3 Puppy Waiting List Mistakes That Hold Breeders Back

Having a strong puppy waiting list is something that a lot of dog breeders would love.

The lack of a strong puppy wait list can hold many back from even doing breedings in the first place.

Because there’s nothing worse than doing a breeding, without your list of great owners sitting there, waiting for those puppies to arrive.

Selling on the fly is nerve wracking. It’s not fun. And it makes it very hard to sleep at night if you don’t have your puppies pre-sold ahead of time.

Why is building a puppy waiting list so hard for some breeders?puppy waiting list

I see three mistakes over and over again, that hold dog breeders back from being able to get nice, long waiting lists of fantastic owners.

And I’m talking here about committed waiting lists. It’s one thing to have people on a list, but if they’re not actually financially committed, then they can evaporate into thin air exactly when you need them.  You know I mean: you might have 30 people there, but when your litter lands, most of the list has disappeared and bought a puppy somewhere else.

So how do we get a committed waiting list together? What is stopping us?

Puppy Waiting List Killer #1: Relying on directories

The first thing I see that stops dog breeders from getting a good waiting list together is that they’re relying on puppy directories to sell their pups. When you’re relying on puppy directories, you have to compete with every breeder there who has pups advertised on that directory.  Why would a buyer wait for your puppies, when there’s other puppies there right now they can get immediately?

Most people looking for a puppy want instant gratification. By the time they make up their mind, they want that puppy yesterday, right? When you advertise on a directory, you’re attracting the kind of buyers who are shopping for a puppy, and seeking instant gratification.

So relying on directories will stop you from being able to get that waiting list together.

Puppy Waiting List Killer #1: Non-refundable deposits

The second thing that stops breeders from being able to build a strong waiting list is having non-refundable deposits. Now I’ve seen over and over again breeders making their waiting list deposits 100% non-refundable, no matter what happens. Now of course, that is going to put people off joining a waiting list!

I wouldn’t want to give someone $500 I’ll never see again, even if something happens to me that makes getting a puppy a bad idea.  Every day people get cancer, suffer a marriage break up or lose their job.  Saying they can never get that money back is not only unfair, it’s simply bad business.

Instead, why not have a policy which is a bit fairer than just saying “I’m going to keep your money forever and you’ll never get it back”?

Puppy Waiting List Killer #3: Stressing over not producing what they want

And then the third thing that stops breeders from building a strong waiting list is that they worry that they won’t be able to produce the exactly the right puppy that a particular person is waiting for. For example, you might have someone join the list and they say “I want a blue-eyed, black male.” And you go, oh my gosh, what if I don’t get a blue-eyed black male in the litter that’s coming up? I better not keep a waiting list just in case…. And sell on the fly forever more.

There are ways around that. One of them is being very clear in your original communication about what you expect the conservative wait time to.  And another one is to attract the right buyers.  At the top end of the market, they’re more interested in a great experience with their next puppy and not as hung up on status-symbol things:  what color of the pup’s eyes or hair are, and how many pounds it will weigh are of lesser importance than how healthy it’s likely to be and whether it’s a good fit for the family.

So give realistic but conservative waiting list estimates to people and say, “if you want something a bit unusual it might be a bit longer.”

Two Ways to Attract the Right Buyers onto your Puppy List

To make this work for you there are two things that you need.

1. Be worth waiting for!

The first thing is that you need to have something worth waiting for.

There are amazing breeders out there. Many are not only health testing but also doing puppy culture, ENS and potty training etc.  You know who you are, and that your puppies are as good as they come.

You also know there are people out there who would be willing to pay for that… How?  Because you see other breeders getting top dollars! And why can’t you, right?

2. Get noticed by the right buyers

The second part of the equation is you need to learn how to attract the top-end buyer. And that means learning how to stand out online, so that the more discerning buyers, who are looking for a breeder worth waiting for, can find you.

That’s what looking after the business side of your breeding is all about.

If you’d like to learn more about how to  build a solid puppy waiting list grab a seat on my FREE online class.

It’s an hour, and it’s packed with practical tips.  There’s no selling – just great information.  I look forward to seeing you there 🙂 .

Dr Meg Howe


  1. Thanks for sharing- I listened to the 1hr video earlier.

    Learnt alot; am curating a bloodline more as a passion.

    February 22, 2022
    • Dr. Meg Howe said:

      You’re welcome Zachary, glad you found it helpful 🙂
      What breed are you curating?

      February 22, 2022

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