Breeding dogs, in the general audience, is qualified as a hobby, a passion, a crime (!), but it can also become a business. Like all businesses, it can be performed responsibly or unethically.
Dog breeding should always put the welfare of the dogs first without ever cutting corners on that. Unfortunately, it’s not always black and white therefore leaving room for hot debates all over the Internet and in many neighborhoods where dog breeders decide to settle down.
Over the last months and years, we have published numerous articles on how much we hate unethical dog breeding (let alone puppy mills) and that the word business in breeding business simply means exchange of money for a dog which as far as I know, everybody does. If you want to read some of these articles pertaining to unethical dog breeding and puppy mills, check these out:
- The Concerning Welfare Issues of Modern Dog Breeding
- How to Report an Unethical Dog Breeder?
- Why Backyard Dog Breeding Cannot Be Criminalized
- A Third of Purchased Dogs Come From Puppy Mills
- The Cutest Smallest Tiniest Mini Teacup Toy Dog
Please forget the bitter taste and bad connotation you have associated with the word business because on this website, we meant responsible breeding business when we use the word breeding business.
Dog Breeding NOT As a Business
First, let’s define what is dog breeding when it is not performed as a business, often as a hobby or perhaps as a mistake. Generally, hobby breeders breed the one dog they own either by mistake because they have not supervised their dog, or simply because they want their female to experience motherhood at least once.
Such hobby breeders rarely have much knowledge in terms of pedigree analysis, canine gestation, and delivery. Nursing is also a blurry concept to them. Hobby breeders often improvise and take one problem at a time, hoping that Mother nature will take care of everything seamlessly. And letting nature follow its own course is generally better than being too involved with the whelping process.
Initially, once the female dog is visibly pregnant, a hobby breeder with start a long and intensive quest for updated dog breeding knowledge — and its generally when they find Breeding Business! Main points of concern are:
- Is there a must-have puppy milk replacer?
- What supplies do I need in my whelping kit?
- What makes a whelping box safe and comfortable?
- How to take care of a pregnant bitch?
- How to hand-nurse puppies?
- How to stimulate lactation in dogs?
Although these interrogations are common to all responsible dog breeders, they are a huge deal when you aren’t really expecting that much of a workload. Plus, hobby breeders tend to underestimate their importance in case of emergency.
A few weeks away from the litter’s due date, the hobby dog breeder is starting to post ads online, join Facebook Groups, spread the words in their vicinity, and so on. They will attract a few interested people and perhaps some more later on. Overall, it’s a one-off experience that will probably use up a chunk of the breeder’s savings, but it’s for a wonderful cause.
Once this one-off or accidental litter has been dealt with, the hobby breeder with rarely plan another breeding. It was a fulfilling time but the level of stress it caused was somewhat overwhelming for a regular dog owner who doesn’t have enough time to allocate to his canine family.
Dog Breeding As a Business
The other type of dog breeders is more prepared, knowledgeable, and ambitious. These as the more professional dog breeders who consider their activity as a sustainable and responsible dog breeding business. They may just have a single dog, or one litter every few years, but they see this as an activity, not as a one-off experience.
Prepared dog breeders generally find Breeding Business before they even organize their first mating; we’ve got plenty of open doors (i.e. amazing articles) where they can find us. Professional breeders aren’t huge dirty factories pumping out dozens of litters yearly. They predominantly are dedicated individuals who accumulated a wealth of knowledge about their favorite breed over the years (or even months.) They eventually and rightfully believe that they can improve the breed by only using the best blood available.
When somebody is breeding dog as a business, there is an clear intention of breeding the best of the best: not necessarily champions, but rather specimens that bring something to the table.
Therefore, pedigree analysis is a massive part of their work: they spend endless hours weekly trying to dissect each hype dog’s pedigree, assessing whether or not the given specimen is worth being included in their breeding program. Professional breeders know by heart which health screenings all dogs have to undergo, and which qualities and flaws each popular bloodline is associated with. They know that breeding dogs is a science that has nothing to do with putting two dogs together and allowing luck do the rest.
Paperwork is very important for more professional breeders: they want to sell each puppy with an agreement of sales that will protect both the new owner and themselves. They are keeping whelping records of each puppy so they can quickly monitor each of their pups if need be.
Can't You Be In Between?
You absolutely can. And I believe hobby breeding and professional dog breeding are on the same continuum; they are far from being two binary states. Every single ethical dog breeder is somewhere in between these two labels. Some breeders are clearly identified as hobby breeders while other are obviously more organized and professional in their approach.
What matters truly is for both types of breeders to ensure all their dogs are properly taken care of: diet, exercise, hygiene, health checks, paperwork, etc.
The cost of dog breeding is also important to consider. The profitability of dog breeding as a business is a huge conversation and while most will argue that you can only lose money if you breed ethically, I dare to disagree strongly.
A hobby breeder will inevitably lose money. A little or a lot will depend on so many factors (size of the litter, breed, pedigrees, health checks, registration…) that it is impossible for me to predict it right here right now.
A professional dog breeder also faces expenses, even more if you count all the marketing side of running a kennel: dog shows, pet exhibitions, paid ads, website hosting, website creating, domain name, etc. When having a dog breeding business, you also tend to take extra care with more vet checks (as you should), a better dog food, perhaps even training classes, and so on. At first sight, professional breeding is hard to profit from if you do not cut any corner to lower the level of expenses; but there is one thing you can change and hugely increase. It is your revenue generated by the sale of each puppy.
Talk to people. Ask prospects what would make them pay more for their future puppy, and execute upon that. This means having great pedigree, very clean kennels, but also having a modern kennel website with testimonials, weekly updates, galleries, and so on. Prospect buyers want to see you attending (or winning) dog shows even if they will never go there themselves. They want the best blood possible. They want to see you not just when you have puppies to sell, they want to know you from months ago and follow your journey from conception to sale.
Breeding dogs is an Art more than a business but there is an exchange of a dog for money down the line. Make sure you present your dogs and your kennel under the best angle so you can have a queue before you even have the puppies born. Don’t be scared to increase prices and build your reputation over time. Never stagnate in quality, always improve.