That is the question prospective puppy buyers most frequently ask when looking for a pet. What they don't realize is the cost of raising that puppy they are thinking about buying. So let's take a look at some typical costs that a serious breeder incurs when breeding that puppy you are thinking about.
Before a responsible breeder even gets around to thinking about breeding a litter, they have already spent hundreds of dollars just on the basics. The average amount spent on just maintaining a dog is around $600 a year for a typical American family whether it be "Fido" from the local humane society or "Princess" from a reputable breeder. There are dog food, vet bills, grooming bills, grooming supplies, training classes, toys and equipment. That's just for the average dog owner.
Now let's take your typical breeder/owner/exhibitor. We can tack on an additional $250-$500 for various health clearances (OFA exams and CERF exams) depending on your location and the number/types of tests done. These are done by breeders to ensure the health of the parents and of the next generation.
Then there are the event expenses. Ultimately, breeders are trying to produce the next great working, obedience, hunting, or show dog. That should be the only reason why they are breeding. In order to prove these attributes in the parents, they must compete for titles. No matter what venue they pursue there are costs involved. Costs that add up in a hurry!
For example, take a dog competing for a conformation championship. It takes an average of 60 shows (varies with breed) to finish a dog. Entry fees run an average of $25-30 a show so that's $1500-1800 in entry fees alone! A typical show weekend could easily set a person back $300 in gas parking, entries, food and hotel expenses if you have to travel a long way. If you have a breed that requires a lot of grooming you either have to buy the equipment (combs, brushes, hair dryers, scissors, grooming table, shampoos and the like) or pay a groomer to do the job for you. Hiring a handler will add another $50 or more per show. It doesn't take long for those expenses to add up. A dog that competes in other areas, has other costs associated with that particular event. Multiple titles mean multiple expenses!
So you're looking at a champion/titled sired litter out of a champion/titled dam. That breeder has probably spent several thousand dollars before this litter was ever conceived! They have health clearances and a pre-breeding exam. They have to pay a stud fee and any other associated fees which could also run into the thousands if they are dealing with artificial insemination or are shipping the bitch.
The bitch is bred and safely in whelp. Hopefully all goes well and there isn't an emergency trip to the vet for a cesarean section. They still have to take time off of work to be there when the time comes. There may be the trips to the vet for dew-claw removal, tail-docking, and/or ear-cropping. The pups have to be wormed, vet checked, micro-chipped and given vaccinations. There are advertising expenses, registration costs, long distance phone calls and the screening of potential buyers.
Finally, there are the long hours spent advising puppy buyers and standing behind those pups sold. The average breeder/exhibitor is in and out of dogs within a 10 year period. A dedicated breeder is one who knows that there is no money to be made breeding dogs, but stays in for the long haul anyway. Their reward is not monetary...it is in producing the next generation of champions whether they be pets or competition dogs. So the next time you find yourself asking why so much you should be saying to yourself why aren't they asking more!