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Why are English Bulldogs so "costly"?
What it takes to be a good Breeder
Thanks for taking your time to read up and learn from my experiences after having bred English Bulldogs for several years now. I apologize in advance if my English isn't perfect, been living in the states for about 17 years now, so it's not my native language but this story comes from the heart and hope it'll help you avoid making the same mistakes I did down the road. After having read this article there may be some who will actually think twice about playing with the idea of aquiring a breeding stock of their own. And after hearing once again yet another sad story about someone out there who thought it would be a great idea to make some "easy" money by breeding his or her Bulldog without having done extensive research and having little to no experience, which resulted in yet another litter that eventually ended up dead I decided to write a bit about what it actually takes to raise English Bulldogs.
English Bulldogs aren't pricey because they happen to be very popular, it's simply because it takes a lot of money, time and labor to raise a good litter. It all starts out with trying to find the right and healthy sire and dam and with the multitude of health issues this breed can have it is anything but easy. Even if you think you may have a perfect puppy from a breeder that has been raising puppies for decades and has championship stock it doesn't mean you will automatically end up with one that won't develop any issues when it is a bit older. What will you do then? Will you keep on raising it with the intention of breeding it later on because you spent a good bundle of money on it or take it out of your breeding program, which hasn't even really started yet? Or will you try to save some time and try to find a girl that is already two or three years old and breed with her? That is a very common mistake which cost me thousands of dollars which I should've just used to throw out of the window or flush down the toilet. You will rarely find a good girl this way, otherwise that particular breeder would've kept her himself. If you happen to be lucky enough and got yourself a female puppy that you raise for about two years and after you said a little prayer of thanks because she has been healthy without any allergies, no mange, is breathing well, no eye issues, joint problems etc, etc you can finally think about breeding her. Please don't believe that just because your Bulldog is AKC registered that you have a healthy Bulldog on your hand. This couldn't be any further from the truth. It only means you have a purebred dog and you can trace back her lines. Having a girl out of a Championship Bulldog line doesn't mean you have a healthier girl either. And in the end, having a girl to breed with that is both very sweet in temperament and healthy as possible that should be everyone's goal, or not? Those are all things you need to take into consideration BEFORE thinking of buying a puppy that you want to breed with later on. You really have to do your research.
The same goes for finding the right stud for your girl. A good female as a puppy with full breeding rights usually starts around $3,000. Actually where I got my girl "Layla" from that breeder sells her puppies with full breeding rights for $5,000 and not a penny less. But have to say...she has been worth every penny and I kept several of her daughters over the years.
Stud fee on average around $800 to $1,200. Add up those expenses including the money you need for raising your puppy to breeding age, plus of course the progesterone tests to determine the right time to breed your girl (at around $100 per test) typically three tests per heat cycle, plus vaginal or surgical insemination which can vary greatly depending on where you live. Plus of course the ceserian section that is needed for every birth since English Bulldogs can't give birth to their puppies the natural way, expenses for that alone can easily get up to $1,500 depending on where you live. Don't expect for the mom to give birth when it fits your schedule either instead expect for her to sometimes give birth to puppies on a Saturday or Sunday when your regular vet may not be available. Then you can take her to an emergency clinic, which I probably don't have to tell you, are way more expensive than your regular vet. So far it happened twice to me and it's just something you have no control over. When your girl is ready she ain't gonna hold the puppies in for you til Monday comes around.
