Just think back; remember the days when the teacher or professor said, "Tomorrow we will be having a test over......" you fill in the blank. For me it would evoke panic, terror even for I have test anxiety. I would study, know all the answers and then........a veil would drop and B L A N K!
Okay, I'm definitely not a college student any long :) And the Testing I want to talk about isn't Reading, Writing nor Arithmetic....oops now I am showing my age! It is a much greater matter, that of Genetic Health testing in dogs.
It is amazing to me to hear from potential Puppy buyers how they feel that reputable breeders charge more for their puppies. Well, let's talk about just that.
BYB (Back Yard Breeders), these are people who breed with no thought to their prodigy or the families who will buy one of their puppies. It isn't really that hard to take two dogs, one a male and one a female (if designer dogs they aren't even the same breed!) and put them together at the right time and produce puppies. To the buying public, these puppies are cute and adorable; just like our well thought out, championed and performance titled, health tested litters.
For a reputable breeder the planned litter of puppies has been 2 or more years in the making! We study pedigrees, make decisions on which male or female puppy will be adding to our lines and we set goals as to WHY we breed. It isn't just to have puppies to sell but rather it is about how we can IMPROVE our chosen breed. To add to the structure, temperament and health of the breed we love and live for.
After those careful decisions are made we then start the task of training the next future generation. So after the original purchase price we spend hours raising a puppy that will walk into the conformation ring with confidence and take that ring and make it theirs! The cost to Champion title one dog varies, but a breeder will plan a budget of $5000 + for and AKC title and around $2000 for a UKC title. This cost is based on show fees, photos lodging, gas and meals. If you use a professional handler for AKC the budget is going to be over the $5000 dollar amount. So then if you want to move on to a Grand Champion title those fee's will be double! Let's not forget all the grooming costs and equipment and time to maintain a Poodle show coat.
Now that our dog has his conformation title we move onto performance events. It's great to have a beautiful dog however, we also want a dog that is sound and has the ability to do things! Let's us a weight pulling title as and example for costs. I need to have custom made harness that fits my dog, that is $350 average. A wagon to practice with $90, sand bags for weight will add another $30. Hours of time spent training and conditioning the dog for the event. Now we are ready to compete; entry fees are $35 for each trial. To title we must pass the designated weight for my dog; 3 times. So that is a minimum of $105, again add the travel costs and we are at $500 or more!
Now I have at a minimum; a Champion dog with one performance title and I haven't factored in the cost of said dog! Now it's time for health testing. Let's say i do the minimum testing which is; Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), Neonatal Encephalopathy, Von Willebrand's Disease, hips, cardiac, eyes, thyroid: I will spend around $1000. Now if I do VGL testing that's $100, Macrothrombocytopenia $75. Coat Color testing $65 per test, you can see the costs adding up and I have not factored in food, routine vet/health checks or leashes, kennels etc.
Now let's look at our BYB, what have they "invested" in their dogs and breeding. Well, yes they had to buy a dog; the question here is what caliber of dogs are they investing in for their "lines". They don't show or do performance in many cases so there isn't any investment there. Most do NO health test, so again no cost incurred. Yes, there is food and we hope routine vet care for their dogs.
Our BYB is asking around $850 to 1,500 for their puppies. Do they offer a lifetime of support and a health guarantee for their puppies and the family? A BIGGER concern for me as a Breeder is once that puppy goes home and the kids and family have fallen in love with their new family member, what happens 6 months or 2 years down the road and their beloved pet has hip problems or a genetic defeat that could have been prevented! That poor family and dog are faced with large vet bills or worse yet the hard decision to euthanize their pet.
So when pet buyers ask WHY my dogs cost more then that BYB down the road; I have to wonder at the lack of knowledgeable pet buyers. I mean would you buy a car and not have looked at reviews, ratings, checked under the hood and done a test drive! You wouldn't buckle your children into a car that once down the road would malfunction or worse!
Why then would you invest in a lifetime family member and not have armed yourself with breed knowledge, ask questions of the breeder and checked for health testing! When you buy a puppy it isn't just an emotional investment because that face is so cute or that color is just what you wanted! I know most people aren't looking for a SHOW dog but rather a nice family pet; okay but don't you want the BEST for your family! To know that your dog is of sound structure, balanced, even temperament and intelligent. A dog that you can trust with your children and grandchildren.
As a Breeder of quality, health tested standard Poodles; I expect you to ask questions and have your concerns answered. To know that I will always be there to support and help you for the life of your pet or show dog. I desire for you to take pride in your companion. it's pedigree and heritage. It is a reflection of years of planned and careful breeding in preparation for YOU and YOUR FAMILY.
That is what a true Breeder is thinking every time a litter is born. We dream of the homes, families and achievements our little furry bundles will be in this life! So count the cost....you can pay a good price for an outstanding companion with years of planning or PAY the price later. That decision is yours.