Why Are Brachycephalic Dog Breeds So Expensive?

Brachycephalic dog breeds are breeds that have a shorter than normal muzzle and soft palate, which produces a distinctive facial appearance that looks rather flat, although the degree of flatness can be highly variable from dog to dog. Additionally, dogs with brachycephalic faces often have prominent eyes and may have unusual dentition as a result of their unusual conformation, which can also come accompanied by narrower than normal nostrils and a range of other traits too.

Dogs with moderately brachycephalic faces tend to live happy, healthy lives like any other dog, but those whose faces are very flat (or exaggerated, to use a more formal term) may suffer from a wide and potentially acute range of health problems as a result.

Even taking into account the potential downsides of brachycephalic dogs in terms of health, many people adore their distinctive appearance, and many brachycephalic dog breeds like the French bulldog, English bulldog and Shih Tzu are in great demand all over the UK. 

One thing that catches many first-time dog buyers by surprise when looking at brachycephalic dogs for sale is that they are often prohibitively expensive compared to the averages for other dogs of a similar size – and whilst this is not the case for every brachycephalic breed, many cost way more than the norm.

In this article we will look at some of the things that contribute to making brachycephalic dog breeds so expensive, and examine the factors that determine their pricing. Read on to learn more.

How much do brachycephalic dogs cost on average?

The average cost per dog on a breed-by-breed basis can be very variable, and not all brachycephalic breeds fall outside of the general norms across the board. However, many popular brachycephalic dog breeds are prohibitively expensive to buy based on their pricing averages, particularly those that are the most in demand and high profile. 

Some of the more expensive brachycephalic dog breeds and their average asking prices (based on the listed price in adverts placed here within the last year for pedigree dogs of each breed) are as follows:

Not all brachycephalic breeds attract average asking prices well north of the £1,000 mark for pedigrees, of course – the pug, for instance, averages £848 for pedigree specimens – but in many cases, those seeking a brachycephalic dog for their next pet will have to up their budget expectations to get the dog they want.

Why are brachycephalic dogs so expensive?

There are a combination of factors that altogether result in the high average price of brachycephalic dogs, and whilst how strongly or otherwise each breed is affected by each of these factors can vary, put together, they produce a broad overview of the combination of elements that help to dictate pricing.

These factors are:

Demand versus supply

Brachycephalic dog breeds of all types are very popular as they appeal to a lot of different types of owners and of course, the greatest influencing factor when it comes to the price of anything is the level of demand versus the level of supply. Where demand exceeds supply (as is the case across many brachycephalic breeds) pricing increases, and when demand and supply level out, prices tend to fall and then stabilise.

Currently, demand for many brachycephalic dog breeds far outweighs supply, serving to keep pricing high.

The challenges of mating and delivery

Many brachycephalic dog breeds need to be delivered by caesarean section in most cases (over 80% of deliveries for breeds like the French bulldog and English bulldog) which is of course a costly procedure, and one that is not without risks. This cost has to be factored into the eventual sale price of the puppies, and some dogs also need assistance with mating too, if the hips of the male are particularly narrow.

Registration limitations

For a litter to be eligible for Kennel Club pedigree registration, it must fulfil some set criteria that applies to all dog breeds, with the welfare of the dogs themselves in mind. The Kennel Club will only permit the registration of four or fewer litters from one dam in her lifetime – but if the deliveries were achieved by caesarean section, this number falls to just two.

This means that for many brachycephalic breeds, it will only be possible for them to produce two pedigree litters in total, which increases the value of each pup produced.

High-profile breed health issues

The trait of being brachycephalic can come accompanied by an increased risk of health issues in the dogs that inherit it, which can be painful, limiting, and may compromise the dog’s quality of life and longevity. 

Such dogs are not considered to be viable breeding stock by responsible breeders (although there are a huge number of unscrupulous breeders who deliberately produce dogs with extreme exaggerations and claim that such traits represent quality, and not a life sentence of pain and suffering) but they still need to be cared for even though they cannot be bred from. The cost of this is factored into the overall cost of breeding.

The cost of health testing

Responsible breeders have the relevant pre-breeding health tests performed on their parent stock prior to mating, to give them the best possible chances of producing a healthy litter. The cost of health testing and removing dogs whose test results are poor from the breeding pool all factors in too.

Caring for unsaleable pups

Any puppies that are born with health issues or conformation defects that affect their quality or wellness aren’t usually sold – they may be given away for free or at a low cost to a responsible, caring home, but often, they will have to be kept and cared for by the breeder that produced them, which is of course once more very expensive.

Small litter sizes

Finally, whilst this is not a firm rule, many brachycephalic breeds like the English bulldog and French bulldog tend to have fairly small litters, with just two or three pups being the average in many cases.

This means that the total cost of breeding the litter and turning a profit can only be split across the number of pups produced, raising the asking price for each of them.

Whilst not all of these factors apply to all brachycephalic dog breeds and there are of course other elements and intangibles to factor in too, all of these points combined help to explain why brachycephalic dog breeds tend to be more costly to buy on average than dogs with longer muzzles.


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