If you have found your way here, you are probably at a point in your life where you are making plans. This could be at the start, before you even purchase a dog, or maybe you have purchased a dog and want to add a career to it.
Whatever your reason for coming here, I’m sure you have asked this question several times…can dog breeding be profitable.
The simple answer is that yes and no.
And that is about as simple as this question will get. If you ask some breeders, the answer is that no, it shouldn’t be profitable.
What this means is that all your effort, and money, should be going back into your dogs. For other breeders, especially large scale breeders, they may say yes because they have the facilities and money to invest in large breeding programs.
However, for the average enthusiast that is just starting up, you should not expect to have a profit in the first few years of your program and you could be looking at five to ten years before you actually see even a small profit…and that’s if everything goes well for you.
So, now that we’ve answered the question, let’s delve a little more into whether dog breeding can be profitable or not.
Can Dog Breeding Be Profitable with all the Expenses?
The very first thing that every potential breeder should realize is that breeding is not a get rich quick scheme. It is a lot of hard work and even with that hard work, very few breeders get rich…and they usually get rich doing something along with breeding…such as becoming a veterinarian and so on.
However, some breeders can make enough to sustain their hobby and even a little extra if all the stars align. The biggest problem is that most breeding programs have difficulties that can reduce the number of litters and puppies.
Smaller litter sizes mean that you have less profit as there is often very little fluctuation in expenses between 5 puppies and 10 puppies.
To have a successful breeding program, it is important that you look at your expenses. Unlike a lot of businesses, breeding programs have a continual start up program.
Most breed clubs and kennel clubs have restrictions on the number of litters a female dog can have so this means that breeders often retire a breeding female before she is 5 years old (depending on breeding history) and need to constantly invest in new dogs and new lines to keep your breeding kennel viable.
So now that we’ve mentioned that expense, let’s look down at the expenses of dog breeding.
#1 Start Up Expenses
The first thing we are going to look at is the actual start up expenses that you will have when you start your kennel. You should look at the start up costs of the first two years since you will not be breeding any dogs for those first two years.
Start up expenses are:
Price Of Breeding Dogs
You can start slow with one dog, however, if you do, you will need to set aside money for stud costs.
Even if you have a stud dog at home, you should also be looking at outside lines to improve your pedigree so that will mean purchasing more puppies from unrelated lines or hiring stud dogs.
Purchasing a show quality dog can mean between $1000 to $5000 plus depending on the breed. I have looked at five expensive breeds to give you some idea of the cost.
Training is important for all dogs and even more so for breeding dogs. Remember that these dogs will be meeting potential puppy owners and will also be out at competitions.
Training can be between $500 to $1000, again dependant on what type of training.
In those first two years, you are going to want to set yourself apart, which is often through titling of some kind.
Conformation is very common but if you have a working breed, you can title with working titles.
Showing and titling is very expensive with entry fees, travel and hotels so you should expect between $500 to $1000 per show weekend. If you stick close to home, it could be a bit lower, if you are travelling further distances, it could be a lot more.
During that first year of life, owning a dog means several trips to the vet for routine care and that can mean a lot of expenses.
In fact, the average price of vet care in a dog’s first year of life is about $1200 for just routine care. If your dog has an injury, that price could go up significantly.
As you can see, those first two years can be very expensive and we are just looking at the initial investment in one breeding dog. If you are purchasing two or three, you need to double, etc., that cost.
Some breeders will start with an adult dog, however, that raises the price of the dog.
There are breeders who will sell a titled adult with all health testing, however, you will be looking at the 10’s of thousands to accommodate the cost and time spent bringing the dog to this point.
#2 Health Testing Expenses
And that brings us to the expenses of health testing. If you are a reputable breeder, then you will want to have health testing done on your dogs. If you aren’t sure what health testing your dog will need, check out your breed with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
In general, health testing costs about $1000 to $2000 but it can be more expensive depending on the vet costs for your area. Obviously, this expense is for only the dogs you keep for breeding purposes. Most of the testing is done at 2 years of age, roughly.
This is a constant expense that all breeders should be aware of. Every kennel has expenses for the upkeep of their dogs. This includes:
Regular Vet Visits
Usually, a yearly health check with vaccinations is about $150 to $200 per dog.
