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The true cost of raising a litter of pups

(20 Posts)

Inspired by Slave very kindly answering my question on another thread, I thought I'd start a thread where those in the know can discuss the real costs of responsibly breeding and raising a litter of pups until they go to their new homes. This is partly because I'm genuinely interested and nosey, and also to perhaps help people toying with the idea of breeding their pets to get a taste of the financial reality of doing it right. So, over to you smile

topbannana Mon 20-May-13 13:11:18

Will be interested to see this.
A couple other forums I frequent have quite vocal debates about whether breeders actually make any money from litters or not. Most breeders vehemently deny that they do while vast swathes of the population are convinced they are raking it in- it is an amusing debate to be a bystander in grin
Firstly you have stud fees, then extra food and veterinary care for the dam. Health tests dependant on the breed, hence why some breeds are so highly priced. Assuming a trouble free birth you have the added expense of puppy food and milk, advertising fees, veterinary treatment for tail and dew claws if appropriate.
My personal view is that once you have built up a kitty to pay for emergency treatment and had the health tests done then there IS money to be made. If you need to take time off work to care for the mum and pups then breeding was a foolish decision you may be out of pocket.
There is also the fear that all the pups will not sell and you will still have a couple at 3 or 4 months, coupled with the commitment you should undertake to have back any pup you breed that is no longer able to stay with its new family (this is the bit that has always scared the crap out of me!)
Personally I think that some people make a lot, most make a bit and some get well and truly stitched up. As I am of the "easily stitched up" variety I would never undertake it grin

Floralnomad Mon 20-May-13 13:22:52

I would think ( personal opinion) that if everything goes to plan with no problems there must be some profit for all breeders. For back yard breeders there must be profit in it and I'm basing that opinion on the fact that apparently Mick Philpott used to breed dogs ( according to a programme I saw) and I doubt he was doing it for love ! I would imagine that the designer dog breeders must be raking it in at several hundred pounds per mongrel .

idirdog Mon 20-May-13 13:27:12

It is more than just the cost. Of course some people do make money from breeding as they do no health tests, do not treat their dogs humanely, do not get medical care when it is needed etc.

The ethical debate is way more important - 100,000's of dogs are destroyed in the UK every year as they are unwanted. There is NO need to breed more dogs.

I understand your point, idirdog, I suppose I was just curious as to the true cost of breeding, say, a litter of Labradors. If all the health tests are done, if the bitch is given the best care, if the pups are given the best start etc, what does it cost a decent breeder to raise those pups? Not even taking into account the possibility of problems during the pregnancy and birth I imagine it's several thousand pounds to do it 'right'. If people realised how much it costs to produce healthy pups, they might think twice about breeding their pets for profit.

Floralnomad Mon 20-May-13 13:57:46

But that is the point chickens ,people who breed from their pets ( for profit) aren't interested in all the things you mentioned ,they're interested in the profit .

Yes. Huh. I suppose that is the point. I'll, er, get me coat <slinks off clutching leads and gravy bones>

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 20-May-13 14:06:26

It think it helps people to understand why the pup whose parents had all the health checks is more expensive than the one in the freeads. If had a fiver for every time some said, but we bought this one because it was cheaper than the ones who had had the health checks I'd be a millionaire.

pinguwings Mon 20-May-13 14:09:29

I think Chickens has a good point. People see their breeds puppies can be sold for £700 each....lets say 6 puppiess... £4200

Now that would look appealing to anyone and I think that's why a hell of a lot of back yard breeding goes on.

What people never see or hear about is the cost of producing these puppies... often more than you can make selling them.

Anything that will put off more unwanted pups is a good thing.

Lonecat, what roughly do all the tests cost? (Hope you don't mind me asking and putting you on the spot, but I know you know grin)

