For dog lovers, the idea of starting a dog breeding business may seem like a natural fit.
This type of business pretty much requires someone who has an appreciation and affection for dogs, as they will be spending a lot of time together.
However, dog breeding sometimes is a difficult business, as health concerns for the animals, problems at birth, and constant cleaning requirements can be challenging.
Dog breeders need to understand what they are facing with this type of business before they make the initial investment.
For an established breeder, generating a steady income becomes an easier process over time, but it can be a significant challenge to reach that point.
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5 Steps to Start a Dog Breeding Business
Ready to start breeding dogs? Just follow this guide:
- Understand the costs
- Focus on a particular breed
- Find a location for the business
- Create a legal entity and name
- Prepare for opening the business
The Easy Parts of Starting a Dog Breeding Business
Starting a dog breeding business has quite a few challenges, but it also can be quite rewarding. Some of the easier aspects of starting this type of business include the following.
Starting As a Part-Time Business
A dog breeding business often works well for someone seeking a part-time business. The owner can try breeding while holding another job to see if he or she enjoys it before devoting the time to make dog breeding a full-time endeavor.
Understand, though, that once the puppies are born, the owner, another family member, or an employee must be present for many hours each day. During this time, it will be tough to work full time and tend to the needs of the litter.
To supplement the income the dog breeding business generates, some owners may want to operate related businesses. These could include:
- Dog grooming
- Doggie daycare or extended stay facilities
- Dog training and obedience classes
The dog breeding process is intense after the puppies are born, but finding time to handle these related businesses can be easier in between litters.
Generating Steady Profits
Once the business establishes itself, dog breeders are able to generate steady profits after each litter. Successful breeders sometimes will sell all of the puppies before the litter is even born. These breeders may even be able to collect deposit checks from the customers well ahead of delivering the puppies, which helps with expenses and cash flow.
Dog breeders often can make enough money on each litter for a desirable profit that easily covers expenses, so there’s no need to cut corners on care. For breeders who truly care about the well-being of the dogs, this provides peace of mind.
Tapping Into the Science of Breeding
Some dog breeders appreciate the science and genetics behind breeding dogs. Breeders need to pay attention to the types of traits they want their dogs to have. They then can focus on finding mates that have the best chance of enhancing those traits in the puppies.
At the same time, the dog breeder needs to be aware of any genetic defects they may see in a litter and work to avoid having those occur again in the future. Responsible breeders will not sacrifice breeding healthy puppies with desirable traits by cutting corners on the cost of finding the perfect mates.
The Difficult Parts of Starting a Dog Breeding Business
Dog breeding is a challenging business in a lot of different ways. It requires quite a bit of time and patience to do the job correctly. It also requires significant communication skills to find customers and to keep them happy.
Unpredictability of Working With Animals
It can be helpful for dog breeders to think of this type of business as being similar to an agricultural business. Farmers work to control as much as they can with regard to caring for livestock or crops. However, in the end, nature may have its own ideas.
The litter of puppies could end up with a genetic defect, meaning the breeder cannot sell them. Some puppies could die after serious illnesses, even if the vet gives them a clean bill of health. Some of them may not survive birth. These can be highly emotional situations that are difficult to handle.
Even if the owner takes every precaution and cares for the dogs perfectly, things may not work out as desired. For those people who have a hard time dealing with these kinds of setbacks, especially where it involves animals and dogs, dog breeding may not be a good business choice.
Dealing With Emotions
Those who love dogs may believe starting a dog breeding business will be a lot of fun. For some breeders, this is true.
However, some breeders find that having to sell the puppies after each litter is very difficult to do. They become emotionally attached to the puppies. Other times, the breeder may not like the need to have a favorite dog remain pregnant for much of the year.
Finally, there’s the sadness involved with any kind of accident involving the puppies or the mother, as we mentioned earlier.
Many people treat their dogs like family. For these kinds of people, operating a dog breeding business may be a significant struggle emotionally.
Constant Cleaning Is Necessary
Dogs can generate significant messes. Puppies won’t be able to walk, but they will defecate and urinate frequently. To keep the puppies healthy, the breeder needs to constantly clean the area for the puppies and mother.
