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Expensive dog breeds: What to know about them and their price tags

April 2, 2019
Expensive dog breeds: What to know about them and their price tags

You have your sights set on a pricey pup, the likes of which could command the attention of crowds at Westminster — or at the very least a solid Instagram fan base.

But how much will a pretty purebred set you back? That price will be at the discretion of the breeder you’re dealing with. But we asked experts familiar with nine expensive dog breeds to share with us an average price range, why the price tags for those breeds may be so high and some of the beloved traits that each of them possess.

Before you throw down a wad of cash for any canine, it’s important to do your research, because the breeder space can be a tricky one to navigate.

“Look for conscientious breeders, even if you have to pay more, but be aware a high price does not always mean a conscientious breeder,” one of the nine experts we spoke with advises. “Be informed. Beware of buying a dog of any breed through Internet shopping only. There are some very convincing websites out there which are complete scams.”

Adds another breeder, “I would encourage people to look for health clearances [from breeders] and go meet the mother [of your puppy], and if you don’t like the mother of those puppies, walk away.”

Read on for a breakdown of nine expensive dog breeds and why they may cost top dollar.

Samoyed

Price range: $2,000 - $3,500

What to know about them:

Bred to herd reindeer, this breed with the beautiful coat has developed a knack for babysitting and pulling smaller sleds.

“Subsequently, the Samoyeds we have today are multipurpose dogs who are highly bonded to their families,” says Cheri Hollenback, president of the Samoyed Club of America. “They are great with children and are happiest when they are fully integrated into the family life.”

These are working dogs who do best when they have a job.

“They are great in agility, rally, conformation, weight pull, sledding (excursion rather than racing — they're not the strongest, nor the fastest of the sled dogs, but they excel at moderate speeds over distances), skijoring, pack hiking and couch potato-ing, if that is what their family is doing,” Hollenback says.

What to know about their price:

“Generally, you can find well-bred dogs from champion parents who've had thorough health testing for between $2,000 to $2,500,” Hollenback says. “The highest I've seen some breeders charge is $3,500 for a very promising show prospect. There is some variation across the country.”

Tibetan mastiff

Price range: Up to $1,500

What to know about them:

The AKC describes these longtime “guardians of the Himalayas” as “powerful,” “muscular” and “massive.” Apart from their imposing appearance, Rebecca Chambliss, secretary of the American Tibetan Mastiff Association, says most people don’t understand their complexity, therefore many of them end up at shelters and with rescues.

“Tibetan mastiffs are a free-thinking, independent breed who do not look to their people for direction,” she says. “This isn’t what most people are looking for in a dog. They are guardians of people and property and can take that job very seriously.”

What to know about their price:

Chambliss says there are more Tibetan mastiffs than there are homes, so they can be found at low cost if you do your research and visit shelters.

“They are free to $500 with most breeders,” she says, noting the Tibetan Mastiff Rescue as a place to look. “Top show dogs might go for $1,500.”

Pharaoh hound

Price range: $1,200 - $3,500

What to know about them:  

Described by Robert Newman, the president of the Pharaoh Hound Club of America, as “intelligent and inquisitive,” this breed is usually “friendly and clownish, though they can be aloof or standoffish with strangers.” Because they are sighthounds, an off-leash Pharaoh hound can literally run for miles — so Newman notes “the Pharaoh hound is NEVER to be trusted off leash in a non-gated or unsecured area” — and no amount of training can break their instinct to hunt or chase something they perceive as prey, he notes. They’re also “very vocal,” so plan for this breed to remind you they’re around.

What to know about their price:

“The biggest price differential will be whether or not the owner is looking for a show quality dog or a companion animal,” says Newman.

He says a non-show quality or pet Pharaoh hound can sell from $1,200 to $1,500, while a show quality Pharaoh hound can generally sell for $2,500 to $3,500.

Rottweiler

Price range: $800 - $5,000

What to know about them:

Originally bred as ranch dogs, this breed has had a lot of gigs throughout history — like police dog and guide dog, the AKC says — because they love to work.

“We have a saying: If you don’t have a job for them, they will come up with their own — and it’s usually not something that you’re going to like,” says Jill Kessler-Miller, who is on the board of directors for the American Rottweiler Club.

That work ethic is definitely something to consider when bringing one home, as is their tendency to guard and their need to be around people.

“When someone has a super busy house with extended family coming and going at all hours, I don’t recommend this breed because they do have that guarding trait in them,” she says. “Do you want a breed that will watch over your children? Then maybe this is the breed, but they still need supervision.”

She also points out that Rottweilers crave attention from their humans.

“They are very emotionally needy,” she says. “Everybody wants to put them outside, but this breed, they just want to be with you all the time. They just want to work alongside you.”

What to know about their price:

The price you’ll pay can depend on where in the U.S. you buy, Kessler-Miller says.

“A pet, not a show/breeding quality dog, I’ve seen those from about $800 to maybe $1,500 or so,” she says. “A lot of that is going to depend on the breeder, and it’s going to depend on the region. Dogs in California can be more expensive than, say, Wisconsin. For a show quality dog or a possible breeding-quality dog, those can run anywhere from, say, $1,800 on up. I have known breeders that will charge into the $3,000 to $5,000 [range] for their puppies.”

She also recommends taking the rescue route, having worked with the Rottweiler Rescue of Los Angeles for more than 30 years, especially if you’re looking for a pet.

Azawakh

Price range: $1,500 - $2,500

What to know about them:

Although they are new to the AKC, having become a recognized breed in January 2019, the Azawakh has roots in ancient Africa.

