I haven’t earned any money from breeding.

Many readers know I am a breeder of Border Terriers.  It’s hard to believe, but I haven’t made any money from dog breeding. Here’s a detailed list of expenses and income that I’ve made from dog breeding, as was accurate at the end of my 2012 litter.  I am posting this just to illustrate the price of ethical breeding from someone who partakes in a number of dog shows and have the best interests of the breed at heart.

 

Our first litter, born in 2010.

Our first litter, born in 2010.

 

Breeding Related Expenses

Purchasing Clover: $1000

Purchasing Chip: $7500

Dog shows: $4765.50

Dog memberships (to Dogs SA/ANKC affiliated clubs): $954.75

 

First Litter

Stud fee: My dog (no fee)

Ultrasound: $55

Puppy check up: $55

Worming products: $43.45

Clover check ups: $98+ $55

Vaccinations and chips: $180

Puppy hernia check up: $55

Total expenses for first litter: $541.45

 

Second litter

Stud fee: $1000

Progesterone tests to determine AI: $600

Pre AI antibiotics: $22.15

Semen storage and transport expenses: $740

AI: $410

Pregnancy x-rays: $172

Progesterone tests to determine C-section: $171.24

C-section: $784.30

Total expenses for second litter: $3899.69

 

Third litter

Stud fee: $800

Ultrasound: $75

Flight for bitch: $90

Post birth vet check: $59

Chips and vax: $360

Worming suspension: $44

Flea and worm treatment: $131.70

Total expense for third litter: $1384

 

TOTAL BREEDING EXPENSES: $5825.14

TOTAL OTHER EXPENSES: $14,220.25

TOTAL EXPENSES: $20,045.39

 

INCOME:

Stud fees from Chip: $5600

Puppies from first litter: $1500

Puppies from second litter: $0

Puppies from third litter: $7800

TOTAL INCOME: $14,900

 

Net position from first litter: $958.55

Net position from second litter: -$3899.69

Net position from third litter: $6416

Net position from all litters: $3474.86

 

TOTAL EXPENSES: $20,045.39

 

TOTAL LOSS: $5145.39

 

I don’t need a medal or praise.  I have beautiful dogs that I love in my house and life that I wouldn’t have without this breeding program, so I am in no means bitter about the financial loss I have made.  This is purely an illustrative post to attempt to demonstrate that my hobby is not profit-minded.

There is a lot of reasons to breed a litter – money isn’t one of them.

 

Further reading:

The Sin of Breeding Dogs

27 thoughts on “I haven’t earned any money from breeding.

    • Hi Lindsay. We all get lucky sometimes. ;) If you have several nice sized litters in a row, then you’re more likely to be in the black. As you can see, my one easy litter of 6 puppies brought in over $6k (that’s even considering expenses). However, if you’re entering shows and other events on a regular basis, then you’re probably sucking up most of this. The only exception might be if you have your own dog and bitch that you show, title, and then let sit at home producing puppies. But I don’t know anyone who does this. :)

  1. I am so sorry that you ethical breeders are so maligned. It seems like people are looking for scapegoats and breeders fit their bill. I have a lot of friends in similar situations. Please know that most serious dog people have great admiration for what you are doing.

    • Thank-you for your comment, Jan. Because I do dog rescue too (a hobby that I’ve never been asked to justify my motivates or income from – go figure!) I think I exist in circles that are very critical of breeders and breeding, and so maybe I am exposed to the unloving community a bit more than most. I really appreciate your comment.

      • I have a hard time understanding how “serious dog people” think it unethical to turn a profit from breeding dogs, all the while supporting artificial extraction/insemination and c-sections.

        • I am not sure that it is unethical to turn a profit from breeding dogs, but it is unethical to breed dogs with the sole purpose of turning a profit. (I think anytime animals become a commodity welfare is at risk of being compromised.)

          I think breeders should choose to breed naturally where possible, but ensuring genetic diversity by using AI, or ensuring the safety of an individual bitch or litter through c-section, is a permissible once-off practice. (Multi-generational AIs and c-sections are of concern.)

