What’s a ballpark estimate of how much these dogs should sell for?
You may have noticed that we really REALLY don’t like answering this question—there are so many factors involved, it is nearly impossible to give an accurate answer so we’ve been trying to avoid giving anyone false expectations. The best we can do is this: for a 1-3 year old dog that passes all medical requirements and shows extreme possession of the reward object, exceptional environmental boldness, and unflappable search behavior, a reasonable price would be $3000-$8000.
The biggest factor that influences this price is the quality of the dog. A dog that shows only average possession of the reward object, or displays some hesitancy during environmental testing, or shows inconsistent performance searching for the reward object, is going to be on the low end of (or below) that estimate. Don’t expect to hit a home run with your first dog! The TSA breeding program, having started with a highly selective population of dogs, professional staff, and the resources of the federal government, needed three generations to surpass 75% success rate with their dogs. Understand that there is a significant learning curve here—if your first dog doesn’t sell for top dollar, that doesn’t make the attempt a failure.
The next biggest factor here is who’s buying. Small local police departments will likely have smaller budgets than large departments in big cities (although this program may be able to help with funds). A vendor who plans to sell the dog to the federal government for a contractually fixed price will pay more for a dog that’s ready to go than for one that needs weeks or months of additional work. If the buyer would need to travel to you or pay to have the dog shipped, that will also impact the price they’re willing to pay.