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Many dog lovers are very enthusiastic about a particular breed of dog. A dog breeding business lets dog lovers who like a specific breed pick out a puppy of that breed. Most businesses focus on raising one breed of dog and, thus, serve people who love that breed.
Who is this business right for?
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 steps to start a dog breeding business?
Once you're ready to start your dog breeding business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your dog breeding business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your dog breeding business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- 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.
- 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.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- 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.
- Establish a 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. Save 15% when you create a business website with Weebly.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I 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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.