(This was written by my husband for a public forum where prices for a responsible breeders' puppies were being discussed. To anyone who is pondering that question, please read.)
Why Are Bulldog Puppies So Expensive? By Kevin Jones
Now that I have your attention, let me preface this by saying, I am not a Bulldog breeder, but I am married to one (after reading this you’ll probably be able to tell who I’m married to…I love you sweetie) so while I may not be an authority on the subject, I do know what goes into raising a litter of Bulldog puppies. You would be surprised how many times I have heard this question “Why are they so expensive? You must make a lot of money...” I guess people just don’t realize what goes into raising a litter of bulldog puppies…raising the best puppies you possibly can, as responsibly as you can.
The prices I quote are rounded off, and may vary depending on the cost of your vet and where you purchase your animal supplies. Some things you can save money on by doing them yourself, but not very many. I am only basing this information on a litter of 4 puppies being raised to 12 weeks old. There are many variables, but this is just going to be an average. I’m sure other breeds have costs specific to their breed, so this does in no way represent what other responsible breeders go through with their puppies.
The cost for puppies starts before breeding. Health screening of the parents is a must. Knowing the health problems in the lines of both parents, judging temperament, and the physical qualities you are trying to produce, and the list goes on. Most, if not all, bulldogs are Artificially Inseminated (A/I) and need to have a thyroid screening. Our vet charges $60 to collect from the male and inseminate the bitch. Since my wife has her own stud dogs and the equipment and knowledge to do this herself, we saved $60. Say you don’t have your own stud dog and have to go out for stud service, this could be around $500. But for the sake of my example, we are going to use the $60. Usually you have to do a few tests on the bitch to see when she’s ovulating. Once you figure that out, you usually breed her 3 times…wow, that’s $180 just for collection from the dog. I won’t add in the thyroid T-4 test at $40 a test.
After the bitch has been bred, we put her on pre-natal vitamins, the same vitamins that would be taken by a pregnant woman or a woman planning on getting pregnant. These run around $12 for a bottle of 120, since they are pregnant for 63 days, we will say $6 for pre-natal and $5 for a bottle of folic acid. Folic acid is used to prevent birth defects, the same reason pregnant women use it. So now we’re up to $191.
The bitch is switched from her normal dog food to puppy food two weeks after breeding. Proper nutrition helps ensure healthy puppies. We use Pro Plan Large Dog Breed puppy food. I can usually pick up a 37.5 lb bag for $30 at Petsmart. This will usually last the entire pregnancy, but you may have to get more. Let’s see….we’re up to just over $210 and puppies haven’t even gotten here.
IT’S PUPPY TIME!!!!! Ok…the bitch has been pregnant for 9 weeks, she looks like she swallowed a basketball, she uncomfortable and looks pitiful. 3 days before her 1st due date (there’s no guess work on this date when you A/I) we take the dog 70 miles to the vet. WOW…70 miles? Yep, our vet owns bulldogs, loves bulldogs, knows them inside and out, that’s why he’s the best and we go 70 miles one way. My wife trusts him so much, she’d let him do surgery on her. He’s pretty good on other breeds too. So, we drop the bitch off. The vet takes an x-ray or two for $60 each, monitors her temperature, runs a few progesterone tests, and figures out exactly when she’s going to start going into labor. At this point he puts her under anesthesia and performs a c-section. A few days later, the vet calls up and says to come get Ma and the kids. He sends us home with vitamin K shots for the puppies and anything else he might think the pups need. We walk out of the vet’s office for $650. This includes the c-section, test, x-rays, boarding fee, etc… So, now we’re up to $871.
Well, the puppies are home. Now what? Well, babies need to be kept warm, so let’s turn up the heat. We don’t want to heat the whole house, just the bedroom, so we turn on the ceramic space heater and warm the room up to a toasty 85 degrees (Get used to it, it’s going to be like this for the next few weeks). Ok, the room’s hot, now where are the puppies going to sleep? Well the floor’s not as warm as the rest of the room and it’s kind of drafty, so we need to get the babies off the floor. Let’s put them on the bed. My wife uses a small wading pool, you know, the blue plastic pools for little kids? (Don’t plan on sleeping very comfortably for a while.) We line it with a blanket and cover the blanket with sheepskin cloth. This keeps the puppies dry if they pee. We also put a heating pad BELOW the blankets off to one side so if the pups get cold they can get warm, and if they get too warm they can get off. You also need to cover the puppies with a thin light blanket to keep any drafts off of them, but still allow them to breathe. Ceramic heaters use up quite a bit of electricity. Guess what? Our electric bill just went up an extra $120 a month to keep puppies warm. Is there a cheaper way? Probably, but I don’t have any ideas around it yet. Wait, what if you don’t have the pool, or the blankets? You have to buy them. What if you have them already? Eventually you’ll have to replace them because they’ll wear out, but it takes a long time for that to happen. Hmmm….$991 so far…this is starting to get expensive.
