When thinking about getting a dog, price is certainly important. Although it is natural for us buyers to try for the best possible price, the long term value the dog will be bringing us for many years will surely go over the one-time cost materialized in a purchase price.
In the same time, price that we pay to a breeder is always only a starting expense, not a final one. Solid feeding, vet care (preventive and accute), socialization and training will always cost something. Interval from-to is really huge and for a better idea, we will provide a few examples of expenses related to dog keeping from multiple families in a separate article (on the bottom of the page).
Let’s get back to a purchase price, which naturally is different and let’s try to explain why that is. Price question is directly related to our realistic expectations and with how we identify ourselves with the following statement:
“I just want a loving couch potato companion, I don’t want to attend dog shows and have no breeding ambitions.”
Zumi Wakizashi of Tianito, photo/owner: Viktor Adamov
If this statement below confirms our situation, then we have 2 options with completely different prices depending on whether:
We don’t have any specific expectations about particular talents, capabilities or temperament of a dog and therefore we don’t have a breed preference or
We have decided about a particular dog breed.
In the first case it is the most suitable to look for our dream dog buddy in dog shelters . One of the most distinctive advantages of adopting a dog from a shelter is that the dog is available almost instantly. As soon as we pick a particular dog and shelter staff verify our conditions to confirm the dog will have a happy future with us, physical take-over of the dog takes just a few days, sometimes it is even quicker and you can get the dog during a first visit (of course, this depends on rules defined by a particular shelter). Price in this case is really symbolic, it is necessary to pay the shelter adoption fee (which is usually around 70 EUR) which covers part of cost related to care of that dog (except for food also a medical care or surgery). Furthermore, every dog leaves the shelter dewormed, completely vaccinated, microchipped and neutered/ spayed. In the case of young puppies, the adoption contract defines the obligation of the new owner to neuter/ spay the dog after reaching adult age.
If we are determined to get a particular dog breed from a breeder, starting cost will be logically higher. Its price is defined by the breeder and below we will try to shed some light on the major factors that are naturally materialized in the price:
Costs related to mating
Price paid to the owner of a stud dog after pregnancy confirmation - if the dog is not from the same kennel, it is usually the price of one puppy (it can be defined as a fixed price for every born puppy - e.g. 150 EUR for each born pup, or fixed fee for a mating as such - e.g. 500 EUR, 1500 EUR or even more based on a stud dog quality, regardless of count of born puppies).
Travel expenses - owner of a female usually travels to a stud dog (breeder might not guess the best, most fertile days of the female or dogs might just not want to mate on that day, so breeders might need to repeat the visit 2-3 times. Example - when a stud male lives around 250 - 300 kms away from a female, 3 turnaround trips cost around 100 EUR.
Expenses for accommodation - mating is usually repeated at least 1x (on different days) and in case of longer distances, female owner usually prefer staying over for a couple of days instead of repeated turnaround visits.
Symbolic fee for issuing a mating permit (fee paid to the kennel club)
Cost of care for the female during pregnancy and after giving birth (pregnancy takes around 60-63 days)
Increased food intake and supplements
Special vet care
Vet check-up at least 1x during pregnancy, additional visits in case of complications (10-20 EUR per visit if there is no complication)
Ultrasound examination before and after birth (around 15 EUR when we go see the vet, 50-100 EUR if vet comes to see us in our home, depending on distance)
Progesterone levels in the blood for checking whether the female is ready for mating, or cytology (around 10-20 EUR).
Cost of raising a litter and care for puppies (from birth until they leave to new families it usually takes 8-10 weeks):
Puppy vet check, vaccination and mandatory microchipping (together around 40-50 EUR per puppy) - vaccination: infectious diseases such as parvovirus and distemper, usually also hepatitis, laryngotracheitis and parainfluenza, after 9th week also leptospirosis.
4-5 times deworming medication
Fee for pedigree document confirming the origin for each puppy (10 EUR per puppy)
Food (puppy kibble and additional raw food)
Fee for a one time check from the club’s breed advisor (a club fee defined by the SKSJP which covers original japanese spitz breeds in Slovakia is 50 EUR per litter)
“Starting package” for each puppy - usually contains a small pack of puppy kibble that a puppy is used to, a collar, leash and also some little toy (might be 10-30 EUR+ per puppy)
In case of export to foreign country, there are extra costs for:
Export pedigree, if it is exported outside of the EU then also extra confirmation letter is required from a State food and veterinary agency (Štátna potravinová a veterinárna správa)
Transport cost in case when new owner does not come to pick up the puppy in person
Except for the above mentioned aspects, the breeder faces also other rightful costs that have direct influence on the puppy quality that leave to their new owners, and thus logically add up to the final purchasing price:
Time they have spent weaning and raising a well socialized litter - responsible breeders could talk about birth complications, sleepless nights when they regularly woke up to the puppies to feed them, clean up after them, time spent with visitors socializing the puppies. This time usually means that breeder must take vacation from regular job for few days or weeks and often include other family members to help. In some cases breeders left their job if they have more females and more litters during a year. Then this can easily get close to almost a full time job.
