A lot has changed for Breeders in the Post-Covid world! It can be overwhelming to navigate all of the changes that are constanting happening. If you need help growing your Breeding Business, keep reading!
Maybe you are trying to figure out how to make breeding profitable. Maybe you’re wondering how to become more than just a hobby breeder. Or maybe you want to learn how to manage the genetic testing that is so important. You've got questions and we've got answers.
I have worked closely with Taylormade Mini Goldens for many years to develop the Mini Golden Retriever. We frequently trade dogs to add diversity to our lines.
I recently met with Michele Taylor of Taylormade Mini Goldens to talk about how she began breeding Mini Goldens and how she grew her business into what it is today. She has been breeding for over 30 years!
If you’d like to watch the interview, follow this link
to the YouTube video. If you’d prefer to read about it, read on!
Michele first got into breeding back in 1989 when her dad got a “mixed breed” dog. She was a golden retriever and cocker spaniel mix. They loved this combination! It was perfect for them because it had the golden retriever look and personality, but the size of a cocker spaniel.
Her friends and family were enchanted by her family's dog. They wanted one for themselves!
Michele decided to breed it with a Golden Retriever. She then sold the puppies to her friends and family. Then, she took a break from breeding as she went to college, got married and began having kids.
Once she was a little more settled she wanted another “Mini Golden” for her family. However, she couldn’t find anyone who was breeding Mini Golden Retrievers. So, about 10 years ago she began to research the breeding process and she became a dog breeder.
She started the Taylormade line and started including English Cream Golden Retrievers into the mix. We are now working to have the breed recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Initially, she bought a Golden Retriever and a Cocker Spaniel to breed to create a Mini Golden for her family. However, once again, many friends and family members began to want one, so she began to plan more and more litters.
How she got into breeding is not unusual, in fact, it may be similar for you. However, the level of success she has reached is far higher than average, so what has she done differently?
Early on in her breeding years Michele began to blog. Every week she would write about the business, her puppies, her family, treat recipes, anything she was learning. This created a following for her blog, her business and most importantly, her puppies. It helped her reach her target market, dog lovers.
The algorithms for blogs have changed in recent years, however, blogs remain an important part of increasing your brand/kennel recognition. If you do not have a blog, it may be time to start looking at starting one. You'll need to consider what things are important to include in your blog, and how to reach the most people.
Most importantly in your blog just share. Share what you do and why your breed, your kennel, your processes are unique. Share your puppies, your family, what led you to start breeding. Share anything that will help people feel like they know and trust you.
Over the past 10 years, the breeding industry has been constantly changing. It can be intimidating to figure out the algorithms now in place. Social media has become a very important part of selling puppies.
Your blog and social media can be intertwined. Social media is just another way for people to get to know you and your puppies.
Be open with people. Share your life and experiences with them. This will help build trust and familiarity.
Another important factor in growing your breeding business is a website.
Michele started out with a basic Wix website which just directed people to her blog. Eventually, a customer offered to develop a website to help her build the brand. This website now receives about 50,000 hits a month!
How does her website generate so much traction? Much of the traffic is organic, she has word of mouth, and there are people interested in the puppies she breeds.
Everyone loves a Golden Retriever, but not everyone can handle the size or shedding of a Standard Golden Retriever. Additionally, she has found that mixing the breeds increases virility in the dogs. Pure bred dogs can often have a high Coeffecient of Inbreeding (COI) so, diluting the gene pool makes a healthier dog.
A common problem right now is for breeders to have trouble selling their puppies. Michele, however, does not have this problem. She attributes her success to her willingness to share everything about what she does.
Michele said, “People want to know how the puppies are being treated, where they’re raised, they want to know who is taking care of them…I am a very open person and so it has kind of come naturally for me, but I open up our family, and what we are doing and we don’t just talk about the dogs, we kind of bring in daily life, how the dogs work with our lives. Problems as well as the fun times. We kind of make it like a whole picture, of not just I’ve got this dog for sale, but we’re kind of selling a lifestyle.”
She also loves to share testimonials, pictures of the dogs as they get older, get togethers with previous customers, etc.
She takes videos at the vet. She shows people how they feed the puppies. And she tries to give people a whole picture so they can envision their life with one of her dogs. This openness also helps people feel more secure with their purchase in a world full of scammers.
Genetic and health testing has also become much more prominent and available for breeders. When you start a dog breeding business it can be expensive. All the health testing and research has to be done up front. This ensures you are getting dogs with good lines and will have healthy puppies.
Not to mention the cost of artificial insemination. AI is frequently necessary for Mini Goldens because of the size difference between the dogs. It can take a while to become profitable!
While it is expensive to breed correctly, we want to ensure that we are creating a better dog for tomorrow. We want to use all of the resources available to us to create the best possible pairings and puppies.
To help with the initial investment in the beginning, Michele used her blog to reach out to people. She would let them know that she was planning a litter and needed x amount of deposits prior to breeding. This helped her to fund everything that went into breeding her dogs and to cash flow her breeding business.
It was so helpful for her early on to have these buyers already in place. The deposit money really helped get the litters on the ground. Over time, she was able to breed more litters and was eventually able to turn a profit instead of breaking even.
Many people are surprised to hear how long it takes for breeders to turn a profit. However, it is actually very expensive to breed if you care about your lines and the health of your puppies. This is why the puppies cost so much.
There are so many more tools for breeders now than there were 30 years ago. The genetic health testing, the OFAs, etc are much more accessible. They can help you be an even better breeder and to breed healthier dogs, but they are very expensive to complete. Because of the expense, it can take breeders years to turn a profit from their breeding business.
However, completing this testing can be life saving for the puppies. You can have two perfectly healthy dogs that both have a recessive gene, for example, exercise induced collapse. This would not manifest in the parents, but, if bred, 25% of their litter would carry two copies of the gene. This could be devastating for the buyers of that 25% of the litter.
By using all of the available resources we can eventually breed these recessive genes completely out of our lines. It is so important to take as much as we have available into account when breeding dogs. This way we can breed the best possible puppies, dogs and companions for our customers.
Are you interested in increasing your website traffic? Stay tuned. I'm interviewing an expert and will post about it soon!