Why are Some Doodles So Darn Expensive?

One of the first questions most people usually ask is "How much does a Labradoodle cost?  The next question is almost invariably, "Why do they cost so much???"  Even if people are too intimidated to ask that, I bet they think it.  It is a great question that any good breeder should be more than willing to answer.

Breeding is an expensive proposition if it is done right.  For a detailed discussion of that, please see my article "Thinking of Breeding Your Doodle?".So you read that article and realize how expensive it is to breed, whelp and raise a litter.  But the question still remains, "Why are SOME Doodles more expensive than others?".  It's a fact that you can find listings on the internet and in newspapers where Labradoodle and Goldendoodle puppies cost $500, or even less, and then there are Doodle puppies, like the ones I sell here at Westwood, that cost $1500-2500.  What gives?

The answer is that quality varies in anything that can be bought, and that is true for dogs just like it is true for anything else. Some brands of cars are much more expensive than others, and those brands tend to have attributes that draw people to them.  Volvos are known for having extremely good safety ratings, and their durability is legendary.  Lexus is a luxury brand known for power and handling.  BMW is known for performance, and has won all kinds of reliability awards.  Less expensive brands like Hyundai and Kia are basic, functional cars, but they are not intended to provide the same advantages that the more expensive cars do.

When it comes to dogs, it IS possible to get a great dog for not much money, or even for free, if you adopt a stray.  However, there is a level of uncertainty that exists in that kind of scenario.  The health of the puppy's parents is usually unknown, and that inexpensive dog is not such a bargain if it turns out to have health problems.  For example, hip replacements, should the dog turn out to have hip dysplasia, can run 2-3K per hip. Buying good breeding stock and testing them before breeding does not guarantee genetic problems like hip dysplasia will not pop up.  But it does weight the odds so they pop up less often.

So one big difference between an inexpensive dog and a more expensive one is the level of certainty or level or risk you accept. A
breeder that does their job well, starting with buying healthy, tested breeding lines, and continuing through with genetic testing of their dogs, feeding high quality food, and hand-raising the puppies, MUST charge more in order to cover their costs enough to continue breeding. In addition, good breeders will follow through with life-time support for the puppies they breed.  This means that occasionally they will need to reimburse buyers for something at some point.  That can add up fast, even if it happens rarely.

In addition to the basic costs of breeding carefully and well, there are other costs depending on the type of dog being bred. Sometimes, for various reasons (size considerations, for example) a female will need to be inseminated rather than becoming pregnant through a 'natural ' breeding.  This can cost from $200-600.  Also, it is impossible for most breeders to maintain the required genetic diversity by using dogs only within their own breeding program.  They must sometimes use studs belonging to another breeder, which means paying a stud fee that can range from $1500 to$5000.  In addition to that fee, there may be veterinary costs related to insemination that can range from $300-$1000.  So simply attempting a pregnancy can cost thousands of dollars,and that cost can be a complete loss if, after all that, a female does not become pregnant.

I guarantee that the dogs that are being sold for under $1000 are not being bred with the level of care I describe above, and the owners of $1000 puppies are not receiving that level of service. It's just not mathematically possible to breed 'cheaply', and bring in enough money to pay for breeding over the long term.  That is one of the reasons that the average 'career' for someone breeding dogs is under five years.  It is incredibly difficult, both physically (being up all night is a regular event) and emotionally. (Please see my article " Adventures of a Doodle Breeder").And many people find that it sucks them dry financially because it is so expensive!

Finally, I must point out that just because a Labradoodle, Goldendoodle or Double Doodle is expensive does not mean it is bred well. Sadly, I do know of breeders who charge very high prices for dogs but have not tested their breeding stock or raised the puppies well.  'Buyer Beware'is a very appropriate approach.  You should do your research by asking detailed questions of both the breeders you are considering, and of Doodle owners.  There is a great site that can help you know what to look for in a breeder http://idog.biz/RightBreeder.html), and The Doodle Zoo is a wonderful, family friendly discussion forum where people are happy to share their experiences with various breeders.

In answer to the question, "How Much Does A Doodle Cost", one must say, "It depends".  It depends on how well and carefully the puppy is bred and raised.  In many cases you get what you pay for.