Friday, July 13, 2018

How Much?

I'm one of the Admin people for my dog club's Facebook page. I answer all the private messages that come through. Many are from people looking for a GSD. Invariably they ask "How much does a German Shepherd cost?" That's really not an easy question to answer.

Top dollar or pocket change?
If I asked how much does a car cost, you wouldn't be able to answer without knowing the following:
  • New or used?
  • Foreign or domestic?
  • What size?
  • All the bells and whistles or just the basics?
I bet you can think of a dozen more questions as well.

The same is true of dogs. I ask people:
  • Do you want a puppy or an adult?
  • From a rescue or from a breeder?
  • Working line or show line?
  • American, German or Czech? (There really is a difference.)
  • Do you want AKC papers? If so, full or limited registration?
  • Are you just looking for a companion/family dog?
  • Are you going to show the dog in conformation?
  • Do you want to participate in sports like Obedience, Barn Hunt, Agility or Scent Work?
  • Do you want a working dog to herd sheep or do search and rescue?
  • Do you want breeding rights?
  • How long are you willing to wait for a dog?
  • How far are you willing to travel to get the dog?

My first piece of advice to the inquirers is to figure out exactly what they want. Why pay top dollar for a show puppy if you're never going into the conformation ring? And do not look at West German working lines if you have a sedentary lifestyle -- both you and the dog will be miserable.

Most people don't think about the things above. Even more mindboggling are the various things factored into the price of a puppy:
  • Were there extensive pre-pregnancy expenses?
  • How much was the stud fee?
  • Which genetic tests were performed on the parents before breeding?
  • Was it a natural breeding or did the breeder have to pay for in vitro fertilization?
  • Was this a natural birth or a C-section?
  • How big was the litter?

Yes, there are a lot of variables. Things usually not factored into the price include:
  • The thousands of hours (and dollars) spent training, showing/trialing the bitch to prove she's worthy of breeding
  • The time spent combing through pedigrees to find the right stud to complement the bitch
  • The money spent on a previous breeding that didn't take (it happens more often then you'd think)
The price of a dog can vary greatly. I've seen dogs "free to a good home." I've also heard of puppies going for $10,000+. Still, people want answers, not reasons. So I tell them: "In my experience, expect to pay $250-$500 from a legitimate breed rescue; $1000-$3000 from a reputable breeder in this area. If the price is more or less than expected, it's OK ask why. If you don't think the answer is reasonable, then go elsewhere." 

Some people are okay with this answer. Others balk. I guess it's just a matter of personal priorities. I have no problem spending a couple thousand dollars for a well-bred dog, but refuse to spend more than $40 for a pair of shoes. TMI? -- K