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  3. Wow! That list is pretty impressive. When I started my blog, I decided that before I started judging breeders, I better learn about them and I chatted on the phone with 5 local breeders and learned that there are reputable breeders and irresponsible breeders (the ones everyone hates). It pisses me off when people choose to blend the two groups. And yes, they CHOOSE. There are plenty of people who just need a little education, like me.
    But others who won’t listen to anyone who has information that contradicts their beliefs – like a woman who threatened to report me to PETA for my views – what are they going to do to me for holding an opinion that can be backed up by fact?

    A backyard breeder (puppy mill, etc) doesn’t do the testing that you do, doesn’t have a relationship with a vet, doesn’t consider birthing problems, doesn’t make sure their dogs are vaccinated, socialized, and temperament tested. They don’t do anything except sell puppies in a pet store, out of a trunk, or a box on a street corner.

    I get so frustrated by these conversations and recently I felt amazingly light when a woman I highly respect who manages a HUGE rescue group in our area admitted to buying her dogs. She worked with two separate, reputable breeders. I could have just hugged her for sharing this with me. She doesn’t usually, because she gets judgment. Pure breed dogs need good homes too. What I love about the price you charge is that people will put some thought into buying a puppy.

    Thank you for sharing this! I wish we lived closer; I’d take you to lunch :)

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Kimberley. You’ve done well to illustrate the bias that is present against those who choose to purchase pets instead of adopt them.

  4. Hi, thanks for the great article and being open and honest. I hear about a lot of people who think breeders make a fortune from their dogs but they don’t really understand all the other expenses that are involved.

    • Thanks for making a comment. This post is about education – you’re right, lots of people don’t understand breeding expenses, so don’t understand the huge loss that it is very possible to make.

  5. Really wonderful post. You might feel you don’t deserve a medal or praise but you do – showing that there are some breeders who do it right and do it for their love of the dog is so important. Thank you for the post and your honesty.

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  7. To add to the list – $1,000 worth of health testing for the bitch and the dog (if you own the dog) to ensure that you are using dogs without health issues.

    • Hi Shirley. Yes, I’m lucky to have a breed with no health issues that can be tested for, so I do not have this expense. Many dogs do, though.

  8. Your ‘hobby’ has a hidden cost. The deaths of many dogs in kill shelters because you decided to breed even more dogs into this world whilst shelter dogs are desperate for loving homes. Every dog you sell to someone is a potential home lost from a shelter dog.

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

    • Hi Nonymouse. I have discussed this issue before on these two pages:

      http://leemakennels.com/blog/dogs-and-politics/just-stop-breeding-until-the-pounds-are-empty/

      and

      http://leemakennels.com/blog/rescue/are-you-willing-to-be-wrong-about-that/

      Basically, I have 2-3 enquiries a week for border terrier puppies. Border terriers do not frequently appear in pounds, despite a high demand. If I had a breed that did appear in shelters frequently, I might need to reconsider breeding.

      • Nonymouse:

        Not every dog is really suitable for every purpose. Not every dog in a shelter has been adequately tested for temperament, guarding, aggression, etc. Are you personally aware of what it takes to take home a “sweet dog who needs love and affection from an experienced dog owner? She really likes her toys and would thrive in a home where she gets to be a queen with her chewies.” Sound familiar? What this means is – this dog resource guards, maybe severely, and a dog trainer would be most suited to taking this dog home. This dog could easily harm a person if the dog HAD A HINT that her precious squeaky was in danger of being accosted. Not all dogs in shelters are sweet little angels, and it takes a lot of training, patience, SKILL AND KNOWLEDGE for a dog to be rehabilitated to be a decent pet.

        I wish you could have more compassion for a person who breeds dogs. It’s harmful, which is maybe your purpose, to tell Leema that she should be ashamed of herself. Did you read the blog “The Sin of Breeding Dogs”? THIS particular dog breeder goes into detail about the ethical concerns she follows breeding dogs – which means she works to find a suitable fitting home for each puppy so that the chances of these dogs ending up in shelters is minimized as much as possible. Leema breeds with the health, happiness, and future of the dogs in mind.

