Start a dog breeding business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your dog breeding business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a dog breeding business?
The startup costs for a dog breeding business can be substantial, although they’re controllable. Business owners must have a facility for their dogs, purchase female dogs, buy a male dog or pay a stud fee, have food for their dogs and pay for their puppies’ shots and tests. Most dog breeding businesses are located in rural areas, in order to keep facility costs minimal.
Additionally, a dog breeding business should be registered with the AKC, and each litter ought to be registered with the club. Registering a business is $100, and litter registrations are $25 plus $2 per puppy. Here is a full list of the AKC’s fee schedule.
Other startup costs include licensing and insurance fees.
Business owners who want to keep their costs as low as possible can begin by breeding just one female dog. Starting out with just one dog keeps feeding costs, veterinary costs for puppies and AKC litter registration fees minimal. A single dog can also usually be housed in a home without building any special facilities. As puppies are sold, the proceeds can be reinvested in the business to grow it.
What are the ongoing expenses for a dog breeding business?
The ongoing expenses for a dog breeding business include purchasing food for dogs, veterinary costs for puppies and mothers, and AKC registration fees. Each litter must be tested by a veterinarian and should be registered with the AKC.
Who is the target market?
A dog breeding business makes money by selling the puppies they birth and raise.
How does a dog breeding business make money?
Dog breeding businesses have two ideal customers. Dog lovers who are enthusiastic about a specific breed and have discretionary income are often willing (and able) to pay a premium for a well-bred dog in their favorite breed.
Pet stores can provide a more stable revenue stream, even though they may not pay as much as an individual. Many pet stores, however, prefer to work with rescue agencies and offer adoptions, and are moving away from reselling puppies purchased from breeders.
How much can you charge customers?
A dog breeding business may charge anywhere from $500 to $3,000 for each puppy. Where a puppy falls within this price range usually depends on the pedigree of the puppy’s parents and how much care the breeder puts into breeding their dogs. Responsible breeders, for instance, won’t breed dogs who have behavioral problems or genetic health issues. Breeders must be able to cover the potential costs of having such a dog.
How much profit can a dog breeding business make?
How much a dog breeding business can make depends on the quality of its dogs and how many litters it breeds in a year. A high-end breeder may have just four litters a year, but sell their dogs for $2,500 each. If each litter had six dogs, the business would have an annual revenue of $60,000. A low-budget breeder who doesn't have the same quality of dogs may only sell theirs for $800 each. To make the same amount, they’d need more than 12 litters of six dogs each.
How can you make your business more profitable?
A dog breeding business can increase its revenue by entering dogs in shows and winning. This not only adds prestige to the business, but it also lets the business breed award-winning dogs that will have puppies with better pedigrees.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Dog Breeding Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your dog breeding business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Legally a commercial breeder is defined as someone who breeds more than 20 dogs within a 12 month period. Commercial breeding is state regulated. Here is a list of dog breeding regulations categorized by state.
Other state and local state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a dog breeding business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Dog breeding businesses should consider requiring clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example services agreement.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your breeding business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
Dog Breeder Contact
It is important to have a contract or purchase agreement which clarifies what is to be expected of both the breeder and the buyer.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
How to promote & market a dog breeding business
A dog breeding business that specializes in a particular breed should look for ways to reach dog lovers who are enthusiastic about that breed. Joining both local breed-specific clubs and participating in online groups about the breed are two good ways to begin connecting with potential businesses.
How to keep customers coming back
Both the quality and treatment of puppies are two concerns that potential customers have. A dog breeding business can set itself apart by carefully considering genetics and pedigrees to breed the best puppies possible, and by providing excellent care for dogs.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Dog Breeding Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
People who like dogs and caring for them may be interested in opening a dog breeding business. A business owner should be in good enough physical condition to interact with, care for and play with puppies -- which are often on the floor. Business owners also usually help female dogs with births, so owners should be able to make themselves available when a dog goes into labor. It also helps to not be off-put by the birthing process.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a dog breeding business?
A dog breeding business involves caring for all dogs, including both adult dogs that are bred together and puppies. This typically involves feeding, exercising and playing with dogs, as well as picking up after them. A business owner also puts male and female dogs together when a female is in heat and births puppies. Some business owners offer to deliver puppies to customers.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful dog breeding business?
A dog breeder needs to be familiar with the breeding process, and they have to be able to choose two dogs that are suited for each other. Additionally, they should be comfortable birthing dogs, as taking a female to a veterinarian for each birth is expensive.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has courses on genetics, breeding systems, pedigree and other topics. These courses can either be taken for free, or breeders can pay a nominal fee for an official certificate. The AKC also has a recommended reading list. PetMD has a short, but informative, slideshow on the birthing process.
Dog breeders need to know what shots and tests new puppies need. The AKC maintains a list of health testing requirements by breed.
Breeders should also become intimately familiar with the breed they’re specializing in. Reading books on the breed and joining organizations that work with the breed are ways to learn about it.
What is the growth potential for a dog breeding business?
While dog breeding businesses usually have only one location where dogs are bred, a business can sell dogs locally, regionally or nationally. A business may breed just one or two litters a year and sell them to nearby dog lovers, or they might breed hundreds (possibly thousands) of puppies and sell them throughout the country.
TRUiC's YouTube Channel
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
How and when to build a team
A dog breeding business can be run as a single-person operation, although some large breeders hire employees to help with all the dogs. Most breeders hire part-time help that assists on an as-needed basis, even if they only have a few puppies. A part-time helper can assist with births, and they can care for dogs for short periods of time so that the breeder can take occasional vacations.