Gingersstuff Mon 20-May-13 15:59:24

Ok, our beloved family pets, a yellow lad and golden retriever, had a wee liaison behind a tree the week before the boy's appt for the snip. Not planned but hey ho. She had ten pups, all big and healthy and they thrived but I put a lot of that down to the fact that DH and I took turns sleeping on the sofa for the first week and were up at all hours to make sure they were all getting fed (two of the girls were smaller than the others) and not squashed under the mother (even though we'd built a large whelping box the pups can still suffocate if you're not careful). We were extremely fortunate that DH was self-employed at the time and even though not ideal, could take the time off to be with the pups - it really is a 24-hour-a-day job for the first week or so and after that someone still needs to be with them pretty much constantly.
The parents are both from really good bloodlines and some of the pups went locally to people who knew the mum and dad and how lovely-natured they were..in fact our vet took the pick of the litter.
In all we sold the pups for just under £3000 (we kept one) and when we totted up all our costs - we honestly didn't make a bean out of it. In fact less than a bean.
Building/buying a whelping box, vet checks and increased feeding costs for the bitch (we were astounded at this, she was eating like a horse and you must feed good quality stuff for the pups), washer and dryer going like the clappers changing the bedding several times a day after the birth, husband taking the time off work so not earning at all for 8 weeks, newborn puppy milk to supplement bitch's milk when the pups got bigger, several vet checks, health tests, all inoculations, food bowls, puppy food, porridge, scrambled eggs, wet wipes, rubber gloves, cleaning stuff (we went through incredible amounts especially when they all caught a tummy bug shock), making up puppy packs for the new owners...the list goes on. And you have to bear in mind that this all has to be paid for up front, before you see a penny from a potential owner.
One wee pup who seemed to suffer more than the others with the upset stomach ended up in the vets for 2 days just for rehydration and obs, cost us almost £300. But really nothing in the scheme of things considering what could have gone wrong...I have heard of litters costing thousands in vet fees due to unforeseen problems. We considered that we got off lightly, and mum took to the pups like a pro which was another thing that could have gone badly wrong and frequently does.
Once the pups get a little bigger they really are into absolutely everything and so need to have constant supervision - you'd be amazed at the tiny spaces they can get themselves trapped in!
When it came to selling, we vetted our owners extremely carefully and I absolutely loved the experience (we have two kids and they thought it was the bee's knees having all these pups around), I cried at every one of them going away and we got a beautiful girl pup out of it, but I wouldn't repeat it. It was physically, mentally and financially exhausting. If you do it right.

Gingersstuff Mon 20-May-13 15:59:58

lab not lad!!

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 20-May-13 16:46:05

Chickens I am afraid there is no easy answer to that there are hundreds of tests and different breeds need different combinations. Some tests are one offs a single blood test to say whether a dog carries a gene of x-rays for hip Dysplasia or elbow Dysplasia. Others are clinical examinations for which the certificate is only valid for one year and would therefore need to be repeated. It would not be outlandish to consider that the average cost of correctly testing would be 300-500 so 600-1000 for both parents to be done.
Information on what individual breeds should be checked for is avaliable from the kennel club and good breeder should immediately volunteer this information.
Add to this that some conditions have an accepted method and a gold standard for example PRA accepted clinical exam to check parents currently not affected and gold standard blood test to show not carrying gene.
You have also to be careful too as with hip scoring there is no pass or fail each set of x-rays are given a score it is advised that only animals with a score below the breed mean score are breed from, but there is nothing to stop anyone from breeding from and registering the pups from an animal with a higher than mean score. Plus different breeds have widely different means current for labs it is around 10 and for Sussex Spaniels around 45.

TataClaire Mon 20-May-13 18:17:58

I bred a litter in 2000 and first there was the stud fee for a good dog, £250 then antibiotics because she got lady issues, then all the extra food in the last of pregnancy, managed to borrow a whelping box, had to get milk formula and feeding bottles and vetbed and heatmat. Then the labour started but went on forever - cue trip to vets- sent home, then she started and had four pups then vet home visit and then bitch had a fever and had to get up every two hours to get her to feed the puppies not to mention convince her to eat while she was feeling ill, then handfeed the runt who after four days had to be pts after realising she had a bad cleft palate, then weaning, the all the bedding and washing and sterlising and then weeks of cleaning their poo and wee and entertaining them and socialising them....definitely not money making unless you're really lucky but was also the best most rewarding experience and of course I kept a pup who was a wonderful friend until he went this year. Rather like having kids, it's a mixed bag! I then had my girl neutered!

Slavetothechild Wed 22-May-13 16:58:44

Hi chicken I've had a real good thought now about the costs of raising litters. It was worse than I stated before! Firstly even if you have a kennel club registered bitch you pay £15 to put her in your name, if you have endorsements on the bitch you can't breed or the breeder may charge you to remove them.

Next is health testing hip scoring is £120 at the vets for X-rays £60 to the BVA for results. If you have not had the bitch micr chipped thats another £25 , Rcd1 PRA DNA costs £70 . We are hereditary clear for other diseases or that would be more expense !
On to the actual mating stud fee £800 plus travelling and maybe hotels.

