Eh, imo breeders can charge what they want to charge. It's honestly the last thing I'd worry about when looking into a breeder, because if they have everything else I'm looking for (solid health testing, temperament I want, puppy socialization program, etc.) then I'm pretty much going to be willing to pay what they ask, assuming it's within reason. I'd expect all the puppies from a single litter to be the same price, with maybe the exception of show vs. pet quality OR if there's extenuating circumstances (for example, I'd think it's reasonable if a dalmatian breeder charged less for a deaf puppy). I see it as a bad sign if a breeder is charging more for "rare" colors or one sex is more expensive than the other, because these tend to be practices of people who cut corners in order to squeeze more money out of their dogs.
I wouldn't worry too much if a breeder charged the same price from litter to litter or adjusted it between litters, so long as they were up front with it to people on their waiting list. And, again, the price wasn't totally outrageous for the breed/region.
I expect to see one price for pet puppies (no breeding rights) and another for show/breeding homes (breeding rights). I don't expect that to change from litter to litter. Some litters, whether due to litter size, a c-section being required, health issues, a higher stud fee, etc., end up costing the breeder a lot more than others, and charging the same price for every pup kind of averages things out. Remember that most breeders aren't making much, if any, profit from a litter after all of the health testing, stud, x-ray/ultrasound, vet checkup, food, and show fees.
I do not like to see breeders charging more for certain coat or eye colors, sexes (for pets that will be spayed/neutered, anyway), or sizes in a litter.
I think its pretty normal for breeders to charge a set price for their puppies. Their price might depend on stud fees, or perhaps if the birth required vet intervention, things like that. Sometimes they might charge more for breeding rights. I would be very wary of a breeder who charges more for a certain color (like around here some Aussie BYBish type establishments charge more for merle colored dogs than tri-colored dogs) or for a certain sex.
I agree with Daysleepers... It's the last thing I worry about. If the breeder does everything else I want them to (health testing, titling, solid ethics, vetting of buyers, contract that shows they care about their puppies and the breed) the price often makes perfect sense.
I can only reiterate my experience with a few top drawer breeders.
1.) Parents and parental lines should be titled. In my case I want to see working titles in IPO, Schutzhund, PSA or actual working dogs doing real work.
2.) A good breeder gets a defective puppy they will do one of two things: If the puppy has a manageable issue such as deafness or if the puppy needs an expensive surgery the breeders I know do NOT charge for that puppy. That is part of breeding dogs. If the puppy has some other congenital issue which will require life long management, that puppy is euthanized. I will add that this is rare but that is the reasonable thing to do.
3.) A good breeder may charge more for one puppy over another, but usually not. Usually I see them all at one price and it is usually a high price.
4.) Bad breeders or poorly bred dogs will also demand a high price sometimes. The trick there is bonafide references and longevity as breeders and numbers of dogs out there on the ground doing something... in my breed it can be agility, IPO, PSA and so forth.. I want to see drive and consistency from the breeder.
5.) BE CAREFUL of ShowDog breeders (dogs that are in the breed ring only for titles). They may have beautiful dogs that win in the show ring but that lack the integrity of the breed you are looking at.. such as English Setters that will never point a bird or German Shepherds that are shy and fearful and so forth. When a breeder breeds for a single trait, they lose the traits that make the dog what it should be. Twenty years in the breed may not translate to knowledge of the breed (just of the show ring!).
I can tell you my current dog is super.. and I paid more for that 8 week old puppy than I have paid for a reliable used car. He is driven when I need him to be and balanced.. with a lot of prey drive. When he tries to grab the ball from under my arm and gets some of me in the process.. (OUCH) I often say, "I paid a lot of money for that attitude!" Haha. His breeder has been doing this for 43 years for real work with a legacy of dogs out there that work.
Thanks everybody! I wasn't sure going into it since a lot of the breeders websites I've come across don't even put the price on their website, so when I saw this "flat rate" I wasn't sure if I should be concerned or not. I'm finding breeders trough the breeds club/akc and hopefully going to visit some of the places soon. I'm being VERY picky with choosing my next dog so I'm holding the breeders to a high standard, or at least I think so. lol