Monday, June 9, 2014

How Much Was That Doggie in the Window?

How much did a purebred dog cost in the 1800s when canine price tags were snobby indicators of breeding differences among not only dogs but also the people who owned themThe short answer is - a whole lot more than the $500 to $1500 you'd expect to pay now.

"Dachshunds of patrician blood and perfect
Blenheim and King Charles Spaniels, like
the large dogs, St. Bernards, Mastiffs, and
Great Danes, always command fancy prices
as do rare orchids, violins or books."

Considering that in 1890 $1 was worth around $40 in today's value, and the average annual U.S. income was less than $300, a pedigreed dog was expensive.  In general, people paid more for "proven" adult dogs, so puppies were cheap.   To get an idea of the actual prices, I looked at vintage newspapers, Victorian era dog breed magazines, and 18th and 19th century books. This is what I discovered. (I put the calculated worth in today's dollars in parentheses.)

 "Four English Setter dog pups for sale at Slaterback's gun shop, Commercial Street, $50" ($1042)
1875 San Francisco Daily Examiner 

In 1891, A Cocker Spaniel, Fox Terrier, and Black and Tan Terrier
might command $50 to $100 
($1250 to $2500).

In 1893, a King Charles Spaniel could cost as much as $350,
equal to $9000 today. But as a rule, a puppy cost
around $15 ($400) and an adult $75 ($1900).

In 1896, during the Alaskan gold rush, an average dog could
bring $50 to $100 
($1500 to $3000). Considering you might need up to
nine dogs for a sled team, that was pricey.

About 1900, exclusive hobby kennels operated by the wealthy gave way to a large number of small commercially operated kennels run by entrepreneurs of moderate means.  Dog prices plummeted. This is when kennels began selling puppies in newspapers.

1912 San Francisco Call classified ads- Puppies for Sale: Toy Poodle $25 ($600), Japanese Spaniel $15 ($350), Cocker $25 ($600), Boston Terrier $10 ($245), Pekingese $15 ($350), French Bulldog $35 ($850), Airedale $30 ($730)   

This is what Dobies looked like in 1914.
A pup might cost upwards of $50 ($1250)
Photo from Leighton's Book of the Dog, 1906

1914 New York Tribune Classified Ads - Puppies for Sale: Bull Terriers $20 ($500), Yorkshire Terrier $20 ($500), Wire Haired Fox Terrier $15 and up ($300 and up)
In 1914, a Yorkie puppy cost around $20, equivalent to
the $500 we might pay today. However, the annual wage
then was around $500 so purebred dogs were still the
privilege of the upper class.
Photo from Leighton's Book of the Dog (1906)

1 comment:

  1. Great post and some lovely photos! The Dobermann Pinscher is a very handsome dog, pity about the docked tail....I paid $450 dollars for my Schipperke puppy, daughter of a Grand Champion, but no snobbery involved here LOL, just wanted her, didn't think twice really, she came from a very good family environment, my second Schipp was a freebie, a dear little 'rescue' whose owner had died.......the costs involved do not stop at purchase, however, goodness knows how much I've spent over the past 11 years......but they are worth it.....they deserve nothing but the best........