Don't expect for your girl to get pregnant every time you breed her either!! Means you will have lost the money for the progesterone tests and vaginal or surgical insemination, plus sometimes the entire stud fee if you have already tried for two heat cycles to get her pregnant. It usually states in a contract that the stud owner will grant you two tries for getting your female pregnant and there will be no return of your stud fee after that. Happened to me as well. Or another example, which happens to oh so many breeders every single year and of course to myself at one time as well. You will put your trust into a stud owner from another state, because he or she happens to have a stud which you really like. So you will ask that person to send you chilled semen, right? You will send the entire stud fee upfront as it always states in those contracts, then the day arrives of the insemination. Then your vet comes into the room where you are anxiously waiting and tells you that the semen is really bad. I had it happen where my vet actually told me after and not before a surgical insemination that the motility rate of that semen was at only 5% to which I would've never agreed to have that put in my girl. But the damage was already done. $300 for progesterone tests, $500 for the surgical insemination, $1,200 for stud fee plus delivery from a guy in Ohio with a tri color stud, that happened sometime in 2014 and have yet to get my stud fee back (yeah right). Plus no litter. He told me on the phone that he would never "stiff me" which should've been a warning sign. Know this wasn't very bright of me...I had only asked that stud owner for the semen evaluation report after all this happened and he told me I will get it when I get it, which of course never happened. So did I really want to try to breed my girl a second time around with that same semen from this particular stud? No, I did not. It was a very expensive lesson learned as to how shameless and criminal people can get, just as long as they get their hands on your money. If he had only known what I had already been through that year and yet to come he may have felt very very ashamed and guilty. That year I also bought and lost a three year old Bully girl that I had gotten from an older gentleman in Kansas who has been breeding Bulldogs for decades. I lost her right after surgery due to her having what is called a mega colon. Am sure that breeder knew about her having issues and I was told that she had a litter of three the year before but could see no evidence of her actually having had a litter, I was told that she gave birth naturally but there was no evidence on her teats either that she ever nursed any puppies. I bought her along with another girl, I was told that she was "a bit shy" which was pretty much the understatement of the year. She was so deeply mentally disturbed that among other things I wasn't able to walk her on a leash, not once. She would just curl up into a ball, she preferred to do her business inside instead and smear it around and also eat it. The saddest part of all of this is that those people weren't hurting for money, at all. They just saw someone inexperienced coming their way and took full advantage of it.
That same year I also almost lost my life, I wasn't able to walk for months and while I was recovering in rehab I lost a very expensive tri color miniature Shih Tzu stud, he ran away while he was boarded with someone and was never found again.
When I was listening to my favorite pastor's words the other day he mentioned something which stuck with me, he said that we ALL, without any exception, have to, sooner or later, go through what is called a trial period, every single one of us. We either just got out of a trial period, are in the middle of one, or will go through one in the future. But the fact is...we all have to experience some dark times at some point in our lives!!
If only people would keep that in mind, always, they would probably think twice about what they do to others with their selfish and ignorant actions and how much destruction and heartache they end up causing to people who put their trust in them.
I had to learn things the hard way, to say the least, lol can't change the past but it brought me closer to God though and I know I can put my trust in him. Plus this story might help others in their journey.
For example... always ask for a semen report that was done by a vet weeks BEFORE you will send off any money and signing of a contract and it shouldn't be older than a year or two. Ask that stud owner if he or she actually ever sent off any chilled semen and get the first dose several days in advance for vaginal insemination and the second dose at the day of the surgical insemination. It won't hurt to do a vaginal insemination a few days in advance, better safe than sorry. This way you will get an idea of how good the semen will be and you should have an alternative stud at hand in case the semen is bad. You don't want to wait until the day of the surgical insemination, have a Plan B. My vet just recently called me and asked if they could get semen because they were about to do a surgical insemination on some lady's Bully girl and that the semen that was shipped all the way from California was no good. So they had figured out the perfect day for a surgical and the owner didn't have another stud to get semen from. I can only imagine how frustrated that lady must've felt, been there, done that.
Anyways, have the stud owner mention in the contract that if the semen doesn't have a certain percentage of motility rate you can get your money back within a certain time frame. There are actually some stud owners out there who will only ask for half or less of the stud fee in advance, plus fee for shipping and the rest when the girl is confirmed in whelp after ultrasound. It doesn't take much for them to do the collection and send it off, but... it's a lot of money you on the other hand may loose, not just the money for the stud fee, a lot more, including the money you will loose for not having a litter for that or next season. If you are reading this and have any other ideas and suggestions as to how else this can be done and what one should have the stud owner add in those contracts I would love to hear from you.