The breeder needs to remove odors and soils from the area where visitors and potential customers will visit the puppies as well. Cleanliness is key to any successful dog breeding business.
For someone who doesn’t like cleaning, starting a dog breeding business is not going to be a good idea. And even if you’re willing to handle some cleaning, you may prefer to hire someone to help with it or take it over for you.
Stigma Associated With Dog Breeding
Unfortunately, because some dog breeders don’t care for the dogs properly and don’t keep them safe, dog breeding can have a stigma associated with it. When some people hear the term “dog breeding,” they immediately think of cruel puppy mills.
Dog breeders will encounter some people who think this type of business is cruel, regardless of the circumstances. Prepare to take criticism.
Additionally, some people believe dog breeding is unnecessary, as so many dogs in shelters and rescue or foster homes need adopting. Those people wonder why a breeder is bringing more dogs into a world that already has too many dogs. Again, a new dog breeding business may take the brunt of criticism from these people.
Some breeders feel strongly that they can improve the industry’s reputation from within by doing everything as safely and humanely as possible. Maintaining a clean facility, caring for the dogs’ health constantly, and treating the dogs properly can offset some of these criticisms.
Step 1: Understand the Costs
When preparing to start a dog breeding business, be prepared for a series of initial and ongoing costs.
Startup costs can be pretty significant for a dog breeding business, and the owner generally must have the money upfront. Leasing a building simply doesn’t work well with this type of business. And, of course, owners can’t lease the female dogs.
In addition to paying for a location, the dog breeder will need to:
- Purchase a female dog or dogs for breeding
- Pay a male dog owner for a stud fee or purchase a male dog outright
- Pay for regular veterinarian visits to ensure the health of the dogs
- Set up a sterile location for the mother and puppies to live after the birth
- Set up a fenced area that will be safe for the dogs to spend time outside
- Set up security for the facility, including cameras and locks for buildings and gates
Breeders will want to register the business with the American Kennel Club (AKC). This legitimizes the operation in the eyes of potential customers.
Depending on the location of the business, it may need to purchase licenses or permits from local, county, or state governing bodies.
Dogs will need food and regular veterinary care. These costs aren’t significantly more than what occurs with a dog a family may own as a pet, however, at least until the puppies appear.
With dogs meant for breeding, the owner may not want to take the dog to a “doggie daycare” or similar place when the owner is traveling. This could expose the dog to illness. Some dog care facilities will only accept neutered or spayed dogs as well.
This means the owner may need to hire someone to help tend to the dogs when the owner will not be present. After a litter of puppies, the animals will need frequent observation and attention, which could be difficult for one person to handle.
A dog breeder will need liability insurance as well. If any of the dogs bite someone, or if a visitor looking at the puppies suffers some sort of injury on the property, the business will need insurance. Large breeders with several employees may need to purchase workers’ compensation insurance too.
Costs After Puppies Are Born
Veterinary bills will increase quite a bit after the puppies are born. But the person purchasing the puppies understands that part of the fee for the dog covers these early veterinarian appointments and vaccinations.
For a dog breeder, registering the dogs with the American Kennel Club (AKC) is a must. Without verified breeder papers, charging a premium for the puppies will not be possible. Both the male and female parents will need AKC papers.
The breeder will need to register the litter and the individual puppies with the AKC too. Registering the litter should be less than $50, although expedited registrations cost quite a bit more.
Step 2: Focus on a Particular Breed
A dog breeder will want to focus on a particular breed of dog. By becoming an expert on a breed, customers seeking that particular breed will trust the business more.
Some breeders will have multiple breeds and try to appeal to many areas of the market. However, this can be challenging. Each breed has nuances, and to have the most success, the breeder should fully understand the breed. Trying to become an expert on multiple breeds is very difficult.
Some breeders may add a second or third breed to their business over time as the business grows. Having more than one breed can be a nice hedge for the viability of the business. To gain the desired level of knowledge about a new breed, perhaps the owner can hire someone with that knowledge as an employee.
