Starting a Dog Bakery Business

Is it a Good Idea?

chihuahuas selling dog bisuits

Owning a dog bakery business can be a dream come true for a pet loving entrepreneur.

Do you dream of owning a quaint dog bakery boutique; greeting your four legged visitors and watching their tails wag with joy as they sample your homemade dog treats?

Or maybe you dream of working from home; baking treats and selling them at farmers markets, craft sales, local shops, or even online?


What could be better than making a living doing something that you love? If you love dogs and have a talent for baking than starting a dog bakery business may be the right choice for you.

The Pet Industry – Big Business

Poodle wearing glasses and sitting by briefcase.

The pet industry generates billions of dollars each year. Even in challenging economic times the pet industry remains strong.

Studies show that pet owners will make sacrifices in other areas of spending to be able to continue to purchase items for their pets.

The pet industry is very competitive. A browse through the pet aisle at the local supermarket or a search on the internet brings up a seemingly endless supply of dog treat options. With all this competition, is starting a dog bakery business a good idea?

The truth is a lot of dog bakery businesses have started and failed. That is true for many types of small businesses. The good news is that there is great profit potential in the dog treat business and with careful planning yours could thrive.

Getting Started

There’s a lot to think about when starting a business. In the following paragraphs we’ll take a look at the major considerations when starting a dog treat business.

The Dog Treats
If you are thinking of starting a bakery than you are likely already baking dog treats. If not, that is where you need to start. You need to develop a product and get a feel for what it would be like to operate your own bakery.

Make sure you have tested your treats with lots of dogs. Don’t make the assumption that because your dog loves your treats that other dogs will too.

One question to ask yourself is whether you REALLY like to bake. That may seem like a silly question, but baking a batch of treats for your own dogs on a Saturday is quite different than having to bake in large volumes to fill orders for your customers.

As you grow you can add equipment to your business to streamline your baking process. If you think you don’t want to spend that much time baking there are other options:

  • You can purchase wholesale dog treats from another dog bakery. Some wholesalers will even do private labeling which means you can label them as your own.
  • Another option would be to outsource the baking. Develop a relationship with a local bakery. For an agreed upon fee they could bake up the treats according to your recipe and specifications. This allows you to focus more time on the marketing and sales of the treats.

Licenses and Permits
It is important to obtain all required licenses and permits for your business. You wouldn’t want to spend time building a business only to be shut down because you didn’t have the appropriate licenses or permits. .

Zoning
Zoning requirements are typically determined by your local(city, county, and/or town) government and are not standardized. If you are hoping to work from home you will have to determine if local zoning will allow that. A simple phone call to your local zoning department can identify this. You may have to apply for a conditional use permit. They will want to know your hours of operations, if there will be increased traffic to your home, etc.

Some counties or states require that dog treats only be made in approved commercial kitchens. Check with your county or state health department to determine the requirements in your area.

State Licenses
Some states require specific licenses or permits to sell dog treats. Dog treats fall into the category of “animal feed” and are usually governed by the State Department of Agriculture. I’ve found the staff at the Department of Agriculture in my state to be very helpful.

Dog Treat Labels
Along with your business name and contact info there are some specific elements you should include on all of your dog treat labels.

  • They must be clearly labeled as treats
  • They must indicate they are for dogs
  • The label must list all ingredients in the order of volume.
  • The treats must contain ingredients identified as safe for dogs.
  • The labels must show a Guaranteed Analysis to include
    • Crude Protein (Minimum)
    • Crude Fat(Minimum)
    • Crude Fiber (Maximum)
    • Moisture(Maximum)
  • Expiration Date

Your labels should tell the customer anything they need to know about your treats and are an important part of your dog treat packaging. Visit Choosing the Right Dog Treat Packaging for ideas for packaging your dog treats.

I’ve done a lot of searching for resources on starting a dog bakery business. I found this ebook, Bake a Dog a Bone, to be very helpful. Once you get past the hype that it seems all ebooks have you’ll find very valuable, practical information. The link below is an affiliate link which means I will earn a commission if you purchase through it. If you do, know that I truly appreciate it. I recommend this ebook because I have used it and found it helpful.

Choosing a Business Structure
You will need to choose a legal structure for your dog bakery business. Possible business structures include Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporations, and Limited Liability corporations. Your accountant can provide advice on the best choice for you and your business.

Sole Proprietorship is the most common legal structure for small businesses. It is the easiest and least expensive to start. The draw back is you as an individual are the business. That means that any liability the business may incur stretches to your individual assets as well. Sole proprietorship can be good choice when starting out.

Limited Liability Companies(LLC) are becoming a very common structure among small businesses. The LLC offers some the ease of ownership of a sole proprietorship or partnership but limits the liability. The owners’ personal assets are protected.

As noted above, it is wise to consult with an accountant and/or business lawyer when deciding on the legal structure of your business.

Marketing

You might have the world’s best dog treats but you won’t sell any if no one knows about them. Effective marketing is essential to the success of your dog bakery business.

How will you market your dog treat business? Who is your target customer? This is where it is important to understand your niche.

Do you plan to cater to the high end consumer? Will you be making treats with all organic ingredients? Will you be creating a special kind of treat that helps fill a nutritional need?

Decide your niche and then develop your marketing plan to go with it.

In this day and age a website and a social media presence such as Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest are a must have. That being said, do not underestimate the value of the business card. Dog Business Cards are still a vital tool for marketing your pet business.

As you can see there is a lot to consider when starting a dog bakery business.  Get started on the right foot and it can be a fun and profitable business that can usually be started at a fairly low cost.

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