How to Start a Dog Breeding Business

Ready to get your dog breeding business started?

Great! This page was designed with you in mind! My best resources to help you get started are all right here!

Start with signing up for the Roadmap to a Successful Breeding Program. One of the hardest things about dog breeding is sorting out your priorities and doing things in the best order. This is exactly why I created the Roadmap. It helps you stay on track and do things in the right order! It is by far my most popular free resource!

One you get the Roadmap, the next step is to review what a dog breeding business is like to own and run. Is it something that you’ll love … or maybe hate? 

The following podcasts help you understand what goes into a dog breeding business, the money, the time, the lifestyle, and the work. It’s much different than your average 9-5. Some people love it and others hate it. 

If you want to read or listen to all of the podcasts in this series, you can scroll down and read or listen to them one after the other. 

#87 – Are you Justifying Your Breeding Program?

#87 – Are you Justifying Your Breeding Program?

I remember in the beginning, when someone would ask what I do, back when I first started breeding dogs as a full-time thing, I’d get a look. Sometimes the look was one of confusion, as though I were using dog breeding as a way to look like I had a job, when I was...

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#86 – How Do You Market Your Puppies?

#86 – How Do You Market Your Puppies?

Everything is going well. You picked some awesome breeding dogs, you got them on a food you like, they’re healthy. Your family is excited, too, they aren’t sure what to expect, but your family has helped you get a dog room put together. In no time you’ll have puppies!...

read more
#85 – What Does the Dog Breeding Lifestyle Look Like?

#85 – What Does the Dog Breeding Lifestyle Look Like?

Do you remember career planning in high school? They have you take a survey of questions asking what you liked: Do you prefer to work outside or in air conditioning. Do you like being physical or would you prefer to be mostly using a computer? Do you like to travel or...

read more
#84 – What Skills Do You Need to Be a Dog Breeder?

#84 – What Skills Do You Need to Be a Dog Breeder?

A lot of people schedule a free strategy call with me and want to know if they are good enough to breed dogs–if they have the right skills to do it, or if it would even work. I understand that. I myself wasn’t sure if I was the right person to start dog breeding. I’d...

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#82 – Is Dog Breeding Profitable?

#82 – Is Dog Breeding Profitable?

Recently I was doing some keyword research and I saw that many potential breeders are checking to see if breeding is profitable. This seems to be a big concern, so, naturally, being me, I wanted to discuss it with you. However, I hate leaving you hanging, so the...

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Read through all the above articles here 👇

#87 – Are you Justifying Your Breeding Program?

I remember in the beginning, when someone would ask what I do, back when I first started breeding dogs as a full-time thing, I’d get a look. Sometimes the look was one of confusion, as though I were using dog breeding as a way to look like I had a job, when I was really a bum. The other look I would get was one where they looked at me like I was a terrible person. How dare I breed dogs for income when there were all those helpless dogs in shelters and rescues?

I remember thinking to myself, “Okay, it’s not like I just said I’m a drug dealer … what gives?” Why are people so weirded out by dog breeding, and was I really that terrible for breeding dogs and then making money?

I work with a lot of new breeders. They are so excited to breed dogs and—contrary to popular belief—while money plays a role, rarely is it the only reason someone is getting into dog breeding. As I often tell people, it’s way too much poop to work with if you don’t like dogs.

Just the same, you can’t be expected to do all this work for free; you’d have to be crazy.

Yet, I see a lot of breeders in this headspace; wondering how they can justify that they breed dogs. Anything to get those awkward looks from people to go away.

What’s interesting is how when I tell people now that I breed dogs, I don’t get these same looks. If anything, I now get intrigued looks. I analyzed what was different and I realized it really came down to my confidence. I am confident in my program. I am confident that I am doing what needs to be done to produce great dogs and place them in great homes. I’m not sending people home with problems, and if problems do arise, well, I am there to help my people. They can contact me and I’ll help them the best I can to figure things out.

Confidence is what changes how you talk about your program; and I’m not talking about the groomed confidence that comes from standing in the mirror practicing how to confidently say you’re a dog breeder. It comes from real confidence in your program.

Where Does Confidence Come From?

It comes from having answers to questions. I’m not talking about memorization; but more so, asking yourself the questions, mulling over the possible answers and solutions, making a decision that’s right for you and your breeding program, and then standing behind that decision.

Some of these questions will pop up from your own musings about your program. For example, a common one is when to retire a mama dog. There is no simple answer. I have an entire MasterClass with flow chart on how to figure this out.

Other questions will pop up when things arise and you have to figure them out, like when my kennel was hit hard with giardia back in my first year of breeding, or when I had my first dog returned. How do you handle that? You do the best you can with the resources you have. But, don’t stop there. Mull over the situation after it’s over, too. Review what went well, what didn’t, and how you’d do it differently if it happened again—or when it happens again.

If I can caution you about anything, it’s that there is no “one” way to breed dogs. There is no “only” way to breed dogs. What is right for you may be a terrible decision for the next breeder. To be a great breeder, a confident breeder, you need to figure out what’s right for you. That comes from an intelligent reflection on the options, and making a thoughtful decision after considering those options.

This is a little exhausting because there are so many ways to do things! I don’t expect you’ll be able to make all these decisions right from the start. It would be overwhelming. Rather, try a method, then be open to changing it if it doesn’t work for you or your dogs. This is the process. I have been breeding for over a decade and I still try new things each litter. My changes are smaller now, but I’m always experimenting.

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What about Breeding Courses, Certificates, and Badges?

I see a lot of breeders overwhelmed by the options, and they’re afraid to fail or to do things wrong. In an effort to hedge against making mistakes, a lot of breeders will start to collect courses and badges. They’ll often display these on their website or such.

Here’s my hesitation with that. I see a lot of breeders taking these courses and collecting these as a way to justify their choice to breed, or in an effort to prove they are a good breeder or an ethical breeder. It’s a way to feel confident when you aren’t confident.

Let me clarify, because I’m sure someone will interpret this as me saying not to take those courses or be a part of those organizations. That’s NOT what I’m suggesting. Rather, I’m suggesting that you take those courses and join those organizations to learn and network, not because you can put a badge on your website.

Just the same, when you take that course, learn from it. Decide if it makes sense to make some adjustments in your program because of what you learned. Then implement it, try it, take feedback from buyers on it. That’s the goal.

Showing those badges and certificates shows that you’re involved in learning more and you have an interest in being better. Maintain your integrity by learning and implementing what you learned.

There’s a big difference between someone who is taking those courses to learn and someone who is taking those courses to get a badge they can put on their website. The latter situation is someone in search of confidence. There is no shortcut to confidence. It’s a journey of a thousand decisions, trials, errors, and trying again.

To summarize, you don’t need badges and certificates, you need to know WHY you’re doing what you’re doing, and you have to be willing to change it when you realize it isn’t working for you. You also have to be comfortable trying new things and making mistakes.

“You never lose, you either win or you learn”

I heard a great quote the other day. The guy said, “You never lose, you either win or you learn.”

I think that’s the best way to look at your breeding program failures: the opportunity to learn and get better.

If you think about it, I would have a terrible podcast if everything I ever did with my breeding program worked out perfectly. How could I help you if my dogs never had parasites, if they always were sold with little effort, if I never had a returned dog, or if I never screwed up with my buyers? It wouldn’t be the honest dog breeder podcast, it would be the wasting your time podcast.

If you never make mistakes, you’re probably not trying anything new. Courses and MasterClasses, like what I’ve created inside the Dog Breeder Society, are designed to help you understand all the things you need to know so that you can bypass the excessive mistakes and failures and move into success more quickly, with less damage. There isn’t one way to breed, which is why I try and address the things you should consider when deciding how to do something, rather than telling you what to do—which is different for everyone.

Why are Breeders Mean to Each Other?

This brings me to a last thought: why are breeders often so mean to each other? It’s not always, but it’s very common. It reminds me of those popular girls in high school. Remember the movie “Mean Girls” where the girls are just straight mean to be mean? It doesn’t really benefit them, but they just say some nasty things.

When you look at mean girls in high school, they’re usually sweet when they say terrible things, right? “Oh honey, it’s not that your makeup is bad because you don’t know how to use it, it’s because your eyes are too narrow and it makes your face look funny.”

It’s so terrible because comments like those do two things: their tone deflects how rude it is, as if they are somehow being kind and understanding, rather than their true intent, which is designed to make you feel terrible about yourself. It would be akin to a breeder telling another breeder that if they knew more about breeding they wouldn’t have made such a rookie mistake.

The other side of the comment is that they are cutting you down for something in a way that you can’t recover from. Note how you can’t change where your eyes sit on your face. It would be like telling a breeder that if they had better breeding dogs, this wouldn’t be a problem.

While sometimes you do need to change your breeding dogs, there are so many variables in breeding that it’s nearly impossible for someone reading a Facebook post to make that determination.

Criticism is Often Born of Insecurity

Why were the popular girls in high school so mean? Because they were insecure. They felt judged, so they judged others. They brought others down because they didn’t know how to bring themselves up.

Breeders who bring other breeders down are doing so because they feel insecure about their own breeding program. So, here’s the question: if you catch yourself about to judge another breeder—even if in your mind!—then ask yourself, what about this is bringing up an insecurity for me? You’ll notice that if you don’t have an insecurity there, you won’t feel inclined to judge.

Don’t be mad at yourself for having the judgmental thought. That’s useless. But instead approach it with curiosity and ask what it triggered inside of you?

I’ll give you an example from my life. I remember running into someone years ago at the park and they had a little puppy. I asked about it, making small talk and they said they had bought the dog from a breeder. The dog was one of the smaller breeds and they had explained they purchased the dog and the amount they said was twice what my dogs were selling for at the time. This little dog had a pretty bad underbite, to the point where it might need to have dental work done to eat properly. I felt my blood pressure rise up, ready to judge this other breeder for creating a dog with an underbite. Yet it had nothing to do with the underbite. Sometimes that happens. Instead, it was that I was insecure about the price of my dogs. I was frustrated that my dogs didn’t sell for that price and I was trying to blame the injustice of the world that little dogs with underbites would sell for more than my bird dogs with great bites.

