passim border collies

Everything a dog should be.

Choosing a pup. 

How much should a pup cost ?  If you are just asking about cost - click here.

This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions, and the answer is similar to that for 'how long is a piece of string' ? There is no simple answer, it all depends on a number of different factors, so here I will try to explain why prices can be so variable, and why you need to base the choice of pup, on what you eventually hope to get back from it, and not just on price.  

Breeders come in all shapes and sizes, from the pet owner who 'just wants a litter for the kids', or to fund their next holiday, and who has no idea about the health tests that can be done to prevent serious health conditions in the pups they produce, and has no knowledge of pedigrees, so will just use the dog up the road as father - even if he is related closely to their bitch or has some underlying problem, right up to the breeder who is consistently breeding pups that go on to win championship titles in their chosen sport, has had every available health test done and will travel, often 100's of miles, to find a suitable dog to father the pups.

So - what do you hope to do with your pup ?


 Do you want it to work sheep or other farm stock ?


If so a pup from stock working lines will be your best bet, most stock men breed their dogs specifically to work stock and nothing else, they often don't worry much about health tests, or how the pup will end up looking as an adult - so long as it has a strong desire to work.  These pups are often not suitable as pets, as the strong inbuilt desire to herd anything that moves can mean they will herd up people too, and can become nippy and frustrated if their overwhelming desire to work is not allowed to find release. They can be strong willed, as they are often needed to work out of sight of their handlers, and so need to be able to make their own decisions. The pups may  not end up looking quite how you had imagined either, and some may go on to develop problems that could have been avoided if the parents had been health tested. They may seem a cheaper option in the first place, but I personally would not recommend a pup from stock working lines unless you have a job of work for it to do.

Do you want to do agility, Obedience or flyball ?

For this you will want a pup from lines that have shown they consistently produce dogs that do well in these fields. Pups will normally be active, keen to play and pay attention to what is going on around them, they need to remain focused on their handler and pay attention to all commands most that turn out to be successful in these fields would also most likely be able to be easily trained to work stock, they will have a good work drive and need to be kept very busy, but should hopefully not have the sharpness and obsessive desire to herd that you can find in a stock bred dog. The will normally have an 'off' switch and are biddable and can make good companions for very active families. Most should have had, at the very least, the most common health tests done on parents. A lot will have had all available test done.

Do you want to show in the breed ring (beauty) ?

This will most likely be your most expensive option. While it is possible to find a show winning pup from any kind of litter, most successful show dogs are produced by breeders who have spent almost every waking hour studying pedigrees, evaluating stud dogs that can improve their bitches, traveling sometimes out of their home country to find a suitable mate, and spent a small fortune showing their own dogs, thus proving they are actually producing pups that are very likely going to go on to win in the show ring.  

It is still possible to have pups from these lines go on to be successful in other dog sports, or to be successful stock workers, but as show dogs are often required to spend large parts of their day when at a show, sat with their owner or on a bench, and then be calm and stand relatively still while they are actually in the show ring, a lot will be bred with calmer temperaments in mind. As not all pups in every litter will go on to become show champions, there will often be pups from these lines that due to minor cosmetic 'show' faults are not suitable to show, but can become excellent family companions, but don't be fooled into thinking they will fine left to their own devices all day - they are still border collies, and require training and regular exercise, they are not couch potatoes, but can be the most suitable choice for an active family wanting a companion dog. Most parents will have had all available health tests.  

So, first decide what you want from your pup, and then start looking for breeders most likely to be able to suit your needs. Most of all talk to your breeder - they will, or should, know better than anyone how each pup is likely to end up - which pups are best suited to working homes, which should be better around children, it is fine to have a preference for colour, markings or sex, but  temperament and suitability for your needs are far more important.  If your breeder tries to tell you that all pups in the litter will be perfect for whatever you want to do with them - walk away ! There is no such litter as a generic 'one size fits all' litter.


The following table just gives the 'average' costs involved in producing a litter. This is assuming that the breeder is keeping the bitch for their own pleasure, either to compete with or as a companion, so I will not take into consideration the lifetime costs of keeping her - food, vet bills etc.  Although I am sure that 'puppy farmers' would include these costs. We are just looking at the basic approximate average costs to produce your pup. We will assume that 6 pups will be born, which is an average size litter. We will also assume that it will be a normal birth - a C section will greatly increase costs. Some breeders will want more of a 'profit' on their litter, while others are happy to accept a little less. Some will use their own dog to father the litter, and some may be happy to re-use items such as whelping beds toys etc. This is just an average guide - not a rock solid price list for every litter bred.

Health tests for bitch

These consist of a number of DNA tests, hearing test, hip scoring, eye testing etc.

Most are only done once in her life time, but some, eye tests for example will be repeated annually.  

Rounding down

£1000 +

Stud fee

This fee can vary, depending on how well the sire has done in his own particular field, and how well his offspring have done. So again, just an average price. Not including travel.


Pregnancy scan.

Again this can vary, from £20 from a private scanner specialising in the field to £80 from a vet. So we will take an average.


Whelping bed

Again there is a huge variety to choose from,  or some may make their own, but as an average cost, including new vetbed puppy blanket etc.


Puppy food

Feeding regimes vary greatly, as do prices, but assuming we are feeding a complete puppy food, 6 pups would require at least 3 sacks @ approx. £40 per sack.



Again prices vary so will put the cost of the wormer I use.


Toys etc

Pups need a lot of stimulation, again prices vary, so just a rough estimate


Micro chip

Approx. £20 per pup


KC registration

Currently £16 per pup but liable to increase


Labour costs

This is the one thing most buyers do not consider.  While you would not expect any other producer to work for free, breeders producing a litter of pups are often not considered when it comes to adding up costs. They are available and working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a minimum of 8 weeks. So as a very minimum should be allowed to expect minimum wage for a 56 hour week for 8 weeks. 448 hours @ £8.72 .



So this is the very minimum cost of the litter - not including any extras for sleepless nights, hours discussing pups with would be owners, puppy packs to give with pups to new owners, insurance, vaccinations if given, or costs incurred traveling to visit the stud dog. Hours spent planning everything, extra electricity for heating for the pups, or  re-decorating once the pups have finally left the property !



Costs/Price per pup


As with most things, you get what you pay for - if you want to get a well bred, well reared pup from a caring breeder, this is what you will be paying for.