How much is that doggie in the window?

By Jessica Freni


How much should a well-bred puppy cost? This is always a complicated and delicate topic for both prospective puppy buyer and breeder. We should not bristle at this being a candid, upfront part of a puppy inquiry. The reality of life is price is often a factor in major purchases and a puppy is for many people, a major purchase in terms of expense and commitment.

One way to avoid awkwardness and frustration on both sides, is if the breeder just simply discloses prices upon follow up to initial inquiry,  regardless of if the puppy inquiry asked it or not. This saves the inquiring party the embarrassment/discomfort of having to ask and it saves time on both parts if it is simply not within budget to work together. “Thank you for your inquiry and interest in our program! Puppies cost $x,xxx with (contributing factors or variables).” Be informative about what price includes and if there are variables (ex. Price varies on type of registration for show prospects or by sex). It’s also helpful to explain what price of puppy includes- such as registration, any health guarantee, any testing (testing of the parents), microchips if applicable, vaccinations, etc.

Price for a well-bred purebred dog is not something to shame other breeders about. Market value applies to puppies as it does many other things; simply a puppy is worth somewhere between what the Breeder has invested and what the “market” is willing to pay. This will vary by breed, Breeder and even area. Some breeders have one price for all puppies, as all puppies cost the same to get on the ground and rear regardless of where they end up (show, pet, performance, etc). Others charge less for show prospects, rationalizing that there will be further expenses and maybe a co-ownership. Some breeders charge more for show prospects with the expectations they will have more mentoring and that someone else will be benefiting their program. Yes, some breeds it is not uncommon to vary price on sex or colors. That is all ok. These are not in and of themselves “red flags” (“red flags” would be more like charging more for disqualified colors or traits, selling “breeding” rights indiscriminately to anyone willing to pay more). Stop price shaming fellow breeders.

Pet homes are not hesitating to spend thousands on doodles or well above what a well-bred purebred costs for fad gimmicks and colors (ex. “Fluffy” or “merle” French Bulldogs or “silver” Labradors). So, there’s no reason to price well- breed purebred puppies in line with what they’re worth. Inflation is everywhere; puppies are not exempt as Breeders are certainly feeling the increase in goods (food, entry fees, gas) and services (reproductive, emergency and wellness vet care and health testing). Most breeders are not independently wealthy; we need to abandon this notion to be a good breeder you need to not make money.  There’s a difference between breeding driven solely by profit vs breeding with the goal of being able to realistically sustain a program and reinvest in its future.