As a veteran breeder, you’re always looking for a way to gain a business advantage. Profit margins for a dog-breeding business can be tight — one great way to get a leg up on the competition is to improve your online presence. This will increase customer acquisition and boost overall revenue.

With a robust online presence, your business can market itself to long-distance customers across the country. Doing so will significantly increase the size of your buyer pool and boost those margins

Conversely, if you’ve always wanted to start your own dog breeding business but weren’t sure how to get it off the ground, it’s important to combine local marketing efforts with a strong online presence. Commerce has been moving online for years and shows no sign of slowing. Understanding the online side of the breeding business is now a necessity.

To get you started, we’ve come up with six easy and effective social media content ideas.

We’ve collected information about building an online dog-breeding business to help guide you along your journey. Whether you’re trying to break into the industry or a seasoned veteran looking to expand beyond word-of-mouth marketing, this guide can help you find success as a breeding business online.

Choose a Breed You Love

It may seem like a no-brainer, but a new breeder should choose to work with a breed of dog they truly love and are passionate about. With that in mind, you should also weigh business considerations when deciding which type of dog to breed.

Keep in mind: 

  • Difficulty — some types of dog are more difficult to breed.
  • Popularity — the demand for a given breed varies by region.
  • Price — the more in-demand a breed, the more you can charge per dog.
  • Competition — how many breeders in your area offer the same breed?

While it shouldn’t completely guide your decision, if you’re trying to make a profit, you should consider one of the more popular breeds in your area. Some of the most expensive breeds are harder to sell because there’s little demand for them.

The bottom line is that while business viability is always a consideration, choose a breed you’re passionate about. Working with a breed solely based on potential income usually works out poorly for the breeder. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to work with a breed you love. It may take several years to earn a profit; resiliency is critical in this industry.

Breed Responsibly

Most breeds can have up to three litters a year — over the course of five to eight years, that could yield as many as 24 litters! While it could be tempting to maximize your profits by breeding a female dog multiple times a year, you should never do this.

Why?

Genetic diversity for the breed is lowered every time a dog whelps a litter of puppies. This harms the overall integrity of the breed and results in a higher likelihood of health disorders. In fact, experts recommend retiring a dam after she’s whelped just four litters. If you’re trying to make your business a full-time income source, you may want to invest in multiple dams so you can have litters throughout the year.

  • Toy Breeds like Chihuahuas should be retired at five.
  • Large breeds like Standard Poodles and Great Danes should be retired at five. 
  • Medium-size breeds can continue to breed until age eight.
  • Always consult with a veterinarian if you’re planning on breeding a dog over five.

Understand the Costs

A major hurdle for a new dog breeding business is the initial costs. There are major start-up costs before the puppies are even born, and you won’t earn income until the litter is around eight weeks old. 

Start up costs for a dog breeding business include:

  • Purchasing a female dog for breeding — runs from hundreds of dollars to over a thousand depending on the breed.
  • Associated costs like food, supplements and licenses — $150-$800
  • Stud fees — $100-$1500
  • Regular veterinarian visits, health and genetic testing — $340 to $800
  • USDA licensing costs plus any local fees and licensing requirements.

There are also many costs associated with raising the litter. You’ll need items like a whelping box and whelping kit, puppy food, vaccinations and more.

All told, the typical costs of running a breeding business with one dam runs from $1600 to $8200. Of course, the larger the operation, the higher the start-up costs — but also, higher potential profit.

AKC Registration

Another cost is registering your adult dogs and puppies with the American Kennel Club. Why should you register with AKC?

  • The money you pay for registration funds kennel inspections, AKC Canine Health Foundation, Canine Search-and-Rescue, the AKC Canine Good Citizen program and public education, among many other programs.
  • Registering with AKC gives your business legitimacy in the eyes of buyers.
  • The cost of registering an individual dog ranges from $33 to $82.99.
  • The cost of registering a litter is typically $25 plus $2 per puppy, though there are a few variables that affect the cost.

Business Formation

Another consideration is legally forming a business. Unfortunately, a lot of things can go wrong with puppies and LLC or S-Corp status can protect your personal assets in the case of a lawsuit against your breeding business. If you’ve been a breeder for years but never legally formed a business, it’s never too late!

Even if you’re only treating your dog breeding business as a hobby, you should consider business formation. Organizations like Swyft Filings make it quick and easy to register your business.

Another obstacle for new breeders to overcome is the fact that someone needs to be with the puppies around the clock during those first eight weeks. Unless you have multiple family members that can take shifts watching the puppies, it will be difficult to work full-time in addition to breeding.

One great way to offset the initial start up costs is to consider related businesses to supplement your income.

Some business ideas include:

  • Grooming
  • Training
  • Doggy daycare

Selling Your Puppies

Once you’ve completed the first steps of building your business, next up is actually selling the puppies online! While in the past breeders may have relied on word of mouth marketing or kennel clubs to find customers, the online world has opened up new avenues for sales. 

Use Social Media to Market Your Business

The first step is to establish a social media presence. There are many social media sites out there — while each offers a unique marketing opportunity, some are more effective for dog breeders.

