Ask any old-school breeder and they will tell you, “Oh no son, you cannot make money in dog breeding!” — and they are right, if you do it as they do it, you will lose a lot of money while running your kennel.
Now, whether you have started your kennel or just bred a one-off puppy litter, you have three ways to go at it:
- Spend Less — decrease expenses to ensure a profit
- Breed More — increase the number of transactions
- Breed Better — increase the quality of the bloodline
We’ve covered these in our very popular article about the profitability of dog breeding. So we’ll carry on with this article believing that you genuinely belong to the third category: breeding better dogs.
Never cut corners on your dogs’ health, diet, training, socialization, and overall well-being just to make a profit. This would be a disgusting practice (that unfortunately too many keep on doing.)
Instead, here are five tips for you to start making a profit in your responsible dog breeding (you can find plenty more in-depth strategies in our bestseller, The Dog Breeder’s Handbook.)
Increase Your Prices
Because you should never lower the quality of care and breeding for your dogs, you must increase prices in order to make a profit. And I can hear some of you getting frustrated because you are already struggling to sell your puppies at their current competitive price.
I’ve never said it was going to be easy — it’s a lot of work but you need to increase your prices and provide so much value that potential clients will think it’s a no-brainer. By constantly lowering your prices in order to keep a competitive advantage, you are forcing yourself into a corner. You are literally tying your own hands.
This means you must distinguish your dogs and kennel name through uniqueness, quality, and a reputation. Only then, you can afford a rise in your prices.
Robert Cialdini, a famous persuasion and influence expert, narrates an incredible story that once you hear it makes a lot of sense. You can read it here but in essence, it states that people see more quality and value in a higher price tag.
Therefore, increasing your prices will send a great signal to your prospects — and what kind of breeders wants to sell their beloved puppies to cheap greedy families?
Don’t Breed Average Dogs
Let’s face it, more than half the dogs bred worldwide are just average dogs that the owners should have never bred. This results in the puppies having no uniqueness, purpose or specialty, therefore, they can only be sold at a low price, often incurring a loss.
So, the tip here is to only breed your top dogs even if it means breeding less.
If you and your neighbors think your dog is awesome, confirm this with objective eyes — such as those of a judge in a conformation ring. Your biased opinion weighs very little on the market, but the awards and competitions you ranked in are appreciated.
Don’t get me wrong, if your dog participates but ranks very poorly, he or she may not be a good candidate (or you may be a very bad handler.) Be sure to train yourself at this and try with different dogs and get feedback on what went well and what went wrong. It will be hard to hear but that’s the only way you can progress and have sought-after dogs.
Sell-out Before the Puppies Are Born
The second leverage you can get is to have a queue or waiting list. A price gets decided following the simple supply-demand rule. If you have 6 puppies and only 3 clients, you will decrease your prices. If you have 6 puppies and 20 clients, you can very easily increase your price point.
There are several ways to get people interested before the puppies are born:
- breed your champions, both Dams, and Sires
- use exceptional external bloodlines
- repeat successful breedings and demonstrate previous success
Or, you can also be proactive in your litter promotion and start talking about it weeks before the mating even occurs, or use more channels to promote your upcoming litter (Facebook Groups, Ads, Word to Mouth, etc.)
Too many breeders forget that their existing clients and forever homes are the perfect ambassadors to sell a new litter of puppies. That counts only if you are breeding healthy puppies and stay in touch with their families. Email each one personally and inform them of the new litter, they probably have people around them who complimented them on their dog and perhaps want a similar one.
Price Each Puppy Individually
To you, every puppy of a litter is a gem that you will cherish and care for equally. For the market, this is not true. And deep down, you know it, especially if you’ve bred a few litters already: some puppies are just more popular than others.
Often due to a specificity they have — such as a color, pattern, type of coat, body shape, etc. — such puppies will receive a lot more attention. You absolutely need to capitalize on these puppies.
This is why you should absolutely price each puppy of the same litter individually:
- increase the price of sought-after puppies
- decrease the price of puppies that aren’t selling
- find a good middle-ground for the others
By booming the price of some puppies, you will eventually generate more money for a litter. Just be smart about it and avoid any delusion of grandeur by starting to 10x each puppy that receives a little compliment.
Build a Following Online and Offline
Unfortunately for them, most dog breeders start being active online and in their communities only when they have a litter of puppies on the way. And their activity level is commonly proportional to the number of puppies in that litter.
— Only one puppy? Fine, I’ll just post an ad.
— Oh what, four puppies? Alright, I might ask a few more people then.
This is very poor execution and I wish buyers could spot breeders who are part-timers getting passionate only when they have dogs to sell.
Instead, take some time every day or every weekend to focus on building up your reputation as a dog breeder, kennel name, and bloodline. Do it in any way you feel comfortable with:
- Kennel Website — post a weekly update about what the life of a dog breeder looks like (challenges, successes, routine, chores…)
- Instagram — pick Instagram for example and engage with fellow breeders and breed fanciers
- Live Video — use Snapchat or Instagram Stories to show snaps of your days
- Exhibitions — attend and help in local or national dog shows
- Events — organize visits to your facilities for the neighborhood’s kids
- YouTube Channel — post more sophisticated content around your breeder’s life
There are so many ways you can be working towards building a reputation for yourself and your dogs, all year-round. Now, it’s definitely not for the lazy breeders out there, but the reward is worth the commitment.
Final Thoughts — Dog Breeding Does Not Mean Losing Money
We’ve also written a popular post a few months ago showing different ways to generate extra income as a dog breeder — it’s a smart move to have a side hustle too!
There is no magic formula to making a profit when breeding dogs; this is because dog breeding is a demanding passion and requires the breeder to have perfect dogs while also executing a perfect marketing and promotion strategy on the side.
Plenty (thousands) dog breeders make a profit because they put in the work and don’t just become alive when the puppies are born. If you aren’t willing to put in the extra work, perhaps you should even get involved with dog breeding in the first place.
Find many more strategies that all ethical dog breeders should put in place in The Dog Breeder’s Handbook.