There are not many things that are cuter than a little newborn puppy, and being able to watch him be born and grow to be independent is simply amazing. If you are the type of person that likes to be around dogs and puppies, then maybe you should consider looking into starting your very own dog breeding operation. The startup expenses are relatively small and many people make a fairly decent living from being a responsible breeder.
Breeding dogs takes a lot of know-how, and anyone who wants to run that kind of business must be highly educated and informed about the breed they are going to sell. You will also need to be an expert on the canine birthing process and the proper way to take care of the mother and pups.
Perhaps outside of determining which breed you will sell, the most important thing you’ll need to do when starting a dog breeding operation is to make a good business plan and stick to it as you get the business started. I know what you’re thinking…
“How hard can it be to be a dog breeder? Why would I need a business plan for such a simple business?”
If you think owning and operating any kind of business is simple, think again! You may be an expert on your breed and you may have tons of experience with the canine birthing process, but you’ll still need a business plan. Running a dog breeding business is much more than just snuggling puppies.
Your business plan isn’t just about how you will run the day to day operations of the business. It will explain how you’ll acquire financing, how you’ll get the business up and running, how you’ll advertise it, and most importantly how you’ll continue to keep your dog breeding business running for years to come.
For more information on starting a dog breeding business, check out our column How to Start a Dog Breeding Business. You’ll read about everything you’ll need to prepare for before you decide to take on the task of becoming a dog breeder. Once you’ve decided that this business venture is for you, you’ll need to begin writing your dog breeding business plan.
How to Write a Dog Breeding Business Plan
Before starting any business plan you first need to assess the need for your business in your local area. You won’t just be selling your puppies to people in your neighborhood, so you can expand your view a little bit. You want to do your breeding in an area or region that has a demand for the type of breed that you will raise. No business can survive without demand.
Dog breeding is unique in this area. No matter what type of puppies you decide to sell, there will certainly be a market for them somewhere. You’ll just need to decide how far you’re willing to travel or ship your puppies. The scope of your business will define all your decisions from here on out, so be sure to give this careful thought. Whether you choose to market in a large or small area, be aware of your competition and be sure there is enough demand for your business to succeed.
RELATED: How to Start a Dog Daycare Business
You also need to check and meet the entry requirements into the breeding field. There are usually zoning laws for places where dogs can be kept, and you can’t forget about the certificates and specialized knowledge that will be required too. These must be attainable or there is no reason to go ahead with your business planning.
State the Initial and Long Term Goals of Your Dog Breeding Business
The most important part of any business plan, not just for dog breeding, is to state the initial and long term goals of the business. This will help form the focus for the entire business plan. Remember that this is the first thing that investors will see, so make it short and to the point. Let them know what your specific goals are and then explain the details later in your business plan.
Here is an example of the goals for a dog breeding business plan: I will start a dog breeding business on my farm. We will raise Black Labrador Retrievers and will start out with one well pedigreed and papered male and four purebred female dogs. If the business goes well there is room for expansion on the property to double the business size or more.
You can make the statement as detailed as you want; the more detailed, the easier the business plan is to write. Keep in mind this outline is not set in stone; it is merely a guideline of the important things to cover in any dog breeding business plan. It can be tricky to keep things concise while still being detailed, but just remember to focus on the main goals of your dog breeding business.
Who Is Your Target Clientele And How Will You Market Your Puppies?
You must clearly define who you want to sell the dogs you breed to. You’ll need to do a lot of research to complete this part of your business plan. The more market research you do now, the faster your business will become a success. You know your target market is potential pet owners that are interested in your breed, but it isn’t quite that simple.
Will there be something special about your breed that makes people want to travel a large distance to pay a premium price for them or will they just be purebred dogs that you will move at a fair price to anyone that has an interest in the breed? What about the qualifications that you will require your adoptive dog parents to have? Being as specific as possible in this part of your business plan will help you a great deal when it actually comes time to market your business in the future.
Speaking of marketing your business, you’ll have to explain exactly how you’re going to do that in this section. You’ll probably need to do such things as build an internet website no matter who your target clientele is, and if you’re planning to sell in a large region you will have to know how to drive traffic to your website to draw interest in your pups. It may be wise to request the help of a professional with this, if you can afford it.
