From Puppy Love to Profit. How to Start Your Own Dog Breeding Business

Decide if dog breeding is right for you

Breeding dogs requires a significant time commitment. Female dogs come into heat twice per year and are most fertile during this time, which lasts about 3-4 weeks according to WagWalking. This means breeders must be available to facilitate mating during this period. Once pregnant, dogs need monitoring and care throughout the 63 day gestation period. Raising puppies also requires round-the-clock care until they are 8-12 weeks old and ready for new homes.

Dog breeding can be expensive. Costs include stud fees, veterinary care for the dam and puppies, registration paperwork, breeding supplies, and quality food. Facilities and space are required to house adult dogs and puppies. The environment must be clean, safe, and comfortable according to the AKC Guide to Responsible Dog Breeding.

breeding requires major commitment

Breeders take on responsibility for their dogs’ health and welfare. Providing adequate veterinary care, nutrition, socialization, and overall care requires dedication. There is also an emotional commitment to caring for the dogs throughout their lives.

Choose a Breed

When deciding which breed of dog to breed and sell, it’s important to carefully research and consider the traits and purpose of different breeds. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the most popular breeds in 2022 included Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, French Bulldogs, and Bulldogs.

However, popularity shouldn’t be the only factor. Take time to research the typical temperament, exercise needs, grooming requirements, and health issues common to different breeds. Consider your own lifestyle and facilities when deciding if a breed will be a good fit. For example, very active breeds like Border Collies need lots of daily exercise and mental stimulation. Monitor breed-specific health problems like hip dysplasia in German Shepherds or breathing issues in brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds.

Also research demand for the breed you’re considering, as trends change over time. Some breeds experience surges in popularity after appearing in films or winning at major dog shows. Being prepared to breed an in-demand dog can maximize profit potential. Just be sure you still select a breed that suits your interests, facilities, and ethical comfort level.

Obtain Quality Breeding Stock

obtain quality foundation dogs

One of the most important steps when starting a dog breeding business is obtaining high quality breeding stock. The breeding dogs should undergo extensive health and temperament testing to ensure they are physically and mentally sound. Reputable breeders will provide proof of health testing and titles/pedigrees for their dogs. According to the Breeder’s Handbook, some recommended health tests include hip and elbow evaluations, eye examinations by a veterinary ophthalmologist, and DNA tests for inherited diseases.

In terms of cost, purchasing quality breeding stock can be quite expensive. Prices will vary greatly depending on the breed – rare breeds often cost more – but expect to spend at least several thousand dollars per breeding dog. For example, Boston Terriers typically cost $1,500 to $4,500 each for breeding quality dogs with full health testing and pedigrees, according to Take time to research reputable breeders and expect to pay more upfront for healthy, genetically sound dogs that will produce quality puppies. Do not cut costs when selecting your foundation stock.

Breeding Facilities and Supplies

Properly preparing your facilities and acquiring the necessary supplies is crucial to responsible dog breeding. Some key considerations include:

Whelping Area

You’ll need a clean, warm, and quiet space for the mother to whelp and nurse her puppies. According to the AKC, the whelping area should be around 60-100 square feet and kept between 70-80°F during whelping [1]. It should contain whelping and nesting boxes where the puppies can nurse and sleep.


Your facility will require proper indoor kennels and/or outdoor runs with adequate space for each dog as determined by the USDA. Outdoor runs must have a covered shelter area [2]. Proper fencing and housing helps keep the dogs safe and secure.

Food, Medicines, and Equipment

You’ll need premium dog food and supplements for nursing mothers and growing puppies. Stock health supplies like vaccines, dewormers, and emergency medicines recommended by your vet. Essential equipment includes feeding dishes, crates, grooming tools, and clean birthing supplies.

Breeding process

A successful breeding starts with timing everything properly. Female dogs go into heat every 6-8 months and are receptive to breeding for around 2 weeks. You’ll want to track the heat cycle and identify when ovulation occurs, which is typically 10-14 days after the heat starts (AKC). This is the optimal time for mating.

When ready to mate, introduce the selected sire and dam in a controlled environment. They should be closely monitored for the safety of both dogs. Mating ties can last 5-45 minutes. Multiple ties over 2-3 days helps increase litter size (AKC).

After mating, provide excellent nutrition and care for the pregnant dam. Monitor weight gain and body temperature. As whelping approaches, create a safe, warm whelping area. Have supplies on hand like scales, feeding tubes, and heating pads. Be prepared to assist with the delivery if needed, but let the dam follow her natural instincts as much as possible.