Emergency Vet Visits
Always have a budget set aside for an emergency. You can look at a minimum of about $400 for an emergency and this cost can extend well into the thousands.
Not every kennel will have an emergency vet visit every year, but you should plan to have one or more a year.
This varies depending on breed but if we say that a bag of dog food is $50 and you have one dog that eats one bag of dog food in a month, you are looking at $600 in dog food per dog per year.
I go through a lot more than one bag a month and most breeders do. In addition to dog food, you need to take treats and vitamins in consideration and that can add a few more hundred dollars to your food expenses.
Again, this varies depending on whether you are grooming the dog yourself or you are taking your dog to the groomer.
Also, breed will determine how much you will spend. However, you can look at about $100 to several thousand a year for grooming expenses.
Add to those costs yearly costs for showing and training of your dogs and you will see that there is a lot of money going into the dogs, even when they are titled and in their breeding prime.
In addition, while some breeders will rehome dogs when they are retired, there is always one or two…or even more…dogs that you don’t want to rehome at retirement.
So, you have to factor in the maintenance costs for your retired dogs as well as for your up and coming dogs and your breeding aged dogs.
#4 Vet Expenses Related to Breeding
Yes, I’ve gone over vet expenses already, but there are expenses that all breeders will have when it is time to breed. This will vary depending on your breed and also your breeding program. However, before using your stud dog, you will want to make sure that he is healthy and is producing sperm.
In addition to vet expenses for your stud, you are looking at other vet expenses from before you actually breed to when the puppies arrive, and this isn’t routine litter vet expenses. These expenses can be:
Ranges in price but usually about a $150. This is a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to sterility in dogs as well as aborted litters.
Ranges in price but usually about a $150. This is a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to sterility in dogs as well as aborted litters.
Not all breeders use artificial insemination but if you do, the cost can be up to $1000 or more depending on the type of AI that is being done.
You can also have an x-ray done when the puppies are closer to their due date to get a good estimate of how large the puppies are and how many are in there. Like ultrasounds, they are optional, some breeders do both, while others opt for neither. X-rays can range from $120 to $300.
Again, not all breeders do an ultrasound but if you do, the cost is about $60 to $150 for an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy at 30 days.
Some breeds, like bulldogs, require planned c-sections so this will be an expense if you breed them, while others require an emergency c-section for various emergencies that can occur during whelping. C-sections vary and will differ in cost if they are planned or an emergency. Expect at least $500 but many are over $1000 and upwards of $2000.
Breeding can be very expensive and there are a lot of little things that can add up quickly when you sit down and budget for it.
#5 Stud Expenses
If you have a stud, you will only be looking at the vet expenses to test his semen and to make sure he is healthy, which also includes testing for brucellosis. However, if you are not using your own stud, you can have a lot of additional costs including:
Stud fees are usually the price of one puppy, however, highly sought out studs may be more expensive. Expect to pay between $1000 to $5000 plus for the stud fee.
If you are using a stud that lives far away, you will have to pay for his vet fees when he goes in for collection. This can range between $150 to $400 plus depending on how many collections are being done.
Again, if the semen is being shipped to you, expect about another $150 plus per shipment. If it is coming in from out of country, you will need to pay duty expenses on the semen.
If you are going to the stud, you will have travel expenses, which will vary depending on distance and the time you will be with the stud. It can add up quickly.
As you can see, using a stud can be quite expensive and it is important to make sure you have a solid contract before you do.
#6 Breeding Equipment
Breeding equipment can be something that you purchase over a length of time instead of all at once when you are getting ready to breed. This helps alleviate having a lot of expenses all at once but you should still budget for these things. And many of these items will need to be replenished.
Breeding equipment is a must have for anyone interested in breeding. You will find that some things aren’t necessary for you and you’ll also find some things that aren’t on a regular list are invaluable. Be flexible with your equipment but also be prepared for those expenses.
#7 Litter Expenses
Finally, we are looking at the expenses of having puppies on the ground. This will vary slightly depending on how many puppies you have at one time but there is always a base cost. This includes:
The general rule with expenses is that you should expect to spend between $5000 to $10,000 dollars in total for every litter. This includes the purchase price of your dogs as well as all the maintenance costs.
