What does a litter cost to raise?

Here are some typical expenses for a normal, healthy litter of six in an area of the country with moderate tveterinary expenses (they can be as much as double this in some areas). This is assuming a breed with a few common genetic problems, no whelping complications, and is calculated using a moderately priced stud dog who is within driving distance. Not factored into this is the average price for a championship, which at the present time ALL my cocker spaniels  being bred have.  Cost for a championship is $2000-$3500 in addition to the expenses listed below.

Pre-breeding expenses for mother:  

Hip x-rays (for dysplasia)


Eye exam & certification


Brucellosis test (a sexually transmitted disease

1-2 Progesterone tests

$ 50


Thyroid panel


Pre-breeding exam

$ 40

Heartworm & fecal exam

$ 50

DNA test for AKC

$ 40
Breeding expenses:  

Stud fee


2 trips by car to deliver & pick up bitch

$ 75
Pre-whelping expenses:  

Whelping supplies (milk replacer, whelping pads, alcohol wipes, disinfectant, etc)


X-ray and vet checkup for mother during last week

Litter expenses: based on a 6 puppy litter  

Dewclaws removed & vet exam for pups


1st shots & worming - DH-P (6 weeks) $15 per pup

$ 90*

2nd shots & worming - DHL-P

$ 90*

Puppy food & extra for mother during nursing


First dose of heartworm preventative - $10  per puppy

$ 60

Puppy pack (leash, collar, book, etc) - $25 per puppy


Litter registration

$ 65 and up

Extra laundry, electricity, paper towels, etc

$ 50


*This assumes the breeder administers the shots; using a vet for vaccinations would roughly double this cost.

Not included are the "capital expenditures"--whelping box, crates, bottles, pens, puppy scale, thermometer, puppy feeding dishes, heat lamps, heating pads, etc.

Sometimes complications during breeding or whelping can increase the expense of a litter greatly. Artificial insemination, progesterone testing, fertility consultations, Caesarian sections, illness of the bitch or puppies--any of these can double or triple the expenses, not to mention the possible loss of puppies or mother. It's a gamble.


This chart edited for cocker spaniels and reprinted with permission from
TimbreBlue Website