United Kingdom

Britain risks a dog surplus after breeders increase litters to match demand during lockdown

Britain risks a puppy surplus after breeders tried to cash in by increasing the number of litters to match high demand during lockdown.

Some 91,000 puppies and dogs were being advertised on the website Pets4Homes in June, double the figure for the same month last year.

Demand for puppies surged then as locked-down families were able to spend more time looking after a pet. However, this has now levelled off.

Currently, the cavapoo is the most sought-after puppy breed, ahead of the Doberman, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Goldendoodle, according to figures showing the number of people viewing each advertisement. 

High demand during the early stages of lockdown last year meant the price puppies surged to over £2,000, fuelling dog thefts.

Britain risks a puppy surplus as breeders are increasing litters to match high demand during lockdown, while the cavapoo (pictured) is currently the most sought-after puppy breed

At the same time breeders moved to cash in by increasing the number of litters. But it may well be difficult to find homes for the resulting rise in puppies.

The average price of dogs is finally dropping with the figure down to £1,873 from a peak of £2,237 in March this year.

A new report from Pets4Homes said it is false to believe that lots of people who bought puppies during the lockdown are trying to sell them on.

It said: 'Our data shows that the vast majority of advertisements can be traced back to new litters. 

'We are seeing a significant increase in puppy litters from our breeders in response to the increased demand.'

The report said so-called hobby breeders are responsible for 75 per cent of sales, which is up from around 50per cent a year ago. The average number of litters per year from this group is up from 1.1 a year to 1.3.

The report found the most common dog breed is currently the French bulldog, ahead of mixed breeds, the Cockapoo, Cocker Spaniel, Labrador retriever, Chihuahua and English Spaniel.

Pets4Homes said: 'While the popularity of dogs has levelled off after a dramatic increase in 2020, demand for cats is on the rise.'

Some 91,000 puppies and dogs were being advertised on the website Pets4Homes in June, double the figure for the same month last year (stock image)

Some 156,193 have found a new owner so far this year, which compares to 179,298 for the whole of 2020.

Munchkin cats, which are distinguished by short legs due to a genetic mutation, appear to be the most wanted pet across all animals.

The number of people viewing each advertisement rose from 87 before the pandemic to 491 during lockdown and is still around 307.

Ownership for French bulldogs is very high, however the number of people looking for a puppy from this breed is relatively low at 102 views for each advertisement. It is the same figure for Pugs.

UK managing director at Pets4Homes, Lee Gibson, said: 'We are now seeing previous trends reversed with lower demand for pets while simultaneously the number of pets available for rehoming has risen dramatically.' 

He added: 'A widespread notion regarding the surge in pet ownership during Covid-19 is that people are now abandoning their 'pandemic puppies' by re-selling them or giving them up for adoption.

'However, thus far, our data shows this surge in advertisements can be traced back to new litters - not re-selling.'

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