Soaring demand for companionship at home has made purchasing a pooch expensive.
Demand for dogs has increased so much in recent months that breeders across the country are being overwhelmed with inquiries.
“They have received way more than they can answer in terms of calls,” said Sarah McDowell, with the Canadian Kennel Club, which represents 187 different breeds across the country.
There has been a 152 per cent increase during the pandemic in people visiting the club website looking for puppies. And, she said, she has also seen a lot of inflated pricing for particular breeds.
“Typically, I have seen incredibly inflated prices out in public arenas on sites that are not through our website,” explained McDowell. People, she believes, who are taking advantage of the current demand and noting what the trends are for mixed breeds and designer dogs.
Denise Castonguay, who has bred Newfoundlands in Maple Ridge for the past 30 years, has also seen more demand.
“Not a huge increase, but an increase,” she said.
Usually she wouldn’t see many requests for puppies during the fall and winter months, but she certainly has this year, and she thinks it is directly related to the COVID pandemic.
She has a two year waiting list for a puppy and screens prospective homes.
“We do not sell a puppy to anybody we haven’t met and approved of in person,” explained Castonguay.
With the pandemic, she is not vetting new homes.
Based on the enquiries she has been getting, she can tell certain buyers are looking for instant gratification. As soon as she tells a person that she has no available puppies now, they hang up.
“They don’t even want to talk to you,” said Castonguay, who always tries to educate people about dog ownership.
For a purebred Newfoundland puppy people can expect to pay between $3,000 and $3,500, explained Castonguay.
Norwich terriers are more expensive, she said, with an average price of around $3,500 to $4,000, as they only have one or two puppies a litter.
”Anybody who puts two dogs together and produces a litter is called a breeder,” said Castonguay.
However, people are paying these same prices for mixed breed dogs, prices that shock Castonguay.
“Breeders like myself are people who invested a lot of time and money usually into one breed,” she said.
Responsible breeders, she said, also show their dogs.
“When you are showing your dogs you are actually getting educated judges opinions on your breeding
program, you are comparing your breeding program to other people’s breeding programs, and hopefully, each time you breed you get better and you get better and better dogs,” she said.
When she sells a puppy to a client, she wants it to be for life and has a requirement.
“If something goes wrong for any reason, we say that puppy or that dog, regardless of age, comes back to us,” she said.
Kelly Tynan breeds golden retrievers at Tygold Golden Retrievers in Maple Ridge.
It is one of the top family pets of choice, so supply and demand are usually crazy, she said.
During a normal year Tynan would receive between 300 and 400 requests for a puppy. In 2020 she received more than 2,000 requests.
This demand concerns her because people may be getting puppies for the wrong reasons.
“At the end of this when COVID goes away and you go back to normal life, what does life look like,” said Tynan.
“This is a life that requires care and love and financial ability to support this dog, regardless of the breed,” she said, in addition to exercise – both mentally and physically.
Pets are not to pacify a child out of school, she stressed.
Tynan noted that non-reputable breeders have inflated pandemic prices of pups.
“Backyard breeders, puppy mills, mixed breeds have all driven prices crazy,” said Tynan.
“When you can pay more for a mixed breed than a purebred with health checks, clearances, standards, [an]
ethical breeder, lots of support, [it] sounds a little crazy to me,” she said.
Tynan also has a clause in her agreement that, if for any reason the dog does not work out in the household, that dog is to return to her.
Prospective dog owners should do their homework, said McDowell.
Look into the breeder. Check to see if it is active in the community, if it’s local, if they do testing and if you get to see the dog’s family.
“Our breeders don’t have a lot of litters, and they are not mass-produced,” she said.