Puppies with health issues and puppy mill origins seized from a Manassas puppy store in 2019, preceding forced closure of the store by Manassas Animal Control Police.
Second article in series.
With prices normally not displayed in puppy stores or on-line, it’s often difficult for potential buyers to learn the purchase price of a dog and to compare prices across offerings before sale processing. Nor is cost information at breeder or dealer level transparent or readily shared by the pet trade industry.
Puppy stores charge what the market will bear. You won’t find prices on dog cages in the store or the store’s web page because prices are quoted. Buyers should beware. There are often “specials” available — at a final price still well above what responsible small breeders are charging; even double the charge at a small breeder. Puppy stores include in their prices: factory farm wholesale price, “middle-man” charges for collecting and transporting the dog from out of state, attorney and lobbying fees, and store overhead. (Virginia’s laws discourage commercial breeding operations, so all dogs are shipping in from out of state.) Without this overhead, small breeders are able to spend more out-of-pocket on health testing and care.
No Higher Quality Behind Higher Puppy Store Pricing
If a pet store dog costs $5,000 - 10,000, it must be a really good one, right? Wrong!
Quotes for trendy breeds, like French Bulldogs for example, can be as high as $10,000 in the pet stores with their high mark-ups. The dog will be the same quality — even the same dog— when the French Bulldog is found in a rescue or shelter for $125-$500 after the original owner surrenders the dog, for any number of reasons.
Typical cost of dogs by source:
- public shelters $125 - $175
- rescues $300 - $500
- small hobby breeders $800 - $1,500 (depending on breed)
- pet stores $2,500 - $7,000; even $10,000 for more popular breeds
To keep your purchase price reasonable and avoid adopting from a puppy mill: avoid pet stores, newspaper ads, and online “deals.” Responsible breeders won’t use these sales outlets.
Visit the breeder, ask to see the entire facility where the dogs are kept and bred, ask questions about the dog’s genetics and parent health testing. Doing so will help to ensure you receive a healthy puppy whose cost will not be increased by expensive veterinary bills.
Read more information on Puppy Mill Awareness Month in The Connection during December.