From $50 to $1500 and upward, puppies come
with many different price tags. Some may be
given free, and others may exceed even this
range. But where do these figures come from?
Puppy sellers come in several categories. They
include show breeders, working and sporting dog
breeders, puppy mill or commercial kennel
breeders, pet shop retailers, and backyard
Show breeders breed for correct type in
accordance to the breed standard., for size and
proportion, front and rear angulation, straightness
and reach of gait, head type, pigment, and all the
other traits important to maintaining the breed
according to the standard. Some of these traits
are important in the long-term health of the dog.
Show breeders take responsibility for certifying
their males and females against problems
inherent to their breed. Their efforts help minimize
inheritance of potential problems by their
puppies, which in turn will benefit the puppy
Working and sporting dog breeders concentrate
on working drives and retaining strong instincts
to perform the duties their dogs were originally
designed to do. These dogs are genetically
predisposed to perform their line of work whether
it is herding, trailing prey, flushing birds from the
bush after long, energetic searches, or
performing in the schutzhund field. These dogs
are not necessarily beauty contestants, for
temperament and workability are the priorities.
Health is important, so they are also screened for
health problems according to breed.
The price of puppies from show, working, or
sporting dog breeders are higher than most
newspaper classified ad puppies. These puppies
come generally come from parents that have
achieved titles under the well-trained eye of an
unbiased judge. Certification of parents have
been done in an attempt to eliminate hereditary
health problems such as hip dysplasia in large
breeds. Starting prices for these “blue-blooded”
progeny begin at $500 and may be more
depending on breed, titles, or potential as a show
dog, working dog, or pet.
Working titles in their pedigrees may include TD
or TDX for Tracking Dog or Tracking Dog
Excellent; HS, HI, or HX, the herding titles
awarded by the American Kennel Club; WD or
WRD for Water Dog or Water Rescue Dog from
the Newfoundland Club of America; DPO I or DPO
II for police dog titles; Schutzhund I, II, or III, or
other titles that indicate a continuation of the
dog's ability to do the work he was originally bred
Although these puppies sell for higher sums than
others, their temperaments should remain stable
relative to the purpose of the titles achieved by
their parents and grandparents.
Breeders of show, working, and sporting dogs
generally offer health guarantees, an indication of
a confident, well-considered breeding. The
passion these breeders have for their breed helps
them continue their journey to produce
genetically sound dogs.
Puppy mills and commercial kennels are the main
contributors to pet shops. Their goal is to produce
lots of puppies for profit. Puppies are a
commodity. Puppy mills may be raided by animal
control for horrid, deplorable conditions. Quality
is not a top concern in this part of the industry.
Puppies are often sold to pet stores at wholesale
prices and resold to the public at “show ” prices.
The cost of overhead, especially mall rental
property requires the store owner to charge
exorbitant prices for their “products.” Compulsive
buyers and the high degree of foot traffic
supports these establishments. Before making a
financial and emotional commitment, prospective
buyers should contact the area's humane society
and Better Business Bureau for information.
Backyard breeders are the main contributors of
puppies. This term applies to all who breed with
little knowledge of bloodlines, breed standard, or
proper temperament and structure. Their breeding
animals are not screened for potential inherent
problems prevalent in the breed, nor are the dogs
proven under the well-educated eye of a judge in
the show ring or at a trial. Key phrases such as
“champion bloodline,” “excellent bloodline,”
“German or European bloodline,” “oversized,” or
“rare colors” are often selling points in their ads.
They have not taken the time, money, or effort to
insure anyone they are breeding better dogs than
the next advertisement in the paper.
“Rare colors,” advertised as unique, may be
major faults according to the breed standard and
may be linked genetically to health problems.
“Excellent bloodline” is nothing more than a
family tree if the breeder has little or no
knowledge about bloodlines. Many backyard
breeders confess that they are not breeding show
dogs and don't subject themselves to the show or
performance breeders' rigorous attempts to
eradicate health problems or to maintain proper
type or temperament.
Puppies are like children — they are all cute. But
they do eventually grow up to be adults. If you
prefer a specific breed over a mutt, choose a
puppy with the potential to grow up healthy,
properly-sized and proportioned, and with the
correct temperament distinctive to the breed you
have chosen for the family pet.