Now that you know what the expenses are, you are probably wondering exactly where you are going to earn some money when you are breeding dogs, which we will go over next.
How To Make Dog Breeding Profitable EVEN After All Those Expenses
Okay, now that we’ve broken down the expenses, you may be wondering how you can earn money while breeding.
The answer is that until you have established a few years of breeding, you are going to be working in the red. The key to having a successful kennel that makes a small profit are:
Build your Reputation
Show and health test your dogs. The better your dogs, the more likely people will want one of your dogs. This means that you can charge more for your puppies and this helps offset the expenses you have.
Let’s face it, you aren’t going to look at earning a profit in your first year. In fact, most breeders don’t see a profit until they are about 5 years into breeding. This is because of all the initial costs incurred with breeding.
Although many people will tell you that to make more you need to breed more, it is actually better to be selective. This takes you back to building your reputation.
If you are being selective, you are breeding for healthier dogs and healthier litters. This means fewer emergencies and healthier sized litters, which will help with your bottom line.
Use the Tax Systems
You should always pay taxes on what you earn but you can also save money by using tax write offs, grants and other tax incentives for small businesses. This goes into your profits but it also helps offset the costs.
Even the cost of your breeding dogs…or even the dog food…can be used to help offset your taxes each year. Be sure to find out the rules in your area.
Focus on Quality, No Quantity
This is similar to being selective but in this case, don’t worry about having twenty dogs, look at the dogs that you have and decide how they improve your breed and also your brand. People want quality and they are willing to wait and pay more for that quality.
Really, the best way to make a profit with breeding is to look at it as both a passion and a business. You are building a brand and you will want to make sure that brand is the best.
Once you have the best brand, dogs, in your breed, the profit will be trifold…you will earn some money, you will gain so much from your dogs, and you will have the profit of making families happy…and that is really the signs of a successful breeding business.
Breaking Down the Hours: How Much You Are Actually Earning As A Dog Breeder?
One point that very few people look at when they get into breeding is that it is a lot of work and a lot of hours. Not only do you have daily care for your dogs, which multiplies with each dog, you also have the care of your litters.
While some breeds are very easy to raise, other breeds require constant, 24 hour a day care. During the first 4 weeks of life, all puppies require a bit of extra care but even after 4 weeks, the puppies still need a lot of cleaning, feeding and all the socialization that is required for well-rounded and healthy puppies.
So, if we are being generous and say that your hours are a standard, 8 hour day…and let’s be honest, it is usually closer to 12 to 18 hours+ depending on breed…you are looking at 56 hours a week. Times that by 8 weeks, which is the age when most breeders will rehome their puppies, you have invested 448 hours in a two month period.
This does not include any hours leading up to the litter arriving or any of the hours that include emergencies.
When you are deciding on whether raising a litter is profitable, you really need to look at those hours. If your puppies are sold for 1000 dollars each and you have a litter of 7; even before expenses of raising a litter is factored in, you only make $2.23 per hour of work. As you can see, the hourly wage is far below minimum wage.
Bear in mind that larger litters means more work but also a higher hourly wage but if you are looking at purely profit per hour, you can see that the gains are quite low.
Best dog breeds to sell (If you want to go for a more expensive breed)
While I recommend that you choose a breed that you like instead of looking for a breed that will give you profit, some breeders just starting out may be interested in choosing a more expensive breed. It should be noted that while breeds are expensive, they can come with more expenses.
Obviously, start up costs will be higher since you should choose from health tested, champion parents, which will often cost more.
In addition, some of the breeds listed need medical intervention to produce litters. This can be as simple as artificial insemination to more difficult, and expensive, procedures such as a c-section.
That is one of the main reasons I recommend breeding for the love of the breed and not for the price of the puppies because, after all expenses, you could end up spending more than you are actually making on these more expensive breeds.
Now that I’ve mentioned expenses, let’s look at some of the most expensive breeds.
The Samoyed is a striking spitz breed that is known for their luxurious white coat and their dark, black eyes and nose. They are known for being intelligent, and very family friendly.
