The Cost of a Litter


Purchasing a puppy is a big investment but is just a fraction of the cost of providing him or her with high quality food, regular Veterinary care as well as all the things needed to keep them happy and healthy for a lifetime. Much consideration should be given if you will have the financial means to provide your best friend with the best of care for their life time that can be between 10 - 15+ years.

I have been asked through the years why puppies sell for what they do and told that breeders must make lots of money on litters.  My answer is different parts of the country charge different prices based on things such as stud fees, veterinary costs, expenses as well as availability of puppies. Also, the quality of the parents including show records, titles and amount of health testing they have had and record as a producer is a consideration. 

All the puppies deserve to be outstanding specimens of the breed with the best chance of living long and healthy lives be they destined to have "careers" as show, performance or companion dogs. 

I will give you an idea of some of the costs involved with breeding a litter by a reputable breeder to produce the next generation who will be as nice or nicer then the parents.  Costs below is for the NJ area and for the most part the East Coast.

First, there is the cost of obtaining the best future mother in terms of her quality, pedigree and potential to produce the healthiest puppies possible. Prices range between $3500.00 - $5000.00. for a show potential puppy depending on the part of the country they come from.

To show a dog to their championship costs on average of $1500.00 and up. Add another $500. - $2000.00 to make them a Grand Champion.

Personally I take advantage of testing or checking my dogs for any and every test available to know what is behind my dog and lines and to see if they are clear or may be carriers for any genetic problem we have tests for. To have all the clearances and tests done costs approximately $1000 - $1500.00 over the life time of the dog.

Once pedigrees are studied and the stud dog is checked for compatibility, record of having great health as well in the 3 generations behind him, the female is taken to the Veterinarian for health check & Brucellosis testing ($500.00 bloodwork & check up & $120.00 additional for Brucellosis).

Then there is the stud fee ranging from $2500.00 - $3500.00 depending on factors such as show and producing records.  If the breeding will be by chilled or frozen semen add another $1000.00 for two breedings. For natural breeding costs for gas, travel, hotels, boarding, etc. need to be added.

Once the breeding has taken place, an ultrasound ($150.00 + $56.00 visit fee) is done around day 30 to confirm pregnancy. If all goes well the next expense is for an x-ray ($160.00 + $55.00 visit) towards the end of the pregnancy to count puppies so you have an idea of what to expect and to anticipate if there is a problem during the whelping. If using a service (Whelp Wise) to monitor the well being of the developing puppies during the pregnancy and whelping, add several more hundred dollars.

After the litter is delivered either naturally or if problems arise by C-section ($1000.00 - $2000.00) it is back to the Veterinarian for a post-whelping check-up and injection of medication to make sure nothing was left behind in her uterus. I just had one who had post whelping complications & x-rays, blood work, surgery, medications & office visit fees are already over $2000.00.

When the puppies are 2 -3 days old they are off to the Veterinarian to have dew claws removed ($40.00 per puppy + $56.00 visit fee).  
And then before the puppy leaves for their new home, first vaccinations and worming if needed ($55.00 office visit + $40.00 and up per puppy).

Think that is all?  During the last weeks of her pregnancy and during the time she is nursing the puppies, she will consume 5 x or more the amount of high quality food she would normally eat. I feed them
every 4 hours around the clock so they have enough high quality milk and also are not "skin & bones" once the puppies are weaned. This doesn't include additional fresh chicken, hamburger, cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, supplements, etc. given to provide her the extra nutrition and calories she needs to grow the healthiest puppies.

I am not even counting the "extras" needed to whelp and raise the litter. A new whelping box just cost me $249.00, pens were almost $400.00 and supplies another $300.00. Disposable pads, cleaning supplies, etc. add another few hundred dollars. Did I mention litter registration fees?  How about all the hours taken off from work to make sure I am there for the whelping and for the first 2 weeks of the puppies life. 
During the whelping which consists of up to 24 hours of stage one labor, you are up as the female is restless and needs constant attention. Then this is followed by the actual whelping that usually begins in the  late evening and goes on until early in the morning. Talk about sleep deprivation! 

Done right, breeding a litter of beautiful and healthy puppies is a labor of love and not a profit making venture. This is the only way I will breed & why I do so infrequently!


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