The adventures of SD Juno and SDIT Kaline (and their human, Colt).

19 May 2012

Why are you paying so much for a dog?

Purebred puppies cost a lot—that's why a lot of people, properly, adopt rescue dogs. It's also why a lot of people—stupid, lazy and/or ignorant people—buy dogs from backyard breeders, Craigslist, puppy mills and pet stores. I can definitely see why the initial price tag of a Doberman puppy would give a person pause.

So here are my reasons for going this route anyway—and why a dog like this costs what he does.

First of all, as should be obvious by now, this puppy is not going to grow up to be a pet if all goes according to plan. He is going to have an important job which requires him to have excellent health and temperament. Can you find a dog with excellent health and temperament in a shelter? Yes, you can. Can purebred dogs, bred by the most conscientious of breeders, still end up with health/temperament problems? Yes, they can. Still, going with an reputable breeder gives you an good chance of avoiding such problems. Plus, good breeders will stay in contact with you and can be an invaluable resource for advice throughout the dog's life.

There was a good article in Forbes a while ago about the true cost of a dog. If people are getting a family pet, I don't really think they should be going to a breeder, personally. I think they should be adopting from a shelter or breed-rescue. But some people really want a particular breed, for whatever reason. And if they are not going the breed-rescue route, then it's to the benefit of everyone (people and dogs) that they go to a reputable breeder, despite the higher price tag.

Not only is there the health and temperament consideration, but also the fact that when you buy a puppy from a backyard breeder, puppy mill or pet store—none of which do health testing, and which breed irresponsibly with no thought for bettering the breed, just for making money—you encourage such people to continue doing exactly what they are doing. A good breeder has maybe 1-2 litters per year; backyard breeders/puppy mill people view bitches as puppy-making machines, and want as many puppies out of each as they can get. Their puppies may be cheaper, initially, but likely not in the long run.

The people who think they're “saving” a puppy in these situations are flat-out wrong. You save a puppy when you adopt it from the shelter where this "breeder" has dumped it once it doesn't sell. When you "save" a puppy from a greeder, you encourage that person to put even more puppies in that unfortunate situation.

This explains why I went with a reputable breeder, and why anyone who chooses to go the breeder route should do so as well.

But why do the puppies cost so much?

Well, this post on Doberman Talk's forum does a great job explaining it. For those who would like a quick, dirty summary, here goes.

Good breeders spend a ton of money on their dogs. Showing in conformation is expensive, but generally no good breeder will breed an untitled bitch (there are some exceptions, of course—it's not always a red flag). Competing in dog sports is expensive—many breeders like to title dogs on "both ends" to show they really are capable of doing what the breed is supposed to do.

Other things are also very expensive. Like health testing. This is not just a vet check—we're talking hip X-rays, elbow X-rays, thyroid testing, DNA testing for von Willebrand's disease (a disease specific to Dobermans), CERF testing for eye problems and heart tests. No good breeder will breed dogs who are not health tested.

Then there are stud fees. And expenses for transporting the bitch. Then the expenses of caring for the bitch during her pregnancy (note, I'm not even talking about the general costs of just having a dog.) And then you have the newborn/toddler puppy expenses, which are considerable as well. No good breeder will skimp on these things.

After I read that post, I was amazed breeders don't charge more.

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