We mate over approx. 4 days so if a long way from home we have to pay for a cheap hotel normally about £40 a night . Then we have the pre mate progesterone tests £40 this is usually done twice. Herpes vaccine £35.
Ok so the bitch is now mated next is a scan to see if it has taken that's about £35 . We feed the bitches more after about 7weeks so extra cost again. Worming from day 40 daily ( we buy a litre of wormer so about £60).

Now you need a whelping box and sky's the limit on how much it cOsts but my husband made ours and it cost about £90. Vet bed £70 . Heat pad for pups £30 or a heat lamp and red bulb £30 .

So now you are ready for the birth if that's straight forward you have no extra costs at this point smile if you need a c section it's upwards of £400 plus any call out/nighttime fee. After the birth we get the vet to check mum and pups and give an oxytocin injection £75 to ensure all after births ect are expelled.obviouly you need lots of towel ect. We also buy Dopram to use if pups aren't breathing when born £40

The pups are now here and if you have no problems you are only paying for mums extra food! At 3/4 weeks you start weaning we use royal canin maxi baby food about £50 a bag . Costs depend on number and size of pups . I think with a litter of 10 we go through about 5 bags .also puppy milk £15 a tin use about 3 . Also raw mince chicken wings yougart ect every feed . 5 feeds a days . Pups need toys on average we spend £50. Paper collar to identify them £5 .

You need a secure garden area or a pen to let them play in cheapest if you have to buy about £30. Bowls for feeding and watering again costs vary.

The pups then need registering with the kennel club £15 each puppy we have a kennel name that cost us £70 and £20 a year to keep it . Also the kennel club assured breeder scheme costs us £15 a year sad we are members as we do breed correctly.

There are probably loads of thing I have forgotten and when you have problems the costs soar for example feeding tubes for struggling pups are £26 each ! If mum get mastitis that can cost £150 plus for vet visits injection antibiotic ect . For putting a pup to sleep it costs £20 last time we spent about £180 trying to save a pup on to lose him sad . At the time our last litter were born my friend had a litter and lost the mother after spending close to £3000 trying to save her it does happen .

So yes raising pups is expensive lol .

Slavetothechild Wed 22-May-13 17:02:37

Looking at that I have forgotten loads worming pups and flea treatment and tons more obvious thinks !!!!! But at least that is a start . You lose your mind when you breed puppies its truly 24/7 also my vets charges are cheap as it hey are family rates !

kilmuir Wed 22-May-13 17:06:15

Should not be encouraged.
Too many unwanted dogs are put to sleep every day

Slavetothechild Wed 22-May-13 17:18:15

Very true kilmuir. we only breed if we a keeping show dogs . We have lists of people waiting for our puppies as we only breed every few years . Too many people breed for money and without knowledge

cedmonds Thu 23-May-13 09:10:24

We breed Border Colllies and have done for years.
All our bitches and stud dog are DNA tested CEA, CL and TNS and others. They are eye tested every year and have been hearing tested. They are also hip scored.
We also have to pay the kennel club for our kennel name and to be be assured breeders.
All the bitches are health checked before we mate them and they are blood tested to get the timings right.
You have the got the cost of stud fees /traveling if we dont use our own dog. If we think the bitch has taken them we get them xrayed to see how many pups so we know for sure that she has finished given birth.

You have then got the cost of extra food etc for the mum and the cost of whelping boxes heat lights etc. Penning for when they are bigger food for pups extra bowls etc. Plus all the newspapers etc for the floor. We also have to pay to have the pups registered with the Kennel Club
All our pups or tattooed vet checked and eye and hearing tested
It is very hard work having a litter of pups and is a full time job to do it properly are pups are in the front room so are always in the house, and we make sure they have been well handled and socialized.
We make very little money form having the pups by the time you have taken in account of the above.
It makes me really wary when people argue over the cost of the pups asking why they are so much more money than the ones on gum tree friday add etc.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 23-May-13 09:22:19

Cemonds as I pointed out on the other thread it frustrates me when people come in the clinic proud of themselves that they have bought this 'cheap' puppy and not realising that the other puppies are more expensive for a very good reason.
Currently have my head in my hands as we have had a call from someone who has no money and left her 7 year old entire in season jack Russell bitch alone with her male entire German shepherd five weeks ago and now her tummy is getting large. Ahhhhhhh why oh why are people soooo stupid.

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