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My First Bird Dog – Rationalizing the Sticker Shock

"My First Bird Dog" follows a pheasant hunter's journey into bird dog ownership.

After being stuck between two litters, I just received word the one I ultimately selected entered the world over the weekend and everyone is happy and healthy (well, I assume they’re happy). I’ll be picking up a female puppy and introducing it to you around Christmas time (anticipate the ubiquitous puppy in bow under the tree photo).

While I’d like to coast through the next two months, there is business to tend to. The business end of a bird dog may be its nose, but the business end of getting that dog is your hand as you hand over your hard earned cash. Anyone purchasing a bird dog these days can easily expect to pay high three or even well into four figures. That’s a lot of puppy chow before the puppy chow!

I’m finding it rather helpful to liken the purchase of a bird dog to that of an automobile, an association I had ample time to correlate a couple weeks ago as I sat on the side of the road in my broken down truck waiting for a ride, a tow and a hefty repair bill: Like any vehicle, the care and lifetime maintenance of a dog – food, veterinary care, gear, general “spoiling” of your new family member – will far outweigh the initial sticker price and subsequent shock. One recent estimate from a pet insurance company estimates the lifetime cost of owning a dog today is approximately $17,000. An average puppy purchase price equates to just four to six percent of that cost.

We don’t have to like the sticker prices, but this is a way to put things into perspective. As for my truck, it’s fixed, my bank account has dwindled, and I’m ready to roll and pick up my first bird dog in seven or eight weeks.

Previous “My First Bird Dog” posts:

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauck.

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8 Responses to “My First Bird Dog – Rationalizing the Sticker Shock”

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  1. One thing to keep in mind too is the costs associated with a gun dog are also like joining a college fraternity. You’re buying into a relationship. The dog will be your “bestest huntin’ buddy ever.” It will always be there for you. It won’t call you out on a missed shot even when the pheasant jumps right up in front of you and you forgot to chamber a round, not that that would happen, though, right?

    Of course, the big differences between a dog and a fraternity are that the dog will probably not shave your eyebrows off when you pass out drunk on the floor, and, let’s face it, joining a fraternity is kinda lame.

  2. @Derrek – like many things involving too much money, perhaps it’s best to put it out of your mind! – Anthony

  3. Dana H says:

    Shoulda got a weimaraner.

  4. I like to rationalize the sticker shock by pointing out that bird hunters usually have no problem laying down $1200 to $2000 on that fancy gun that they shoot the birds with. For some reason, when it comes to the dog that puts the birds in front of them, they complain about the $800 to $1200 it costs for the dog that comes from proven lines with health clearances. I would say that I can make a $400 gun shoot straight, but chances are I might have a harder time with that dog from unproven stock.

  5. @Jeremy – great thought, thanks for sharing. – Anthony Hauck, PF Online Editor

  6. DaveJ says:

    As breeder of Brittanys, I find that those wanting ‘discounts’ on the cost of a puppy are the most clueless about what they are going to spend over the life of the dog. These folks would rather save 100 dollars up front only to find that maintenance cost for a mediocre dog is the same.

    True, many find a good ‘meat’ dog from a backyard breeding. Then there are those who, in their mind, think they found a great dog but when and if they ever see one that is well bred, they suffer performance shock (what they thought they had vs. what they really have)

    Very nice article. I’m a little late finding you but you are now bookmarked to my favorites!

    Thank you!

  7. Thanks DaveJ – glad you found us, and weigh in any time! – Anthony Hauck, PF Online Editor

  8. jim schoeck says:

    Well said about the cost of the guns. You spend more time with the dog then you do the gun.

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