Flashback: 1/2 Million Dollar Dogs?

So as the title states, is it possible dogs costs me a half million dollars of wealth??

The flashback series of posts is geared at presenting some mistakes from my past and putting a value on what they cost me from a long term wealth perspective. This story is a “business” opportunity undertaken with my ex-wife many years ago. As you can probably guess from the picture, we were both dog people and specifically she always loved rottweilers. Well while searching for a puppy at one point we ran across the world of german show and working rottweilers. They are dogs bred to the german standards, one of the biggest differences being that they keep their tails. As we learned more and more about them and how stable they were when well bred, sometimes a concern with this breed, we were hooked.

My ex, we’ll just refer to her as the bain of my existence moving forward (just kidding!), was determined to find the perfect puppy which she then wanted to turn into a show dog. For anyone not familiar, this involves traveling around the country to run the dog in circles and have a judge tell you which one is prettier. Ok, there’s more to it than that, but I was still stuck on paying to travel around the country to show off a dog! Needless to say, she found a breeder online who’s site made his dogs and puppies seem excellent. This is the part where someone mentions, “and everything you read online is true right”! Needless to say, we got the pup and she was a nice dog, but not a show winning dog and ended up being diagnosed with hip problems by the time she was a year old.  So now what is an aspiring show winning dog owner to do? Well you find another puppy to buy of course! But this one will be from a better breeder and then we will win for sure. Did I mention that these high quality puppies cost anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 each?

So here we are a few months later with one dog who has serious health issues and a puppy who is being shown and doing ok, but not winning. Meanwhile, I’m paying vet bills, food bills, travel bills for shows and hearing how the answer to all our problems is to buy better dogs. Maybe adults who are already winners, because then we can breed them and sell the puppies and make the $2,000 per puppy instead of paying it! How could we possibly lose?? This is when things kicked into high gear. My ex didn’t work at the time, so her full time job would become the dogs and going to shows and breeding. We just had to find the best dogs available and it would be a slam dunk. So the search began, looking for a male or two and several female dogs to become our german standard rottweiler breeding kennel. The first male, believe it or not, came from the same kennel where we had bought the now gimpy original puppy. I know, some people just never learn! He was a fine dog for the lowly sum of only $5,000, but he went to shows and guess what, didn’t win either. Clearly, we just weren’t aiming high enough.

We had finally reached the tipping point, I was persuaded by the idea that we could charge stud fees and sell litters of puppies and double our money in a year. This was going to be too good to be true! I was already spending this future income in my mind and it was too late to turn back now right? So we built outdoor runs and kennel buildings to accommodate the new dogs we would be buying. Then set to the task of finding the best. We bought another male, he was $15,000. Then the females started coming…..imported from all over Europe and the United States. Guaranteed winners who would give us many puppies!

Any guesses as to how things went from this point?? I’ll go out on a limb here and say exactly as many of you are probably betting that it would go. The dogs all did well at shows, not winning, but placing pretty high. However, we didn’t have the connections in that world to get people to want to use our male dogs as studs for their litters. By the way, stud dog is basically another way of saying baby daddy. So this meant we weren’t seeing that stream of income. But surely we were having litters of puppies that were more than paying us back right? Uhm………unfortunately that wasn’t happening either. Apparently determining the timing and making this all happen is much more scientific than I would have ever guessed! So about a year later my ex decides this is too much work and we aren’t making any money or winning any shows so she doesn’t want to do it anymore. I was ecstatic!! We were able to find forever homes for all the dogs except 2 which stayed in our home and that was the end of our breeding adventures.

So how did I come to the 1/2 million dollar dogs number? Well this all happened in my early 30’s and cost me in the neighborhood of $100,000 covered by savings and debt. From a conservative standpoint, that $100k would have been worth at least $500k after 20 years in the market assuming I retire early! Little higher than the math you always see if you skip the daily latte. So of course the most important part of any lesson is what did you learn from the experience? In this case, I learned that man’s best friend can take you to the cleaners if you aren’t careful!

Oh, and for those of you who are anti-dog breeding and were screaming at the screen while reading this about how there are so many homeless animals in the world……..I agree and have learned my lesson. That’s why last year I adopted my new best friend Bailey from the local humane society. No hate mail please!

Gen Xer

Author: Gen Xer