Facebook

  • Facebook is the largest social networking site, with two billion monthly active users.
  • While that is an incredible reach, marketing your breeding business should be primarily  locally targeted. 
  • If you advertise on Facebook, your ads will reach a local market of users that have indicated they’re interested in adopting dogs. 
  • Groups are another great way to market your dog breeding business on Facebook. These groups connect users with similar interests, like a specific breed of dog. You can even create your own Facebook group and post about available litters!

Google Business Profile

  • This feature was formerly known as Google My Business.
  • It’s a free business listing from Google.
  • Google is the most-visited website in the world; optimizing your Business Profile should be an important part of your online strategy.
  • Google My Business allows you to add photos and business details like location, services and products.
  • Information from your profile will also appear on Google Maps, Google Search and Google Shopping.
  • In order to have a Google Business Profile you need to have a physical business address.
  • In addition to a national reach, Google Business Profiles have strong local SEO and will rank high on local Google Search results.

Instagram

  • Instagram doesn’t quite have the reach of Facebook, but it’s important to have a presence on the site. 
  • Because Instagram is a photo-based site, it’s a great place to show off your puppies. 
  • You probably won’t make any direct sales from Instagram, but it will certainly lift your business’s profile. 

YouTube

  • There are hundreds of breeders on YouTube and while posting videos on the site probably won’t make you and your dogs viral stars, it is a great way to market your business.
  • Posting videos of your breeding business and dogs is a great way to increase the transparency of your company. The more potential customers know about your business, the more likely they are to buy from you.
  • YouTube influencers are also a great place to get information about running a breeding business.

Social Media Content Ideas

If you’re adept at social media marketing and can represent your business professionally, there’s no need for assistance. But If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of marketing a business on social media, consider a social media marketing service. It really comes down to your skill level and budget.

Create a Website

Once you’ve started posting on social media, you’ll want to create your own website. There are simple and inexpensive businesses that specialize in helping small businesses create a website. Squarespace and Wix are just two examples. 

Some information every breeding business website should include:

  • An About section where you talk about yourself and your business — don’t be afraid to brag about yourself!
  • Any professional certificates you have. 
  • Information about your dogs’ pedigrees.
  • Testimonials from previous customers are proof for potential buyers that you’ve had success in the past.
  • Plenty of photos of your dogs and property — this is particularly important when you’re selling to out-of-state buyers who cannot come to the property.
  • Contact information and location. 
  • If you offer any other services like grooming or training, talk about that on your website.

Puppy Marketplaces

Create a profile on puppy-specific marketplaces like Puppies.com and Good Dog. These sites not only connect you with potential customers, they allow you to talk more about your dogs in detail and post upcoming litters with a buyer waiting list.

Puppies.com has partnered with CitizenShipper by adding a widget to puppy listings. This widget makes it easy to get a cost estimate and connect with a transporter to ground ship the puppy to a customer. Make sure you opt in to have the widget on your Puppies.com profile page. 

Use Apps to Manage Your Litter

Customers are choosing a future family member, so they’ll be very discerning. One way to make a great impression with customers is to convey professionalism to assure them you’re a responsible breeder.

A great way to stay organized is by using apps like Fidopoli to track the puppies’ growth, behavior and health. You can then share this data with potential customers. Reputable breeders often maintain a waitlist for upcoming puppies.Mobile apps can help you organize this waitlist.

Other Considerations

  • Read up on puppy contracts and decide whether you’ll require them.
  • While some breeders don’t require a puppy contract be signed before every sale, it’s a great way to show your dedication to breeding healthy, happy puppies. The contract is also one way to guarantee that you get the puppy back in case its new home isn’t a good fit.
  • Consider offering customers a puppy kit. While it will be an added business expense, giving your customers a thoughtful puppy kit to get them started with their newest family member will improve your reputation.
  • Do your research on what it takes to be a responsible breeder: 
  • Make sure you follow responsible breeding protocol
    • Keep the premises clean and be willing to give buyers a tour of the property.
    • Test all dams and sires for genetic health issues.
    • Give all puppies, dams and sires the required vaccinations.
    • Ask lots of questions about the potential buyers. You should be sure that your puppies are going to good homes. This procedure also separates your business from puppy mills.

Use a Trusted Transporter to Deliver Puppies

With a focus on building a successful online breeding business, many of your buyers will be located a great distance away from your physical location. This is particularly true for rare breeds. You may be the closest breeder, even if you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away.

It’s totally your decision whether you’ll sell puppies to customers you cannot meet in person. Most breeders are okay with this arrangement but many others require in-person meetings and sales.

If you are willing to sell out of state, you need to be very careful about the transporter you choose. Using CitizenShipper is one way to ensure your puppies are being transported by experienced professionals.

Our drivers care as much about the puppies as you and your customer and have successfully transported thousands of dogs. Once you’ve set up your breeding business and are ready to start selling your puppies, partner with CitizenShipper for any transport needs!

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Published by Matt Matasci

Content Writer at CitizenShipper

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