Puppies love to eat. I mean it, they LOVE to eat. And, they usually let you know when they’re ready to eat, even if you think you should be sleeping at 2 or 3am. Unfortunately, mommy bulldogs don’t produce that much milk, so, we have to supplement with formula. You could use Esbilac, but we found something easier for the puppies to digest, Just Born. It comes in an 8 oz box. Let’s see, for the first week puppies eat every 2 to 3 hours, and they eat about one quarter of an ounce, so that’s about 2 oz a day right? And I said that this is going to be an average for 4 puppies, so that’s 8 oz or a box a day for the first week. Week 2 they’re eating around half an ounce every 4 hours, so that’s 10 boxes for the week. By week 3 they’re eating a whole ounce every 6 hours, so that’s 14 boxes for the week. All together that’s around 31 boxes of formula. After shipping, we pay around $100 for 36 boxes. The extra boxes are used in the weaning process. So, we’re up to $1080 after formula.
Weaning begins at 4 to 5 weeks old. We take dry puppy food, soak it in water overnight, toss it in the blender and add formula and a jar of Gerber’s baby food meats (Turkey, chicken, beef, veal, lamb). Puppy food is $30 a bag. The Gerber’s baby food is $.70 a jar and we usually end up getting 5 jars of each so that’s $18. And we figure after weaning they’ll go through another 3 bags of puppy food, so that’s another $90. Ummm….that’s $1200 total.
Hidden costs, things you might not think about being in the cost of raising a puppy….
Laundry. They can make a big mess of things or on things as the case may be, so we do 4 loads of puppy blankets a day. 4 loads a day for 12 weeks, that’s 336 loads of laundry. We get our soap from the Dollar Store, and I don’t know how many loads a box can do, but I can hear my electricity bill going up again….Let’s say $10 a week for soap and electricity to wash and dry puppy blankets. That would be $120. I guess it’s a good thing we have well water, or that would be even more.
Toys. Can’t walk out of Petsmart with just a bag of puppy food. Each puppy gets a toy and gets to take that toy with them if we place them. We try not to spend more than $15 on each toy, so that’s $60.
Gas. Without fail puppies get sick and have to go see the vet. 140 miles round trip. We usually end up going at least 6 times. Call it 3 tanks of gas, that’s $45.
Vet. Those 6 trips to the vet? $50 each on average for the office visit and medication, so that’s $300. Oh…I almost forgot shots, 2 sets of shots and a health certificate…that’s another $320. We need some special equipment from the vet…syringes, feeding tubes for sick puppies, ringers solution if they get dehydrated from diarrhea, antibiotics…..that’s another $100 easy.
Health care. You don’t have to go to the vet for everything. We add supplements to the formula, we use baby nasal spray if they get the sniffles, we use Desitin if they get “diaper rash” from diarrhea, baby wash. All added together that’s about another $50.
Baby wipes. You can never have enough baby wipes. Remember me saying puppies love to eat? Guess what they love to do 5 minutes after eating and any time in between feedings? We go through about 5 refills. I think the last time I bought baby wipes, I bought store brand, and they were around $5 each, so that’s $25.
Time lost from work. I’m lucky enough to work in a small company that I can take time off at the drop of a hat or I can change my work schedule. My wife will use 1 week vacation for the 1st week, and I work half days for the next three weeks because my company is more flexible than hers. I net $13 an hour after taxes, so that’s $780 I didn’t bring home, because I’m home with puppies.
Advertising. Advertising in Dog World Magazine is $23 a month, and the website is $9 a month, so that’s $384 a year.
AKC Litter registration is $25 and $2 for each puppy, so that’s $33.
Adult dogs. 2 stud dogs, 2 brood bitches, 5 spayed bitches and 3 of which are old timers. The price of the puppy also goes to pay for the food and veterinary cost of the adult dogs. After all, you wouldn’t have any puppies at this point if you didn’t have some adult dogs for breeding to begin with. A bag of food lasts 4 days for 9 dogs, so that’s 92 bags a year at $30 each for a total of $2760. One of those spayed dogs is on a prescription food for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. That food is $33 for a 20lb bag, which lasts 2 weeks. So that dog’s food is another $858 a year. That’s just dog food. I don’t even want to think of the veterinary cost of yearly shots, check ups, emergency visits, etc… I’m also not adding in the cost of showing a dog – gas, hotel, entry fees and who knows what else.
