issue > pet stores > prices
The price of a puppy or kitten
The price of a puppy or kitten varies widely if sold through pet stores, through online breeder directories or directly from a breeder (as advertised through websites or ads).
As with any business, pet stores mark up the price of the animal (once purchased from a breeder or broker) to make a profit on the sale.
The price is not reflective of the health of the animal or the quality of breeder or breeding conditions. Dogs and kittens have sold for under $50 or over thousands of dollars from both good and bad breeders.
As an example, a pet store in Blaine, Minnesota, that acquires puppies from large commercial breeders prices puppies in their store for $1,200 to $4,500 (as of November 2016). Some puppies are "on sale" for about $750 - $1,000. Another pet store, located in St. Paul and also buys puppies from large commercial breeders, has prices ranging from $398 to $1,495 for puppies, as of November 2016.
The true cost of breeding
Higher prices should reflect proper care (i.e. veterinary costs, quality food and shelter, appropriate levels of staffing for exercising and socialization, vaccinations, microchipping, etc.) but disreputable breeders:
There is limited documentation available to the public to confirm breeding and dealer interactions and pricing. As with all business, each company that touches "the product" marks up the price (beyond expenses) to earn a profit. As an example: Some USDA-licensed breeders have been known to sell a puppy for $200 each to dealers (this would include expenses and profit). The dealer then adds kenneling and transport expenses plus their own mark-up (for profit) when selling to pet stores. The pet store then adds an additional mark-up (for expenses and profit), resulting in the end retail price to the consumer. With some pet stores, the dealer is not involved (the pet store owner buys directly from the breeder) so the price may be lower. NOTE: A typical mark-up within retail is 50%-60%.
Obviously, mark-ups and prices vary widely based on type of breed, time of year, consumer demand, shipping costs, and other factors. The less money spent on animal care by the breeder (at his/her kennel), by the dealer (at his/her kennel), by the carrier (when the animal is trucked or shipped by air) or by the pet store (when caged at the store for days, weeks or months), the higher the profit for each animal sold.
The economy impacts prices
Pet Shop Puppies (no longer operating) was a nonprofit organization that tracked pet store activities, received pet store complaints and analyzed pet store data, such as pet prices.
Their data is from years ago, but it showed how puppy prices, like other "products," may vary based on the economy — and also vary seasonally, especially during and after the holidays in December. In a 2009 assessment of the pet store industry, Pet Shop Puppies concluded:
"2009 was a dismal year for the dog industry. (Pretty for the dogs; ugly for the dog industry.) Overall, the average pet store puppy price in 2009 was $887. That compares to $1,019 in 2008 and $1,031 in 2007 (all-time high). If the industry was expecting Christmas sales to pull them out of the slump, they were grossly miscalculating the economy and the public's increasing knowledge of puppy mills and the pet store connection. The average 2009 Christmas puppy (from Thanksgiving until December 31st) was $926; in 2008, $973; in 2007, $1,095. The highest price for a "Christmas" puppy (based on Pet Shop Puppies data) was $1,800. This compares to $3,300 in 2008 and $4,950 in 2007. The dog industry has been quoted as saying that holiday puppy sales make up 50-60% of their entire year's profits for stores that sell puppies. Some pet stores closed their doors in 2009; others stayed open to take advantage of the holiday season. Watch for deep, after-Christmas discounts on pet store puppies."
The above prices are obviously dated from 2007, 2008 and 2009. As the economy changes, so too do prices. As noted above, current prices on pet store websites and online breeder location websites vary widely and can show significantly higher numbers.