Caring for puppies

Caring for a new litter of puppies is a big responsibility. New puppies require round-the-clock care and monitoring during the first few weeks of life.

caring for puppies is crucial

Proper feeding is crucial. Newborn puppies should nurse every 2-4 hours for the first 2 weeks. The mother’s milk provides ideal nutrition and passive immunity to help the puppies stay healthy. If the mother is unable to nurse, a puppy milk replacer like Esbilac can be fed with a bottle. As the puppies grow, they can be weaned onto solid food around 3-4 weeks old [1].

Socialization is also very important during the first few weeks. The puppies should interact with each other, the mother, and humans to get accustomed to sights, sounds, handling, and environments. A lack of early socialization can lead to behavior problems down the road.

Regular veterinary check-ups help monitor the puppies’ health and development. Deworming and vaccination schedules start when the puppies are around 6-8 weeks old. Any potential health issues should be identified and addressed as early as possible.

Breed registration provides official pedigree documentation for purebred puppies. Registration verifies parentage and breed purity for future breeding or showing. Most major kennel clubs allow registration starting at 8 weeks of age [2].

Selling the puppies

Pricing puppies can be tricky. You’ll need to factor in costs like vet bills and the quality of the puppies’ lineage. A starting point is to check classified ads to see what other breeders are charging for similar puppies in your area. Typically, puppies from champion bloodlines sell for higher prices. On average, prices for purebred puppies range from $500-$2000.

Thoroughly screening potential buyers is crucial to finding good homes for the puppies. Require potential buyers to fill out a detailed questionnaire about their lifestyle, family, home, experience with dogs, etc. You may also want to do home checks to ensure the puppy will have a safe environment. Requiring references from a veterinarian and personal references can also help vet buyers.

Have buyers sign a purchase contract covering things like spay/neuter requirements, health guarantees, and giving you first rights if they can no longer care for the dog. Make sure the microchip is registered to you until proof of spay/neuter to ensure contracts are fulfilled. Here are some sample puppy sales contracts:

Advertising puppies takes perseverance. Options include local newspapers, breed club referrals, online classifieds like Craigslist or, and posting on community boards. Social media can also help spread the word. Advertisements should include clear photos, breed info, pricing, and screening requirements. Stay patient through the process to find the best homes.

Ongoing dog upkeep

Owning a dog requires a substantial, ongoing investment to care for them properly. Proper care includes elements like feeding, grooming, and veterinary expenses.

Feeding a dog can cost $150-300 per year on average, with premium dog foods costing more. Puppies and large breed dogs will eat more food, increasing costs (Source).

Grooming costs depend on the breed and services required, ranging from $30-80 per session. Most dogs require grooming every 6-8 weeks. Annual grooming costs average $250-700 (Source).

Veterinary expenses include vaccines, checkups, preventative care and any illness/injury treatment. Annual veterinary costs average $200-400 for basic care, plus additional unexpected costs. Pet insurance averages $360-720 per year to help manage these expenses (Source).

Ongoing costs are a significant commitment when owning a dog. Prospective owners must carefully budget for food, grooming, medical care and other regular expenses.

Business Factors

When starting a dog breeding business, there are several important business factors to consider:


You may need to obtain certain licenses and permits before breeding and selling dogs. According to the TRUiC, you typically need a breeders license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) if you have more than 4 breeding females and sell puppies wholesale to pet stores, brokers or online. You’ll also need a commercial breeders permit or license in some states. Check your state and local regulations.

Record Keeping

Maintaining detailed records is crucial in the dog breeding business according to Quicksprout. You’ll need to track pedigree information, breeding activity, veterinary care, expenses and sales. Good record keeping helps ensure the health of your dogs and puppies.


As with any business, you’ll need to pay taxes on income earned from breeding and selling puppies. The IRS considers dog breeding a business, so you’ll need to report your earnings. Talk to an accountant about the best business structure and filing as either a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation or LLC according to Doola.

Ethical considerations

Breeding dogs ethically is extremely important. There are several major ethical concerns to consider:

consider ethical factors


There are millions of unwanted dogs in shelters across the country. With so many dogs in need of homes already, bringing more puppies into the world should be carefully considered. According to ASPCA, responsible breeders should make efforts to reduce pet overpopulation.

Health testing

Responsible breeders will health test breeding dogs and only breed those free of genetic diseases. Health testing helps reduce the number of sick puppies born. Per the ASPCA, dogs should be screened for disorders common to the breed.

Puppy mills

Unethical puppy mills mass produce dogs purely for profit, with no regard for health or wellbeing. They often keep breeding dogs in poor conditions. The ASPCA advises avoiding pet stores and online sellers, as they commonly source from mills. Supporting responsible small-scale breeders is an ethical alternative.

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