They tend to be friendly with everyone including strangers and this makes them ideal for outgoing and active families.
They do have a lot of energy so this isn’t the breed for anyone or for breeders who prefer a less active lifestyle. However, they are known to be quite healthy and have a great lifespan of 12 to 14 years.
They also come with a hefty price tag and range in price from 4000 to 14,000 US dollars. Some lines have even sold for as much as 100,000 US dollars, although those are rare.
#2 French Bulldog
If you are looking for a small breed that is full of character, then the French Bulldog is definitely what you are looking for. They are known for being funny, energetic and charming. They tend to make people smile and it isn’t just at their looks. This is a breed that can charm just about anyone.
With breeding, they are a popular, in-demand breed, however, they are not without costs.
Like many bully breeds, the French Bulldog often requires c-sections to deliver puppies as the pelvis of the dam is often much smaller than the head and shoulders of the puppies. This means that breeders should expect expenses of 1000 to 3000 US dollars per c-section and they can have small litters.
And that is often the reason why the breed is more expensive so that you can offset the costs incurred for bringing a litter to the age that they go home.
In general, the breed is pretty easy to care for but they do need their wrinkles cleaned and dried on a regular basis and they can be prone to a large number of health problems. Cost varies with some breeders charging more for “rare” colors but owners should be aware that rare colors can often mean a mixed breed pup or one that has additional health problems.
The average cost of a French Bulldog is between 2500 to 7000 US dollars with some of the rare colors selling for slightly more.
#3 English Bulldog
An expensive breed to purchase and an expensive breed to breed, the English Bulldog requires a lot of extra care when it comes to successfully breeding them.
Many lines, with the exception of only a few, require artificial insemination for breeding. In addition, the majority of English Bulldogs, like French Bulldogs, require a c-section to deliver puppies. This is because the pelvis is much smaller than the shoulders and head on the breed.
But if you are dedicated to the breed, they are definitely worth the work. English Bulldogs are known for their amazing and loving temperaments.
They tend to get along well with everyone and make great family pets. They do require a little extra grooming as wrinkles need to be cleaned on a daily basis and they can have a number of health problems.
The average price of an English Bulldog is between 2500 to 9000 US dollars with “rare” colors selling for more. It should be noted that rare colors aren’t actually rare and many have additional health problems so be wary of purchasing and breeding the rare colors.
#4 Chow Chow
Another strikingly beautiful breed, the Chow Chow, also known as a Chow is a medium sized breed that has a bear like appearance. In fact, most people notice his thick coat before they hear his intimidating bark.
The Chow Chow is a breed that comes out of China and was developed to be a guard dog. They are still used in this capacity and can be very protective of their home and family, which can also make it difficult for anyone new to dogs and breeding.
In addition, be prepared for a lot of grooming expenses as the breed has a very thick coat. However, if you want an intelligent, distinguished and loving companion, this is an excellent breed to invest in. And they can be between 3000 to 8500 US dollars each.
#5 Tibetan Mastiff
The final dog in our most expensive dog breeds is the Tibetan Mastiff. This is not a breed for everyone. For one, the Tibetan Mastiff is an ancient breed and is considered to be a primitive breedso much so that most females only have one heat per year much like their wild cousins.
In addition, this giant breed is a guarding breed with a noble bearing. They can be very cat like in ways and are happy to climb onto tables to get a better view of what they are guarding. And they are extremely protective of their home and family.
Finally, there is a ton of hair with these dogs so be prepared for added expenses when it comes to grooming.
With that in mind, Tibetan Mastiffs range in price from 2500 to 7000 US dollars and one full grown Tibetan Mastiff sold for 2 million US dollars in China; however, don’t expect to earn that much since the popularity of the Tibetan Mastiff has diminished considerably since he was sold.
So is it A Viable and Profitable Business After All?
As you can see, a lot goes into the question can dog breeding be profitable. The answer is about how big of a breeding facility you want to have, the quality of your dogs and also on the luck.
Even with the best business planning, there can be many problems with breeding that you are lucky to make a profit at any time. But with breeding, go into it with a passion for your chosen breed and you will find that you’ve made something amazing through the dogs you produce and that is often the greatest profit.