The best way of course to do it is for the owner to take their stud to your vet at the day of the insemination and have the collection done there, and again for the second time. But not always possible if that stud owner lives further away. At one time I met halfway with a stud owner who lived about 3,5 hours up north. Before I got there she collected her stud's semen in her van, another way to do it, lol but didn't know how good that semen would be until I arrived at the vet with it. Fortunately it was excellent semen and it was from an International Grand Champion (Riggo), that was 6 years ago and the first time I bred my Bully girl and it was a success.
After the puppies have been born you can say bye bye to a good nights sleep for weeks to come unless you have someone who can work with you in shifts.
And there comes the part which happens more often than you think...that actually whole litters will die because there are people out there who made it this far, but still hadn't figured out yet that the puppies never stay alone with the mother, not even for a minute. English Bulldogs, although very sweet and loving don't make the best moms, they will end up rolling or stepping on their puppies and therefore killing them. The pups will stay in a temperature controlled bin in between feedings around the clock. This means that every two hours you will have to take the pups out of their bins one at a time and take em to the mom for feeding time. After that you will take em back and then have em do their business, it means tapping on their genitals with a cottonball for them to urinate and massage their bottoms to stimulate bowel movements, sometimes they will have diarrhea or are constipated and will get an enema. They won't go potty on their own until around 3 to 4 weeks of age. Means also the heavier they get the more your left hand will feel the strain from holding them to do their business, around the clock, seven days a week. It also means buying loads of cottonballs and babywipes. I go through a pack of babywipes per day. I also sterilize a ton of white washcloths every other day because I use a couple of cloths on the mom's teats before every single feeding in order to reduce the chance of the puppies getting sick, plus scrub my hands before handling the puppies in order to keep everything as sterile as possible. I have a large load of white towels every day the older the puppies get and before they graduate into their large puppypen. Means you can add a higher electric bill to the endless list of expenses as well. Before I ever started having my first litter I spent countless hours talking to other Breeders, several vets, went through books, videos and of course made sure I stocked up on everything that was needed weeks in advance. My mentor for the past few years, who happens to live just a few miles down the road, and has become a good friend of mine also happens to be a former AKC and UKC judge with decades of experience in raising dogs. Who owns Bulldogs that were mostly imported from European countries and that have no problems gathering ribbons at the show ring over here. This breeder has been of immense help whenever I had a litter and needed some advice, which happened plenty of times. We also spent a many hours talking Bulldogs. Don't claim to know everything there is about this breed, you always learn something new all the time. Just want to give you an idea as to the kind of research and learning I have done so far and it should normally be done by everyone who considers getting into breeding, no matter which animal, but apparently it's not.
Before the pups are born you need to get the right heating lamp and make sure the bin they stay in is large enough so that they can move away from the heatinglamp and heatingpad in case they get too warm. You will also need to buy, or better, build a large enough puppyplaybox where they can spend their time to play in and do their business once they are about 4 weeks of age. At a certain age they need to get slowly weaned from the mom's milk and get used to their solid food, I actually soak their kibbles the entire time they stay with me and feedings are every few hours. I use bedding for them that I order and I haven't counted as to how many I use per litter until they are sold. Each bag costs around $15. Plus a ton of papertowerls, usually end up with a large trashbag full of papertwowerls and their poopy every single day.
Also take into consideration that a puppy may get sick and requires more care for a while, or actually dies, you will have to deal with that too. Had it happen twice so far and it's simply heartbreaking, no matter how many puppies you have raised over the years. The first time it happened I took my 5 day old puppy to the emergency clinic and had surgery done but the heart gave out, which is understandable at such young age, but felt like I should give it a try anyways. One can hope for having a litter where each pup will survive and flourish, but it's not always the case. Something else you have to expect when raising a litter and what expenses may occur on top of everything.
So in conclusion...do you still think that the average price of $2,500 is outrageous for a healthy Bulldog puppy? Maybe not... and if you happen to know anyone who actually is thinking about getting into this business you may want to refer them to this page. It can be very rewarding when you have successfully raised a healthy litter and when you end up getting lots of cute pictures from their new moms and dads over the years, but please do your research and keep in mind that it will take a lot of hard work, ambition and time. It is not something you can do on the side while having a full time job.
Loving, loyal, healthy and intelligent family dogs
& silky soft, colorful Holland Lop Rabbits
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