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Friday, September 24, 2010

How Much is That Doggy in the Window?

One of the questions you'll have when searching for a puppy is, "How much should I pay?" While it's a valid concern, it shouldn't be your first consideration--and in fact, many breeders are understandably turned off when it seems the only thing a person is interested in is getting the cheapest puppy they can find. You are not buying a toaster--you're buying a living, breathing creature that ideally will be part of your life for a decade or more. Take some time finding breeders who breed responsibly, health test the parents of their litters, and will stand by their dogs for life. Get to know them and find out if they're even someone from whom you'd want to purchase a puppy (and meanwhile they'll be getting to know you, too). If you're comfortable with them, then you approach the subject of price.

The price of a Boxer puppy varies widely, from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. There is no one right price--many factors come into play, including location.  Generally speaking, expect to pay around $1,000-1,400 for a well-bred pet Boxer puppy with health tested parents from a responsible breeder. This is an average range for the US and Canada; prices tend to be higher on the coasts and lower in the middle.

Be wary of breeders who have a variety of prices for their puppies.  Often this indicates a profit-driven breeder, rather than one who is concerned about the breed and the puppies they produce.  Common questionable pricing is based on the following factors:

Color - With the exception of white puppies, which are addressed below, there is no valid reason to base pricing on color. It does not cost any more to produce and raise a flashy fawn puppy than it does a plain brindle one. Some breeders will try to pass puppies off as a "rare" color, and charge exorbitantly high prices for them. There are no rare colors in the Boxer; the Boxer colors are fawn and brindle, with white markings that may cover some or all of the body. The latest fads of unscrupulous breeders are to sell "black" or "blue" Boxers as "rare colors". In reality, the Boxer does not carry the genes for black or blue--the coloring can only have come from another breed.

Gender - Some breeders charge more for female puppies, with the rationale that you can make your money back by breeding her. That should tell you all you need to know about the breeder's motivations.  If you aren't going to view your puppy as a money-making scheme, you probably don't want to buy from a breeder who views their dogs that way.

Sire - A litter with a Champion sire may be priced higher than other litters from the same breeder. It is true that the stud fee for a Champion dog may be higher than that for an untitled dog, so it is possible that the breeder would be charging slightly higher puppy prices to offset their increased costs. In addition, frozen semen costs more and if the semen is imported, more still.  For an average-sized litter, however, the difference would generally be around $50-150 per puppy, rather than the $400-600 typically seen in these situations.

Following the same "cost-offset" logic, the breeder should be charging different prices based on the number of puppies in the litter - larger litters would be priced lower, since it would take fewer puppies to recoup their costs. Responsible breeders look at the long term, with the understanding that some litters will cost more and some will cost less; over time, the expenses average out and so they charge the same prices from litter to litter, with minor increases periodically to keep track with inflation's effects on their expenses.

Passport - As with "rare" colors, a rising trend is for breeders to charge higher prices for litters with "foreign" blood--most often, "Euro" or "German" lines, as these are the latest fad. In most cases, these litters are from dogs already in the country who happen to have a foreign ancestor (or, sometimes, just a foreign-sounding name). Again, though, it does not cost any more to breed a litter from these dogs than from dogs with North American lines (save stud fees as already discussed). An exception would be a bitch that was flown to a foreign country to be bred, as this can become quite expensive. Some breeders who import bitches may charge more for her puppies than for puppies from a bitch they got in their own country; again, however, most breeders would consider this one an expense to be recouped over time, rather than in a litter or two.

All of that said, some pricing differentials are commonly accepted.  Responsible breeders typically offer three puppy prices: pet puppies, as discussed above; show prospects, which are often priced higher than pets due to the necessity of keeping them on a full registration; and white puppies, which are usually priced lower than pets due to the American Boxer Club Code of Ethics. Some breeders will price all puppies the same, or two of the three categories the same. 

When inquiring about pricing, if something seems odd, just ask the breeder why they price the way they do--and be sure you're comfortable with the answer before you buy a puppy from them.

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