Depending on how far along in your puppy search you are, you may be ready to put down a deposit for a puppy. The vast majority of breeders require a deposit and often these deposits are non-refundable. This article is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to deposits, but rather, is meant to help explain why most breeders use deposits and why many are non-refundable.
What is a Deposit?In a buyer’s puppy search, a deposit typically means that buyers will pay breeders a $200 to $500 deposit, though this amount will vary by breeder, to reserve a puppy from an upcoming litter. Deposits should be given by a buyer in good faith, which means the buyer is serious in his or her commitment to purchase a puppy from that breeder.
Many breeders require deposits to hold a reservation for a puppy prior to a new litter’s arrival or after puppies are born. Depending upon the breed and breeder, deposits may even be accepted many months in advance of the breeding. It is important for potential puppy owners to understand why breeders require deposits and why those deposits are often non-refundable, in addition to understanding the specifics of each breeder’s deposit policy when they choose a breeder and a breeding program.
Why Do Breeders Often Require Non-Refundable Deposits?There are a number of reasons why many breeders require non-refundable deposits.
As we explain in What to Expect When Working with a Responsible Breeder, being a responsible dog breeder requires careful planning, a huge time commitment, and major financial investments. Non-refundable deposits support breeders with all of these things.
It is of the utmost importance to breeders that they place their puppies with new owners who have been screened, educated, and are ready for the lifelong commitment of getting a puppy. Finding, selecting and preparing these new owners takes a large amount of a breeder’s time and energy. One of the most difficult times for breeders to do this screening is around the same time as the birth of the pups. Prior to the birth, breeders are often on call, waiting with and supporting the pregnant mom. Once the litter arrives, many breeders stay with the litter 24/7, as a second mom to the pups and a nurse to the dog mom. Puppies are born unable to hear or open their eyes and are entirely dependent on both their dog mom and breeder. This neonatal period can be particularly anxiety-inducing as the pups’ health and weight need to be monitored daily. It’s not uncommon for a pup to require feeding from the breeder (in addition to feeding from the pup’s dog mom) in order to survive this critical time. All of this means sleepless and stressful days and nights delivering and caring for the new family.
After the pups’ eyes and ears open, breeders are fully focused on the demanding and costly task of providing for the health and development of their litter, including socializing, training, feeding, providing vet care for, and potty training an entire litter of puppies and caring for their mom! Additionally, many breeders use this time to evaluate their pups, share regular updates with their waitlist, and work with the folks on their waitlist to determine which puppy will make a good match for each puppy applicant in order to ensure that a puppy’s new home will be a forever home.
As you can see, it’s essential that breeders are able to give new litters and their moms their full attention, making this a difficult time to review puppy applications, interview potential puppy buyers, and select suitable homes for their pups. Many breeders prefer to have many, if not all, of their pups committed to prior to or soon after the pups’ arrival and so accept non-refundable deposits in advance to ensure this.
Advanced deposits also give new owners sufficient time to prepare for the commitment of getting a dog. They will have considered things like “Questions to ask yourself before getting a dog,” “7 ways your life will change when you get a dog,” and “What to consider financially when getting a new dog.” Not only does this give new puppy owners time to become educated and informed, but also to make critical preparations for the arrival of a new puppy, such as finding a local veterinarian and purchasing essentials for the new pup. This preparation time is enormously valuable in helping to ensure a smooth transition for the pup to his or her new home and in setting a new puppy owner and pup up for success.
Thus it is in everyone’s best interest – the breeder, the potential puppy owner, and, most importantly, the dog – that breeders are not rushing to find homes for their pups while trying to raise a litter of newborn puppies.