It was ridiculous, really. That guy was never going to be a candidate for a bird dog. He had a cane! He would hate having one of my dogs. It’s funny that I wasn’t even bothered he bought a dog from another breeder, because he wouldn’t have done well with my dogs. I understood that and wasn’t insecure about it.

I was confident about the type of home that would do well with my dogs and insecure about their price. Both of those were reflected in how I felt inclined to judge and not judge the situation. Don’t you hate it when you are reminded you’re not perfect?! 😉

Going back to the breeder community—especially on Facebook …

I was so floored by the rudeness within the breeder community that I checked out of it for 7 years. It was easier to pour over the internet and make mistakes than waste my time with the useless Facebook posts. I had ONE breeder friend. She was my friend prior to breeding, but we weren’t even close, and we certainly didn’t chat about breeding.

Anyway, here I am now. I have a podcast for dog breeders and an educational community to help them. My hope is to make it easier for you, save you time, make you more money, and most importantly, to have the dogs be the bringer of good things for your family, not something that sends you to therapy.

I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re a part of the honest dog breeder community because you’re going to meet some amazing breeders. Working with breeders in this community has been so refreshing and, dare I say, healing for me. You all care so much and it is beautiful watching you grow your programs into what you know they can be. I’m excited to be a part of it, however small my role.

Thank you for joining me for another episode of the Honest Dog Breeder Podcast, with me, your host, Julie Swan. Thank you for taking time out of your day to join me, it means the world to me. I can’t wait to see you in the next episode!

Show Notes

Referenced Links
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#86 – How Do You Market Your Puppies?

Everything is going well. You picked some awesome breeding dogs, you got them on a food you like, they’re healthy. Your family is excited, too, they aren’t sure what to expect, but your family has helped you get a dog room put together. In no time you’ll have puppies! This is the exciting part, the puppies!

But what about marketing them and finding them homes?! Oh wait … how do you do that?!

Many breeders do all the things with their breeding dogs and taking care of the puppies, but they don’t have a plan for marketing them.

I’m going to give you my thoughts on marketing, where to start and where to go from there.

My plan for marketing is designed to build you a long, stable influx of customers eager to buy your puppies. It is not the most ideal if you want to unload puppies quickly and it is more work than you probably want to put in if you have an oops litter and aren’t really breeding, but just have puppies to sell.

If you’re in one of those situations, there are lots of rescues and online communities for rehoming dogs that weren’t intended. These avenues aren’t ideal for honest breeders as intentionally bred dogs aren’t allowed on most of these sites and groups. Go figure.

Where Does Marketing Start?

Identifying Your Ideal Puppy Buyer

Before you dive into any advertisements, you first need to know your Ideal Puppy Buyer. It is the first step, the most critical step, and the most common step that breeders miss.

What is an Ideal Puppy Buyer? Good question. While I have an entire MasterClass inside the Dog Breeder Society that discusses finding your Ideal Puppy Buyer, in quick summary, the Ideal Puppy Buyer is the type of person you would like to sell your puppies to.

Most people discuss demographics and while that’s important to a degree, what’s more important is the lifestyle. Take avid hikers and people who work from their desk all day at home. Those are two very different lifestyles. The type of dog who will be a great hiking companion, may not be the best dog to sleep at your feet by the desk all day. Just the same, the dog sleeping under your desk may have no interest in hiking, and may even struggle to keep up.

This is why the lifestyle is so important: when the dogs integrate into the lifestyle that the buyer wants to have with the dog, then the match is easy, there is less work in managing a puppy, and both the buyer and puppy are happy. When there is a mismatch, then the owner and dog have many more struggles and the relationship isn’t as great as it could be. Think how disappointed the hiker would be with a dog that couldn’t hike, and how frustrated the owner working from home would be when they have to get up 15 times a day to let the dog in and out as they’re trying to get work done. The match matters.

Understanding and marketing your dogs comes down to knowing your Ideal Puppy Buyer and the lifestyle they have, how it works with your dogs, and then selling that lifestyle.

A key thing to remember: we don’t sell dogs, we sell the lifestyle they provide.


Once you know who your Ideal Puppy Buyer is, the next step is to build a brand around that Ideal Puppy Buyer.

Branding, which is the colors, fonts, logo, and overall feel of your business, is the way we convey what our dogs provide. There is a lot of psychology in branding, choosing a blood red color will give an entirely different feel than choosing a light sky blue.

Branding starts with the emotions your buyers want to feel with the puppy, it’s the reason they’re buying a puppy: to feel those emotions. If you build your brand for those emotions, then you’ll start to attract the right people. Remember the emotions and the lifestyle that will evoke those emotions will be different for every single breed and also, further, within a breed.

If you don’t think branding works, then think about stores or restaurants you go to. Notice how similar people will be in those places. The people shopping at Boot Barn, buying cowboy jeans are very different than the people shopping at Banana Republic. If you go into Banana Republic in your dirty jeans and cowboy boots smelling like a horse, you’re probably going to get some awkward glances. Just the same, if you’re all dressed up in business casual dress and heels you’re probably going to get a few confused looks as you try on boots at Boot Barn. Does it mean you can’t shop at both stores? No, not at all, but you’ll probably dress more according to that store if you go there, just to make the process less awkward and easier.

It’s just like going to a nice restaurant. Remember when you had to go to a really nice restaurant when you were a kid and your mom made you dress up? Jeans weren’t allowed and you couldn’t wear your gym shoes? It’s the branding of those businesses that begs you to be a certain way as you interact with them. More so though, they are designed to make you feel like you higher end or classy if you are going to the nice restaurant or Banana Republic. Whereas Boot Barn is all about making sure you have the right clothes for the job; no one wants ripped jeans while you’re moving cows.

Matching Your Brand to Your Ideal Puppy Buyer

It will be really hard to sell your dogs to people who shop at Boot Barn if your branding feels like Banana Republic. You have to build your brand for your Ideal Puppy Buyer and the lifestyle they seek with their dogs.

Branding can be exhausting and very thick, which is why I built a MasterClass on branding. Once you know your Ideal Puppy Buyer, it’s a lot easier to build your brand around them.

A lot of people try and build their website before they have their brand built out and it just really makes it a lot harder and more work to change later. The worst is when a website is built without a brand and it doesn’t speak to anyone. All that work just to have it fall flat. Take the time to build a brand, then build your website with it. You can always adapt it a bit later, but taking the time to build a brand will pay off in professionalism and consistency for your program.

Build Your Website

Once you have your brand in place you can build your website. Building websites is fun. Some of you are probably rolling your eyes at me, it’s okay, I won’t take it personally. Websites are your virtual kennel. Gone are the days where people will visit your kennel before purchasing, rather, today, they visit your virtual kennel—your website—to determine if you’re the right breeder for them.

While there is maintenance for a website just like your actual facilities, there is no poop, so that’s always a positive in my book.

When you build your website I want you to have this idea of it being your virtual kennel. Think about it as though it’s a hired spokesman for your facility, almost like someone you have at your home, ready to do a walkthrough with your buyers, when they arrive.

What a Good Dog Breeder Website Includes

Your website needs to provide a prospective buyer all the information to determine if your dogs are a good match for them. This means they should be able to see pictures of your dogs, your breeding dogs, and available puppies. They should also be able to get an idea of what you breed for, the goals of your breeding program compared with other breeders within the breed.

They’ll also want to know how the process works. Remember, with the Adopt-Don’t-Shop Movement, there are a lot of people who have never bought from a breeder before, they often don’t know how the process works. Tell them how it works, make everything simple. The goal is simplicity.

I have a free checklist for the 5 pages every breeder website needs. Learn more about it and grab your copy here, or you can get it in the show notes for this episode. To find the show notes for any episode, just type in and the number of the episode.

The goal of the website is to be the net that catches buyers in tandem with your email list—we’ll get to that in a second. All social media, advertisements, and anywhere else you list your dogs and program, it should all send buyers to your website. It should catch all initial inquiry. Once they’re there, they can read through the website and see if you’re a good fit.

Not only is your website the receiver of all your advertisements, but it is a sorting mechanism that will attract or repel people to your program. If they aren’t a good fit, then the website should make that clear. They’ll move on and you’ll never have to deal with them. This is how the work that you put into the website will eventually save you time and make you more money.

A well-organized and designed website, with the right information on it, will direct people, just like a hired employee at your gate welcoming people in.

Get the 5 Pages Every Dog Breeder Website Needs Checklist!

Email Newsletter

While they are there on your website, you want to capture the lead; the best and least invasive way to do this is through using an email list. The email newsletter is a way to capture a buyer when they’re on your site. Not all buyers are ready to buy when they first land on your site. By putting themselves on an email list, you can nurture them with news from your breeding program and they can take action when they’re ready.

I recommend using ConvertKit for this service, we have a MasterClass inside the Dog Breeder Society that’ll help you get started with ConvertKit and use it for your breeding program. The great news is that ConvertKit has a free plan that’s adequate for most breeders. It makes it easy to get started and get traction!

Imagine that you build your website, and 1000 people go to your website over 5 months, not bad, like 200 people per month. Imagine that you were able to collect a mere 10% of their email addresses. That would be 100 email addresses. Now, when you have your first litter, you’ll have 100 people to tell about it, what’s better? They gave you their email address! Which means they were interested at a point in time in learning more and getting notified. It makes them warm leads. Even if that email list of 100 people only leads to 3 sales, that’s 3 sales you barely had to work for. It only gets better.

Send People to Your Website through Social Media & Advertisements

At this point you’ve figured out your Ideal Puppy Buyer, your brand, you’ve built a website, and have an email list integrated to collect warm leads, so what’s next?

