Updated: May 25
I've been faced with a dilemma for years. This dilemma causes me to feel guilt and frustration but has also allowed me to get a little creative.
Here is my dilemma: Too many people don't want to pay what they feel are exorbitant prices for a puppy.
People want an inexpensive puppy that is socialized, healthy, easy to train, and cute.
Well, I have the solution!
Introducing our NEW "DIY Puppy Package!"
This new purchasing option will allow families to cut costs and purchase a puppy for under half the cost! With a deposit that covers food, medical care, and other basic care expenses, PLUS a little time and elbow grease, you can purchase your puppy for a price that seems "fair."
Continue reading to learn more about this package!
To reserve your puppy, we will need a deposit of $500. This deposit will cover the following basic expenses for your puppy:
Whelping Supplies These are the consumable supplies we use during whelping (the birthing process), including calcium paste, disposable pads, etc. These consumable supplies typically average around $150 per litter.
Premium Puppy Kibble We feed Purina Pro Plan Sport, which costs approximately $1.50/lb. We go through 100+ pounds of kibble from birth to 8 weeks between the dam and the puppies.
Supplements We give ultra premium supplements to our dam and puppies, including NuVet's antioxidant and enzyme supplement ($0.50/day per puppy), a probiotic supplement ($0.25/day per puppy), and homemade treats (made with raw meat, yogurt, and fruits & veggies).
Disinfectants and Cleaning Supplies These include disinfectants, laundry detergents, and other cleaning supplies we use 2-4 times per day. We use specialized & costly disinfectants in the puppy room, the play yards, and the house. We wash approximately 2-3 loads of laundry daily for just one litter of puppies. We go through a lot of cleaning supplies! We average approximately $250 in cleaning supplies alone per litter.
Puppy Toys We purchase new toys for each litter. We disinfect and send these toys through the wash every few days, so they don't last much longer than one litter. When we send puppies home, we send these toys with them so that they're bringing something familiar with them into their new home. We purchase premium plush toys, treat dispensing toys, safe & natural chew toys, and interactive toys. We spend about $150 per litter on toys and chews.
Deworming Medication and Vaccinations We purchase our own anthelmintic (deworming medications) medications and vaccinations and administer these things here at home. We spend about $200 on anthelmintic medications and $300 on vaccinations per litter. These costs include the syringes and needles needed to administer.
Snuggle Puppy We purchase a brand new Snuggle Puppy for every puppy and send this home with them because we know that they work. One Snuggle Puppy retails for approximately $40.
Vet Exam We have a litter examination completed around 7 weeks of age by our local primary care veterinarian. This exam costs approximately $25 per puppy.
Puppy Supplies Lease We own and use premium supplies to raise our puppies, such as our whelping boxes, playpens, vet fleece, washable potty pads, feeders, cleaning equipment, grooming equipment, etc. To purchase all of the supplies needed to raise a single litter would cost approximately $8000, so a part of your deposit will help us recoup some of the cost of these supplies, all of which need to be replaced every few years.
Dam and Sire Lease We own our dams and most of our sires. These dogs cost anywhere from $2000-$4000 to purchase as puppies. We raise these dogs to sexual maturity (the cost of owning a healthy dog is approximately $2000/year) and spend approximately $2000 on health testing and other pre-breeding costs. We expect a part of your deposit to help us recoup these costs.
Property Lease We raise our puppies inside our home. Approximately 900 square feet of the inside of our home are dedicated to rearing puppies. In addition, our entire front and back yards, where we have landscaped and laid artificial turf, are dedicated to raising puppies. So we expect a part of your deposit to help us pay some of our monthly housing costs including rent, utilities, and upkeep.
Here comes the fun part... the "Do It Yourself" part of our unique package!
Since we are only charging you for supplies (outlined above), and not our time, we expect you to be present daily, from birth to eight weeks, to complete the following protocol:
Daily feeding and care of dam, from birth to approximately 6 weeks once puppies are fully weaned
Daily cleaning of the whelping box from birth to 3 weeks
From 3 to 5 weeks the whelping box is cleaned twice daily (stripped, mopped, and laundry washed for each cleaning)
From 5 to 8 weeks, we strip and clean the puppy pen twice daily. Because the pen is now much larger since puppies are larger and weaned at this time, this creates approximately 4 loads of laundry per day.
