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Maltese & outrageous prices
by Larry Stanberry - Divine Maltese
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The Maltese IS a highly desired and sought after breed for the very best of reasons - they are quite attractive, have a charming demeanor, are simply devoted to their companions whether they are human, canine, or even feline, live a long time, have been bred for perhaps eight thousand years so you might expect that genetically most of the "kinks" have been worked out making it difficult for even the "exploitive" and "uneducated" breeders to produce a "bad" dog.

When one might consider that a truly devoted fancier, when deciding to produce a litter of pups (which, trust me, has much less to do with the biological capability of their bitch to get pregnant at any point in time than it does on other factors such as the availability of the "proper stud dog"), other factors in the breeders life such as planned vacations or expected company from out-of-town, a heavy work load at the office, or any other complications which may coincide with the "due date" and the days immediately following. No, any breeder will plan astutely, find and put the owner of the stud on notice, fly or drive the bitch to the stud for a series of "encounters" that may take up to a week. Spending $200 to fly her or perhaps less to drive her and then (perhaps much more $$$) to stay in a local motel for a few days. Next, depending on your expertise and knowledge you may want to have your vet x-ray ($35-50) the "mom" at or after 58 days or so to discover position and number of pups to expect, a progesterone test ($20-30) may become a necessity at some point if things appear not to be progressing normally, a $200-$300 C-Section is not unusual, you've already paid a $300-700 stud fee or offered one or more pups back out of a litter that will probably only produce 2-3 pups if everything goes smoothly. Even using "low" numbers from these expenses can produce a litter of two pups (for the breeder) that cost easily $1000 - $2000. Even when I use my own stud dog, you must understand that we can't use him more than two or three times a year on our own girls and only offer him at stud to "approved" prospective moms. My investment in my own male is often in excess of $3000 by the time you factor in a hefty purchase price to acquire a truly exceptional dog from a well-bred background and then invest the required sum to "finish" him in the conformation show ring. Even if I breed him in-house three times a year ( which is a lot more than we do ) for eight years that is 24 breedings that "cost" me $125 each not including the costs to feed, shelter, groom, vaccinate, and provide for his veterinary care - after all he isn't on my health insurance plan with my children and the vets are not cheap.

Then you must factor in the occasional disaster - where you invest a fortune, have a C-Section, and lose the entire litter. This scenario comes along just often enough to offset those litters where the "mom" free-whelps you a four or five puppy litter.

Still, anytime you try to quantify the dog breeding game on a "dollar" basis you will invariably go "in the red". Still, we all must have a hobby to truly emmerse ourselves into and the fact that no matter how much I sell a particular puppy or litter for, I always reach deeper into my pocket every passing month to continually invest into our breeding program.

No, the Maltese is not a "cheap" pet. Properly bred and reared and judiciously priced, the pet purchased from a reputable and responsible breeder, even if it cost $1000 is worth every penny. You will spend the same on basic care to any pet (of comparative size) and if the Maltese lives only ten years he has cost you $100 a year based on his purchase price. You can buy a $300 dog out of the newspaper and then immediately spend $300 per leg to correct a slipping stifle joint - you just spent the same $1000 but had to go through an awful lot of trauma and hard feelings.

Please consult a reputable "show breeder" for your pet, their pets are every bit as competively priced as the pet stores and you don't end up with a dog that was produced strictly on the basis of its mom being able to produce two six puppy litters every year. Instead you get a dog that is a progressive step in someones breeding program, a program that is designed to produce better dogs in EVERY successive generation.

Good luck and good hunting. The American Maltese Association is a great place to start your search. All Maltese pups are cute - don't even take your checkbook with you on your initial trip. See at least two or three kennels if possible and dont let anyone pressure you into an uncomfortable purchase decision.

Purchasing a pet "long distance" can be done but it is even easier to "get taken" since you will pay for the animal to fly or be delivered to you and then must absorb the cost to send it home if it is not what you are looking for. However, if you ask the right questions and do your homework you can find exactly what you are looking for even "long distance".

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