Dogs make wonderful pets – loving, loyal, and fun! Many a dog lover finds that beloved breed that holds a special place in their hearts, which is why the US dog and pet breeding industry is worth $2 billion. If you choose to breed dogs, you can get a share of that market while caring for and enjoying dogs and giving people the pet of their dreams.
Starting a dog breeding business presents many challenges, however, and will take time, work, and knowledge to launch. This step-by-step guide is loaded with all the information you need to get you on your way to starting a lucrative dog breeding business.
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Pros and cons
Starting a dog breeding business has pros and cons that you should weigh before deciding if it’s the right path for you.
- Dog Days – Spend your time caring for adorable dogs and pups
- Strong Demand – Who doesn’t love a cute puppy?!
- Never Leave Home – Breed your dogs at home
- Time Consuming – Dog breeding is a 24/7 job
- Expensive – Costs for shots and vet care add up fast
- Knowledge Required – Extensive breeding knowledge is a must
Dog breeding industry trends
Industry size and growth
- Industry size and past growth – Market analyst IBISWorld values the US dog and pet breeding industry at an impressive $2 billion.
- Growth forecast – While the industry has declined slightly in recent years, it’s still a huge industry and full of opportunity.
- Number of businesses – There were more than 200,000 dog and pet breeders in the US in 2021.
- Number of people employed – The industry employs more than 219,000 people.
Trends and challenges
Some trends include:
- The number of US dog owners has increased during the pandemic, from 50% to 54% of US households, according to the American Kennel Association (AKA).
- The share of pet owners that own purebred pets has held steady at 56%.
- The most popular dog breeds in 2020 were Labrador retriever, French Bulldog, German Shepherd, and Golden Retriever.
Some challenges also exist in the industry, including:
- Pet and animal health costs are rising, including dog medication. The number of dog owners who give their dogs medication has increased from 63% to 70% since 2018.
- Dog breeding, also sometimes known as dog farming, is suffering due to bad press. Some people and organizations, including leading animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), present a negative view of dog breeders (with criticisms such as “puppy mill!”), and promote dog rescues instead.
- Average consumer spend – Dog owners spend an average of $1,200 a year on their pets.
- Potential customer base – Nearly 70 million US households own a dog.
- Average prices – A puppy costs $500 to $3,000, depending on the breed and condition.
How much does it cost to start a dog breeding business?
Startup costs for a dog breeding business range from $4,500 to about $11,000. The expenses will vary based on how much you spend on your first female dog and your first stud fee, as well as your vet bills and equipment such as kennel crates. Breeder education courses are included as well. You can take courses through the AKA, which range from free to $60 per course.
You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your dog breeding business. Here’s a list to get you started:
- Kennel crates
- Dog bowls
- Leashes and collars
- Blankets and dog beds
|Start-up Costs||Ballpark Range||Average
|Setting up a business name and corportation||$150 - $200||$175
|Licenses and permits||$100 - $300||$200
|Insurance||$100 - $300||$200
|Business cards and brochures||$200 - $300||$250
|Website setup||$1,000 - $3,000||$2,000
|First female dog and first stud fee||$750 - $3,000||$1,875
|Kennels, food, and other supplies||$1,500 - $3,000||$2,250
|Veterinary expenses||$500 - $1,000||$750
|AKC registration||$100 - $100||$100
|Breeder training courses||$100 - $300||$200
|Total||$4,500 - $11,500||$8,000
How much can you earn from a dog breeding business?
A female dog can have 3 litters per year and the average litter size is 6 puppies. Puppies can be sold when they reach the age of 8 to 10 weeks. Puppy prices range from $500 to $3,000 depending on their breed and condition. You should look for the finest pedigree dogs. Your profit margin after food and veterinary expenses should be about 70%.
In your first year or two, if your one female has three 6-puppy litters per year and you sell each for $2,000, you’ll have $36,000 in annual revenue and about $25,000 in profit, assuming that 70% margin. As your brand gains recognition, you can add two female dogs and have 9 litters each year, giving you annual revenue of nearly $110,000 and more than $75,000 in profit. And that’s with only three females!
