How Much Should a Dog Cost from a Breeder? (Solved & Explained!)

The cost of a pedigree pup can vary a lot, based on the breed, it’s overall popularity, breeder care and medical costs, and specialized traits. That said, expect to pay anywhere from $400 up to $2000 on average when purchasing a ‘puppy with paperwork’.

Certain traits will drive up the price, such as rare colors, with a good example being a ‘blue’ Chihuahua. This particular color trait is ultra-rare, with pups going for as much as $10,000! Whether you are looking for a ‘standard’ color and size or more of a ‘designer’ dog, a breeder can certainly accommodate.

Just know going into it that if you are extremely picky about certain sizes, colors, or other traits, that you can get this but it will be reflected in the cost of your puppy.

For the remainder of this article, we’re going to answer the most frequently asked questions about breeders. What should you ask a breeder when you visit? Is $3000 too much for a dog? Find out the answers to these and other important questions in the sections below!

What is a reasonable price for a dog?

It depends, with a dog costing anywhere from $50 to $200 when ‘rescued’ from a shelter, or anywhere from $500 up to $2000, on average when purchasing a purebred dog from a breeder.

With a breeder purchase, you are paying for specific traits, such as a bloodline that appears to be resistant from certain illnesses, as well as color traits, size, and more. Paperwork is also provided to help attest to this and if the breeder agrees, these purebreds may also be bred for profit.

So, depending on what you want, you can purchase a ‘standard’ or ‘designer’ dog, and the price is going to reflect that choice dramatically.

Is $3000 too much for a dog?

Not necessarily. You need to keep in mind breeder costs, as well as certain genetic factors that a breeder has spent years breeding into their dogs.

Care and upkeep isn’t cheap, with some breeders spending as much as $7500 caring for a litter of Golden Retrievers or other high-end dogs to ensure that the pups are healthy, happy, and well-socialized.

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If you factor in rare coloration (especially recessive traits, which are harder to isolate), then this may also drive up the price. Depending on the dog, $3000 might actually be quite a bargain!

Is it cheaper to get a dog from a breeder?

No, getting a dog from a breeder is not cheaper, with the exception of notorious ‘puppy mills’ which you definitely want to avoid. With puppy mills, the goal is to have as many pups as possible to sell quickly and then ‘move on’, often resulting in overstressed, underfed, and otherwise unhealthy dogs.

With a breeder, you are paying for a pup through a source that is registered with an entity such as the American Kennel Club, who will provide you with a healthy dog, well cared for and with paperwork to back up the fact that they come from a healthy bloodline.

Can you negotiate with a dog breeder?

Yes, you can certainly negotiate with a breeder, but don’t expect to have a lot of leverage unless their dogs are absolutely not selling at the time you are negotiating with them. It is estimated that 68 – 70% of American households have a pet, and purebred dogs are in high demand most of the time.

Factor in that a breeder has to ‘eat’ the costs of managing a large environment for dogs, obtaining timely vaccinations, paperwork, and sometimes even socialization and limited obedience training and the costs start to make a little more sense.

You can definitely negotiate with a breeder, but keep these costs in mind when you do so that you go into it with realistic expectations.

What is a puppy mill breeder?

A ‘puppy mill’ breeder is a dog breeder that is not registered, provides no paperwork, and offers ‘purebred’ pups at a discounted price in order to simply sell as many as possible.

These pups are often so numerous that they are housed in unhealthy conditions and may come home with their new owners both sickly and ill-adjusted. When you are considering a breeder, the best way to avoid a ‘puppy mill’ is to simply ask to take a look at where the dogs are housed.

If you see cramped conditions that smell bad and are generally unclean, then it’s best to bring your business elsewhere and possibly even to report the breeder if you feel that the conditions are actually cruel.

Puppy mills can be a nightmare for dogs and potential owners alike and you don’t want to encourage their business.

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Should you buy dogs from breeders?

You should definitely consider buying your puppy from a breeder. While it is more expensive, a good breeder can provide you with a puppy that is not only happy and healthy, but which comes from parents and grandparents that lived long, healthy lives as well.

You can also get a pretty good idea of what your dog will look like as an adult, simply by asking to meet its parents. Breeders go that extra mile to ensure that you are getting a fully vaccinated, well-behaved pup that will have paperwork to demonstrate a long and healthy lineage.

It’s not a 100% guarantee that there will be no health problems, but it’s the closest thing that you can get!

How do you find a reputable dog breeder?

You have a lot of options for finding a reputable breeder, with the easiest being the American Kennel Club’s website. There you can find referrals to registered members of the AKC for local breeders that can help.

You can also find them at dog shows and that is a great way to see their dogs as well, or you could simply ask local vets – good breeders regularly bring their adult dogs and pups in for regular checkups, so this is a great way to find out which breeders are taking great care of their dogs.

What questions should I ask a dog breeder?

When you are visiting a breeder to purchase a pup, there are definitely a few things that you want to be sure to ask in order to purchase in confidence. Here are a few examples so that you can get an idea of what you want to learn about during your visit:

  • Ask to see the parents and if they are certified with paperwork and health histories of their own
  • Ask to take your potential puppy aside to see how they behave away from their littermates – do this twice in one week to be sure the behavior is consistent with what you expect
  • Ask is the parents have had any health issues
  • Ask the age of the puppies – breeders should only be releasing them at 8 to 10 weeks of age, anything earlier can result in a poorly socialized pup, and possibly specialized health requirements to nurse them to proper health
  • Ask to see where the puppies and adult dogs are housed – don’t do business with anyone that has dirty kennels or dogs with matted hair

How long should a breeder guarantee a puppy?

Most breeders will guarantee a medium or smaller breed of dog for up to 1 year, while larger dogs will often get a health guarantee of up to 18 months. If your breeder offers no guarantees on health, it is best to consider another breeder instead.

A good breeder knows that their puppies are healthy and won’t be afraid to stand by this. Be mistrustful of anyone that won’t guarantee your puppy’s health – you are paying extra to insure this!

Do breeders take their puppies to the vet?

Yes, breeders take their puppies to the vet regularly in order to ensure that they are getting their vaccines and that they are in optimal health. If your breeder is local, find out what vet they are using, so that you have a vet to call that has already worked with your pup.

It’s a great way to find a good pup and a good vet, all in one go!