Pick a Breed You Will Love
Dog breeders need to have an affection for the dogs they’re breeding. The owner will be spending significant amounts of time with these dogs, caring for the mother and puppies before they go to their new homes.
An owner who doesn’t like the shrill bark of small dogs or who has a fear of large dogs will want to avoid those breeds. Owners should stick with a breed or two that they know well and will enjoy being around.
Understand the Profits for Different Breeds
Different dog breeds will command different prices from customers. The majority of breeds will bring several hundred dollars per puppy. A few breeds can bring a few thousand dollars per puppy under the right circumstances, though.
Most breeds can have litters up to three times per year, while others will only have two litters. Some breeds have more puppies than others per litter. Some breeds of female dogs have a longer timespan over which they can have litters too.
Although it can be challenging to just focus on a breed that will generate the greatest profits for the business, this often results in disaster. Some breeds may bring more money per puppy, but they may be tougher to sell. If the owner doesn’t know anything about the expensive breed or doesn’t like this type of dog, the business almost certainly will struggle.
Step 3: Find a Location for the Business
Many dog breeders will set up outside of a city in a rural location. This gives the dogs more free space to exercise. The noise from barking dogs at a breeding business won’t bother neighbors in a rural location like it might in an urban location.
The dogs will need areas both indoors and outdoors to be as healthy as possible. They need protection from the weather and from parasites and insects like worms, fleas, mosquitos, and ticks.
The puppies will need a location that offers some temperature control. If the puppies are born in the summer, they’ll need an area with some air flow and shade. If the puppies are born in winter, they’ll need a heated area that’s out of the elements.
Some dog breeders choose to purchase a rural home with a few acres of land and set up dog breeding buildings on the property. These buildings need to be in good shape. Avoiding infestations of mice or rats can be a challenge in a rural location, so the building will need protection against these pests.
A metal building with a cement floor will be easier to keep clean, and it should be safe for puppies versus an old wood barn that may have multiple problems with structural damage. Set up a space that includes a whelping box the owner can secure. The owner should be able to easily and safely expand the space as the puppies age and need room to move around.
Step 4: Create a Legal Entity and Name
Some dog breeders treat the business like a hobby, so they never really name the business or set up a business structure. This works fine for some people who don’t have plans to grow or expand beyond one or two litters per year or who mostly sell to friends and family.
However, setting up a business structure for the dog business can create a safer situation for the dog breeder.
Using a limited liability company (LLC) business structure is helpful for dog breeders. It creates a separation between the assets and finances of the business and the owner’s personal finances and assets. Should the business become the subject of a lawsuit or default on a loan, the owner’s personal assets don’t have exposure.
Each state has slightly different rules for setting up an LLC. The entire process should cost a few hundred dollars in the majority of states. At the time of creating the LLC, the owner will select a unique name too.
Try to select a name that also has a related web domain name and social media names available. Having consistent branding across multiple digital properties is helpful. Potential customers will love seeing the new puppies on social media, developing excitement for this litter and future litters.
Step 5: Prepare for Opening the Business
Dog breeding business owners will need to take a few final steps to begin operating the business.
Preparing for Visitors
People preparing to purchase the puppies are almost certainly going to want to visit the facility. They will want to feel comfortable that the facility is clean and that the dogs are receiving proper care.
It is absolutely vital that the business has a place to greet visitors and to let them view the puppies. Always keep the facility as clean as possible, as people may sometimes show up unannounced.
Selling the Puppies
Owners of dog breeding businesses will need to find a place to advertise upcoming litters. Once the breeder becomes established, it’s common to sell many or all of the puppies before the mother even has the litter.
Finding a place to advertise can be challenging, but social media is very helpful. Several social media groups exist with a devotion to a certain breed, and these can be helpful to find customers.
After selling a litter of puppies, word of mouth is a great way for the business to draw in customers. Acquaintances of those people who purchased the puppies may also want a puppy from the business, and they may reserve a puppy in the next litter. This shows the importance of giving customers great service and the importance of breeding healthy, beautiful puppies that their new families will love.