Oh boy, do I remember this conversation like it was yesterday? “They cost how much?!” Lance gawked at me from across the dinner table. We had been talking about getting a corgi for months. We had researched, we had prepared ourselves, we were ready – and after weeks and months of searching, I had finally found a breeder I wanted to purchase our new puppy from.
Now, Lance has always been a frugal man (a quality I have always respected about him) but I was not about to bargain shop for our new puppy. I knew this was going to be a long debate, but to me, it was worth every second.
I have learned that, just like everything else in this world, when it comes to dogs, “You get what you pay for.”
Why You Shouldn’t Bargain Shop For Puppies
As humans, we are always on the hunt for the best deal. Where can I get this product the cheapest? Where is the clearance rack? I can buy that cheaper on Amazon… To be fair, most of us aren’t rich and we don’t like wasting money (even if we can afford to). When we are shopping for clothes, cars, or whatever else, it is all about getting the best deal. So…why shouldn’t we bargain shop for puppies?
Dog prices usually range from $400 to $4,000 depending on the breed and the quality of the dog. As a bargain-hunting human, it is far too easy to lean toward that $400 dog. It is almost instinctual for us to buy the lower-priced one. It’s the better deal, right? Why wouldn’t you buy it?
What most people don’t consider is what each of those dogs will cost over their lifetime. $3,600 seems like a lot of money separating two seemingly similar dogs. However, the purchase price of the dog is only a small part of what the dog will actually cost you over its lifetime.
A reputable breeder charges more because maintaining a proper breeding program is expensive. For starters, quality breeding dogs require extensive health testing and clearances. These tests require expensive specialists. Specific tests can vary based on the breed, but for Pembroke Welsh Corgis the most common health clearances include Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, CERF eye exams, cardiac evaluations, Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) and von Willebrand Disease (vWD).
Just to get an idea of how much these tests can cost, the table below shows the average price of some of the most popular tests.
Average Cost for Health Clearances
- OFA Cardiac: $100-$500
- Penn Hip OR OFA Hips and Elbows: $200-$800
- CERF(CARE) Eye Exams: $50
- Thyroid Clearance: $520
- General Genetic Screening: $160Total: $930 – $2,030
If a breeding dog fails any tests, they are immediately removed from the breeding pool. Breeders do this so bad genes cannot be passed onto future offspring (i.e. your future puppy). Reputable breeders understand that they are breeding to better the breed. They will never breed a dog that does not meet or exceed the standards of the breed.
Unfortunately, this means one failed test can result in a total loss of investment for the breeder (money and time). What most people fail to realize is that after food, health testing, routine blood-work, medication, vet bills, loss of breeding stock, and countless hours invested, a reputable breeder won’t make much money. Most breeders simply have a passion for the breed and do it because they genuinely love doing it.
Now, let’s be clear, not every $3,000 dog is going to come from a quality breeder either. The price of a dog does not determine its quality. It is important that as a prospective buyer, you should always interview your breeder. Ask informative questions that help you gauge what quality of dogs they produce. Don’t feel pressured to buy right away without researching other breeders. Remember, you are selecting a new member of your family. Take your time and do it right the first time.
Backyard Breeders (BYB)
So, what is a Backyard Breeder? To be clear, the term BYB has nothing to do with where the dogs are bred, but has everything to do with the breeders breeding practices. BYBs can be hard to spot. They can look like a friendly neighbor or a family friend. Here are 3 easy ways to identify if a breeder is a BYB:
- First, They do not interview potential buyers. Breeders should interview you just as much as you interview them. They do not need to know your whole life’s story, but they should get a good sense of who you are and what kind of home their dogs are going to.
- Second, They do not offer any health guarantees on their dogs and/or they do not do any health testing. This is a big one! Never trust a breeder that won’t guarantee puppies for congenital or genetic defects. Breeders should always stand behind the puppies they produce. A quality breeder strives to produce quality pups. If they aren’t testing their dogs, how could they possibly know what quality of dogs they are producing? Remember, just because a parent was a “show dog” that does not mean it is a proper breeding dog.
- Third, They sell their puppies with full or non-AKC registration. A reputable breeder should never contribute to the growing BYB epidemic. Nearly all puppies should be sold on “Limited Registration” and breeders should be extremely picky with who they sell “full AKC registered” dogs to.
Backyard Breeders can have seemingly good-intentions, but in reality, they can be dangerous to the breed they are breeding. BYB do not produce “breed standard” dogs. Backyard bred puppies often suffer from genetic and congenital diseases due to the lack of testing. This allows disease-prone dogs to enter the gene pool and diminishes the overall quality of the breed. As harmless as backyard breeding may seem, this senseless breeding is considered extremely dangerous and unethical.
When it comes to puppies, you literally get what you pay for. If you are paying $400 for a puppy, don’t expect your puppy to be cleared of genetic diseases. Expect a $400 – at risk, dog. With reputable breeders, you aren’t paying more money for the same dog, you are paying for testing that ensures the quality and lifelong health of your puppy. Regardless if the parents appear “healthy” or “have good conformation”, they can still carry bad genes and past them on to their offspring unknowingly. The ONLY way to confirm a dog is of breeding quality and will produce quality puppies is to have them tested.
Along with the potential health risks, backyard bred dogs also carry significant financial risk. If that $400 dog develops Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) or Hip Dysplasia, you’ll definitely be paying that $3,600 difference in vet bills alone. Not to mention you could easily pay a few thousand more on medication and other forms of disease management. Keep in mind, these genetic diseases aren’t treatable ailments and your dog will never get better. If diagnosed, your dog will struggle with these ailments their entire lives. ‘Cheap’ purebred dogs usually end up costing more in the long run. Invest the money early on and buy yourself some peace of mind.
Average Cost of Diseases Per Year
- Hip Dysplasia: $1500 – $2200
- Degenerative Myelopathy: $2000 – $4000
- Cardio Myelopathy: $1500 – $3500
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: $1700 – $2300
Along with the financial toll, there are also emotional costs involved with these preventable conditions. Watching your beloved family member’s health slowly deteriorate before you is absolutely heartbreaking. For most of us, it’s not something we ever want to consider. The fact of the matter is it happens more often than you think. Just like humans, pets don’t always pass from old age. If you can prevent your dog from suffering with a few preventative health tests, why wouldn’t you?
With all these costs in mind, it is important to analyze your own financial standing. If you can’t pay $3,000 or more for a dog, don’t buy a dog. Backyard breeders live and thrive off of people who aren’t capable of purchasing a fully-tested and professionally bred dogs. Not only are you encouraging unethical backyard breeding, but you are also putting your emotional and financial well-being at risk by purchasing a poorly bred dog. Save yourself the heartache and hardship and wait until you can afford an appropriately bred dog.
Bringing a furry family member into your home should always be a happy and exciting experience. It can also be a very costly experience if you aren’t careful. Do your due diligence and research your breed and what diseases your breed is prone to. Research your breeder and make sure they are producing a quality dog. Lastly, evaluate your home and determine if your family is ready for a 10+ year commitment. If you and your breeder pass the interviews, your healthy puppy is headed to a great home.