Learn why most breeders use deposits for puppies, and why they are non-refundable in most cases.

Epic Dobermans puppy deposits are non-refundable unless the breeder ends up not having a puppy for the buyer after litter grading & scoring after Week 8 & 9 Grading.

Depending on how far along in your puppy search you are, you may be ready to put down a deposit.

The vast majority of breeders require a deposit and in most cases these deposits are non-refundable. This article is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to deposits, but rather, is meant to help explain why most breeders use deposits and why they are non-refundable.

How much is a deposit?

In a buyer’s puppy search, a deposit typically means that buyers will pay breeders a $500 to $2000 + deposit to reserve a puppy from an upcoming litter. This is just an approximation, of course — the actual amount will vary by breeder and who is being bred. Cost of dogs vary greatly based on many factors.

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. Deposit, by its definition, means a commitment on both sides to the purchase of the new family member. This is a responsibility that should never be taken lightly.

Depending on the breed and breeder, deposits may even be accepted many months in advance of the breeding. 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?

As we explain in What to Expect When Working with a Responsible Breeder, being a responsible dog breeder requires careful planning, a huge time commitment, and major financial investments up front. 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 are ready for the lifelong commitment of getting a puppy. The only thing that matters is the right family for the dog. Finding, selecting, and preparing these new owners takes a large amount of a breeder’s time and energy and in most cases, all needs to be done before the litter ever hits the ground.

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 an around the clock 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.

Why are deposits important?

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, do meet & greets 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. They will have considered things like “Questions to ask yourself before getting a dog,” “7 ways your life will change when you get a dog,” and “What to consider financially when getting a new dog.” Not only does this give new puppy owners time to become educated and informed, but also to make critical preparations for the arrival of a new puppy, such as finding a local veterinarian 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 (as more fully-described in What Actually Goes Into the Cost of a Puppy from a Responsible Breeder). The total cost of responsibly breeding a litter of puppies can range anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000, which includes things like health checks for the female breeding dog, stud services, ear cropping, tail docking, supplies and equipment, extra food and prenatal vitamins, pre- and post-natal veterinary care, registration documents for the new litter, and puppy vet checks and vaccinations.

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, paying extra vet bills, food and compensates the breeder for their own personal time, while also caring for the remaining pups.

Finally, it can be scary and stressful for a breeder to believe all the pups in her litter are committed to great homes, only to find out at the last minute that one of her puppy buyers wants to back out. Suddenly, the breeder is faced with unexpected and time-sensitive demands. Many puppy buyers have a strong preference for younger puppies and so, depending on the timing, the breeder likely needs to find a suitable replacement home quickly. In many cases the dog will need to be sold cheaper as it is now older thus causing a loss to the breeder.  In addition, the remaining puppy requires timely socialization, development, vaccinations and other care that the breeder hadn’t planned for. This unexpected addition of a puppy to the breeder’s family may not be something the breeder is in a position to handle easily – either from a cost, time or logistical perspective. Non-refundable deposits reduce the risk of this happening to a breeder and, if it does, help offset the unexpected expenses.

To summarize, non-refundable deposits help responsible breeders:

Show a serious commitment to purchase & sell on both sides of the transaction.

Select great forever homes in advance for their puppies when breeders have the most time and energy to devote to this important task.

Allow breeders to focus fully on caring for and raising their puppies and dog moms post birth.

Know that their financial and time investment in their puppies, dogs and buyers will be compensated in a timely manner & help pay for all of the upfront expenses.

Avoid scrambling to find homes for and raise unexpected pups.

Ensure the puppies are placed in the right homes that are serious about their investment of a high quality specimen.

Help Breeders off set additional losses for expense that were not planned for as they had a commitment to purchase the puppy.