        It’s hard for dog lovers to see dogs in shelters…to see a commercial that I swear is 10 minutes long while Sarah McLachlan rips our hearts out with spoons as she wails some song…Yes! Yes, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s also cruel of you to tell an ethical, dog loving breeder to be ashamed of herself. Shame is a heavy, heavy feeling, and I wish people would stop piling it on each other.

        • I don’t want a shelter dog. Never. I just don’t want to play with an utter crapshoot, sure you can get 1 good dog. Around where I live, its just bully mutts and jrt’s, both breeds with known problems. Around here, people just get dogs and have it until it runs off/is captured/bites or maims something. If I go up to Dublin, there’s a lot more dogs but much stricter rules, its lose lose for me as I’d like to have a dog that can live with cats, other dogs and small animals

  9. The reason that you have made nothing is:
    1. No reason to add in the cost of a dog show, that has nothing to do with puppies.
    2. Chips can be purchased by the owner, if they wish to do so. Puppy vaccines also come in a 10 dose kit that is $50 that you can do yourself and is silly easy. (Parvovirus and coronavirus)
    3. Why would the puppies need to be dewormed and given flea treatments, if the parents do not have either of these.. plus I highly doubt while dropping 5K for the dog show, you were not asked for proof of these things.
    4. 1K stud fee? I just searched Corgi stud for my metro area and got 33 hits, with 1K being the absolute highest.
    Do these lists make you and other breeders feel better about charging 1.5K per PUPPY?

    I think this is to keep people who cannot spend half a month’s salary on a dog, away from the “purebreds”… AKA if those terribly poor people obtain one of our precious “purebreds”, they’ll surely breed the dog and we can’t have any competition! That would make the cost of puppies that are typically not widely available, plummet.
    Your community probably came up with the entire notion of, “You need to spay or neuter your dog… unless you can charge 1K per dog.. then by all means, breed away!”

    “Purebreds” are meant as a high income bracket pastime and flaunted around like dolls or babies until these people get sick of them and stick them in their yard because they found something else that caught their fancy.
    Growing up in an upper middle class area, this was a common theme with the families there.. pay ridiculous amount for super cute puppy, play with puppy until puppy is 6 months old, stick puppy in backyard and walk it every few months and let the neighborhood listen to puppy’s howls every night for a month.

    • Hi NikkyNickel,

      Let me reply.

      The dog show costs absolutely have to do with the dogs I breed! I wouldn’t breed my dogs if they did not receive their championship title (i.e. they hadn’t proven themselves in the conformation ring), and I wouldn’t choose a stud dog unless I had likewise seen them at a dog show environment (or their progeny). Dog shows are one of many ways in which I evaluate my dogs, and the dogs of others I choose to use in my breeding program. But sure, if you want to take out the $4.7k I spent on dog shows, you’ll still find I made a loss.

      In my state, vaccinations and microchips must be done by ‘approved’ individuals, and that’s basically vets. (The laws around microchipping are about to change, however.) That being said, I would still need to get all puppies vet checked before going to new homes, and the cost of $60 for vac and chip of pups includes a health check. So, basically: No, I can’t get vaccinations and microchips cheaper (especially not at the time that this article was written – but maybe in the future).

      I worm all my adult dogs and puppies on a specified regime because it is considered good animal husbandry, not because they have worms. Puppy buyers expect their puppies to be wormed prior to purchase in keeping with these good animal husbandry practices.
      I flea treat my puppies before sale as a precaution. I worry that my puppies may catch fleas once they have left my house (e.g. on the flight to their new home), and would hate for my puppy buyers to blame me for this. So, I flea treat them before they go with a spot on to hopefully prevent them picking up fleas in transit.

      $1000 for a stud fee for a border terrier is cheap in the current scheme! Again, this article is old, but now I would pay $1300-$2000 for a stud fee, depending on the dog. I could of course ‘choose’ a cheap stud, but I am not wanting to produce just puppies – I am wanting to produce puppies of excellent quality. This means choosing stud dogs that I also think are excellent, and they normally have a similar price tag.

      I have given away my puppies before to suitable homes, including low income homes, so suggesting that I do not want ‘poor people’ to obtain a puppy is false. I would be thrilled to sell puppies to homes that are interested in dog sports, and who may wish to breed their dog in the future if its temperament, conformation, and instincts turn out to be desirable.