They are “the only sighthound indigenous to the countries of origin (COO), of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso,” says breeder Deb Kidwell, who is also an educator for the American Azawakh Association. “There, they are a multipurpose hound used for village and flock guarding, hunting and herding.”

She describes them as “excellent watch dogs” and “very devoted to their families” and notes that they like a consistent home atmosphere.

“They don’t change homes easily, so a strong commitment from their owners is important,” Kidwell says. “They are not easy dogs, especially for first-time dog owners. But once the Azawakh and owner are bonded, there is no other bond like it.”

What to know about their price:

The breed’s rarity, the cost of importing breeding stock and the cost of health testing of the dogs are factors that can bring the cost up, Kidwell says.

Löwchen

Price range: $2,000 - $3,000

What to know about them:

You’ll recognize these cuties by their little lion haircuts (hence their name, meaning “little lion” in German). But the chances of you actually spotting one are pretty slim, because they are quite rare.

Enthusiast Jennie Chen, a member of the Löwchen Club of America, says there has been a 20 percent drop in AKC registrations for this breed over the past five years because “there’s just a lot of breeds where the older breeders are aging out and no one is carrying on the torch.” The non-shedding Löwchen certainly has a lot of qualities that are worth top dollar.

“They’re really great for people with allergies,” Chen says. “I would say 99 percent of them are great for sports, if you want [a dog for] obedience or agility. Mine have always been great with kids. They are just so playful and they are very human-oriented.”

What to know about their price:

If you do your research and find a reputable breeder, you’ll get more for your money.

“Really what you’re getting when you go through a great breeder, you’re getting that constant support for life,” says Chen. “So I’m there for all the puppies I place, forever. They can call me, day and night. So for $2,500, that’s not a lot of money.”

An ethical breeder will spend money on their breeding dogs to ensure they are healthy.

“That’s what breeders who are responsible will do; they’ll look at the health guidelines [for that breed], get those [health] certifications before they breed the dogs,” Chen says. “And that’s what you’re paying for really, that peace of mind.”

Greater Swiss mountain dog

Price range: $2,500 - $3,000

What to know about them:

“Goofy,” that’s the best word to describe these dogs, which the AKC says descended from war dogs in the Swiss Alps. Chen, a member of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America, also says they are versatile, all-purpose farm dogs.

“If you want to go hiking, they’ll do that,” she says. “If you want to sit on the couch, they’ll also do that. They are very bonded to the family. This is not a dog that will run away. The dog will go outside and pee and then wonder where you are. They are not yard dogs at all. They are alarm barkers, so if you don’t like barking, it might not be the breed for you. If they feel something is wrong, they will let you know.”

What to know about their price:

Chen says these dogs will cost more because they are extremely difficult to breed and can require C-sections.

Additionally, she notes that prices are high if you have to fly a dog to an owner or if you have to ship semen for breeding and do progesterone testing. (That can cost $100 each time, she says, and there can be between five and 10 tests if you have a litter of puppies.)

English bulldog

Price range: $2,500 - $10,000

What to know about them:

Who could forget a face like this? It’s no wonder that the bulldog’s memorable mug has become a symbol of pluck and determination across the world.

They’re “truly an amazing addition to the right home,” says Annette Nobles, communications/media chairperson for the Bulldog Club of America. “Bulldogs are popular, in part, because of their amiability to humans, to other dogs and to cats. They love to be with their people and usually have a smile.”

Originating in England, where they were originally bred for sport, the bulldog has become more known nowadays for their friendly nature and roly-poly physique.

“Although they need exercise, they only need a moderate amount, an amount that most homes today can easily give,” Nobles says. “With its appealingly wrinkled face, kind and gentle disposition and widespread popularity, the bulldog has achieved an established place in the hearts of many pet parents.”

What to know about their price:

“Conscientious breeders look at many factors when planning a breeding — pedigrees and health being foremost,” Nobles says in regard to their price, which will be higher if you’re looking for a show-quality dog. “With the ability in today’s world to breed to lines throughout the country, the cost of producing a litter can become quite prohibitive. Some expenses are progesterone testing to determine ovulation, stud fees, shipping costs for lab work and semen and possible C-sections.”

German shepherd

Price range: $1,500 - $10,000

What to know about them:

Originally descended from herding dogs in Germany, this breed has really become a jack of all trades.

“I think the German shepherd is labeled the most versatile breed of any dog because they do so many different aspects,” says Chris Kimerer, president of the German Shepherd Club of Greater Kansas City, who has been involved with the breed for over 30 years. “So they can be a city dweller, [or] they can be out on a ranch/farm. They’re just very smart dogs. They want to please their owner at whatever cost. They are one of the most loyal breeds.”

When people look at the shepherd, many are looking for two things.

“I think health clearances and basic temperament are the top two issues,” she says. “People don’t want something overly aggressive because they don’t want a liability on their hands. The German shepherd is considered a power breed as it is. When people call me and I ask them what are you looking for in a dog? They want a good companion dog that they can trust that’s trainable. The German shepherd is highly trainable.”

What to know about their price:

People purchasing this breed on the east or west coast could pay more than, say, someone in the Midwest.

“I’m in the Midwest, [where] you can get a very nice quality companion dog for an average of $1,500,” she says. “Some of your more specific dogs, sport dogs, which are more your working line dogs, they do start higher. They usually start about $2,500 and go up.”

For a show-quality dog, the price will definitely rise.

“You can easily say between $5,000 and $10,000 — that is what some people are paying but that is not the norm,” Kimerer says. “Most of those dogs that run in that kind of money bracket are either just solid sport dogs in their pedigree and usually they’re older. They have health clearances already.”

Read next: The top 10 biggest dog breeds

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