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Why are Bulldogs so Expensive?

Editor’s note: This is a topic very close to our hearts here at Sweetgrass English Bulldogs. We want to be sure everyone knows the time, love, care, patience, and money that’s required to breed these majestic creatures..

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the cost of bulldogs. From a reputable breeder, English Bulldog puppies can range anywhere from $2,000-$20,000 – which makes some prospective owners stop dead in their tracks.

Is this breeder serious right now?!”

“They’re trying to rip me off”

“There’s no reason why a dog should cost that much”

We’re here to explain a few of the things that most reputable breeders must go through just to be able to have a litter. This is not an expansive or all-encompassing list, because of course, emergencies do happen.

It’s also important to note that these are the steps taken by reputable breeders – there are plenty of “puppy mills” and “backyard breeders” that don’t always do what is required to maintain a healthy pregnancy. These dogs are often bred without the proper research, due diligence, or AKC certification - and the owners are just looking to make a quick buck. Always be careful of buying an English Bulldog from a pet store – these often come from breeders who aren’t reputable, and you can expect loads of health issues with puppies from a pet store.

Sweetgrass English Bulldogs does not sell puppies to pet stores, puppy mills, or backyard breeders. We do extensive interviews with potential owners to ensure our puppies are going to the most suitable homes possible.

First thing, your breeder must purchase a breeding dog from somewhere. For you to have a puppy, your breeder will need to purchase a puppy and spend their time, money, energy, and resources to raise this dog with the understanding it will be used for breeding. (At Sweetgrass English Bulldogs, our breeding males and females get the run of the house!) Sometimes, the breeder will buy a puppy, and the dog ends up not being up to breeding standards or is unable to become pregnant. If this happens, your breeder is already out anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 on the cost of the dog itself.

But let’s assume the first dog they purchase is the dog they will use for breeding. For a quality bloodline from a reputable breeder, Standard English Bulldogs (fawn/white, white, brindle, etc.) range from $2,000-$4,000 per dog. Fancy English Bulldogs (merle, chocolate, blue, etc.) range from $4,000-$20,000 per dog. Your breeder has already invested this much just to have a breed-worthy dam.

Your breeder has raised that puppy from adolescence to adulthood, which is an unknown amount money spent on food, vet bills, puppy pads, etc… not to mention time. Most of these are typical costs associated with raising a dog, but a good, reputable, breeder will go above and beyond this standard.

A breeding female might need health/genetic/color testing in order to pass the results on to prospective litter owners. These tests range from $80 - $300 each. Some breeders hire a professional photographer to take pictures of their dams for their website and/or Instagram/Facebook pages. For this type of work, a photographer can charge anywhere from $150 - $500 per session.

Fast forward to when the breeding female grows up and is just over 1 year old. She’s already had one (if not two) heats and she’s fully developed to where the breeder feels confident in her health and she can carry a litter. Here’s where the time and expenses really start to add up.

Sample Progesterone Testing Results

Once the breeding female goes into the heat which she will be bred from, she will undergo multiple rounds of progesterone testing to determine the time in her cycle in which she is the most fertile. Most breeders will have this testing done at their vet’s office, and testing ranges from $70 - $150 per session, with each heat needing anywhere from 3-10 sessions. She’ll also need pre-breeding health testing to ensure she’s healthy enough to carry a litter to full term. Veterinarians can charge anywhere from $75 - $200 for a proper, pre-breeding health screen.

Remember: Bulldogs can’t naturally mate because the male can’t physically mount the female. So with reputable English Bulldog breeders, there’s never a “let’s leave the male and female alone in a room and see what happens.” All breeding’s happen by either 1) artificial insemination [known as AI], or 2) surgical insemination [known as SI].

The breeding female, after having her multiple rounds of progesterone testing, has been determined to be at the peak of her cycle and is ready for insemination!

Artificial insemination can run anywhere from $100 – $300 per attempt, depending on the veterinarian. Surgical insemination, on average and depending on location and veterinarian, can put the breeder back $200 - $500 per attempt. This doesn’t include extra fees for holiday, weekend, or after-hours insemination, and this doesn’t include the actual cost of the sperm!

From a reputable breeder with an AKC registered male, a stud fee can range anywhere from $500 - $4500. That doesn’t always include shipping, either. Add up the fees to inseminate the female, the fees for the sperm to be shipped, and the fees for the actual sperm – your breeder already has a good amount of money invested before the pregnancy is even confirmed.

