Is dog breeding a business?

Maria-Luise Doppelreiter/ ÖKV


Again and again one hears the opinion in public as to how high a breeder's profit must be. The milkmaid bill: 6 puppies at € 1,200 each, so the breeder earns € 7,200, but by far does not add up. Recently I calculated what the breeder really gets from the selling price of a puppy. You will see: dog breeding is not a business!

Acquisition costs of the breeding bitch

These vary depending on the age of the bitch at the time of purchase, already achieved exhibition, test, breeding success. Even a home-bred bitch has a price, on the one hand there is no sale proceeds, on the other hand there are costs for the rearing. It is also important to consider that when buying a puppy, many factors come into play and the bitch purchased may not meet expectations in terms of health, temperament or appearance.


feeding the bitch

The bitch is not only fed during pregnancy, but throughout her life. In addition, the feed costs during rearing (particularly high-quality feed, increased vitamin supplements, etc.) and in old age (possibly diet feed) must also be taken into account. Since the life expectancy varies depending on the breed and can also vary greatly within the individual breeds, this cost factor is difficult to calculate.


Vaccinations/veterinary care

These costs also vary, as it is not possible to predict how many visits to the vet will be necessary. For the number of annual vaccinations and deworming carried out several times a year (which are administered in any case), the life expectancy is decisive.


Additional veterinary costs in the event of problems (e.g. caesarean section approx. € 700.00).

Some bitches have multiple litters without ever needing a vet, others have complications with the first litter and can no longer be used for breeding after that. Most breeds are required to have physical exams (hip, elbow, shoulder, eyes, hearing, etc.) some once a year, some once a year.



The breeding regulations of the respective club must be observed (how many exhibitions must be attended at least before breeding approval), annual approvals are often also prescribed. Breeders usually visit numerous exhibitions at home and abroad with particularly beautiful dogs, which results in high costs for registration fees and travel.



Different depending on the breed and breeding regulations of each club. For some breeds, no tests are required for breeding approval, while others require very costly and time-consuming tests. Costs arise not only from the examination fee and travel expenses to the examination(s), but also for the usually very complex training. Numerous trips to the practice area, payment for training courses, helpers, equipment, game retrievers for hunting training, and much more.


Later sale of puppies

It is often not possible to find a buyer for all puppies by the delivery date. It will often happen that some puppies have to be kept longer. It can happen that the last dogs do not leave the breeder's house until they are 1 year old or even older (sometimes at a puppy price or as a gift). In this case, not only the feed costs arise, but also additional costs for vaccinations, deworming, telephone calls, postage, advertisements, possibly for exhibitions and tests to facilitate sales.


Wear of furnishings by the puppies

Anyone who has ever raised a litter can tell you a thing or two about it: carpets, furniture, curtains and towels fall victim to the little ones' destructiveness, as do shoes and clothing. Especially when raising a litter in the living area, these costs are quite extensive. Carpets and wallpaper need to be replaced, the puppy room repainted........


The breeder's working hours were not taken into account here: if you consider that the breeder sacrifices many hours for the trip to the stud dog and the whelping of the bitch, as a result the workload is usually less in the first 4 weeks (however, should problems arise and the For example, if puppies have to be bottle-fed, this means 24-hour care - feeding every 2 hours), so the workload in the second half of the rearing is all the more extensive. Cleaning the puppy box and the run several times a day, changing newspaper, weighing the puppies daily, activity, play, getting used to the leash, etc. But the effort involved in writing and talking to interested parties (on the phone or in person) must also be taken into account here .

In the above calculation example, I assume a medium-sized bitch with a life expectancy of 12 years who has 5 litters with a total of 30 puppies. With many breeds the average per litter is significantly lower, with some also larger - and few bitches will have so many litters, many only 1 or 2. The prices are calculated according to the current state, whereby it can be assumed that in the future both the costs as well as the achievable puppy price will increase accordingly.


Costs for the breeding bitch:

Purchase price € 1,200.00

Feeding costs (€ 2.00 per day, life expectancy 12 years) € 8,760.00

Annual vaccinations € 600,--

Deworming € 240,--

2 exhibitions (minimum requirement)

Registration fee € 120,-- 2 x

Travel expenses to exhibitions € 500.00

HD, ED examination, etc. € 150.00

Annual eye examinations € 250.00

DNA tests € 50.00 (up to 250.00)

Training of the bitch € 500,--

Travel expenses for training and examination € 500.00

Protection of the kennel name € 150.00

Total costs for breeding bitch € 13,020.00


Cost of setting up the puppy room:

whelping box € 300,--

Puppy run € 600,--

Inserts for whelping box (vetbed) € 100,--

Total setup costs €1,000.00

These costs are stated as very low, most breeders have significantly more complex facilities or kennel systems that cost many times this amount.


Fixed costs per throw:

Veterinary checks before mating (swab, sterilization) € 100.00

Stud fee* € 700,--

Trip to the stud dog (2 x 500 km, km fee € 0.30 like judge) € 300.00

Ultrasound examination € 70,--

Additional feeding of the bitch (€ 1.00 per day) € 60.00

Active - vaccination during pregnancy € 50,--

Additional deworming of the bitch during pregnancy € 10.00

Raspberry leaf tablets € 10,--

cleaning syringe € 50,--

washing powder/electricity, wear and tear on washing machine € 50.00

Photos € 50,--

Cleaning and disinfectants € 10.00

Travel expenses (vet, litter inspection, etc.) € 120.00

Wear and tear, new floor covering € 150.00

Postage (registered mail covering certificate/litter report) € 10.00

miscellaneous € 7,--

Total fixed costs € 1,747.00

* The stud fee varies depending on the success of the stud dog or differs depending on the breed.


Cost per puppy:

Registration (ÖKV & breed club) € 50,--

Vaccination** € 100,-- Deworming € 15,--

Feeding 30 days at € 2.00*** € 60.00

Puppy guide € 6,--

Free - accessories € 10,--

miscellaneous € 2,--

Costs per puppy € 243.00

** the cost of the vaccination varies depending on the veterinarian

*** Problems such as previous supplementary feeding or bottle rearing were not taken into account here.


Suppose this bitch has 5 litters of 6 puppies each in her lifetime:

Costs for breeding bitch € 13,020.00

Costs for furnishing puppy rooms € 1,000.00

Fixed costs 5 throws á 1.747,-- € 10.482,--

Cost per puppy - 30 x 243.00 € 7,290.00

Total costs for 30 puppies € 31,792.00


This would mean costs of € 1,060 per puppy. If you calculate an average puppy price of approx. € 1,200, you can see from this list that breeding really is a cost-intensive hobby and not a business. Breeds where higher puppy prices are common are often dogs that either require significantly more effort in terms of feeding and keeping or dwarf dogs that often only produce 1 or 2 puppies per litter. The breeder's work performance and the time spent on trips to exhibitions, training, tests, the veterinarian, etc. were not calculated.


I hope that this list does not deter anyone who intends to contribute to the improvement of the breed in terms of health, character and appearance as a responsible breeder. Breeding is not a business - but a wonderful hobby. There is nothing more gratifying than watching a litter grow up. The separation from the puppies, which are raised with a lot of love and devotion, is usually difficult, but the letters and telephone calls with the owners of the little rascals are all the nicer. The dear friends you get to know through this hobby are simply priceless!

used with the kind permission of Mrs. Maria-Loise Doppelreiter