Arisland - Irish Red Setters, Jadwiga Konkiel

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How Much for a Champion?

"How much does a beautiful champion like this one cost?" asked me a young man during a dog show. I smiled and answered that one does not sell winners, only young puppies.

"And supposed you wanted to sell one anyway, how much could you earn?" the stranger asked shamelessly.
"Earn?" I enquired, sarcastically.
"Would you really like to know how much effort it takes to finally have one champion like this one in your kennel? Let me tell you then."

Buying the right puppy

Our future winner dog can be purchased in any country. We could also try breeding one - provided we have a bitch of proper quality and try mating her with a verified, valuable littermate.

Depending on the breed, we must consider spending: 1,500-4,000 PLN in Poland or 600-2,000 Euro in the EU. Plus transportation costs. If we live in Europe but would like a puppy from the USA, Australia or another country overseas, we have to add the costs of airline tickets, the transportation crate and a vet for the many hours' journey.

If we decide to breed the puppies on our own, we need to cover the cost of mating - usually similar to the price of a puppy, around 400 to 1,500 Euro, depending on the country, the dog's class, the breed etc. The prices I provide above are estimated since there is generally no upper limit.

If the littermate lives in a country where legal regulations make the whole thing more difficult, e.g. a Scandinavian one, we may need to do a rabies test 6 months prior to the trip. In Poland the lab which performs these is in Puławy, but samples are also sent to Germany. You need to wait for the results - about 2 weeks, and pay the fee of around 500 PLN.

Another method (more and more popular) is using frozen semen, often brought from overseas, to impregnate your bitch. In this case, there are equally many matters to see to: the time of the heat, the clinic which will perform the operation, transportation of the semen by air, finding the proper "donor" etc. The costs may rise to 4,000 zlotys!


Now the puppy is already with us, in perfect health and with just general medical needs. Until it reaches the reproductive age of about 2.5 - 3 years it will need around 10 vaccination shots: ones against the typical diseases which attack puppies and adult dogs and the ones against rabies.

If we prefer good-quality vaccines we will need to pay 40 - 70 PLN for each shot. A small puppy, and then a grown-up dog must be regularly dewormed. Every 2-3 months for a puppy and twice a year for an adult. The cost of each deworming for a middle-sized dog is between 20 and 100 zlotys.

Ticks have been a real plague recently. More dogs suffer from tick-borne diseases in the warm months than the cold ones but your dog should be protected all year long. We will need shampoos, drops and special collars then. One set of tick drops plus collar cost about 100 PLN. It works best if used regularly and the collar is replaced every two to three months.


We can choose from dry and wet dog food and home cooking. There are so many brands of dog foods that it is up to us and our resources which one we choose.

A 15-kilo bag of the cheapest supermarket-brand dog food costs about 80 PLN, but its quality is questionable. A little better food brand will cost us 120-140 PLN, and a top-quality dog food - 180 to 250 PLN. Of course, toy breeds need just a handful of chow per day but an adult weighing 35-60 kilos will need up to a kilogram.

We all know that you cannot live long on bread and water and neither can our dog. You cannot feed them just the dry pellets without any variation. Most breeders I know cook for their dogs with just 20% of dry food intake. A well-balanced diet must contain various ingredients: meat, fish, grains, oils, eggs, cheese, yeast, vegetables, bran, powdered milk, flax etc.

Grooming Depending on your dog's breed, the costs of grooming will vary too. Obviously some breeds require washing, claw trimming, checking up the ears and perhaps removing tartar.

Long-haired breeds require special shampoos (ones that prevent felting, ones preventing yellowing, color-protect ones and anti-tangling ones).

If your pooch requires a special hairstyle then you can choose from teaching yourself by trial-and-error method to do it yourself or you can visit a pet salon before each show. Grooming prices differ depending on the breed but also from city to city. For grooming e.g. an Irish Setter we will pay from 50 to 100 PLN in a small city, to 100-50 in Warsaw. Trimming an Airedale Terrier will cost us 140-400 PLN respectively, and a miniature Puddle - 50-200 PLN.