Sending people to your website and collecting email addresses is the next step and an on-going marketing step along the way. Naturally, social media is one of the best ways to do this. The organic traffic from social media is wonderful and helpful.

Social media is all about meeting people where they are. It’s sort of like the virtual equivalent of having a stand at a farmer’s market. You are there, you share a little of your product offering, but the goal is often to build awareness that you exist, and to get people to go to your website or jump on your email list so they can continue to get things from you later on, well past the farm stand.

Social media allows you to go where they are and make them aware of your product, in our case, our puppies.

Social media is one of the biggest time-sucks in breeding. The better your website, the less you’ll need social media, yet you generally need a presence there.

I recommend you make a plan for social media. Our team created the Breeder Copy Hub, complete with social media templates to help you do your social media each month, saving you time and getting you results.

Another thing about social media, it should start to sort people. You want to repel some people on your social media, if they aren’t a good fit for buying one of your puppies, then having them there can hurt you in the algorithm. Don’t be afraid to have a small, very engaged following, those are the money makers.

What about Brokerage Services?

There are lots of brokerage services and websites. Everything from other people selling your dogs on your behalf (I do not recommend this, you have very little control of where your dogs are going) to websites like Good Dog or AKC Marketplace who aim to align you with interested buyers. I think these brokerage websites are a great place to advertise, but they should never be the only place to advertise. Don’t rely on any third party service to sell your dogs. Have a website and use these sites to build traffic to your website.

Back in the day I used to list my dogs. It had a lot more traffic per month than I was getting on my website. Through filtering, mostly by location, people began to find my breeding program. Many contacted me through Gun Dog Breeders, while others contacted me through my website following the link from the listing. It brought a good amount of traffic to my site and eventually more and more people were finding me directly through Google searches.

In summary, leverage these sites, but don’t rely on them for consistent sales, build your website and email list, then rely on those. They’re much more consistent and can never randomly kick you off to be politically correct.

Where Else Can You Advertise?

There are a few other options to advertise when you first get started. Local feed stores are great, they usually have boards where you can post animals. These boards also often exist at coffee shops and other local favorites. You’ll want to make some form of poster or similar, give a little summary of what they are, size, etc. that way people know what they’re contacting you about.

The most ideal thing is to use a QR code to send them to your website. There are lots of free QR code generators out there, you can always make one yourself and add the graphic to it.

There are also Facebook groups and similar where people have dogs and puppies. These are great places for research. When listing, make sure to follow the group rules so that you don’t get kicked out or flagged. They can be real sticky, but also a great opportunity to meet good buyers.

There you go! The way to market your dogs. Start with your Ideal Puppy Buyer, build your brand, build your website, integrate an email list, then use social media and advertisements to send people to your website, where you collect email addresses.

It feels complicated, but it’s not too bad in practice. Have patience with yourself, these things take time.

If you’d like to learn more about the Dog Breeder Society, Breeder Copy Hub, and our services in general, please check them out using the links in the show note below.

Thank you for joining me for another episode of the Honest Dog Breeder Podcast, with me, your host, Julie Swan. I know you’re busy, but I greatly appreciate you taking time out of your day to spend with me. Thanks again and I’ll see you in the next episode!

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#85 – What Does the Dog Breeding Lifestyle Look Like?

Do you remember career planning in high school? They have you take a survey of questions asking what you liked: Do you prefer to work outside or in air conditioning. Do you like being physical or would you prefer to be mostly using a computer? Do you like to travel or go to the same place each day? They also asked questions about what you liked to do, such as do you prefer new problems to solve each day or more routine things that you know how to do?

While I’ve taken many of these tests over the years, never did any of them suggest that I should be a dog breeder. I don’t think dog breeding as an industry makes it to many career lists. Maybe we can change that!

Where I wish more of these career inventories placed more focus was on the lifestyle of being in that career, not just what the job is like. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we selected our career based on the lifestyle we want to have, not just the job itself?

Selecting Your Career Based on the Lifestyle You Want t0 Have

I remember that when I was in school and growing up, teachers and family talked about my career as the thing that would give me the most fulfillment in life. They never specifically said that, but it was very implied. I have to say, I love you guys. The entire community of dog breeders I’ve gotten to work with are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I adore you. Yet, while this is my technical “career” and, as much as I love it, I love my kids and Bill more. They’re important to me in a different sort of way. I suppose the best way to summarize it is: my family makes my life whole, but adding in the Dog Breeder Society, working with you breeders, and having my breeding program overflows my cup.

Yet, in honesty, if I flipped it around and had the breeding business and the Dog Breeder Society, but I didn’t have my family, well, then I wouldn’t feel whole. I would still be missing something. It would be worse, too, if I had my family, but because of my career I never got to spend time with them. That’s the part they never talk about in those career discussions, or at least I don’t remember that.

The Lifestyle of a Dog Breeder

One of the greatest appeals of dog breeding is the lifestyle that goes with it. Now if you tell that to a non-breeder, they’ll think it’s because you get to play with puppies all the time. While it is hard to be in a bad mood when you’re playing with puppies, the truth is, you’re not playing with puppies all that much. There’s a lot of other stuff to do. The real appeal of dog breeding is the freedom of schedule. When you are breeding as your job, you are able to make your schedule. The only exceptions are whelpings, where you can’t pick when your dog will have her puppies, and if there is an injury you need to handle. The rest of it? Well, you pick the schedule.

You choose when to get up, when to take phone calls, when to clean pens, and when to meet with clients. I love this freedom of schedule. I think it’s great for everyone, but especially women. The obvious benefits are the ability to make it to all your kids’ activities, be there when they have a bad day, go to the motor vehicle division when no one is there, and definitely grocery shop when it’s empty in the afternoon. You can be available to your family, which I love, because you set your schedule.

I don’t talk about it much, but a few years after my divorce I went through the beginning stages of endometriosis. I began to track my cycle as I was healing naturally. One of the interesting things I learned through the process is that I feel a bit different in each part of my cycle. Sometimes I’m more creative, which is a better time to take photos, write copy for my website, write advertisements for my pups, or write social media posts. I also feel more reflective during other times in my cycle. These are great times for me to reflect on my program, my business, my life and lifestyle, and see where I need to adjust focus. The idea of having the freedom to reflect on my business when I feel inclined to do so, and then to be creative while my creative juices are flowing, is a beautiful example of a major benefit of being a breeder and having the ability to choose your life and your schedule.

So what does the day-to-day look like for a dog breeder?

Dog & Puppy Management

Each day, as in EVERY SINGLE DAY,  you need to manage and feed your dogs. What this looks like will greatly depend on your facilities. In the beginning, if you have 1-3 dogs in your program, you’ll probably have the dogs in your home, just like if they were pets. They’ll be in your house, on your couch, in your kitchen looking for scraps, and will probably go with you to some activities. This is not much different until you have puppies, which will then add the daily maintenance of cleaning the puppy pen. Cleaning puppy pens is one of those things you’ll probably need to figure out over a few litters. It’s a place where you can lose a lot of time or gain a lot of time.

When you only have 1-3 dogs in your program, you probably will not be full-time. There probably won’t be enough income for that. The income will definitely improve your quality of life from a few litters a year, or provide you a great foundation of finances to grow; but you’ll still need to figure out how to pay your normal bills. Having to work another job can make breeding and puppies a little annoying, and your boss will either understand or make things difficult.

Dog & Puppy Management as Your Breeding Program Grows

As you get more dogs or grow your program, things will change. You’ll have more management, as not all of your dogs will be able to just hang out and chill in the same pen. This can be easy if you have the right facilities, and will be essentially releasing dogs to different exercise pens or alternating who is living in the home; or it may be a total pain if you’re managing it with crates and constantly rotating dogs. I did this for a while in my breeding program, like way longer than I should’ve. It can take 2-3 hours to properly rotate dogs throughout the day, as in 2-3 hours of your actual time. The worst part is that it really restricts your ability to leave, and it is very interrupting, as you have to stop to move dogs because one is whining in a crate.

One thing I learned over the years, a lesson I wished I learned sooner, is that having the right facilities to manage your dogs is a game changer in how stressful—or not—dog breeding is. Whether that’s a good backyard with exercise pens or a dog room in your house with a place for your dogs to go to the bathroom, the simpler your daily time investment in managing your dogs, the less stressful your breeding program will feel.

Give yourself some grace. There are always growing pains when you increase your program, transition to full time, or before you can build facilities. The goal is to keep this as a transition period, a time where it sucks for a short while, but isn’t how your program will be forever.

If numbers help guide you as they do for me, I aim to have my dog management, which is the feeding and moving of dogs, to be at an hour or less per day. When I have puppies on the ground, I add an additional 30 minutes to an hour, between feeding and cleaning pens. This varies a lot based on the age of the puppies. They’re a lot less work the first 3 weeks, and then increasingly become more work as they get older and ready to go to their new homes.

If your dog management is taking more than 2 hours per day, then you need to consider where you can make things easier on yourself. Usually it’s facilities that’ll be the trick.

As a side note, dog management time is not training time, nor is it spending quality time enjoying your dogs. That’s separate, although you can certainly enjoy the time you’re spending managing the dogs.

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What about the business side of dog breeding?

The business side of dog breeding includes advertising, planning your social media posts, building your website, tracking and evaluating your income and expenses, making breeding decisions, and sourcing your supplies, like dog food and puppy packs.

Optimizing Your Social Media Process as a Dog Breeder

The most time-consuming part of it is usually the social media. It is often the bottle neck for breeders. They get so busy with the social media, they forget to find time for the other things.