Being a responsible breeder takes a great deal of money, energy, and time. Expenses for a litter add up quickly (as more fully-described in What Actually Goes Into the Cost of a Puppy from a Responsible Breeder). The total cost of responsibly breeding a litter of puppies can range anywhere from $7,700 to $23,900, which includes things like health checks for the female breeding dog, stud services, supplies and equipment, extra food and prenatal vitamins, pre- and post-natal veterinary care, registration documents for the new litter, and puppy vet checks and vaccinations. Breeders make these financial investments before new owners pay for their pups – meaning, breeders make these large investments out of their own pocket, relying on the fact that they will be compensated when the pups go to their new homes and they receive the agreed-upon purchase price of the dog from the new owners. Non-refundable deposits assure breeders that they have buyers for their beloved pups, protect these investments in time and money, and in some cases, may help cover these upfront costs for breeders. Non-refundable deposits also serve as a screening tool for breeders to use when evaluating potential puppy buyers. Payment of a non-refundable deposit indicates to a breeder that a potential buyer is serious and not just “window-shopping,” putting their names down on a waitlist or multiple waitlists without any intention of actually getting a puppy. Buyers who are willing to pay non-refundable deposits are typically buyers who believe they have found the right breeder for them and are committed to following through with purchasing a puppy. This means that non-refundable deposits protect breeders from a situation where a buyer backs out after a litter is born and a breeder must then dedicate unexpected time and energy finding new homes, while also caring for the remaining pups.
Finally, it can be scary and stressful for a breeder to believe all the pups in her litter are committed to great homes, only to find out at the last minute that one of her puppy buyers has backed out. Suddenly, the breeder is faced with unexpected and time-sensitive demands. Many puppy buyers have a strong preference for younger puppies and so, depending on the timing, the breeder likely needs to find a suitable replacement home quickly. In addition, the remaining puppy requires timely socialization, development, vaccinations and other care that the breeder hadn’t planned for. This unexpected addition of a puppy to the breeder’s family may not be something the breeder is in a position to handle easily – either from a cost, time or logistical perspective. Non-refundable deposits reduce the risk of this happening to a breeder and, if it does, help offset the unexpected expenses.
As you can see, non-refundable deposits help breeders:
Given these uncertainties and because most puppy buyers have sex and color preferences for a new pup, breeders are unable to guarantee in advance how many applicants on their waitlist will receive puppies from any given litter. This uncertainty can be frustrating for puppy buyers, particularly if buyers have to wait longer than expected to take a new pup home. To ensure that buyers have realistic expectations when it comes to getting a new pup, it is incredibly important for them to understand exactly what a breeder’s deposit policy covers before deciding to make a commitment to work with a breeder.
Each breeder will have his or her own policy on deposits, but it is important that the terms of a deposit be clearly explained, ideally in writing, at or prior to the time the deposit is paid. Good Dog’s payment system, the first ever secure online payment system built specifically for breeders, can help with this, by ensuring that a breeder’s deposit policy is presented to puppy buyers when they pay, automatically recording it for both breeders and buyers to refer back to in the future and sending both parties a receipt for the deposit payment.
No matter the method through which a breeder communicates the deposit policy, whether through a deposit agreement, pet purchase agreement, Good Dog’s payment system, or invoice, what is most important is that both breeder and puppy buyer understand exactly what the deposit covers before any money is exchanged.