Cost related to dog shows and judgement of breeding (pozn. Uchovnenie in Slovak) - money spent on show fee, travelling, accommodation - breeders and owners travel to dog shows to have their dogs and their quality evaluated against official breed standard, furthermore in the competition with other dogs, by official judges that have a certain level of expertise for the breed knowledge and formally passed judgement exams. Judgement of breeding of a female is done for a fee defined by the kennel club - in case of SKSJP (Slovak Club of Northern and Japanese Breeds) it is 60 EUR. Show fees span in average between 25 EUR (club shows) and 50 EUR (international shows) or even more (e.g. 70 EUR per day on the European or World shows), plus, of course travelling and accommodation costs that usually take place during both weekend days, sometimes even on fridays.
Breeder’s activity and effort to preserve and reach the ideal dog as per standard - parents of “our” litter might come from foregin kennels (and most of the time they really do), sometimes they are imported even directly from the land of origin, which in the case of Japanese breeds requires significant resources (paperwork, time and last but not least - money). By investing and bringing new blood, breeders help to diversify the gene pool and develop the breed as such. It is only rightful that these costs are then shared with the new owners who thank them for their new flea sacks of joy - without importing unrelated dogs the breeding would very soon deteriorate.
When we sum up all these factors and related costs and expenses, it is certainly not a little and it all defines proper evaluation of the responsible breeder’s work.
It is extremely important to also point out on the following situation. In some cases, even in quality kennels, there are puppies in a litter, that deviate from the standard by their outer appearance (e.g. they have a white stripe crossing their forehead and connected to the white collar on the neck, or have long coat, or posses not standard color - e.g. creme in case of Shiba). This is normal and the only difference against their littermates that match the standard is thus this exterior deviance, due to which they lose potential for future breeding (note: as we already mentioned, dog breeding is managed and controlled by rules ensuring that only typical (= standard matching) individuals are allowed into breeding, and thus preserve the typical characteristics and capabilities of particular breed.)
When such puppies are identified by the responsible breeders, they set the price for them significantly lower.
That’s why, even when we can’t afford to pay a typical and standard matching puppy of a particular breed and for any reason we have not reached out to get a stray dog from a shelter, then this puppy is just a great opportunity for us :)..
Except for option to present the dog on a dog show and to use it for further legal breeding, this dog will for sure meet all the requirements to fulfil our expectations of the breed itself (from the temperament, talents and capabilities points of view)
In the same time, we have clarity about where the puppy is coming from, health history of their parents and ancestors, in which conditions it grew up and we also can rely on the breeder that we will be provided with information and help shall we face any issues later in the future.
Of course, on the internet we can easily get to offers (and there not just a few) that sell dogs just for a split of the fair price including objective cost which we tried to describe in detail above.
However, it despite all of the above mentioned information a green light pops up “well, that is all nice, I understand why breeders ask such money but I still cannot afford it and the price is the most important) then let’s please think about it some more.
Aneko Bedrevská perla, photo/owner: Jana Stančíková
We already have an idea what it the responsible breeding means and how much energy, time and money it takes.
It is practically impossible to sell proper quality puppy, well socialized, healthy and stable typical breed representative for a few hundreds of EUR (which is a fragment of a fair price).
Offers with such low prices make sense only in case when a combination of multiple important factors are lacking. The major issue is that such offers sell typically puppies without pedigree - their birth and wellbeing during their first weeks of life are not subject to any control - not only to evaluate and confirm adherence against the breed standard, but many times they are not even subject to standard health checks. There is no confirmed and verified record about their ancestors’ history (who they really were, health records, etc.) In case of original Japanese spitz breeds this knowledge is essential. Parents of such litters might or might not have a pedigree - thus there is no information about genetically transferable diseases or temperament features (aggressiveness, fear, anxiety issues). Seller of such puppies (except for seriously breaking the basic ethical rules of dog breeding) will surely play down the meaning of official and controlled breeding and rules.
The easiest way to find out if it is really OK to buy such cheaply priced puppy is to follow exactly the same procedure that we already described in a previous text HOW TO (GET IT RIGHT)?
In case when we truly dream about a dog of a particular breed, let’s meet at least one reputable breeder - ask about the references on social networks, let’s follow the verified way. Responsible breeder will never force us to pick a puppy during a first visit, nor they will want a cash deposit to be paid right on the spot. They will not refuse a visit without commitment to buy a dog - so, there is nothing to be shy and have any prejudices.