So, we are finally up to what $7034? Call it $7000 for argument’s sake. If my wife sells all 4 puppies for $2000 each, after all of the expenses related to the dogs are taken out, that leaves her with $1000 ($250 per puppy). If you take that and divide it by 12, you get $83 a week. Now divide that by 7, and you’ll get $12 a day. Now take that $12 and divide it by the 16 hours my wife spends taking care of the puppies and you’ll see that my wife only makes $.75 an hour. (If you really want to sit and do the math, you’re more than welcome to, I’m just rounding everything off to the nearest whole dollar before I go to the next division.) Granted, not all of the cost is associated directly with the puppies, and is paid out over time whether there are puppies sold or not. This probably isn’t even half the expense for the bulldogs. This doesn’t even cover the other “pets” like the 7 year old, spayed English Mastiff, the 14 year old, paralyzed French Bulldog, and the 4 spayed and neutered cats or the rest of the animals.
Let’s say one out of those puppies dies. Now subtract that $7000 from $6000. Oops, you’re $1000 in the hole, looks like you didn’t make enough money from puppies to pay for your dogs. You didn’t even make $.75 an hour putting your sweat and tears into that puppy.
Let’s say one of those puppies is good enough to show and my wife decides to keep it. That’s $2000 that has to be absorbed by the other three.
Let’s say there was only one puppy in the litter and you manage to keep it alive. You decide it’s not exactly to the standard you were breeding for, so you decide to sell it. Well, then you’d be down $6000, and barely able to pay for the c-section and raising that one puppy. And if you did keep it, then you would just have to eat everything and hope your boss at your regular full time job is taking heavy medication when it comes time to give out the Christmas bonuses and adds an extra zero or two to the end of yours. Hey, it could happen…..just not in this example or my lifetime.
Ok, worst case scenario. (And it’s happened to us, twice) You drop the bitch off at the vet, he finds out there was a dead puppy inside her, which spread infection throughout her body, which caused her to die an excruciatingly painful death as her major organs shut down one by one, and kills off the rest of the puppies as well. Not only are you out the puppies, pre-breeding costs, and c-section, but you’ve lost a family member, and any future puppies she may have produced for you. How do you put a price tag on that loss?
Now comes the part where I get to give my opinion, because up to this point everything has pretty much been based on fact and past experience. I’m a cat person, and I have 3 fish tanks. I help my wife with the dogs, but it’s not my passion as it is hers, as much as she wishes it would be. You aren’t helping me warm up bottles at 3am, feeding puppies. None of you are sitting up with my wife and I while we have a puppy in an oxygen tent watching it die from pneumonia. When you have done this, $2000 for a puppy suddenly doesn’t seem like very much, and then you understand, that you aren’t and can’t possibly be in it for the money.
I don’t understand why people are saying breeders like my wife are trying to ram it to someone when they ask $2000 for a puppy. How are you begrudging a breeder $.75 an hour, when they work a regular full time job? So it’s wrong for a responsible breeder to make $250 for raising a puppy for 12 weeks and not call it a business? It’s wrong for a responsible breeder to do it once, maybe twice a year? But it’s OK for a puppy mill or BYB to make more than that… because they don’t put as much money into the pre-breeding expenses, or any of the other expenses that my wife does? Now, there’s a lot of things I didn’t add in to the total cost of breeding bulldogs, so in reality she doesn’t even make that $.75 an hour. In fact sometimes I wonder how anyone can breed dogs and still afford to eat. I know the IRS won’t let you operate a business unless you MAKE a PROFIT, guess what my wife doesn’t make? I don’t know any business owners that work a 2nd job to pay for their own business. I don’t breed dogs, so I guess I’ll never understand, but if it looks like a duck….
If you don’t care about what breed of dog you want, and you just want A DOG / ANY DOG, go to the local shelter and save a life. If you know what breed of dog you really, really want, and you can’t afford it right now, save your money to get what you want. If you have enough money to get any dog you want, get the best. If you just want a pet, but don’t care if it has any ribbons or is a champion, go to a responsible breeder, they try as hard as they can to breed the perfect dog, and end up creating a lot of great pets along the way.