From 5 to 6 weeks we start potty training puppies. This means we now physically carry puppies outside four times a day to encourage them to potty outside. They eventually learn to use their doggy door to potty themselves, around 6.5 weeks.
Between 5-7 weeks, all outside playtimes are supervised. After 7 weeks, the puppies are very self-sufficient in using their doggy door to dictate potty and play, and we either supervise in person or watch diligently from our security cameras. They are always being watched.
We pick up poop all day long. When poop hits the ground, inside or out, it gets picked up immediately. Y'all, I'm not joking about this. I'm not exaggerating. We expect you to follow your puppy around all day and pick up poop as needed.
ENS from birth to 2 weeks
Daily playtime and handling/socialization from birth to 8 weeks
Nail trims once weekly from birth to 8 weeks
Deworming once weekly from birth to 8 weeks
Sanitary trims and baths as needed, once weekly from birth to 8 weeks
Vaccinations at 5, 6, 7, and 8 weeks of age (we used an advanced, gentle, and effective vaccination protocol from NeoTech, a company that makes vaccines that are safer for young puppies)
Temperament testing at 7 weeks of age
Litter exam at 7.5 weeks of age
Your presence is still required during family get-togethers, vacations, and holidays. If you cannot be present, you are required to hire someone to complete your daily duties. I am available for hire for a measly $10/hour. I work 12-hour days, but I will only charge you for 8 hours. Just keep in mind if you do not wish to hire me, you will probably need to pay someone else much more than this to motivate them to pick up poop all day long, among other tasks, on a holiday.
Don't feel ready to "do this yourself?"
If you haven't done the math yet, I'll do it for you. For one litter of puppies, in addition to the actual costs outlined in the deposit section, I spend approximately 720 hours of my time (time that cannot be spent earning income to live off of at another job) on raising one litter of puppies. If I were to charge $10 an hour for my time, this would make purchasing one of my puppies completely unaffordable.
So, to better serve my families, I also offer an "All Inclusive" puppy purchasing option!
You can adopt your puppy for the flat rate of $2250--no deposit, no daily tasks, and chores... You sit back and let me do all of the work for you!
Now that is a bargain!
Spoiler alert! I'm not offering a "DIY Package" for your puppy. I would never offer something like this... I'm way too much of a control freak.
Breeding is a labor of love. Breeders who care about their animals do what they do because they love what they are doing.
The next time you put pen to paper and consider the costs (including time) of raising a litter of puppies, make sure you decide what kind of program you wish to support.
A breeder who cares about their animals will probably look at this article and say, "You left out so many expenses and daily tasks!" And, they're probably right. Raising a litter of puppies completely consumes you and your home--in a good way, of course.
The next time you consider adopting a puppy that costs $300 versus $2000, please consider what has gone into the planning, daily care, and quality of care of raising that puppy.
Decide where you would like to invest your money.
There are always risks involved when dealing with living creatures. Where do you want your money to go? Your money will support one of the following businesses:
A puppy mill that abuses and neglects its dogs and puppies
An unscrupulous breeder who appears unwilling to invest very much time, money, or effort into raising a litter
Or a breeder who cares about their animals and values their time and efforts
I'm not bitter... I promise. But I do feel undervalued. I feel guilty that some families can't afford a dog raised by a breeder who values their time and energy. I feel frustrated that many buyers unknowingly (and knowingly!) support abusive breeders. And I feel motivated to continue to do my best to educate buyers about what their money is buying. But I'm fighting an uphill battle every day.
I'm fighting against puppy mills, unscrupulous breeders, and confused buyers.
My husband tells me, after every litter I raise and send off,
"You just don't charge enough for these puppies."
And you know, he is probably right. He watches me work tirelessly every day. He watches me cry and laugh, in equal amounts. He watches me pull all-nighters when puppies get sick, or when we start potty training. He watches me miss vacations, holidays, and family functions regularly. And in addition to all of this watching, he helps me quite a bit, too. He allows over half of our very small home to be overtaken with little eating, pooping, and barking machines. My husband sees what buyers couldn't possibly see. He sees the true value of what I am doing, and of what other breeders who care about their animals are doing.
Thank your good breeder today, and please think twice about where your money is going the next time you choose to purchase a pet.