So, looking at customer requests .... the thing most people want is a "cream" French Bulldog. The 1st thing I ask them to do is define cream. There is a fine line between cream and fawn coloring in the French Bulldog world (it really just depends on your point of view). Some people insist they can tell a cream from a fawn, some people think that all my dogs are cream, some people think all fawns require a mask. It is hard for people to realize that all my dogs are "ee". The past year or so I have started telling people my dogs are technically ee, this means they can be anything from almost pure white to a deep red color, they all have the same genetic label! Dogs with a fawn mask have an extra "m" added to their locus. Here is a direct excerpt from Embark, please note the underlined sentences as they pertain to my dogs:
----- "The E allele provides the ability to make eumelanin in the coat and is dominant to the e allele (recessive red). Dogs that are EE or Ee can produce dark (black, brown, blue, isabella) hairs, but their distribution will be dependent on the genotypes at the K and A loci. Dogs that are ee (recessive red) will not produce any dark hairs regardless of their genotype at the K, A, B, and D loci. (Interestingly, you can usually tell what their genotype is at the B and D loci by the color of their nose.) The shade of red of their coat can range from a deep copper like the Irish Setter, to yellow like a Labrador Retriever, to the white of Samoyeds. This variation in red color intensity is controlled by multiple genetic loci and has different genetic determinants in different breeds. Embark is working on defining the genetics behind red color intensity, and you can help by providing high-quality images of your ee dogs within their profiles." ----
Looking at the 3 photos below you would think those are 3 different colored Frenchies, but technically they are all "cream" or ee. As Embark mentions in their quote someday they will probably have the technology to determine the color intensity, but for now they are all just "ee" or "yellow". None of my dogs carry an "E" or "m", all my dogs (with the exception of my 2 brindle girls) can and will ONLY produce "ee" dogs.
Credit for this writing goes to Jennifer Grommes!
We have all heard it. Many groups advocate only rescuing and never purchasing a pet. This can actually be very harmful to the cause. Yes. I agree that puppy mills are awful and need to be shut down. I agree that a pet store should not be selling puppies under the false pretenses that they come from “breeders”. Even though I believe these things, I do not agree with the “adopt don’t shop” slogan. Let me explain.
Rescuers are the most amazing people in the dog world. They spend their nights and weekends transporting pets from dire conditions and lining up foster homes and shelters that have the space to take them. They spend hours screening adoption paperwork and interviewing potential owners for the pets in their care, trying to find the perfect home on the first try. We commend them for their efforts at saving these unwanted pets and changing their lives forever. This is not an article about you, you are heroes and I commend you immensely.
On the other side, how many of you personally know a dog breeder? Dog breeders spend hours checking bloodlines in order to decrease genetic abnormalities in their lineage. They look for a dog with the right personality for becoming a sire to future litters. They spend weekends driving across the country to dog shows to show their dog against other dogs of the same breed, trying to earn the title of best in breed, which means best genetic specimen. They have their dog’s hips, elbows, and eyes screens for genetic abnormalities and if they exist, that dog is no longer considered for breeding. That dog is then either placed in a forever home, or kept as a pet with the breeder.
Before a litter is conceived countless thousands of dollars have been spent on these dogs. How about the amount of time invested in a litter of puppies. Breeders are there for the births, and if any complications arise they do not hesitate to intervene if necessary. Sometimes there are so many puppies that to ensure they all remain healthy a breeder will stay up all night rotating the pups onto mom for nursing so everyone gets an adequate meal. As the pups get old enough, the time comes to select homes for the puppies. Similar to how rescues search through adoption applications for the perfect dog, breeders are doing the same. Many make potential buyers sign paperwork ensuring if anything causes them to be unable to keep the dog, it will be returned to the breeder. Breeders also many times sell their puppies with a spay/neuter contract unless it is being sold for the purpose of future showing/breeding. By the time a puppy is purchased, the price will never come close to the amount of time and hours invested in that puppy, but that isn’t why people breed.
Breeders want to ensure the integrity of their breed, and also help make the breed even stronger. Many breeders even donate samples after a dog passes for genetic testing. They spend hours reading research and analyzing new treatments for their breed. They many times can tell a vet what kinds of anesthetic will be the safest, that certain food ingredients are known to trigger allergies, and a certain antibiotic could cause reactions. They know their breed many times more thoroughly than the veterinarian treating them.
Many breeders also rescue. They will take in a dog from a shelter that is not one of theirs, but one of their breed. They will do their best to find this dog a forever home while still carrying on the rest of their breeder duties.