Think of other ways to advertise your business as well that may get attention from your target audience. What about magazines, websites, or other publications that are geared toward your specific breed? Because your target audience is smaller than many other businesses, you’ll need to get creative and think outside of the box to reach as many potential clients as possible.
Management and Employees
Depending on the size of your breeding operation there has to be some sort of management structure put in place, especially if you are planning on hiring employees. For a small operation that you are dedicated to full time, it will probably be easy enough for one person to do everything themselves.
For bigger operations or if your only interest is to oversee the business, then you will need to hire employees or subcontractors to handle some of the day to day operations of the business. If you plan on working with other breeders, you’ll also need to touch on that in this sections. They may not be your employees, but if you plan to use a dog from another breeder you’ll have to explain your policy on that and how you will oversee the breeding.
This is by far the most crucial part of your business plan. Most entrepreneurs use their business plan to attain financing from banks or investors. Even if you can front the cost yourself, you need a detailed plan for how much capital it will take to get your business off the ground and how you will use the money appropriately.
Make it a point to be very honest about such things as your ability to finance the project. For example, do not plan the business around buying and breeding champion dogs if you only have $2,000 to get the business started. For undercapitalized breeding operations, it is best to raise dogs and enter them into contests to build your name and reputation.
If you look at your business plan when you get to this point and realize you may not be able to finance it, either rewrite the business plan to appeal to investors or bank officials, or rewrite it to cut costs so it aligns with your budget. The number one killer of new businesses is being underfunded from the beginning. You don’t want to become part of that statistic.
Another smart rule to follow is to make sure you have enough financing in place to run the business without any revenue for 6 months. Keep in mind the gestation period for dogs is around 60 days alone.
When you’re making a list of your planned expenses the obvious things like rent, utilities, and dog food will come to mind quickly, but you also need to plan for the not-so-obvious expenses. You’ll need whelping boxes, supplies for the puppies, and playpens for them to roam around in. What about…
- office expenses including a computer, furniture, and office supplies
- a furnished area where potential pet parents can meet the puppies
- any fees associated with using a stud dog or a canine from another breeder
- initial shots and vet checks for the puppies
- any necessary vet care for the adult dogs
- licensing and insurance costs
…and more. Leave no stone unturned when planning your expenses. The more comprehensive your business plan, the less surprises that you’ll have as you begin your business venture.
Legalities and Fees
The point of any business is to make a profit and the price point of your puppies is what enables you to do that if you market them and sell them right. You will need to find out the prices that your competition is charging and seek the advice of other breeders of your type of dog too.
Take into consideration that you are an inexperienced breeder. Even if you’ve been around dogs your entire life and you’ve worked with breeders in the past when their dogs have given birth, you are still inexperienced at breeding your own dogs and running your business, so your prices shouldn’t be comparable to those of experienced breeders. As you gain experience and your reputation in the dog breeding industry grows, so will your fees.
You can charge more for your pups if your stud dog has a renowned pedigree or for anything else that makes your dogs of higher quality than the competition. You must also price yourself so that you can establish and count on a steady revenue stream to keep the breeding operation going.
Once you’ve set your prices you must write contracts that all your adoptive parents must sign. This contract will prevent you from being held liable for any legal issues associated with the dog. It will also protect your clients and the dogs as well. Having a contract is a must, and it may be well worth it to work with a lawyer or other professional when drawing up your initial contract.
Many breeders do create their own contracts, but just be sure you do your research to make sure that all your bases are covered. You can get information on what should be written in your contract and some excellent free samples from the following websites:
There are a lot of other resources you can find as well, and your local library’s legal section would be another great resource. If you have contacts in the dog breeding industry, you may want to ask them for a sample of their contract or some guidance with writing yours. Use all the resources you have available to make sure that you take as many legal precautions as possible.
Once your business plan is complete, it’s time to line up your financing and get your dog breeding business started!
Do yourself a great big favor and take your time and be thorough when making your dog breeding business plan. Remember that it isn’t set in stone, but it will make a great guide for you to follow as you begin the exciting journey of becoming a business owner. The more detailed your business plan is, the easier it will be to get your breeding business up and running.