Beardie Breeders & Puppy Prices

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

by Chris Walkowicz

The following article is intended to educate those who are thinking about purchasing a Bearded Collie: Where to buy, Where NOT to buy, and About Puppy Prices. All too often we hear about poor quality dogs, bad temperaments, or sick dogs purchased from pet stores or puppy mills. Hopefully the reader will find this information useful to avoid such situations and find a Beardie that will be a companion for years to come. We also encourage you to explore this website for more information.

Where to Buy a Puppy

You’re not just looking for a weekend entertainment or another mouth to feed. You’re looking for a companion who will give you love and joy a dozen years or more. That’s why it’s even more important to research your purchase more carefully than you would the car you trade in four years or the washer that doesn’t feel pain when it’s poorly made or the tool that falls apart within 24 hours. But this puts many people in a quandary. Just how does one find a reputable breeder? Start with the AKC hotline (919-233-9767) or website (, or the website of the breed of your choice — in this case, for BEARDIES! You can also attend a dog show and talk to some of the exhibitors and handlers.

How do you tell a good breeder? Following are some questions to ask and some observances to make:

  • Can you see where the puppies are raised? (Give a little allowance for puppy odor, but it shouldn’t smell like a sewage system.)
  • Can you see the Mom? (She might be out of coat and baggy, but does she look healthy and happy?)
  • Would you take her home with you? (The puppies have inherited not only her genes, but also her environmental influence over the past eight weeks.)

Most of the time, we don’t have the sire on the premises, but if he is, ask to see him as well.

  • Is there subconscious love flowing between the breeder and the dogs? (Anyone can fake a kiss or pat. Does the dog look adoringly at the breeder while she’s talking to you? Does the breeder stroke the dog’s head without even knowing she’s doing it?)
  • Are the dogs in the household happy and healthy?
  • How much experience in dogs does the breeder have? (Don’t discount a new breeder, but it’s a bonus if there’s some history.)
  • Does the breeder belong to dog clubs?
  • Does the breeder show in the area which you’re interested in? (These are obedience, conformation, herding, or agility. Even if you aren’t interested in showing, it shows dedication and interest on the breeder’s part.)
  • Do the dogs have any titles?
  • Are the parents OFA certified? (It’s a bonus if the parents’ eyes and thyroid have been checked.)
  • What is the longevity of these particular lines?
  • Has the dam had other puppies? Where are they? Can you talk to some of their owners?
  • Do you see signs of dedication to the breed around the house? (Beardie T-shirt, statues, pictures, magazines)
  • Would you be afraid to leave your child with this person for a sleep-over after you got to know him/her?
  • Do you want and can you expect to have a relationship with this person for a dozen years?

Ask about guarantees (expect a year minimum), and Heaven forfend, should something happen to this puppy, what can you expect in return? Ask to see pedigrees, certifications, guarantees, contracts, instructions, medical records and so on. Expect to be interviewed as though you were adopting a child.

Go to the rescue, litter and breeder links and ask them these questions! Reputable breeders’ puppies are not raised as a cash crop, but to benefit the breed through careful, judicious decisions on health and quality.

Where NOT to Buy a Puppy

Don’t fall victim to the cute little puppy in the window. I can make this statement unequivocally: ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, NO reputable breeder ever allows anyone else to decide who can have his or her beloved puppies! We want to make sure the home our pup is going to is one we would send our child to!

Pet store guarantees often are for only two to thirty days. If pedigrees are available, the sales force knows nothing about the dogs listed. There’s little time for socializing and no way clerks can know the background of this pup as well as one who raised it. An establishment that mass produces puppies (some ship as many as 900 a week!) cannot possibly take the time for the physical care, nor the love and attention a private breeder does.

Are the dogs in the household happy and healthy?

Are the dogs in the household happy and healthy?

Does the dog look adoringly at the breeder while  she's talking to you?

Does the dog look adoringly
at the breeder while
she’s talking to you?

Most mass producers have filthy, depressing conditions in which their dogs are raised. Many have crates piled on top of one another, with the excretions of the dogs in the upper crate falling on those below. Dogs don’t run and play in the sunshine. They live their entire lives in confinement. Dogs aren’t handled daily. Food may be thrown on the floor along with the filth. Some rescued puppy mill inmates don’t even know what a food bowl is!

Dogs are bred without pedigree study, genetic testing or compensation for each other’s faults (& there are plenty when care isn’t taken to determine health and structure). Dams are bred every season until they stop producing or litters become too small to be profitable. When they’re worn out, they’re discarded. Sometimes, then, their suffering comes to an end, but how it ends we can’t be certain. In some cases, the dogs are almost unidentifiable as the breed they are supposed to be. In others, they may NOT be the breed they claim to be. Several dogs rescued in raids have been blind or deformed.

About Puppy Prices

The average Beardie pup costs between $1500 – $2500, depending on where you are geographically. Seems like a lot of money. But then you can’t put a price on love or on a family member. Genetic testing is expensive; proving the parents’ worth as quality dogs is expensive.

Care isn't taken to determine health and structure

Care isn’t taken to determine health and structure

The average litter is five or six. Income is $7500-$12500 if they all sell at $1500. However, we often keep one. Subtract $1500. We may replace a pup. Subtract another $1500. Subtract $1500 for stud fee. Prorating the initial cost of the dam ($1500 – divided by, say, 3 litters = $500); her medical tests and prenatal care during pregnancy and after whelping runs about $500 – subtract another $1000. Traveling or shipping to the stud runs about $500, (subtract). Food for the puppies – about $100; shots and exams about $300; advertising about $200, pedigree and registration – another $25. So subtract another $625. Long distance calls run me about $50 per month – two months before departure (BD) and two months (at least) after departure (AD) equals $200. Photos and videos (BD) about $75. Care packages to send home with puppies around $60. If we have unusual medical expenses (c-section or virus hitting the litter), it can run another $2000. Not counting the last, on an average it adds up to $6960, which leaves the breeder of a litter of five with $540. As you can see, the reputable breeder who cares about and is involved in the breed is not making a living selling puppies. He/she does it for the love of the breed.

(Ed. Note: Estimated prices were updated to reflect more current costs in the 2000s. This original article was written in the 1990s, so it doesn’t include current costs of health tests, cellular phone calls, increases in the costs of food and vet care, or increases in shipping and travel costs.)

 ... you can't put a price on love or on a family member.  Genetic testing is expensive; proving the parents' worth as quality dogs is expensive.

… you can’t put a price on love or on a family member. Genetic testing is expensive; proving the parents’ worth as quality dogs is expensive.

As one breeder says,

“I don’t even think about these things when I’m planning a breeding. I do it because I love the breed, because I love puppies, because I have a waiting list pounding on my door. I struggled with the idea of raising my price to $1500 to match most of the others in the area. I guess I’m way off base — I should be charging more!

“Actually, I don’t charge anything for my puppies. My price is for the genetic testing of parents, a health guarantee that far outlasts that of the commercial breeders’, lifetime advice, a home at any time if needed, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen and a heart to break when the buyer loses his beloved pet and my sweet baby.”

One buyer says,

“Does paying a higher price guarantee that I will get the puppy of my dreams? Absolutely not. And does that price guarantee that you will get the ideal show/pet home? Absolutely not. Things happen even in the best of breeding programs and I realize it is just as heartbreaking to you as it is for me when things don’t work out as we all had planned. Do I want compensation, no, but what I would like is that you listen.”

Another buyer agrees,

“We paid $1500 for our pup and thought it well worth it. If she lives 14 years, that works out to under $9 a month for unlimited love and companionship and constant amusement.”

Cheap at twice the price!