A dependable electric trimmer costs about 500 PLN, scissors - 100-200 PLN, comb - 50-80 PLN, hand trimmer - 100 PLN. Shampoos range between 50 and 150 PLN and shine waxes - 40 to 120.

The shows

We purchase a puppy with a certificate in Poland or an international-type pedigree. In order for our puppy to enter dog shows and be allowed to breed we will need to register it - in Poland's case in ZKwP. The ZKwP entrance fee, pedigree nostrification, registration or acquiring a pedigree certificate will be about 150 PLN.

Now, we can choose from dozens of dog shows. In Poland, there is always one or two going on every weekend, in different parts of the country. The cost of entering one varies from 70 to 150 PLN, depending on the size of the show (state, international, European, etc.). Entering a dog show we must calculate the transport too. If the town or city it takes place in is far away from our home we will also have to think about accommodation and meals. The costs of attending shows abroad will be even higher. Dog shows are very time-consuming, so you may need to take a few days off in order to avoid the before-show frenzy and find a few moments to rest, meet your friends and go sight-seeing a little bit.

There are many rare breeds and sometimes your dog may be the only representative - in this case it is easy to win the title of Junior Class Winner if the dog is good-looking, and then a Winner title will be just a few steps away. Unfortunately, most exhibitors do not have this luxury and will have to pay their share of traveling and entering shows to earn their CACs. Unless we do have an exceptional animal and are able to prepare it wonderfully for the show - then, if we are lucky, almost every show will be a success. If we have a good dog and want it to become Junior Class Winner, we will need to enter 4 to 7 dog shows. It will be more difficult to get the national winner title since the standards are higher here and there is much competition. We may consider ourselves lucky if we manage to finish the championships before the dog is three and has been in 6 to 10 shows. I have seen very "motivated" exhibitors whose dog has finally become Winner of Poland - after over 30 shows...

It takes even more to have a Multi- or Interchampion. A Multichampion (an unofficial but frequently used term) is a dog who has won at least three national shows. An Interchampion, especially in the case of working dog shows, is a dog who - apart from having received two CACIB certificates- national or international ones - within a year, needs another working dog certificate, e.g. a hound race prize, a guard dog training certificate, or a hunting dog contest prize. The average costs of such specialist, usually three-month training varies from 2,000 to 5,000 zlotys. For non-working dogs four CACIBs from at least three different countries are required.

So, how much for a champion then? To sum up, we could calculate the total cost of raising a puppy to become a dog show winner. For the purpose of this estimation let us assume we have purchased our puppy in Poland, from a reputable breeder, and it is a middle-sized dog of a popular breed that will grow up to become a beautiful specimen. It does not require much grooming and we hope that it will become a Junior Class Winner of Poland.

Let us consider the example of a three-year old Irish Setter:

The dog = 2,500 PLNTen vaccination shots = 400 PLN
Six anti-tick treatments = 600 PLN
Six times deworming = 240 PLN
36-months of feeding = 7,200 PLN
Grooming x 7 plus transportation = 840 PLN
6 x dog show (Junior Class Winner of Poland) = 450 PLN
6 x fuel (Junior Class Winner of Poland) = 600 PLN
6 x dog show (Winner of Poland) = 480 PLN
6 x fuel cost (Winner of Poland) = 600 PLN
ZKwP fees = 200 PLN
Field trials + transport = 200 PLN
Total = 14,310 PLN

I really do not want to put you down and calculate the cost of winning other titles but I think any next international one will cost you at least 2,000-3,000 PLN.

Mmm, I would have never thought that our hobby consumed so much money. Going to all those shows across Europe you never think about such details. The most important thing is the hope that our dog will shine again.

Jadwiga Konkiel