It’s not unusual for social media marketing to take up 4-6 hours per week. Mostly though, it takes that sort of time because there isn’t a plan in place. If you have to dig through your phone or work for a while to take a photo for Instagram, then edit the photo, add your filter, figure out a caption, add hashtags, and then post it, well, that’s a good hour. It’s way too much time to spend each day. Not to mention, social media can be a black hole: a place where you go to post, then get sucked into reels for an hour. All of a sudden the kids are hungry, it’s 6:30 and the meat for dinner isn’t even thawed—do you order a pizza or make a quick spaghetti?

Social media is a big variable in breeding. It’s hard to continue to keep coming up with new stuff to say, taking pictures and videos. It really needs to be done in a batching way. This way you have the images done and ready. Then you can use our Breeder Copy Hub to get your captions, adjust them for your program, then pair the captions with the images. If you don’t create a flow for your social media, it will be a bottleneck in your program.

The other side of social media is that if you don’t get a flow before you have puppies, it becomes even more work when you do have puppies.

Creating & Updating a Website

In addition to the work of the flow of social media, it is also important to have a decent website. The maintenance of a website is less than an hour a week when you have puppies, and nearly nothing when you don’t have puppies; however, the building of a website can be very time consuming. The average website is near 100 hours of work. This may be something you’d like to outsource to a web designer. Working on a website isn’t a lot in maintenance, but that initial build can be a lot.

If you can, build the basis of your website before your dog is bred and you’re waiting on puppies. Your mind will be clearer, there will be less pressure, and you’ll be fluid with it prior to worrying about advertising and finding homes for puppies.  You can get my 5 Pages Every Dog Breeder Website Needs Cheatsheet here.

What about managing receipts and supplies?

It isn’t too bad. I spend about 1-2 hours a month managing receipts and expenses. You can always check out Episode #80 about how to manage expenses to better help you get a flow.

Lastly, there’s research.

The Role of Research in Dog Breeding

There’s always something new to learn in dog breeding. Whether you’re making some time to listen to this podcast, take a new MasterClass inside the Dog Breeder Society, learning a new technique with photography, or maybe even struggling with a new parasite you’ve never had before.

Research and learning are built into breeding. You’ll find yourself needing to expand your understanding of something quite frequently. In the beginning you’ll do a lot more research. I would estimate the average breeder will want to put 2-4 hours of research into learning per week, or about 8-16 hours of learning and applying per month. Of course, this will fluctuate based on the situation. Often I do research and learning in bursts as the situation calls, then go a few weeks without researching things. It’s part of the flexibility of dog breeding.

The more you learn, the better you can make your program, and the better you can serve your buyers and their dogs.

What about People and Managing Buyers?

People are a wild card in the business, but they’re essential. About half the business of dog breeding is relating to people and understanding their needs.

What does it look like to manage buyers? For me, most of the time, it’s using HoneyBook to manage my buyers. If you want to sign up with my link, you’ll get a discount, and I’ll be able to send you my templates. I also have MasterClasses on how to use this amazing software that manages my waitlist, buyers, my contracts, payments, and buyer preparation and education.

Regardless, you don’t need to use HoneyBook, at least not at the start. Most buyers these days seem to converse through text message, although some of my older buyers prefer a phone call. Regardless, most of my buyers have seen my website and contact me from there. Then, once they’re ready to move forward, they either fill out my puppy application or I add them to my software and collect the deposit.

Reduce Buyer Management Time by Understanding Your Ideal Puppy Buyer

The average time you spend with an individual buyer will vary a lot. It can be a few minutes to a few hours, sometimes spanning over days. The better you have your Ideal Puppy Buyer dialed in, the easier it will be to advertise to the right type of home, since you’ll be able to write your advertisements to speak directly to them just with all the copy on your website. In the beginning, while you’re getting this all figured out, it’s not uncommon to spend 30 minutes to an hour on the phone with a potential buyer as you two discuss things. Since your marketing won’t be as strategic in the beginning, it’ll attract a fair amount of people who won’t be good fits. So, not only will you spend 30-60 minutes talking with people, a lot of those people will not get a dog because it isn’t the right match. This can be very time-consuming in the beginning. It wouldn’t be unusual for you to spend 4 hours talking with buyers and only get 1 buyer. If you have 8 puppies in a litter, and it averages 4 hours talking with potential clients for every sale you get, then you can anticipate about 32 hours of working with buyers to sell all your puppies, which will be about 4 hours per week while you have puppies.

As you get better, your marketing will attract the right people and you’ll need to talk with them less. Let your social media, email list, and website do most of the talking and educating. It saves you time talking to those who are good fits. In fact, if they aren’t a good fit and your website is written correctly, they’ll sort themselves and won’t even contact you, which is ideal. None of your time wasted. Now that my marketing is dialed in, about 8-9 out of 10 people who put in my puppy application will get a dog from me. When they text me, I’m at about 50/50, and they can text me for whatever, even if they’re in the beginning of getting a dog. However, the text messages I’ve found are people who don’t want to read the website, as most of the questions I answer are on the website. However, I do convert a lot of these conversations to buyers in fairly quick order, like 20-30 minutes texting, while doing other things, like cooking or cleaning, so it isn’t as “expensive” with my time.

My average phone call with someone who calls asking about my dogs is 13 minutes before they are ready to buy. Let me clarify. It is NOT because I’m an amazing sales person with crafty phrases. It’s because my marketing does the sale for me. I just fill in the last questions and bring it to life. I know what my dogs offer and they can hear that in my voice.

My buyer management for getting leads takes me less than 6 hours per month.

By spending time knowing what you offer and how the process works, you can clearly convey that on your website. When you do, people will come to you with their questions already answered, which makes the whole thing simpler and much faster for you. It’s worth the time investment in the beginning to get this all straightened out.

Supporting Previous Puppy Buyers

The other part of buyer management that can be consuming is helping previous buyers with their questions—which you definitely want to do because it’s how you learn what they need, where they are struggling; and you can make breeding and marketing decisions based off this information.

It is usually busiest helping buyers the first 2-4 weeks after they get their puppy. This can be busy if you have 3 buyers out of 8 who are a little extra anxious or overly diligent and want reassurance. I average probably 1-2 hours per week assisting previous buyers, usually through text, with questions, the first 4 weeks after the dogs go home.

You can see, between marketing and dog management, breeding usually takes about 15-20 hours per week to manage. However, you have control over when you do these things. By putting time into your marketing and advertising when you don’t have puppies, it’ll save you time spent when you do have puppies, as your time will need to be spent with cleaning and puppy rearing..

Day to Day

For me, I like to get up, let out the few dogs I need to in the backyard, top off mama dog’s food and water if I have a mama dog at the time, check on the pups, and then make coffee. This is usually 20 minutes in the morning. I don’t do too much with my dogs until around midday when I feed all the dogs—I only feed once per day. I will often take calls or messages from buyers. It happens about every day or two that I’ll get a new contact about a dog, especially if I recently had a litter. I’ll talk with them and we’ll see what questions they have. Because of my software, sending contracts and getting deposits is very quick, about 2 minutes of my time.

I spend about an hour feeding and watering the dogs each day. My kids help me, and I pay them. We will pick up a few things, usually collecting most of the dog poop once a week for about an hour.

I probably spend 1 hour a week updating my website. The pictures take me about 90 minutes to update once a week when I have puppies, but this time really pays off in advertising. I only need to do this for a few weeks and my pups are usually sold. I did three rounds of pictures to sell 9 out of 11 puppies in my most recent litter, and it was definitely time well spent.

I find that buyers are the biggest variable in time. To get the sale, you want to communicate with them fairly quickly. I try to get with buyers in about 30 minutes to an hour, but it isn’t always possible. When it isn’t, I try to let them know that I am currently busy, but will get to them soon, and I estimate the time. This works well. Most people are very understanding and excited to talk. I’ve found there isn’t really a certain time people contact me. It tends to pair with the demographic of your buyers, their jobs, and when they have time to make a call or fill out an application.

I do work 7 days a week, not just feeding dogs, but taking calls and working with buyers. When my life was really chaotic before, I decided to take Sundays off and didn’t let puppy buyers come on Sundays. It was a good decision at that time. With the podcast and Dog Breeder Society, I actually prefer to keep the ranch stuff more on weekends with buyers, so this has worked well to open Sundays back up and close off most of the week. You just have to make it work for you. I do my best to be available for buyers, but I don’t usually let them come past 5 pm, and not before 8 am. If I’m gone for something on a weekend, I’ll just tell them I’m busy. People are fairly understanding, especially when they know what they want.

I take pictures of the puppies all at once when I do. I have a few different setups I use. When I have pups, like I said, this is usually one day for about 90 minutes. After I take the pictures, I crop all the photos to the same dimensions, add my filter, and add them to my website. I usually do the photo editing, which is on my phone, in the evening while watching a show with the kids, or sometimes I’ll do it while in line or in the car if someone else is driving.

As far as social media goes, I like to batch the content using the Breeder Copy Hub templates. I like to take a few–like 3 of them–and edit them in between tasks; again, like when I’m in line and my brain isn’t being tasked with something. Often I can get some good edits on photos when I’m at my kids’ activities and they’re doing their warm ups. It’s much better than surfing Facebook or Instagram. It moves the needle on my program. However, part of dog breeding is being home with my kids and involved in their life, so I don’t worry about editing photos when they’re actually doing their activities—I like to watch.

Sometimes, if the kids are asleep in the morning, I make my coffee and sit down and write them. I don’t worry too much about emailing my list each week. They are mostly interested in available puppies and new things I’m doing at the ranch, so that’s where the bulk of my focus with the emails comes in. I aim for 1-2 emails per month. With social media, I found that only about 2-3 posts per week is adequate to sell puppies and keep people interested.

When I have more time, I block off time to work on my website and social media. When life is busier, then I squeeze it in where I can. If I am absent from social for a week or two, I never get mad at myself, I just do the best I can. It’s good to batch a little, so you have things ready to go. It makes it easier to keep a flow.

