Animal Breeder: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for animal breeders. Get the facts about training requirements, job duties and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Animal Breeder?

Animal breeders consider which characteristics are desirable in the animals they're breeding, and then select animals to breed to produce offspring with the desirable traits. For example, someone that is breeding champion show dogs may specifically look at the breed characteristics and pick dogs to breed based on how closely they exemplify the breed characteristics. Animal breeders may work with domestic animals, such as dogs or cats, and they may also work with farm animals such as horses, cows, chickens and pigs. They are not just responsible for determining which animals to breed, but are also involved in the care of the animals. They need to make sure that the animals are vaccinated, monitor them for illness or injury, feed them, and clean their habitats.

Training/Education Required On-the-job training or animal science bachelor's degree program
Key Responsibilities Analyze animal traits, maintain pedigrees, use artificial insemination techniques
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% decline*
Average Salary (2015) $44,650*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will My Work Entail as an Animal Breeder?

As an animal breeder, you'll work with animals that may include pigs, cows, chickens, sheep, horses, dogs or cats. Your job is to breed these animals to produce the most useful traits. This will require extensive analysis of the animals' health, behaviors, sizes and other characteristics. You must also use your knowledge of genetics in order to reach your clients' desired outcomes.

Your work will require you to spend significant time in direct contact with animals and you may often be outdoors. Many animal breeders travel to their clients' farms, ranches or homes. You may also work in a laboratory. You'll facilitate conventional mating and, in some cases, artificial insemination.

What Might I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2015, animal breeders earned an average hourly wage of $21.47 and an average annual wage of $44,650 ( The BLS reported that California had more animal breeders than any other state that year, with approximately 150. The average salary for animal breeders in this state was lower than the national average, at $37,130. The other top states in terms of employment level were Kentucky, Texas, Missouri and Ohio.

What Type of Education Might I Need?

You can find work as an animal breeder after accumulating on-the-job experience, though in most cases, you'll need formal education. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in animal science. These programs will train you to understand the overall management of many forms of livestock. Your coursework will include basic topics, such as nutrition, genetics and agriculture business, as well as more specialized topics, such as dairy production and horse training.

Often, you can specialize in animal breeding. This will allow to delve deeper into the study of genetics and reproduction. You may learn how to match animals well, anticipate ovulation and ensure successful mating. Additionally, you may learn about the latest technologies used in artificial insemination. You can also earn master's and doctoral degrees in animal breeding to expand your understanding of the field.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Animal care and service workers, laboratory animal caretakers and agricultural workers are professions that have similarities to the work of an animal breeder. They all learn their professions through on-the-job training. Animal care and service workers may look after the needs of animals in a kennel, which may include feeding the animals, cleaning their habitat and grooming them. Laboratory animal caretakers perform these functions in a veterinary office, where they look after animals that are waiting for surgery or treatment, or after they've had surgery or treatment. Agricultural workers may move livestock to different fields, and like animal breeders they may also be responsible for giving animals vaccines.

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