Updated: Aug 24
I saw a catchy post on social media about why a puppy can cost thousands of dollars. It went something like this: a breeder was approached by a potential buyer who claimed her puppies cost too much money. She went on to gently educate the buyer on why a pup costs what it does. She suggested the buyer breed his own dogs. She proposed the upfront cost of the dogs to breed , then the health testing (upwards of around $1,500 each), routine veterinary care ($500-1,000 each year per dog if no unusual or unforeseen issues come up), then the cost to whelp and raise the pups too (anywhere from $1,000 to several thousands). That’s if nothing unusual comes up. The buyer decides in the end to just buy a puppy (I’ll post the actual conversation at the end).
But, that’s not it… The reality is that the buyer could go anywhere and to any breeder for their next pup. Every breeder charges a different price. Some based on the costs incurred to raise the pup and the true value behind their dogs. They may show their dogs to title them and that is a costly sport. Some may health test their parent dogs. Other breeders charge based off their perceived “market” price. Some do it right and put in a lot to breeding dogs and others do very little. That in itself is a whole another post!
I am personally approached by buyers all the time about my puppies and why they cost what they do. On my side of things, I immediately start to explain what it costs to raise dogs to maturity to become parents (keeping in mind the reality that some do not become parents and are spayed/neutered and in that event, the extra health testing and costs may have been for nothing). Then, I explain the cost of raising and rearing puppies properly, more than just “adequate”, so they can go to new homes. Of course, this is the bulk of what costs so much, increasing the price tag on my puppies. That’s still not the real reason behind the price tag though.
Specifically, let’s talk about our mission at Agape Standard Poodles. Our mission is to provide incredible companions to those who need them , from health tested and titled parents. One of our primary goals is to produce service dog prospect puppies, which we have been successful at doing for many years. A service puppy’s training can cost thousands of dollars, sometimes as much as a vehicle. These pups are trained specifically for their human handler and his/her needs. Several thousands of hours are put into each dog to fine tune every last detail in training for a successful relationship to commence. This relationship is going to make the person’s life easier and more agreeable. Wouldn’t it be best for that puppy to have the backing and testing of its parent’s health and temperaments to set it up for success for many years?
If you still think it’s not necessary, let me give you actual examples from some of our buyers who bought their second service dogs from us. Pup “A” was purchased from a backyard breeder for only $1,000. His parents had no actual health testing besides annual vet checks. His parents were loved greatly and puppies were taken care of while in the breeder’s home, the breeder just didn’t know any better. At only a few years old, puppy “A” was diagnosed with a debilitating disease. He becomes crippled by four years old and is washed from service work. That specific puppy costed his owner over $25,000 in training ALONE and she had to start over. Puppy “B”, another SD bought from a backyard breeder who did no testing, comes down with eye disease and can no longer see after a few years old. Another scenario we see all too often is when a buyer gets a puppy from a breeder who has two dogs they’ve paired together with no goal or proof of the parents temperaments or intelligence. The parents are never shown, competed with, nor are they socialized and they produce super “cute” puppies that after a few months in new homes begin to have major behavioral challenges. Many are washed from SD training after many hours of trying to correct what genetically cannot be avoided.
I hear stories similar to these all the time. The majority of them could have been avoided if the breeder would have health tested the parent dogs to clear them of any diseases potentially passed on to their puppies. I’m not talking about a licensed Veterinarian examining a dog but rather, genetic health testing as recommended by a canine health agency such as Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) in addition to genetic screening through agencies such as Embark Vet or PawPrintGenetics, or similar companies. These tests and exams give breeders insight into their parent dogs to then make informed decisions on their breeding dogs and hopefully avoid producing infected puppies or those who are genetically probable to inherit diseases. This is just the genetic testing portion of what distinguishes a good breeder from an average one. A good breeder proves his/her dogs before breeding them in the ring, arena or field. A good breeder goes above and beyond and has goals for his/her breeding intentions. A good breeder can provide you with references from other breeders and buyers. A good breeder should be sending pictures and videos of parents and puppies. A good breeder has intentions to better his/her bloodlines with each litter produced and should be able to tell you about every dog in the home. A good breeder health tests all parent dogs before breeding them and is completely transparent about the results, and provides you with copies and links to said results.
So, when you ask me why my puppies cost so much, I’ll gladly tell ya!
(The post I mentioned in the beginning is posted underneath the picture below)
Here’s the post between buyer and breeder:
POTENTIAL OWNER: How much is the puppy? BREEDER: $3000 USD POTENTIAL OWNER: What?? It's way too expensive!! BREEDER: What do you think would be a good price? POTENTIAL OWNER: No more than $1500. You breeders are so overpriced. BREEDER: I am sorry you see it this way, why don't you try it yourself? POTENTIAL OWNER: But I've never done it! BREEDER: For FREE I can teach you how to do it, and in addition you will have the knowledge to do it again. POTENTIAL OWNER: Perfect, thank you! BREEDER: To start you will need a female (average minimal cost $3500 and up). Also a male (average minimal cost $3500 and up) or semen (average $2500 and up). You will need to do genetic & health testing on them, averages about $1200 per dog. Raise and provide daily care and feeding for 2 years. POTENTIAL OWNER: But I don't have that much money... BREEDER: For $1500 you can raise a litter for me and then keep one of the puppies. Obviously, you also have to pay the cost of whelping & care. POTENTIAL OWNER: I can do that. BREEDER: Okay, so I have a female due to whelp in 2 weeks. You will need to be available 24/7 around the clock for at least 8 weeks to help with delivery and care. Possibly tube or bottle feed puppies every 2-3 hours if the mom is low on milk the first couple weeks. POTENTIAL OWNER: Eight weeks?? That’s way too much time for me! I have to work. BREEDER: You may also need the reproductive vet to do x-rays ($200-$500), possibly progesterone testing every other day ($75-$250) & a C-section ($1000-$5000) and initial vet care on pups until old enough to be placed. Pups vets exams ($250 and up depending on how many puppies are in the litter). Have on hand a scale, thermometer, latex gloves, sanitizer, absorbent tissues, scissors, hemostats, heating pad, whelping box, blankets, cleaning supplies, appropriate food with supplements for mothers, formula, medications & hand feeding supplies in case of emergency.... POTENTIAL OWNER: But I don't have all these things! BREEDER: For $1,000 you can buy them. POTENTIAL OWNER: Ummm .... You know, I think it might be better if I just buy a puppy. BREEDER: Wise decision.
For us breeders there are few vacations and no holidays when puppies are due or on the ground. So, while you go to visit with family & friends, we are home at our dogs’ side caring for them. No sick leave. It is a no breaks commitment. THIS IS THE REALITY. When you choose a professional, you don't only pay for the puppy but also: Tools, knowledge, experience, love, time, sacrifices, etc.