From the Pet Store
Pet store pups are always grossly overpriced. Pet stores buy from mass suppliers who invest very little money in raising the pups. Sometimes the pups go through a middle man, known as a puppy broker, as this enables the store to honestly say “We are not buying from Puppy Mills” but of course, the broker is buying from the mills. Ultimately the pet store pays very little for the pup and inflates the price to make maximum profit, and still leaving room to discount the pup if it does not sell quick.
Pet store pups come from low quality parents, sometimes registered (registration does NOT mean quality), but never with championship titles or genetic vet checks to prove their quality, as such they are truly only worth the cost of vaccinations and deworming which should have been done prior to them being sold (in most areas this is well under $200). See Case Study One Below.
From a Back Yard Breeder or Other Member of the Public
These are folks with a dog or two and have had a litter. They may breed regularly or have an “accidental” litter. As well this includes folks selling pups out of the back of a truck at flea markets and so forth.
As with pet store pups they are worth ONLY what was invested into them medically, this being vaccinations, deworming, and vet checks (in most areas this is well under $200). Food costs are irrelevant, as this is something an owner accepts by breeding their dog and really adds no value (especially when you consider most of these people feed low quality food). Unvaccinated pups who do not come with health guarantees are worth nothing. See Case Study Two Below.
From an Animal Shelter
Animal shelters are non-profit. They price their pups (and dogs) according to what they have invested when averaged out between animals. As such their prices are typically fair and honest, and are often lower than what a person would pay if they took a free pup and went to the veterinarian with it for medical care. Most shelters adopt dogs out for under $200 and often offer discounts on training, vet care (spaying/neutering), and supplies, thus making it a true value. As well most will offer limited health guarantees.
From a Reputable Breeder
Sadly most people looking for puppies for sale have no idea how to spot a good breeder. Good breeders do not advertise puppies for sale. They have waiting lists and only breed their dogs after they have interested buyers and their dogs have proven themselves at dogs shows, AND have passed various genetic tests as done by veterinarians. Thus these breeders invest a lot into their dogs, and the pups. They only sell registered purebred dogs.
Reputable breeders always have health guarantees, and often have lifetime genetic health guarantees, something you will never find from a pet store, or backyard breeder.
Because these breeders have invested real time and money into raising pups that are quality they are worth more. It is the pet stores and back yard breeders who capitalize on the high prices of breeders taking advantage of buyers who do not know the difference.
The price of a pup from a reputable breeder is high (often over $800), but well worth it.
Rules of Thumb
- Mutts (any dog who is not registered) are not worth anything more than the medical care they have received. If the parents were quality dogs they would be breeding purebreds. Sadly many unethical breeders give these dogs catchy names (Puggle) and price them well above their value.
- Registration is no guarantee of quality, if you want a quality dog you must see the parents show records and their veterinarian certificates for checks on their eyes, ears, and hips.
- Any pup that is not vaccinated is worth nothing.
- Always get sales contracts and guarantees in writing.
- If a pup is advertised as a purebred it Must come with registration papers (signed for transfer of ownership) at the time of purchase, and these papers cannot come at an additional cost (this is actually a law).
- Pet stores buy cheap and sell high, they support cruelty (see links below) and take advantage of people falling for a cute pup.
- Never buy pups from a stranger selling them out of a back of a truck, or at a flea market, you have no way of getting a hold of the seller if there is a problem, and of course a good breeder would never market their animals this way, they might even be stolen animals.
- If you are not fussy on getting a purebred animal, always check your local shelter for animals up for adoption. They have better prices, and are more honest, generally with excellent guarantees.
- If you feel sorry for puppies being sold and buy them from less than reputable sellers, you have rewarded the seller and allowed them to continue to sell pups, encouraging them to continue.
Case Study One
Sally (not her real name) paid $1200 for a Chinese Crested Puppy from a Pet store in Medicine Hat, Alberta. She was told nothing of the problems common with this breed, particularly dental problems. As the pup matured she noticed its adult teeth were coming in but its puppy teeth had not fallen out. She went to a veterinarian who told her that this is very common with this breed, particularly when from lower quality breeders. She would have to pay to have the dog anesthetized and its puppy teeth removed. The price, about the same as what she paid for the pup. The pet stores response? “You bought it, we owe nothing.”.
Case Study Two
Beth (not her real name) bought a Shih Tzu Bichon puppy for $400 from a back yard breeder in Medicine Hat, Alberta ( this is not a problem city, but these are true stories from my experience and could happen anywhere). The puppy had not been vaccinated or seen by a vet prior to the sale. A week later she took the pup to a veterinarian for vaccinations and the vet noticed it had a heart problem, which would require extremely expensive surgery. Her family, and kids, were already attached to the puppy, but she could not afford the surgery, so she approached the breeder, who basically said “sorry, nothing we can do”. The puppy died around three months of age.
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