For this breeders get attacked from groups like PETA and rescues saying they are the culprits for so many shelter dogs. People who adopt a wonderful pet from a breeder are treated like pond scum for not rescuing a dog instead. People associate breeders with puppy mills because the line has been blurred. When pet shops would tell people that their dogs came from breeders many people associate all breeders with puppy mills. Ever seen a truckload of puppies come in? Cages stacked on cages in the back of a semi with no air or heat, no water all different breeds? No breeder would allow that to happen to their dog.
When the slogan “adopt don’t shop” is used, it is basically saying that the only dog worth having is a mixed breed. It is stating that pure breeds do not deserve to be loved. Breeders are not why shelters are full. Negligent owners are the reason shelters are full. Humans who have a dog but cannot afford to get it fixed or spayed, which leads to unwanted puppies. Humans who get a dog and find it not to fit into their lives anymore and choose to get rid of it are the problem. I believe adopting and fostering is an important service, and it is why I have done both. I have also bought a pure bred dog from breeders. Those dogs came with contracts, they came under spay/neuter rules, and a lifetime return rider. If I for any reason could not have kept those dogs, they would have never gone to a shelter, they would have gone back to the breeder.
When I first adopted my current dog, she looked like a yellow lab pup. People would ask me where I got her, and as soon as I said my friend rescued the mom and raised the litter, they would all say “good. That’s how it should be.” No. No it shouldn’t. The mother should have been spayed. She should have never ended up wandering the streets without a home. I love my dog, but her situation should have never happened. If we did a better job at screening people who get dogs, these things wouldn’t happen. By this I mean through responsible breeding and rescuing. The slogan should never say ”adopt don’t shop”, it should be “Adopt and shop responsibly”. Pure bred dogs are not the villains. All my pure bred dogs were amazing companions to the rescue and foster dogs and cats I have helped along the way. My rottie helped raise a sick pitbull pup with severe separation anxiety, and my berner friended multiple fosters and rescues during his life.
Stop judging people because they bought a puppy when an older dog needs a home, because that puppy also needed a home. Stop judging the person who got a pure bred when a foster needs a home, they are not the ones who created the situation that placed dogs in a shelter. Maybe they tried to adopt from a shelter but the shelter decided they were not a suitable home even though they will be amazing dog parents. Many shelters have strict guidelines, and after being turned down by a shelter many people then decide to go through a breeder who has a different set of criteria they are looking for in a home for their pups. I personally have been turned down by rescues and shelters due to my lack of yard because I live in a condo, but every single one of my dogs has lived an amazing full life, never been left outside alone.
One of my biggest pet peeves is to tell breeders to stop breeding because the shelters are full, because that is not the answer. Shutting down non reputable breeders is the answer. This can be done by shopping smarter when looking for a pet, and enforcing more laws to ensure pets are taken care of better. Working to educate people where most pet shop dogs come from, making sure they are finding registered breeders instead of someone making a buck from the pair of dogs they bought. During Westminster this year I kept seeing on social media that we should watch the rescue show instead, and of course adopt don’t shop. Not one person represented at the Westminster show is responsible for the overflowing shelters and rescues in this country.
Stop vilifying the people who spend more hours a day working to combat puppy mills and pet overpopulation then you will spend in an entire year. There needs to be balance, shelters and rescues need to work with breeders, not against them. It is us as consumers responsibility to adopt smarter. If going through a breeder, ask to see the facility your pup is coming from, ask detailed questions about the bloodlines and genetic guarantees. A good breeder will be happy to show you their kennel, answer your questions, explain breed personalities, etc. My breeder let me come play with the litter of pups at 6 weeks even though I wasn’t allowed to bring him home until 8 weeks. I sat in the room with 9 berner puppies for an hour. It was heaven. The room was clean, and organized, and the puppies were well socialized, and I met mom and dad and even a few cousins. She also showed me the entire bloodline back 9 generations. This is who you get a dog from if you want a pure bred dog. Not a guy who wants to meet at the supermarket and won’t show you the parents, just pictures. Adopt and shop responsibly.