I wish I could tell you that every day from 12-1 I feed my dogs, from 3-4 I work with buyers and from 4-5 I work on my website and social media, but that’s just not how it works for me. I work with my buyers as they come, my website as I have time, and I, of course, feed each day, but not always at the same time. I like the flexibility of it.

The hardest part of dog breeding is getting all the things done and building a routine, because no one is watching and enforcing your actions. It takes the discipline and understanding of priorities to make it happen.

I hope this helps you understand a little more about the lifestyle as a dog breeder, at least how it works for me. Every breeder has a little different flow, but for most the routine is less than rigid—and that’s by design.

If you’re interested in breeding, I hope you’ll consider joining the Dog Breeder Society. Not only do we have all the social media captions each month to help you save time with social media, but the MasterClasses help you understand all that’s involved in dog breeding. I don’t believe there is any ONE WAY to do dog breeding, it’s always a custom solution. My goal in creating this podcast and the Dog Breeder Society is to discuss all those decisions and what you should consider when making the best choice for you, your breeding program, your buyers, and your life in general. Make it work for you!

Thank you for joining me for another episode of the Honest Dog Breeder Podcast, with me, your host, Julie Swan. Thank you for taking time out of your day to hang out with me, I enjoy every minute of it! Thank you again and I’ll see you in the next episode!

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#84 – What Skills Do You Need to Be a Dog Breeder?

A lot of people schedule a free strategy call with me and want to know if they are good enough to breed dogs–if they have the right skills to do it, or if it would even work.

I understand that. I myself wasn’t sure if I was the right person to start dog breeding. I’d love to share the skills you need to have in order to be a dog breeder, but, before I do, let me tell you a few things that might be deal breakers for you.

Dog Breeding might not be for you if. . .

First off, if you’re grossed out by poop. I don’t just mean nice logs, but like poop in all shapes and sizes, pebbles to liquid, yellow to green, and sometimes red or pink. Working with and around dog poop is a big part of dog breeding. If you can’t stomach it, then dog breeding probably isn’t for you.

Next, blood. There is quite a bit of blood and fluid in dog breeding, especially at the time of whelping. It has a certain smell and, well, I’ve met many people who just can’t handle amniotic fluid and blood. So, if you’re one of those people, it probably isn’t for you. However, I will say that I can’t handle my own blood very well, yet I manage to handle it just fine with my family and my kids, so there might be hope for you if you’re like me and only your own blood freaks you out. I have been bitten, scraped, scratched, and one time I had a cactus thrust into me. All drew blood, but I managed.

Lastly, if you don’t like people. Many people get into dog breeding thinking they’ll get to stay at home, play with dogs, and avoid people. Well, the problem is that dog breeding produces puppies and, fortunately or unfortunately, PEOPLE buy them, which means about half of dog breeding is actually working with people. It is very difficult to be a successful dog breeder if you don’t like people.

Okay, so those are some definite deal breakers. But, if you’re with me still, let’s move on to what skills you do need.

What Skills Do Dog Breeders Need?

Dog breeders need lots of skills to successfully manage a dog-breeding business, especially to do it full-time, or at least as a full-time income.

Here are some of the skills you’ll need:

  • Dog Management Skills – being able to manage multiple dogs, especially when they’re in heat and not always the normal gentlemen and ladies they usually are.
  • Dog Training Skills I’ll be the first to tell you I’m a terrible dog trainer; but I do know how to get basic training things done to make management easier.
  • Dog Care & Maintenance Skills – It helps if you can determine if your dogs are healthy and, if not, to do basic diagnosis on what they need. Feeding a great dog food will mitigate most of this, but you’ll still need some understanding of dog parasites and their management. It also helps if you can manage minor injuries at home and not consistently need vet visits. This will help you run with leaner overhead.
  • Understanding of Biology & Genetics – You don’t need to be a biologist, but understanding how the breeding works, how genes are passed to offspring, and how complications can arise from bad pairings will definitely benefit you.
  • Understanding of Dog Structure – You don’t need to be a professional evaluator, but having a general idea of the physics of dog movement and structure will help you select better breeding dogs.
  • Janitorial Skills – Dog breeding involves lots of cleaning, so having some cleaning skills is never a bad thing.
  • Marketing Skills – Understanding how to build a brand and dial in your Ideal Puppy Buyer to market to.
  • Sales Skills – Having sales skills does not mean you don’t have integrity. Sales are very misunderstood, in my book, sales skills are merely your ability to properly convey the value your dogs have.
  • Customer Service Skills – Not just in educating and supporting your buyers, but also in calmly managing less-than-desirable situations. Let’s be honest, dog breeding involves live animals; so it’s not uncommon for there to be an issue with a puppy here or there, and a buyer who is upset about it.
  • Money Management Skills – With dog breeding, cash comes in swings when litters go home, so you need to be able to prepare for expenses in between income, and further track your income to make sure you’re making a profit, or are at least on the road to it.
  • Contract Skills – Having a contract will protect you and the buyer. It sets expectations and limitations. Having a general understanding of contracts will benefit your program and build trust with your buyers.
  • Web Design Skills – Being on the internet is a must. You’ll need some form of website and the ability to update it with current litters.
  • Social Media Skills – One of the easiest ways to get traffic to your website is through your social media. Having at least a limited social media presence will build trust with your business and get traffic to your website.
  • Google Skills – You have to be able to google things you need to know that you currently don’t know … or at least start there.

Okay, phew, does that feel like a lot? It feels like a lot. I don’t want you to freak out. It sounds scary, but it isn’t too terrible. Not a single breeder had all these skills figured out before they started breeding. I had very few of these skills. So how does anyone become a dog breeder?

The successful breeders actually have personal skills that allow them to not only learn how to do the things I’ve just listed, but to stick it out when things get tough.

To be a dog breeder, what you really need is:

  • A Willingness to Learn
  • Grit
  • Discipline & Habit Forming Skills

Willingness to Learn

What is a willingness to learn?

It’s the answer to not knowing all the things I listed above. Since we’ve already established that no one starts breeding with all of the above skills, yet they’re needed in some capacity, it’s the answer: we learn.

It’s easy to get frustrated with all of it. I’ve been there for sure. Yet, I encourage you to be willing to learn the things you don’t know.

Sounds obvious, yes, I know. Yet, think of people you know. Think of your friend who complains all the time that eating out is so expensive and yet they don’t know how to cook. Now, I understand learning how to cook feels like a giant task, but couldn’t they start somewhere? Maybe start with breakfast. Have you seen the cost of breakfast these days? You get a piece of toast, a couple eggs, and some potatoes and it’s $13. You can go to the store, buy a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, and a bag of potatoes for $13, yet you’d have breakfast for a week … if you knew how to cook the eggs and potatoes, and use a toaster.

Dog breeding is a lot like this. It can feel overwhelming to start. Yet the best way to start is … to start, with a willingness to learn.

How does that look? Well, it starts with doing something, then realizing you’re irritated or frustrated by it, so you decide to try something to fix it. For example, the puppies might be messy once they start eating food, so you opt for adding another blanket in their pen to keep them clean and dry. Or, you decide you want to attempt to litter-box train to make it easier to clean and teach the puppies better habits.

The path will begin to define itself as you go. You’ll know what the next thing to learn is because a problem will present itself. The key is to notice the problem, which is why it’s so important to be aware of your emotions, especially when you’re feeling stress and frustration. These emotions are always a compass to help us see where we need to grow. With the willingness to learn and a compass of what to learn, the path becomes clear, at least for where to put your energy and what to solve.

You Need Grit

What is grit? Grit is the courage and resolve that gets you through the tough times. Some things in dog breeding are annoying, like cleaning. But other things in dog breeding will test your resolve, they’ll test your willingness to learn, to persevere, and to work through the problem. There are days you’ll want to give up.

I remember in the spring of 2015, when I had many puppies get sick and die, puppies I had placed in homes were getting sick just days after they arrived. I had 21 puppies on the ground and 8 died. The vets couldn’t figure it out.

I questioned everything. Did I fail? Was I unworthy? Do I deserve to be a dog breeder? Why didn’t I know this? How could I have prevented this? My heart hurt. I contemplated quitting dog breeding altogether.

It took me a while, but I was able to muster some grit. I stepped into the darkness and, instead of embracing the failure, I embraced the opportunity to learn, to be better.

I recognized that if I was defeated by this, then that is what really made me a failure. I only became a failure if I didn’t learn and get better. The grit allowed me to stay willing to learn.

There are dark days in breeding. You’ll lose a puppy, you’ll disappoint a buyer, you’ll get a puppy back. These things happen to all of us, and they’re more common in the early years of breeding, which is the rub.

As you breed longer, you hone your skills, your dogs, your system, and your business as a whole. There is a cumulative effect in dog breeding. Most of what you learn and do in dog breeding will improve things for the long haul, for the bigger picture. For example, when you get puppy-rearing figured out, each litter is easier. When you figure out how to talk to buyers to share the value of your dogs, it becomes something that you don’t even have to think about. You just say the right things because it’s natural. When you take the time to build a nice website, do some social media, email marketing, you have the system, it works for you, even in your sleep.

This is what makes breeding better and better. Yet, it’s important to always know that something can catch you off guard. You’ll run into something you’ve never experienced before, and then you’ll lean on your grit, embrace the opportunity to learn, and you’ll figure it out and make it better for next time, storing that little gem of knowledge in your pocket for use later.

Discipline & Habit Forming

Aside from the willingness to learn, and grit, you need structure, which requires some discipline and habit forming. The majority of breeders will be working from home. This is one of the appeals of dog breeding, right? You get to be home in pajamas. I’m in pajamas right now as I write this. The beauty of being your own boss is that you can do whatever you want; the curse of being your own boss is that you have to make all the decisions. By and large, one of the most important skills that CEOs and managers have is that they are able to sort out priorities and set a plan into place.