      I am so anti-mandatory-spay-neuter… If you read my blog, you can see that I have a great number of articles dealing with the harms of spay-neuter, and my puppies are sold on contracts that do not necessitate desexing.

      Your experience with purebred buyers seems to be quite different to the buyers I have sold puppies to. I receive a number of pictures of my puppies in beds, houses, camping, kayaking, and so forth. It is quite possible that the behaviours you have seen from puppy buyers in your neighbour is not representative of the entire population.

      I’m not entirely sure why you’ve chosen to comment on this blog post, but please know I have nothing against individuals choosing to buy crossbreed dogs from ethical sources. I have co-ordinated a dog rescue for 9 years and rehomed about 150 dogs in that time, the majority of them crossbreeds.

      This article was written to combat the impression that purebred dog breeders are in it for the money. If I was, I would’ve found a new hobby a long time ago.

      -Tegan

  10. I just wanted to leave a comment here because I am considering breeding Labrador Retrievers. I have owned and trained Labs most of my life (past 40 years). I currently have 4 Labs in my home. My Chocolate had two litters, one was from a breeding with my own stud, and the second was from a breeding with another stud. In both cases, I was looking for an additional puppy to raise/train, and in the second case the owner of the stud was also looking for a new puppy. I offered the puppies for sale at 8 weeks (first litter had 6 total, second litter had 8 total – so there were 11 total puppies available) for $500, simply to help pay for expenses. In the end I gave away several of them to people who I found through a local rescue operation because I wanted to ensure they would not be too old before finding a new home (I figured at 3 months they were in need of a loving family). Every puppy was trained to sit, stay and come and had been leashed trained before going to a family. I interviewed every potential owner, and spent at least an hour discussing food, training and health maintenance with each of them.

    I am getting close to retirement and have been considering breeding as a hobby because I love this breed. I live next to open land where they can run and I can train them as trial dogs (I have not yet participated in any field trials, however). My thought was to run a small breeding/training business, where I can offer additional training for new dog owners (far too many do not seem to know how to properly train a dog, even as a family pet). The intent was not so much for income as to provide me with an activity I love anyway, as well as constant companionship with wonderful animals.

    The reason I left this comment is because of the responses where some people seem to think breeding is unethical and/or immoral. It seems to me that the easier it is to obtain an animal, the more likely it is to be mistreated and eventually abandoned. I don’t know if this is true, but the operator of the rescue program urged me to not give any dogs away for free for this very reason. Therefore, the claim that breeders cater only to ‘the wealthy’ because of the price seems silly, and the claims that selling purebreds for a significant fee prevents rescue dogs from being adopted makes no sense whatsoever – these are two different ‘markets’. It would be like saying that higher priced name brand products prevent sales of lower priced generics, so name brands shouldn’t be allowed.

    In any case, thank you for the post and related information. It is always nice to enter into an endeavor forewarned about the potential pitfalls. I have a very good vet close by, as well as an exceptionally good pet supply store run by animal lovers (which is where I found the rescue operation). Please know that in this culture of ‘snap judgement’ by people who have little to no understanding of the issue which they rail about, there are those who appreciate the knowledge and efforts of those like yourself.

  11. There seems to be a few issues with the accounting of the original post, and a few questions. The accounting does not include the value of assets (dogs and puppies) gained. The net loss would only be accurate if Clover and Chip died, and no puppies were retained. Also, $7500 seems to be an exorbitant price for a dog, especially since it only returned $5600 in stud fees, plus one breeding. Why spend so much on a stud and then only use him once? The second breeding was clearly a disaster, but why was there a C-section with no puppies? Did they all die? Also, why spend $7500 on a stud and then do AI for the second litter? Why pay a stud fee for the third litter when you have the platinum-plated Chip?

    I appreciate the accounting – it definitely shows the costs and the wide range of outcomes. It also appears to show a steep learning curve with some hard lessons: don’t overpay for breeding stock, be aware of the expenses of AI, and a bad breeding experience can wipe out the profits of a couple of good ones. Bottom line: even if you are not trying to make a profit on breeding dogs, if you do not make good business decisions and control costs it will be a very expensive hobby. Unless you are independently wealthy, you cannot continue to breed dogs indefinitely at a sustained loss.