Let me put it this way, since I’m not a breeder. I’m in the computer industry. Would you really go buy an E-Machine computer when what you really want is a Mac, or a Dell, or an HP or what ever type of PC you want when it only costs a few hundred more? Would you really get 256 mb of memory when you want 512 for another $30? Seems pretty stupid to me…
So now that I’ve given you something to think about, go ahead and talk about it amongst yourselves. No wonder they say breeding should be left to those individuals who can dedicate their lives to it.
What Do You Mean They Can't Swim?
Bulldogs and swimming pools are a lethal combination as a lot of bulldogs can't swim, NONE of them can get themselves out of a pool, and they ALL love water. A pool or pond with broad shallow steps where they can sit in summer is ideal. But supervision is essential at all times.
Do Bulldogs Slobber?
As a general rule, Bulldogs do not slobber. However, they are a flat-faced breed, which means when they get a drink of water, they must lay their lips in the bowl. This will lead to dribble trails across the floor. It cannot be helped. It is always a good idea to have a hand towel handy for this type of occasion.
Aren't Bulldogs Stubborn and Hard to Train?
The most common misconception about bulldogs is that they cannot be trained. Forget this straight away. They are exceptionally intelligent, and are capable of strategic thinking ie plotting and planning moves with a specific result in mind. Bulldogs have LOTS of common sense....more than some people I know!
Well Who Wants a Dog Who Can't Breathe? All Bulldogs Have Breathing Problems, Right?
Yes and no. Bulldogs are very sensitive to heat. They do not have efficient thermostats.
Heat, over-exertion, stress and anxiety contribute to the Bulldogs' breathing issues. They have big flat faces and throats with lots of loose skin and flesh. When a Bulldog gets overheated, overly excited or stressed out, that loose skin and flesh can being to swell, cutting off the dogs airway.
You must at all costs avoid taking them out in cars, on walks, to beaches or other hot places, or exercising them, during the summer. They get heatstrokes and die more easily than any other breed.
If your dog overheats, get him/her into the shade immediately, or better still get the dog into a pool of cold water. Otherwise, get to a tap fast. Wet the neck and stomach first, wrap a dripping cold towel round the neck, and keep him quiet until his breathing stabilizes and he is absolutely comfortable again. The very best precaution is always having a tub of cold water accessible to the dog in summer--they'll get in themselves, and cool off quickly.
Your Bulldog doesn't know he can't do things like jog with you, play ball or frisbee in the warm weather or go for long walks on summer days. The Bulldog is loyal and will try to keep up with you and do your bidding, even if it costs him his life. It is up to YOU to ensure the saftey and well being of your Bulldog. You know what he can and can't do. Your Bullie's life is in your hands
What Kind of Toys Should I Get For My Bulldog?
Bulldogs must never be given bones or small balls to chew or play with. Chew hooves (the kind of chewy hooves you get from the vet) and pig ears are very dangerous. Because of their bite, they do not chew efficiently and can choke to death on balls and bones. Large Nylabones are preferred as they are excellent exercise for the dog and are very safe. Never give a Bulldog rawhide sticks or chips...these are too small and once chewed on they be come slimy and can slip down the throat causing the dog to choke.
Do Bulldogs Shed?
Yes, all short coated breeds of dog shed. Regular grooming and care can reduce the amount of hair that the dogs sheds. A nice brushing twice a week during heavy shedding season (Spring and Fall) can pull out those loose hairs and keep them from winding up on your clothes. However, if you are looking for a dog who does not shed at all....then purchase yourself a non-shedding breed or a stuffed animal.
Do Bulldogs Bark?
Bulldogs can and will bark, occasionally. They are not a "yappy" breed. Normally a Bulldog will only bark when someone knocks on the door or if they are confronted with someone or something they are unfamiliar with. They are not incessant barkers.
Are Bulldogs Good Watch Dogs?
Certainly! They have no problem watching a burgler come into your house and watching him carry out all your stuff! Honestly though, Bulldogs are not your typical watch dog. They will alert you when something isn't right. But they aren't one for guarding the junk yard! Bulldogs have a tender nature and should not be overly protective to the point of having to be put away when company visits.
How Long Do Bulldogs Usually Live?
A Bulldog's life expectancy is approximately 8-12 years, but some dogs live years beyond that. The key to a long life for your Bulldog begins with his breeding. If he comes from good quality, healthy bloodlines who are vigorus and free from genetic disorders, the chances of your Bulldog living longer, are better. Of course no one can guarantee life...but having a healthy dog just isn't enough. You need to ensure he stays in good health by feeding good quality food and providing him with excellent vet care.