They know what is important to do right now. And, potentially more importantly, they know the strengths and weaknesses of their people (ahem, you) and they know how to play into those strengths and weaknesses to get things done.

You have to be able to get yourself to take action, even on the things you don’t enjoy or want to do. You have to be able to get yourself in gear, harnessing your grit and willingness to learn.

If you generally need a boss or someone else to set the pace for you, then breeding will be hard. It requires a lot of self-motivation and endurance.

The other part of this is being able to make great habits. I remember learning a lot about habits because mine were so terrible; and in doing so, I heard this great quote. It says that successful people don’t find the boring and annoying tasks any less boring or annoying. Rather, they make taking care of those boring and annoying tasks a habit so that they become something they do automatically. That way  they never have to think about them and how they are annoying and boring, and they still get done.

The secret about habits is that it’s a habit if you do it without thinking about it. Habits can be harnessed to make your life better.

To quote Thomas C. Corley,

“Unsuccessful people have bad habits.”

So, if you can build your habits, you’ll be more successful. When you work for yourself, you have to build good habits, which requires discipline, and then your success builds on these habits.

Successful breeders are those who can diagnose where their problems are, set aside time to tackle those problems, and figure out a solution. They then build habits around the processes necessary to run a successful program.

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Use a Good, Better, Best Model

Have you ever heard of the idea of good, better, best? It’s a helpful way to look at things when you’re dabbling in a large project that’s a little overwhelming. Let’s go back to our cooking example with the friend who doesn’t know how to cook. Cooking is a giant mountain. He doesn’t know what tools to use, he doesn’t know what to buy at the grocery store, doesn’t know how to flavor it so it tastes good, let alone not knowing how exactly to cook.

When you look at it like that, who would ever start learning how to cook!? It’s overwhelming. What if he didn’t need to know all the tools, pans, and secrets to spicing? What if he only needed to know how to buy eggs, butter, had a frying pan, and a spatula? It could be simpler! He could buy a Dash Egg Cooker. If you don’t have one, they’re great. You put the eggs in, poke a hole in the top with the tool they give you, add the correct amount of water based on the measuring cup, and bam, the music plays when the eggs are done.

While he might not advertise that he’s amazing at cooking eggs, he’ll at least be able to cook them and eat them without much trouble. This would be an example of good, in the good, better, best concept.

Then maybe he learns a few spice mixes that make the eggs more tasty. I found taco seasoning is pretty good on eggs and gives it a different spin than the standard pepper and salt. Maybe he adds a pan and spatula, learning he likes the silicone spatula over the plastic ones. He plays around and learns how to turn it to medium heat and get the butter just right before cracking the egg, knowing that it’ll make the perfect over-easy egg. He also screws up the flip a few times and learns how to make scrambled eggs. He learns his favorite setting on the toaster for the bread, and learns what stage of cooking the eggs should be at so the toast is warm as soon as the eggs are done. This is an example of taking good and making it better.

Then he gets even better. He learns how to prepare the eggs for a few people at their request. He adds some pan-fried potatoes with some sautéed onions. He is comfortable making eggs for his new girlfriend, who is beyond impressed with his egg-cooking skills.

This is best. His cooking skills feed him, he enjoys it, and he can share it with others. The funny thing about best is that it can always be better. But that’s the beauty of life and dog breeding–we can always make it better.

In dog breeding your puppy pictures just need to start out good. They need to show a clean dog, accurately representing the dog you have. You may then opt to learn more about taking photos, getting better angles, better lighting, or better backgrounds. You’ll see your pictures will get more attention. Then you’ll get better, your pictures will work with your brand, they’ll draw in your Ideal Puppy Buyers, and you’ll more easily be seen and sought after.

When you first start out, aim to be good, which you can think of as  “good enough.” You don’t have to know every puppy parasite to breed dogs. Instead, you need to know what the poop should look like. Then from there you’ll notice if it doesn’t look like that. If Dr. Google doesn’t have a quick answer or your mentor, then you can go to the vet. They’ll give you an answer and a solution. It all starts there. You learn that new parasite. Now you’re better.

Remember, every litter is an opportunity to get better.

Start with a simple website that shows your breeding dogs, available puppies, and your contact form. I even have a simple cheatsheet for you about the 5 pages every breeder needs on their website. It’s an outline for a basic website for breeders. You can get it at You don’t need anything fancy on your website when you start; you just need somewhere to send people to see your dogs. Then you can add more to it. A page or something a month, it’ll get better. Eventually it’ll just be tweaks that you’re making. This will be best. But no one needs all that when they start. Just be good enough.

Many breeders worry they need to have all the answers before they start. You don’t. You won’t. You simply can’t. Aim to be good enough, then be willing to learn, find a better, and harness that grit as you need it.

As litter money comes in, and you’ve set some aside to cover upcoming expenses and treated your family to something nice, then plan the best use of that money. Maybe you want to use the money to hire out for some of the skills you aren’t as good at. Look at what would give you the most return. Usually in the beginning for breeders they need to buy more for facilities, allowing dog management to be easier. Maybe later you’ll want help building a more elaborate website.

A quick tip: sometimes you’ll meet buyers who have special skills in areas that you need help with. For example, you might meet a web designer who wants a dog. You could offer to trade the puppy for the site. I like trading money most of the time, but sometimes this barter idea works best for people.

Well there you go, the skills you need to start breeding. Remember, no one has all of these skills when they start. The skills you really need are the willingness to learn, grit, and the ability to harness discipline and habit-forming. This last skill, habit-forming is something you can develop over time. I was terrible at it, but I’ve gotten better over the years and my business is more successful because of it.

I’m glad you made it to me! My goals with the Dog Breeder Society and this podcast are to help you sort through all the things you don’t know yet or aren’t good at yet. I hope that my journey in breeding will help make yours better, …  and much sooner. To learn more about the Dog Breeder Society and the business services I offer, please check out the website at

Thank you for joining me for another episode of the Honest Dog Breeder Podcast, with me, your host, Julie Swan. I am excited for you and your breeding journey and I’ll help you any way I can! Thank you again, and I’ll see you in the next episode!


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#83 – The 3 Things You Absolutely Need When Starting a Dog Breeding Business

Have you ever had to move? I really dislike moving. I’ve had my property for over a decade, so I just like the idea of having a place and continuing to develop it and turn it into an ideal home. However, there was a time in my life when I had 16 addresses in 48 months. That was not the most fun thing in the world. You feel like you’re living out of your suitcase and a few bags.

Anyways, back to moving. Think back to when you last were moving, whether you were relocating for more land, wanted a break from the city, or maybe you were moving for a new opportunity, like college or a job. When you move, you have to find a new place to live. When you’re looking for a place, there are a few things you’ll definitely want to have: you’ll want a sturdy foundation, you’ll want a good roof–as a good roof protects all your valuables–and it’s important to consider the neighborhood where you’re moving to. You don’t have control over your neighbors, so picking a good location will be nice. I remember a new couple moved into our neighborhood last year and I felt a little nervous wondering how they would be, realizing I didn’t have any control of them and what they were like. Turns out they have Pugs, and, well, let’s be honest, their personalities are pretty similar to their dogs, so they’re A-Okay to me!

Okay, well, what does moving have to do with dog breeding? A lot, if you’re moving for more property for your dogs … but that’s a discussion for another day. Rather, it’s more that moving and finding a new place to live is very similar to starting up a dog breeding business. Follow me, if you will, on this analogy.

What you need is a lot like what you’re looking for in a new place to live.

The 3 things you need to start dog breeding are:

  1. You need quality breeding dogs … these are the neighborhood you choose.
  2. You need your family on board … this is like having a great roof over your head.
  3. You need a plan and a goal … this is like having a quality foundation that everything is built upon.

Quality Breeding Dogs

Hands down, the decision of breeding dogs is by far the most crucial decision you will make when starting. Selecting the right breeding dogs is like picking the right neighborhood … sounds crazy, right?

Think about your neighbors. Do you have any control of them? I mean, you could have one of those Nazi HOAs–the Home Owner’s Associations–which, if you aren’t familiar, are these organizations that dictate what is and isn’t acceptable to do with your property. Forget that you might live in America, land of the free, the HOA will be making sure the paint color you choose for your home follows their allowable colors guidelines.

Anyways, sorry, my experience with HOAs hasn’t been the best, so I carry a little resistance to them. Yet, I digress.

They are designed to set the standard for what is and isn’t acceptable in a neighborhood, so there is a reasonable expectation of what your neighbors will take care of and how they will set up their home. Essentially they are designed to control the people in the neighborhood, ideally in the least invasive, yet still manageable way. They are an attempt to control something that is otherwise uncontrollable. They exist because people recognize they don’t have control over their neighborhood, and this is the attempt to make living there more predictable.

In a breeding program, the breeding dogs you choose are a lot like the neighborhood you pick. Other than choosing the neighborhood, you don’t have control over the genes and temperaments of the dogs. They are what they are. Hopefully you chose wisely.

Your foundation dogs really are that. They are the dogs that set the foundation for your bloodlines. Every puppy I send home is related back to Buster, my foundation stud and one of the two foundation females I used. Your foundation dogs are like the central current that runs through your bloodlines. You want that to flow right and give you a quality start.

Choosing the right breeding dogs will generally be your biggest investment expense, and rightfully so. It is the neighborhood you choose and, once it’s chosen, it will be the thing you are looking at and dealing with day in and day out. Changing your foundation dogs, while possible, is considerably difficult and expensive, both in time and money.

While there are always exceptions and diamonds in the rough, these are general guidelines:

  • Don’t Buy an Older Puppy

    The older puppies, especially if they’re last in the litter, are generally not the best pick in the litter … that’s why they’re still available. There are some situations where a breeder will look to keep a dog as a breeder, then later decide against it and advertise a nice puppy. However, this is often a great way to spin selling a less-desirable dog.

