What is a Deposit? A deposit is a sum of money payable as a first installment on the purchase of something or as a pledge for a contract, the balance being payable later. A deposit for a puppy 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. 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. 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. Not only does this give new puppy owners time to become educated, ask the breeder questions and make preparations for the arrival of a new puppy, such as finding a local veterinarian, groomer 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. 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, possible c-section, equipment, extra food, prenatal vitamins, pre- and post-natal veterinary care, registration documents for the new litter, and puppy vet checks. 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.
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