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for dog breeding. Your biggest challenges will be:
- You need enough space, indoors and out, to care for your dogs
- Extensive knowledge of the breed and pregnant dog care is a must
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
Now that you know what’s involved in being an animal breeder and starting a dog breeding business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research dog breeders in your area to examine their offerings, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a Bulldog breeder.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as only breeding dogs of a particular breed.
Focusing on an unusual breed like Tibetan mastiff, Irish wolfhound, or Chow Chow could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
You can specialize in one breed, or you can choose to have a variety of breeds. You also need to decide if you want to offer to spay or neuter the dogs for your customers after they are adopted or offer any other kinds of follow-up services such as training or medication. Remember, pet medication is a growing market that could offer added opportunity.
How much should you charge for puppies?
Prices for puppies from dog breeders range from $500 to $3,000. Your price will mainly depend on the type of breed. You’ll have ongoing expenses for food and vet care. You should aim for a profit margin of 70%.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price point. Remember, the price you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will be dog lovers. Interestingly, according to the AKA, most purebred dog owners are millennials. You can find this target market on sites like Instagram.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your dog breeding business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out a facility. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “purebred dogs” or “dog breeder”, boosts SEO
- Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
- Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
- Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
- Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan yourself before, it can be an intimidating task. Consider hiring an experienced business plan writer on Fiverr to create a professional business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to dog breeding businesses.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your dog breeding business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
- Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
- C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
- S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose an LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your Articles of Organization and be on hand to answer any questions you might have.
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
- Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
SBA loans are one of your best options. The SBA offers an SB 7(a) loan for small businesses with favorable terms. Personal funding is also a good option since the startup costs are not high, and you won’t have to make payments on a loan.
Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits
Starting a dog breeding business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments. You should register your business with the AKA and register your litters and each puppy. Customers who go to dog breeders are looking for registered dogs.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as, health license and permit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level licenses and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.
If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
For peace of mind and to save time, we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state, and provide them to you to make sure you’re fully compliant.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your dog breeding business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
You can use industry-specific software, such as DogBreederPro, Breeder Cloud Pro, or BreederZOO, to manage your dogs, contacts, puppy waiting lists, and veterinary records.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Some of your business will come from the casual online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Appointment Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
- Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Post a video – Post a video about your puppies. Try using humor and maybe it will go viral!
- Email marketing/newsletter – Send regular emails to customers and prospects. Make them personal.
- Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
- Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
- Pay–per-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to come up faster from searches. Research your keywords first.
- Make a podcast – This allows you to make a personal connection with your customers.
- Do a webinar – Share your dog breeding expertise online with a video seminar.
- Case studies – Show how your puppies helped a family find joy.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your dog breeding business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your dog breeding business could be:
- French Bulldogs bred with loving care
- Gentle Labradors for your family
- Registered purebred dogs – pick your breed
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a dog breeding business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in dog breeding for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in dog breeding. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership.
Step 12: Build Your Team
You may need help caring for your dogs and running your business at some point, even though you’ll be running your business from home. Potential positions for a dog breeding business would include:
- Helpers or Dog Sitters – help care for dogs, clean up after dogs
- Dog Trainers – help train dogs after adoption
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start Making Money!
Most people agree that dogs are lovely animals and a great addition to any household. Dog breeding gives you the opportunity to care for dogs, find them good homes, and make a nice profit. It’s a $2 billion industry and you can capitalize on that market while providing a valuable service. You now have some knowledge about the business, so you’re ready to start your journey to becoming a successful dog breeder.
Dog Breeder Business FAQs
How much does it cost to start a dog breeding business?
The costs to start will depend on what type of dog you purchase to begin breeding and how much equipment you need to purchase. You should be able to start for around $4,000.
How profitable is a dog breeding business?
Prices for puppies range from $500 to $3000. A dog can have up to 3 litters per year and litter sizes average 6 puppies. Even with one dog, you can make a nice profit, and if you acquire more dogs, you can increase your income substantially.
How do I get the puppies that I breed registered?
You can register your business, your litters, and your puppies with the American Kennel Association (AKA). Costs to register are nominal.
What is the most profitable dog to breed?
French Bulldogs are a very profitable breed, selling for high prices. They are also a very popular breed. German Shepherds are also very popular and profitable.