  • Don’t Buy From New Breeders

    New breeders simply have not been doing it long enough to know all the things you need them to know about their dogs, and to have the track record to support questions that might arise down the road. This is not meant to disrespect new breeders, but it’s just the truth of it. Without a doubt, the great majority of new breeders generally care and take care of their dogs. But long experience makes it clear to all of us that you get better with every litter, you learn more from each experience.

  • Don’t Buy From Breeders Who Don’t Retain Their Own Dogs

    Consistency comes from selecting the same type of dog to form your new generation. Breeders are always trying to balance selection of the structure and appearance, the drive, and the temperament. It’s a juggling act which is a bit of an art as much as a science. Breeders who select from their dogs to create new generations are honing a bloodline. Yet, many breeders don’t trust their judgment, or, for whatever reason, elect to buy all their breeding dogs. This is a red flag to me. You have very little way to create consistency if you continually add new blood to your program without balancing the retention of your current lines.

  • Don’t Look For a Deal, Look for the Right Dog

    Often breeders are looking for a deal when they first start out. They are shocked by prices of established breeders, or they are looking for an older dog to start sooner. Your breeding dogs are everything. If they have problems, your program has problems. It’s worth the wait to do it right. And, when you find the right dogs, don’t be that guy who tries to negotiate a better deal, that burns the bridge with the breeder. You want to keep that line of communication open. It pairs that, if you don’t know what you want, you won’t know it when you find it. You need to figure out what you want, what is your ideal breeding dog. Then that’ll make it really easy to decide if you want to buy a dog or not.

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You Need Your Family On Board

Oh, is this one ever overlooked!

In this day and age, who is anyone to tell anyone else who they can and can’t be, or what they can and can’t do? We are able to do pretty much whatever we want so long as we put our mind to it. Yet, here’s the thing. We live with other people most of the time. And dog breeding is a lifestyle sort of thing. You don’t get to have a day where you can sort of forget you’re a dog breeder. You’ll still be getting up and managing dogs, … unlike working at a store where you can sort of forget your job when you come home. With dog breeding, generally speaking, your dogs are at your house and a part of the normal day-in and day-out of your life.

It’s near impossible to breed dogs without impacting the other people in your family.

Have you ever noticed how you sort of have an opinion about everything with your significant other, your mom, your kids, your friends? For example, I have an opinion about Bill and his toothbrushing habit—I like it, in case you were worried. I have an opinion on the way he drives, how he cooks, and how he keeps the house clean. Just the same, he has an opinion about how I parent, the shoes I choose, and the time I spend with him and how. Obviously we work because our opinions of each other are generally positive about one another’s choices, however we don’t always agree, and wouldn’t you know it? That’s where the relationship has its quirks that need a little working out.

With a lot of that stuff, the opinion we have is rather inconsequential. Bill likes a different toothpaste than I do. Does it matter? No. Do I have an opinion about it? Yes, of course I do. Clearly mine is better. Again, though, it doesn’t really matter. However, he’s really good to my kids, which aren’t his biological kids, but that’s something that really matters. Bill would lose his mind if I didn’t clean the house regularly. It’s really important to him to come home to a fairly chaos-free home, a place where he can decompress from the day and relax. I like that, too.

Yet, … dogs. Dogs can really change that up. Bill has lots of opinions about my dogs. It’s not necessarily bad, but it is a part of our regular conversation. I had a lot of dogs before, when we met. It was too many dogs. I couldn’t give them the quality of life they deserved, and I didn’t have the exercise pens and facilities to balance out my lack of time. Bill’s opinions helped me see that I needed to do better; and then his opinions and thoughts on how that could be better were what helped me build my facilities.

At the same time, Bill has been there supporting me when bad things happened. He was there for emotional support when I had a litter fall ill with Parvo. He has been there when I have felt down because I had a dog returned. He encouraged me when I had a large litter and not enough reservations, and I was worried. He’s helped me brainstorm solutions, listened to me when I was sorting out my breeding program, who I would breed to who, and when I was dead broke and we were first dating, he understood I needed a new stud, … and he gave me the money to buy the dog I had been waiting two years to buy.

In contrast, my ex-husband wasn’t always so supportive. He found the dogs to be irritating, and they would commonly be blamed for our problems. We didn’t have enough money for this, so he’d blame the cost of the dogs. If he wanted to take a trip, and I had puppies on the ground or couldn’t find someone to feed the dogs, it would be my fault we couldn’t go.

It wasn’t always the dogs’ fault, but, in fairness, they rarely made things less complicated.

Ultimately, his opinion was that the dogs were bad and took away from our life. It left me alone to make decisions, alone through the hardship of losing puppies, alone when making breeding decisions. It also made it hard to discuss spending money on things for the dogs, and I always felt like I couldn’t share the whole experience with him.

Obviously we had our differences. We are friends now, but better as such. To be fair, looking at the two situations, a major difference between the two situations is that, when I got together with my ex, dog breeding was not a part of that picture. It came later. In a way, it wasn’t what he signed up for. With Bill, I was already a breeder, with dogs, and a business. Dogs were part of the original picture; signing up for Julie meant signing up for Julie, her two kids, and the dogs.

Having your family on board is like having a great roof over your head. When you move your stuff into a new place, you want to know it’s safe, that you can work with it without there being problems or a chance a rainy day will ruin it.

When your family is on board, you have people in your corner, rooting for you and your success. In many instances, but not all, families will be a big part of helping you with your dogs.

I will make a note: you have to be careful how you look at your breeding business with your family. Support from the family will range a lot. I see all sorts of involvement in families, and also the absence of it. Yes, there are some couples that are building their businesses together–he takes on one part and she leads the other. However, this isn’t the norm. When it happens, it’s wonderful; but you have to consider that it might not be how it works for you and your family—and that’s okay!

Sometimes, because breeding is integrated with your home, it feels like cleaning up and managing the dogs is a family task, one that should be distributed amongst the family in the same way as cooking, cleaning, and house maintenance is distributed. That’s a mistake. Don’t expect your family to help out with the dogs unless it’s something you’ve specifically talked about. I work with a lot of breeders, and I frequently hear complaints that a husband doesn’t help with the breeding program. But that’s not fair. It’s not their breeding program in most cases, it’s just yours.

Imagine your husband was a plumber. I don’t know why I always use plumber examples; I guess they’re just easy to understand. With his business, you’re supportive, but it’s not yours. He didn’t have a bad night sleeping and then would ask you to go out and do the repairs on his schedule today; nor would he ask you to handle calls or invoices without you being a part of the business. Of course it’s a different story if you’re in the business with him and you’ve delegated that you take the calls and do the invoicing while he goes to the customer and does the work. But, in that instance, you’re in the business.

Now there are exceptions, right? Sometimes he’ll have a situation at work where he would really benefit from you running to the plumbing store to grab a few fixtures and parts so that he can get both jobs done that day. You might do that as a favor for him. He’d call the plumbing store, have everything set aside with the cashier, and you were just running in, paying, and picking it up, then bringing it to him.

In relationships we want to help each other. We want to support one another. But he would never ask you to leave your job at work to go pick up parts. He would just take a little longer to do what he was doing.

In essence, when I say your family needs to be on board, I’m looking for their general support, as in emotional support, and a belief that you can do this, you’ll be successful, and they’re on your side in the process.

Sure, they may pick up the slack for you when you’re sick or if you have a double conflict, similar to how my kids will feed the dogs for me if I have to go out of town and they aren’t coming, or when my daughter whelped half a litter for me because that was the very last day that a female I was contracted to do stud service was in season and they needed my stud at the clinic within the next three hours. However, there will never be a time that they’re doing something with the dogs for me and I’m just sitting there watching. It’s my business, I need to be there.

If your husband is the plumber in our situation, you’d of course be there to listen when he’s struggling with a client who is irritated, if he’s having a problem because he’s not sure if he should take a job, or if he wants to work with another contractor. He’s not asking you to fix those problems, but you are his sounding board. It helps to have your family be your sounding board.

And by golly, when your dogs make some money, spend some of it on your family, even if it’s just 10% or your profit! You want your family to see breeding as the bringer of good things. Breeding will take you away from your family time in some capacity, so make sure to compensate the family for that time lost with you.

You Need a Plan, Your WHY, & a Goal

You need a plan and a goal. If you have no plan, then it’s hard to get much accomplished with breeding. There are too many distractions to pull you off course. You also need to know what success is for you. Why are you breeding? What do you hope to accomplish?

Many new breeders want to breed, but they don’t really know why. They don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish with their dogs. The funny thing is it isn’t always about the dogs. Sometimes that etches itself out later. Sometimes it starts with a way to work from home or to be able to do homeschool with your kids, or to add a little extra money to the family’s bottom line. It’s okay if your why is not 100% about dogs.

You do have to love the dogs, though. It is way too much poop to clean if you don’t love the dog part of it. There are other ways to make money that would be better suited for you and your goals if you don’t love the dogs.

How do you tackle this? First, start with your WHY. Why is it that you’ve started breeding? For me, I wanted to give other families what Buster gave our family. He was an awesome family dog, adventure buddy, and amazing hunting dog. He created so many memories for us. That’s what had me interested in breeding. Then, when I realized I could stay at home and live off my dog income and be available to my kids, that’s when I really knew my personal WHY for breeding.

That became the goal. I would breed dogs and use the income to help support the family, allowing me to be home with my kids and homeschool them when they came of age.

The goal for the breeding program was therefore a combination of the two: produce amazing dogs, place them in wonderful families who would appreciate them for what they are, and then take the profit from the breeding program to supplant my income and stay home.

With the goal in mind, I set to work building out a plan. There aren’t a whole bunch of resources on what you need to do to make that happen. They are mostly implied: breed dogs, sell puppies, and repeat.

I know this designing a plan is easier said than done, but I’ve taken my process, my business background, and I’ve built a roadmap to a successful breeding program. It’s a free PDF download. You can get it using the form in the Show Notes below.

