge about your chosen breed, call and ask questions and ask then to email OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certificates or ratings of the parents of the litter, etc. 

While researching this entire  I found that backyard breeders often do not do health testing on their breeding dogs, which translates to potential un-known heredity issues within the litter. Many breeders can have registered dogs and even pedigree’s but they are breeding potential heath issues such as hip dysplasia.

Every breed has a club which votes in members. These people show in confirmation agility and or obedience and have strict guidelines to their breeding protocols. Usually show dog people who have mastered their breed, gained championships and decided to breed. They are in the business of selective breeding and often keep what they want out of the litter and sell the rest. If you fall into this category of wanting a show puppy, then it’s really important to know what you’re buying and why?

Professional breeders distinguish themselves from other “backyard” breeders in that they show their dogs to champions in the confirmation rings. This is a very time consuming hobby and many championships take years. Often health tests on their breeding dogs are done before any litter is produced. Oddly enough, health testing is not a requirement to showing or breeding a show dog, but most do.  The mission for breeders (in general) is to better their “chosen” breed, so most will. The great thing is that health testing usually comes with certificates and paperwork which you (as the buyer) can ask to see. Professional breeders usually do not breed often and are extremely selective on who gets their puppies. 

So what goes into the cost of these pricey pups? I found a very interesting article written by professional breeder Bill Burns, who breaks down his costs involved in breeding a pedigree’d dog. I called him and asked if I could re-publish his article to help prospective puppy buyers understand what goes into a cost of a high-priced pup. Here’s what Bill had to say..

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How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?

written by Bill Burns /The Kennel At Burns Gardens -Golden Retrievers and Havanese

Searching the web for a pedigree’d pup that’s produced by a professional breeder is a different experience and takes a bit of knowledge to understand all the lingo. To find the good ones and really understand what you are actually buying, other than just a cute puppy.  Not unlike other important life oriented decisions like buying a home, having a child, or even buying a car, a dog comes with a 14 year or more commitment and possibly heath issues.

Many people ask me where the best place to get a puppy from is and my answer varies depending on their lifestyle. The shelter is always filled with wonderful dogs. Each breed usually has a rescue that’s easily found on the web. However, some people want to get a purebred pup from a professional breeder, and that’s okay too, if you know why you want to pay thousands of dollars for a dog and why, what to look out for… hence my desire to write this article!

In the first article, I took a three year time frame that started during the year 2006 and ended in 2009.  For this study, for convenience, I used calendar years.  I also wanted to have some overlap between the studies so that any remarkable changes (like the cost of dog food) would be tempered.  So I used the three year calendar period from 2009 to 2012.  The number of Havanese puppies produced here during that first three year period was 38.  In the most recent three year period the number of puppies produced was 28.     

During each of these periods we paid for vet fees, medicines, wormers, vaccines, progesterone testing,  flea prevention, health testing (Baer Hearing, Bile acid, Cerf for eyes, OFA Patella, OFA Cardiac, OFA Thyroid, OFA Hips, LCP and Elbows), stud fee, semen storage, AKC and CKC registrations and pedigrees, DNA kits, Microchips, vaccines and progesterone testing.  We paid a total of $45,326.64 for those kinds of things during the earlier time period.  During this past three years, we paid a total of $34,924.92.   The breakdown during this most recent period was $24,113.97 for Veterinarian fees; $5,363.01 for medicines, $3,057.44 for health testing, $2,390.50 for AKC and CKC registrations, fees and supplies like Microchips.

Divided equally among the 38 puppies produced in the earlier period the average cost for those things was $1,192.81 per puppy.  For the latest period, the average cost for Veterinarian fees and related items was $1,247.32 per puppy.

Oxytocin And Dog Training: Owner Rehab

Paws For A Minute® Inspiration 

It’s the cuddle chemical and it’s findings have forged studies for decades. You know, oxytocin it’s the human brain and stimulant that emotes empathy, trust and of course, the hug. Dog’s provide this in massive quantities for owners and all dog owners definitely understand this high.

The wet nose, the unconditional hello, the crazy tail wag and total excitement to see you creates a feeling in us that is fantastic for our well being.  It’s the cuddle chemical in our brain that is evident with pets and it mirrors the same bond that baby have with their mothers. That powerful punch that creates the warm fuzzy feeling of euphoria. The love drug.

So can training your dog actually make you feel better after a bad day? Actually, yes.

As a matter of fact, oxytocin levels probably remain higher and longer with the tail wagging family members then with some others. As a dogs life span averages over a decade, dog ownership can this carry this particular confection of brian chemistry into addiction. Puppy love can outlast some marriages, and trump the endorphins required to endure long days at the office. So if you want to feel better after a long day, get the leash, your dog and practice a few sits, a stay, or even the come command. End the commands with eye contact and the word “okay” and watch the love and happiness pour out of both of you!

The prime ingredient: a leash, a great walk, a few commands and an occasional cookie. What more could you ask for?

* Not to be confused with oxycontin which might be needed if your dog doesn’t get trained to ease the pain of the destruction and doggie demolition that could occur.