The most important thing that we take out of such visit is that we will be able to create our own idea, when we will repeat and discuss the same with a seller that will offer low cost puppies without pedigree on a commercial website.
For your convenience, we will repeat the key points that shall help you to create your own opinion about the breeder (or the seller):
During selection of the breeder, we recommend the following steps that will help us to the right choice:
Let’s make an effort and get the references about particular breeders - let’s find out how the owners of litters from the breeder are satisfied with the dogs and their services. If a breeder is active on a social network (and majority is), it is usually not a problem, to find out the names of the owners. It should also be possible to get information from the breed advisor. What is the health condition of litters, temperament, show results?
Let’s ask breeders anything that pops up in our mind. Have in mind that we are talking to a breeder of a particular breed because we already made a conclusion and decision that we want a typical representative of that breed (by appearance and temperament). Responsible breeder will be honest and will not try to sell a puppy to anyone for any price on the sport. Trustful and responsible breeder will also ask a lot of questions about yourself because they care for their puppies and want them to live in good hands.
Let’s ask for the pictures, videos of both parents of the litter, or dogs from that connection themselves to be able to make our own idea. Let’s go see the dog show and observe the behavior of dogs and their owners - that will say a lot.
Let’s be interested about conditions in which parents live. How many litters has the female had? A good breeder provides enough room (although it does not always necessarily need to be a huge house with a big garden), but first of all, they take a good care and a lot of time and attention to puppies upbringing. This is usually not a problem to observe also from social media.
If we already have a closer selection of breeders, let’s make an appointment with them and pay a visit to them in person if possible. Of course it is better to see on our own eyes than hear from the others. Furthermore, personal contact will help us make an impression about the breeder. We want to be sure that our puppy will go from good hands and properly ready for a new life away from its mother and pack.
Let’s ask for any other dogs coming out of the kennel (not necessarily from the same mother and father). How do they do? Do they have any issues?
Let’s try to find out what relationship has a person to their puppies. Honest and loveful relationship can be identified also by breeder paying attention towards us as a future owner of their puppy:
They want to know in what conditions a puppy will live and if it will have a good care for its entire life
Usually we do not need to drag the information out of them just by asking but they also actively and happily talk about important stuff such as feeding, coat care, hygiene, requirements for proper socialization, etc. and answer any questions.
Do they know how their previous litters do today? Do they care? Are they asking for pictures and videos?
Let’s ask how they care for puppies during their upbringing, what and how often they are fed and what and how we should feed it.
Let’s pay attention to if a breeder will be available for us in case of any problem (e.g. health issue). It is standard that responsible breeder will sign a regular buying contract in which they define conditions for contract withdrawal. It is common that reputable breeder states that in case of the owner wants to give up a dog, they must always contact the breeder first.
On top of that, let’s try to find out if the parents have pedigrees and are officially allowed for the breeding (= if they are registered by the club) and under which breeding kennel. If the answer is NO, let’s ask why not. Let’s be ready - the story about pedigrees being issued only to a limited number of puppies from the litter (while the last ones have been thus left out) is not true for a long time already. Every single puppy born to officially registered dogs receives a pedigree upon meeting the official rules. Irrespective of the following:
It might be the first or the last, no matter of number of puppies
Even if the color is not standard
Even if the ears are not properly pricked
Even if the leg is missing…
You get the idea by now we suppose :) All these puppies are eligible for a pedigree. That would be just a deception of the irresponsible seller!
If the person is serious about a dog breeding, they will not consider even the fees and “useless administration” a showstopper. Let’s think about it together now - fee to a kennel club for judging of breeding (uchovnenie) which makes a dog officially available for breeding can differ cross kennel clubs - in SKSJP it was 60 EUR in 12/2019.
Furthermore, there is a one time lifelong registration fee of the official protected kennel name through Slovak Cynology Union (SKJ) which was 40 EUR in 12/2019.
With probability getting close to, after having a visit and conversation like that, we will be able to quickly and easily recognize the difference between a reputable, responsible breeder and a seller of cheap puppies. But foremost, we will be able to determine the value that we will get for our money :)
Puppy from kennel Fuen No Oka (Poland), Photo/owner: Zuzanna Chade, breed Akita
Puppy from kennel Kamiwaza (Czech rep.), Owner/photo: Edita Šubrtová, breed Akita
Photo/owner: Jana Janečková, breed Hokkaido, litter - kennel: Amico di Boemia
Puppies from litter F, kennel Z Jenštejnské bašty, breed Akita, photo/owner: Lenka Svobodová
Photo/owner: Lindsay Vangrootenbruel, male Tone No Beni-Fuji (P'Chibi) with puppies from blegian kennel Takai, breed Kai