I started this podcast and the Dog Breeder Society to help you, the honest dog breeders, build a breeding business you love. It’s a lot to figure out and learn, but this is where it starts: a good set of foundation breeding dogs, a family that is supportive, and a goal to derive a plan from.

This podcast is brought to you by the Dog Breeder Society, an educational and support community for honest dog breeders who want to produce amazing dogs, place them in wonderful families, and make a profit when it’s all said and done. It’s possible, and inside the Dog Breeder Society we give you all the secrets and background you need to make a breeding program customized to your dogs, your life, and you.

Thank you for joining me for another episode of the Honest Dog Breeder Podcast, with me, your host, Julie Swan. I know your time is valuable, and it means the world to me that you take a few minutes to spend time with me each week. Thank you again, and I’ll see you in the next episode where we’ll discuss the skills you need to be a dog breeder, and what to do if you don’t quite have them figured out.

Show Notes

Referenced Links
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#82 – Is Dog Breeding Profitable?

Recently I was doing some keyword research and I saw that many potential breeders are checking to see if breeding is profitable. This seems to be a big concern, so, naturally, being me, I wanted to discuss it with you.

However, I hate leaving you hanging, so the answer is:

Yes. Breeding dogs is profitable and it should be.

It turns out there are a slew of articles on the internet that will tell you the opposite. You’ve probably read a few yourself. I was lucky in the beginning to never read these articles! They make it sound impossible to make money, or they accuse those who are making money of cutting corners.

Let me summarize one of the articles on this I recently read…

“We tried to breed dogs. We were so excited. Bringing new puppies into the world is so beautiful. We paid all this money. We thought it would be easy. It was a lot of cleaning. There were only two puppies. We had a ton of veterinary costs. It was hard to find buyers. There is no way people could ever make money doing this. It was awful. We are done breeding.”

Hopefully, since you’re smart, you saw some of the holes in their story. Let’s briefly go over them:

The holes in the “dog breeding isn’t profitable” story

#1 – They paid a lot for their breeding dogs.

Okay, that’s not terrible, but it might not be great because we can see there were a lot of veterinary costs. So it might be in part because they bought inferior breeding dogs. But we’ll get to that in a second.

#2 – They had lots of veterinary costs and only two puppies.

In most breeds, having two puppies is unusual. She didn’t clarify if she only had two puppies or if only two survived. She also had a c-section, which really adds to the cost of things, especially when it’s uncommon in the breed. A lot of times there are other reasons for high vet bills, too. They might have had an outbreak of coccidia or giardia, which can be costly to diagnose if you have never experienced it. Having a lot of unanticipated veterinary costs should be interpreted as something is wrong, not the norm. I find it unfortunate that the author of this article had a bad situation and, instead of interpreting it as a bad situation and unusual, she suggested it was the industry norm.

#3 – She had a difficult time finding good buyers.

Finding good buyers and marketing is one of the hardest things to break into with breeding. You first need to find your Ideal Puppy Buyer, the ideal person or family you’d love to sell your dogs to, and then you need to market to them.

It takes planning, a bit of thought, effort in doing the market research, understanding their needs, and then showing them that your dogs are the solution. It’s not an overnight thing. Don’t be fooled by “puppies are cute, so they will be easy to sell.” That’s not the truth. Good buyers, the people you want to sell your puppies to, will not buy your puppies merely because they’re cute. They’ll buy your puppies because they are a solution for them, they fill a void the buyer feels they have.

To think that your marketing will be quick, or that it won’t take a little trial and error, is where this girl gets it wrong. You have to dial in your marketing, and it takes a few litters and sometimes changing a few breeding decisions to pivot into the right market. Now that I’ve been doing this a decade, I know my buyers, my market, what they need, how my dogs uniquely fill that need, and now my marketing is not so much work.

#4 – They thought it would be easy.

I think this is such a difficult thing to describe. Easy is a weird word, it’s often confused for simple. While simple is often confused as easy. In some ways breeding is easy. If you have good breeders and whelpers, then yes, the production of puppies, getting puppies on the ground, that’s easy, it’s also simple.

If you know how to do something, to you it might be simple, regardless of how many steps are involved. If you know how to do something, those steps might be easy to you because you’ve done them so many times. Take driving for example, driving is easy and simple for me now. So much so, that occasionally I’ll do my mascara while driving … don’t tell anyone, our secret. Yet, go back to when you first learned how to drive, did you find it easy? I didn’t. I struggled to get the right pressure on the pedals, I struggled to remember all the things you need to do, like remembering my turn signal, slowing down before the turn, and accelerating to the speed of traffic. Not to mention the situational awareness. That took a long time to build up and make into a habit I didn’t need to think about. Yet, today, it’s easy. It’s simple. I can carry on a coaching call when driving or come up with my next podcast outline.

Maybe it’s more appropriate to say that breeding—or maybe anything—is simple when you know what to do and easy when you get good at it. This girl tried breeding one time. She didn’t have any experience. It didn’t go well and she decided that it was too much and she was done.

Instead of reflecting on the situation and seeing where she could get better, she decided to blame the industry. She didn’t think that maybe she had more to learn, that maybe she should recognize she could’ve done things better, that it was a bad luck situation with the breeding dogs she had, or it was an unusual series of vet instances. She just decided it wasn’t a her-situation thing, it was an industry thing. I wonder sometimes. How many things do you do that work well the first time? It’s not many for me. If something is worth doing and not everyone is doing it, it’s usually a little complicated. Complicated is good. It means there’s money to be made.

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The role of supply and demand in profitability

This also plays into economics and supply and demand. If something is difficult and people are not able to make money on it, then the price goes up to cover the cost. In our example, if the price of puppies is not covering the expenses, then the price of puppies will go up. This is the natural shift in business and pricing. Pricing will increase to ensure the business can make money, otherwise the business would not be able to fulfill its obligations.

If the business is unable to secure clients at the higher price, then they will leave the industry. Sometimes this happens when a business’s model is to deliver a lower price. If the only reason their product stands out against competitors is that it’s cheaper, well, then you lose your entire marketing plan when you need to raise your price to keep your business going. Price should be involved in your market placement and overall business model, but it shouldn’t be your main marketing tactic. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Businesses that rely on price marketing will often exit the market when the industry calls for a price increase and their customers won’t increase with them.

When these businesses leave the market, the supply for the service or industry reduces. We saw this in the Fall of 2023 when the dog breeding market was normalizing after the bubble that hit during COVID. Essentially COVID caused a bump in demand, which allowed many new breeders to enter the market and make money. Then the supply for the market caught up and then surpassed demand, causing the market to normalize and reduce the demand. There was more work in selling puppies, they weren’t always going for as much, and therefore, a lot of breeders exited the market because they didn’t have a breeding business and plan supporting their program. They were just producing dogs.

This exit of breeders will bring the supply of puppies down. For the breeders who stayed in the market, they’ve gotten more savvy with their breeding business, they’re better at marketing, better at customer service, and they’ve probably improved their puppy rearing, creating a better experience and puppy overall. This allowed them to continue to sell puppies and, as the supply of puppies goes down, the market will be willing to pay more for these puppies in the coming months and years.

The business market is never stagnant. It’s like a river ebbing and flowing, and we need to ride the waves and pivot as necessary.

All of this economics talk is mostly to point out that, if breeding were something that didn’t make money, then the price would increase until it did make money.

You can be ethical AND make money as a dog breeder

People often hear this and say that breeders are making money, but they’re being unethical in order to make money. That’s simply not the case. Honest breeders, to my estimate, make up the vast majority of breeders. They care about their dogs and their buyers. They’re doing their best to do the right thing. Between the dogs, the buyers, and the breeders, in my experience, I’ve seen most breeders will sacrifice their own finances or time with their family in order to give their dogs or buyers the best. They are trying to do the right thing.

The crazy thing about breeding is that each part of it is not particularly complicated IF you know what to do AND you have the resources to do it. You don’t need to be a master of a special skillset to be a breeder; but instead, you really need to be relatively good at a handful of things, then strategically improve what you do, making each part of breeding better and better.

I’ll dive deeper into that with another episode–understanding the skillsets you need as a dog breeder in order to be successful. It isn’t too bad, I promise!

Why making money as a dog breeder is important

Going back to making money. It’s important. You need to make money. If you aren’t making a profit, then how are you going to feed your dogs a high quality dog food? How are you going to give them quality vet care? How are you going to be home from work during the whelping, unless puppies are helping pay the bills?

It’s unreasonable to think that, with the number of people who want high-quality dogs, that breeders would be asked to breed them and not be compensated for their time, effort, and investment. It’s also unreasonable to think that, with our love for dogs in the world, that the entire industry would be operating in a subpar way and that customers wouldn’t be willing to pay a reasonable amount to have an ethically raised dog. Although the more you study the shelter and rescue world, your opinion on what people get away with in the world of dog sales may change.

In the end, breeding can be done profitably and ethically. You have to learn the process, you have to learn when to cut your losses on dogs that aren’t producing for you or who have issues. But this aligns with good breeding practices anyways; breeding healthy dogs who recover well is part of vetting whether or not a breeder is of quality to breed.

My whole goal in developing the Honest Dog Breeder Podcast and founding the Dog Breeder Society, an educational and safe, supportive community for dog breeders, is to help you understand all the little ins and outs of this business so that you can run it honestly and profitably. Profit allows us to give our dogs and buyers the best, while not cutting ourselves short. You don’t need to compromise; you need to learn how and then implement it. If you’re just getting started in dogs, I’d love for you to join us. Save yourself time and heartache, so you don’t feel like the girl who wrote the article blaming the industry so she didn’t have to feel like a failure.

Thank you for joining me for another episode of the Honest Dog Breeder Podcast, with me, your host, Julie Swan. Dog breeding can change your life. Make it work for you, your dogs, and your family. Thanks again and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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