What does breeding a litter cost?

I’ve seen so many lists of numbers for what a breeding costs, but they’ve always seemed off to me. So here’s my version, from start to finish.

Before the breeding there are health clearances for each dog:

OFA Hips & Elbows: $800 per dog

Paw Print Panel testing plus additional genetic testing for genetic renal dysplasia: $600 per dog

OFA Eyes: $85 per dog - this is done yearly

Brucellosis Testing: $120 per dog, done before each breeding


Stud Fee: $1800 - $3000 or possibly a puppy or two back, depending on the agreement

Progesterone Testing: $500 or more - each test is $100, plus time off work and gas back and forth from the clinic an hour away

Costs associated with a Shipped AI breeding: $1800

Ultrasound to confirm pregnancy: $160

X-ray to determine count and check puppy size and positioning: $120

Raising those puppies:

From weeks 5-9 of her pregnancy, Momma will eat between 7-10lbs of raw a day, at $4/lb

I take a month of unpaid vacation, from about day 52-53 of pregnancy, until the puppies are about 3 weeks. That is a significant financial loss but I’m electing not to disclose the actual number.

I had a one-time investment of a live-feed camera, so moms can have privacy and I can watch the puppies if I have to leave the house: $175

Once the puppies are born and Momma is in milk, she’s eating anywhere from 10-16lbs of raw a day (still at $4/lb) plus she has free access to dehydrated raw if she chooses. I go through somewhere around 3 boxes, at $189/box. Once Momma slows down on the food the puppies pick up right where she left off, so I go through the same amount of raw until they leave, and another 4-6 boxes of dehydrated over 5 weeks (weeks 4-9).

I raise my puppies with Puppy Culture protocols, and I usually have to spend somewhere in the neighbourhood of $200 in new supplies for each litter. Initial investment was closer to $600.

My first whelping box I made ($250), but I found it difficult to keep clean, so the new box is on order: $900

Cleaning is a big deal when you have puppies. I use Loona products, purchasing a new bottle of cleanser and disinfectant prior to a litter being born ($210), and usually need another bottle of cleanser ($100) before the puppies leave. I’ve also started putting a small bottle of the cleanser in my puppy packs ($20). I replace the mop and bucket I use in the puppies’ room, but I replace that seasonally anyways, so I’m not counting that. 

My puppies are litterbox trained, making for a smooth transition to housetraining. Costs of pads and litter: $150 a week for weeks 3-6, $250 a week from weeks 7-9. Puppies need more absorbent pads that need to be changed more frequently as they get older. At the suggestion from friends, with my next litter I have I will be trialing artificial grass with pads underneath. Cost of turf: $140. This turf should last several litters. Cost of pads will still be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $600-$850. I have found a cheaper source of pads for the early weeks, but from 7-9 weeks we still need the heavyduty absorbers. 

Each of my puppies have their tails docked and dewclaws removed ($200/puppy), is microchipped ($35/puppy) and has had first vaccines and a wellness check with my vet at 8 weeks ($100/puppy). 

My puppy packs include food, toys, a leash and collar, blanket, and a few other things. Value runs about $200 per pack, depending on what sales I found at the time.

If you’ve been adding this up in your head, you’re in the neighbourhood of $12,000 before getting to the individual costs of vet and puppy packs per puppy, and this hasn’t even started on the costs of registration. With an average litter size of seven, you can see where I’m not making money. I don’t breed litters to make money, but I can’t afford to go broke either. The fee I charge for my puppies allows me to keep my program going. 

© Shari Joanisse 2023