Two summers ago, at the height of the pandemic the puppy market was booming. Never had we seen such a demand, puppies were on the menu for everyone, and that demand not only saw a significant increase in puppies being bred, but also a significant increase in the prices being charged for them.
I am sure you have read articles on the unethical and irresponsible breeding practices that took place during the pandemic, there are plenty of stories of ill-educated pet owners and the immoral deciding to make a few quid from their pet dog and cashing in. But what is the position now?
Well, as a wise man once said: “What goes up, must come down!” Two years on, and the demand for puppies has dropped. Families are now looking at holidays again, and the commitment of a puppy is not so high up on the wish list now.
There are thousands of unwanted, poorly socialised dogs in rescue, canine victims of the pandemic. They were sold at a premium, to desperate families. Those families were unable to properly socialise their puppies due to lockdown, and as a result (and as predicted by many) these dogs missed out on vital life skills. Now the world has opened back up they can’t cope. They did not get the training opportunities that all dogs need to live happily in our human world. Often, they display behaviours that are difficult to live with., behaviours that are difficult to manage and correct.
Circumstances have also changed for people. We were either at home, or working from home and now there has been the return to work and the chance for travel again. All these influences affect dog ownership.
This has left many of the pandemic puppies in a tricky spot, a spot that is entirely not of their making.
Sadly, they now fall victim to our “click and collect” society, with shortened attention spans and a lack of responsibility, they wind up unwanted in rescue… the options for these dogs are limited. It is simply heart breaking, and for those in the “front line” at rescues centers and charities it is endless.
The irony of this situation is staggering. Some of the most expensive, highly desired dogs of our time are dumped, less than two years on. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of dogs who were bought in the pandemic that are being doted on, dogs who are living with owners who idolise them and cannot imagine a time when they did not have them, the lucky ones….
The more recent fall in demand will inevitably quell the numbers of puppies being bred. Breeders are reporting less enquiries and less sales, and in some cases, they are finding themselves left with puppies that they cannot sell. Whilst this will create an immediate smaller ripple of unwanted puppies, these reports will shoot a warning across the bows of the unethical and irresponsible who jumped on the band wagon to cash in during the pandemic. They will of course promptly jump off the wagon and go and sniff out their fortune elsewhere.
The rescues, already heaving, will pick up the pieces of the broken dogs and puppies, doing their best to rehome as many dogs as they can.
As a breeder educator I am seeing large numbers of quality established breeders reducing how many puppies they are planning, despite waiting lists and good reputations. They are reacting to the market in the best way possible. Many of these breeders did not breed throughout the pandemic, in fear of an uncertain future for their puppies. The shame of this is if that any puppies are being bred, they should be from these breeders. The well-bred, well raised, health tested puppies is exactly the type of breeding that should be happening if any.
Now as a country we are faced with the cost-of-living crisis, fuel and energy prices are at an all-time high, food bills are on the increase too, with seemingly no let up. This is also influencing dog ownership and its affordability. Potential owners are questioning the financial commitment of a puppy, and this is driving demand down further. Without a doubt as belts tighten financially there will be more canine casualties.
I sigh as I finish writing this piece, the moral of the story, what goes up… must come down… but at what price for mans supposed “best friend”.
If you have a puppy that you need help with, take a look at our courses for owners, we have a range educational materials for owners that can support you to work through the issues you are facing. Check us out at www.pupstartsbreeders.com