    • Hi Alan.

      Firstly, note I am breeding to improve the breed. I don’t have an interest in making money.

      From the three litters here, I retained two bitches in total.

      I paid $7500 for Chip because I imported him from Denmark, and I spent ‘so much’ to improve the gene pool in Australia. However, I am big into genetic diversity. Once I had a puppy from him (Chip x Clover), I didn’t have an interest in creating nor retaining more puppies of the same pedigree – so I didn’t use Chip for the second nor third litter.

      The second litter yielded one bitch puppy – which I retained.

      I did an AI for the second litter because the stud dog was not available when Clover was ready to be mated.

      Hope that answers some of your questions.

      • Thank you,

        That does answer some of my questions. Considering your response, I believe you have come out much closer to breaking even than you think you did.

        I assume that you also retained Chip and Clover. Did you retire Clover from breeding after three litters? Did Chip continue to gather stud fees? If you only used Chip for one puppy, it seems that AI would have been a better path for out-crossing the genetics. Do you think importing Chip was a good choice? I have only imported one dog (Irish Wolfhound, Scotland to US East Coast). I would not do it again, but would consider AI to get a pedigree with very low COI.

        I applaud the goal of genetic diversity. In our breed (Irish Wolfhounds) , I would also want to know the longevity of the ancestors and the cause of death to try to reduce the incidence of some of the diseases currently common in the breed.

        My only knowledge of AI is with farm animals. The cost of AI with semen from a top-flight stud runs less than $70 US. Sexed semen is a few dollars more. Transportation and storage are nowhere near the costs you’ve cited, but that is for domestic shipment/storage in the US. Your AI costs seem extreme. Would you do it again? Do you think the high costs are a factor of Australian economics, or the services/vet you chose?

        Long term storage of semen from a potential stud with AI breeding after the stud’s life is a potential solution for knowing exactly how long a sire lived and how he died before making a breeding decision. Longevity and health are very painful subjects in all the giant breeds, and IW’s are among the shortest-lived. Long term storage at an AKC-certified site is about $90/year US.

        You don’t mention the cost of health and genetic checks for the sire/dam. Is there a standard set for your breed? There is an extensive set for IWs, and the costs are substantial.

        Again, thank you for your response. We may never breed a litter, but knowing some of what a good breeder goes through may help us understand what to look for in our next puppy purchase. If we ever do end up with a truly great show/coursing/obedience hound that we just have to try to preserve, we may have a better idea of what we might be getting into.

        • Hi Alan,

          Thanks for your continued interest.

          Yes, Clover was retired after three litters.
          Chip was used four times at stud, but that didn’t cover his import costs.

          For a small dog, it’s fairly comparable to import the dog as opposed to importing semen. From Europe to Australia, import costs are about $3000 for semen – plus the cost of the stud service. I would rather pay double that and then be able to use the dog countless times. Additionally, AI is fairly unsuccessful in small breeds compared to large. If I paid $3000 for semen, and my bitch didn’t take, then I have nothing. If I pay $7000 for a dog, and the bitch doesn’t take, I can still use the dog next time.

          I think importing Chip, overall, was a good choice. The dog had an amazing temperament. I have semen collected from him, so I can continue to use him several more times, despite not owning him anymore. He has since been exported to NZ and then to Canada.

          AI in farm animals is very different to AI in dogs. The costs I paid are pretty typical in Australia. I think if you research AI costs in your country, you’ll find it costs far more than $70 to collect, store, transport, and inseminate one bitch. A consult fee with my vet is about that.

          For the dog-semen I have stored, I pay about $100 per year per dog. I currently have about 4 dogs stored. I agree with you that by doing this I can understand the health and longevity of the dog before I use it, which is fabulous. In breeds that this is more an issue (IW, BMD), I actually think doing breeding in this way should be near-mandatory.

          There were no genetic tests for border terriers at this time. Only this month, the first DNA test for this breed has been released. I have of course ordered kits for all my current breeding dogs.

          Hope that helps Alan. :) All the best.

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