Some breeders will do both an AI and an SI on their females to have the highest possible chance of pregnancy. There are often times where the breeder has gotten to this point and the female does not take – so the process is either repeated with new sperm, or the female is not bred and the breeder will have to start the whole process over with a new dog.

For this explanation, let’s assume the female took on her first attempt, and she’s pregnant!

The breeder now has 62 days from the female’s ovulation date to get their home ready for a litter. This requires a lot of time and supplies – puppy food/milk, blankets, heat lamps/pads, incubators, wipes, pads, etc. All of these things cost money for the breeder, not including the extra time and care for the pregnant female.

Around day 50 of pregnancy, the breeder can go back to their vet and perform an x-ray or ultrasound (ultrasounds normally occur usually sooner than day 50) to confirm the pregnancy

Sample X-Ray (Pregnant Female Canine)

and the number of puppies the female anticipates having. X-rays can range from $50-$200 per visit depending on the vet. Ultrasounds can range from $300 - $500, and some breeders will do both an ultrasound and x-ray.

Between day 50 and day 62 is when the breeder must be ultra-vigilant with their pregnant female. Temperatures must be taken multiple times a day to ensure she’s not having early contractions. Early contractions mean early birth, and it’s critical for development that puppies stay in the mother as close to the 62-day mark as possible. Early birth also means an emergency trip to the vet’s office, and that means extra fees, and extra stress to the mother.

English Bulldogs are discouraged from having puppies naturally due to their small birth canal, large heads at birth, and issues during the birth process. 90% of breeders chose to deliver puppies via cesarean section (c-section) as to not cause undue harm or stress to the mother and babies. During normal business hours (and you’d be surprised how many mommas decide to have puppies on a Sunday evening or holiday!), a c-section can range from $500 - $1,000, plus anesthesia, recovery meds, etc.

Let’s take a quick break and add up some our expenses so far:

Female to Breed: $2,000 - $20,000

Tests: $80 - $300

Photography: $150 - $500

Progesterone Testing: $70 - $150 (x 3-10 sessions)

Pre-Pregnancy Health Testing: $75 - $200

Stud Fee: $500 - $4,500

AI (Artificial Insemination): $100 - $300

SI (Surgical Insemination): $200 – $500

X-Ray / Ultrasounds: $50 - $500 C-Section: $500 - $1,000

TOTAL: $3,725 - $27,950!

Remember: This doesn’t include supplies, food, vaccines, routine care, whelping materials, emergencies, multiple progesterone tests, etc. This is just for the pregnancy ALONE!

Starting to make sense now?

Now, the breeder has a basket full of newborn puppies and is ready to take them home. The average size of an English Bulldog litter is 4 puppies, but we have personally known females who have had up to 12 puppies in one single litter!

Newborn English Bulldog Puppies

From the time those puppies are taken home until they are about 2-2.5 weeks old, the breeder must assist the mother in feeding the puppies every 2 hours. Yes, newborn English Bulldog puppies should be fed every two hours for the first 2-2.5 weeks of their life!!


English Bulldog puppies cannot be left alone with their mother for several reasons – most importantly, the mother’s large stature makes it very easy for her to roll over onto her puppies. This means the breeder must be personally involved to supervise each 2-hour feeding. After those first 2 weeks, the feedings can be gradually spaced out to a more reasonable schedule, but a reputable breeder will continue to oversee the feeding process until they are weaned from their mother’s milk. But most breeders don’t sleep for the first two weeks if they are whelping their puppies themselves.

The amount of time and care the breeder must put in to ensure English Bulldog puppies grow and flourish is mind-blowing. This breed requires constant, round-the-clock care from the time the puppies are born until they are close to 6 weeks old – much more time and care than most other breeds that can mate, birth, and whelp their puppies naturally!

English Bulldog Mom & Offspring

Reputable breeders also pay fees to the AKC to register the litter - $25 for the litter, plus $2 per puppy. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s just another figure to add into the total of what breeders pay to produce English Bulldogs.

To summarize, English Bulldogs are one of the most time-consuming and expensive dogs to breed. The amount of time, care, and money a reputable breeder has invested into each litter is much higher than other canine breeds – and the price for a quality dog reflects this high level of time, care, and investment. You should be extremely cautious if you see available puppies that are lower than the average price. There is a good chance the puppies do not come from a healthy line, are not registered, or the breeder has not taken the proper financial steps to ensure the mother is healthy and well-cared for.

A reputable breeder will be available to answer your questions and provide you with further information on the breed and their line. Reputable breeders are open, honest, and transparent on the good and bad qualities of their bulldogs.

Questions? Comments? Further points to add?


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