Huge price hikes for popular breeds during lockdown revealed
New statistics show prices for some of the UK’s most desirable dog breeds reached record levels, as some sellers exploited demand for puppies during lockdown. Dogs Trust can reveal these breeds are among those most likely to be illegally imported into the country via puppy smuggling, a cruel practice the charity have fought against for several years.
Our research has revealed that the asking price for five of the UK’s most sought after breeds and the five breeds most often smuggled into the country – Dachshunds, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pugs and Chow Chows - shot up between March, when lockdown was announced, and the end of June this year, when lockdown started easing.
We have reviewed advertisements from the last three years on some of the UK’s largest classified advertising websites, and prices for Pugs, Dachshunds and Chow Chows have never been higher, whilst English and French Bulldogs have also seen significant price hikes.
The most expensive of the breeds, English Bulldogs, advertised for as much as £2,140 on average in June compared to an average of £1,637 in March - although some listings reached as high as £9,000. (1)
The data reveals the average price increased by:
- 89% for Dachshunds – £1,838 in June compared to £973 in March
- 67% for Chow Chows – £1,872 in June compared to £1,119 in March
- 31% for English Bulldogs – £2,140 in June compared to £1,637 in March
- 52% for French Bulldogs – £1,905 in June compared to £1,251 in March
- 56% for Pugs – £1,064 in June compared to £684 in March
Millions of people have been working from home and demand for puppies has soared during lockdown, with Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ increasing by 166% since lockdown was announced on 23rd March.
Sadly, since the beginning of lockdown, the increase in demand for puppies has meant Dogs Trust’s Puppy Pilot scheme, which rescues smuggled pups at the UK border*, has continued to be busy, despite restrictions on movement being in place. Between the beginning of lockdown and the end of June, the charity rescued 43 puppies that were illegally imported into the country from Central and Eastern Europe.
These dogs were destined to be advertised online for extortionate prices, sold to unsuspecting buyers, while cruel puppy smugglers make huge profits. If sold, they could have fetched an estimated £80,000 for their puppy smugglers.
Dogs Trust – which has been campaigning to raise awareness of puppy smuggling since 2014 – also saved 12 heavily pregnant mums during lockdown, who have given birth to 56 puppies worth around an additional £100,000 to cruel smugglers.
We are urging people to be alert to the perils of buying via online adverts, to avoid being duped, or Dogfished, and to remind potential new owners to never hand over a deposit before seeing the dog in person**. This comes against the backdrop of people contacting us to say they have been victims of scams during coronavirus lockdown.
Our experts say that experience tells them that in the coming months, and years, more dogs than ever will face the risk of relinquishment. We estimate that up to 40,000 more dogs could be at risk of abandonment in the fallout of the coronavirus crisis.
Together, with the support of the public, Dogs Trust says the UK public can help ‘Change the Tale’ for smuggled pups when they need it most. They urge people to give what they can by visiting www.dogstrust.org.uk/dogcrisis.
Dogs Trust’s Veterinary Director and Chair of the Pet Advertising Advisory Group***, Paula Boyden said:
"It’s shocking to see how much dogs are being advertised for sale online and in particular how prices for some of the most popular smuggled breeds have increased during the coronavirus lockdown. While there are many responsible sellers out there, sadly there are plenty who are just looking to tug on the heartstrings and exploit the situation for their own profit.
"With puppies in such high demand, and selling for such high prices, it’s creating a lucrative market for cruel puppy smugglers and, sadly, we have rescued many dogs illegally imported into the country, destined to be sold during lockdown. It’s also creating a perfect storm for people to be Dogfished and scammed out of their hard-earned money.
"That is why it is so important to always see a pup with and interacting with their mum and to go and see them more than once. Never pay a deposit without seeing the puppy in person first and check all paperwork carefully. If something doesn’t seem right, as hard as it may be, walk away and report the seller."
What to do to avoid being Dogfished
Sadly, it is all too easy to buy a dog which may not be what it seems. We call this Dogfishing. Remember:
- Always see puppy and their mum together at their home and make sure to visit more than once, even if it is via video call due to coronavirus restrictions.
- Never pay a deposit up front without seeing the puppy in person.
- Ask lots of questions and make sure you see all vital paperwork, such as a puppy contract – which gives lots of information about their parents, breed, health, diet, the puppy’s experiences and more.
- If you have any doubts or feel pressured to buy, as hard as it may be, walk away and report the seller to Trading Standards.
For more information and advice about how to avoid being misled when buying a puppy advertised for sale online, search ‘Dogfished’ or visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/dogfished.
1) Tech4Pets data, collected between March 2020 and June 2020
*The Puppy Pilot is a scheme established by Dogs Trust to aid the interception of dogs seized by APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) at the ports and provide care and rehabilitation for them prior to finding them new homes.
** PAAG strongly recommends deposits are not paid for any animal that has not been seen in person.
*** Tackling the issue of irresponsible online pet advertising is vital to protect dog welfare and the public against deceitful sellers, which is why we’re working with other animal welfare organisations and chair the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG). We have chaired PAAG since 2001 and, in that time, have worked closely with online classified websites to make sure pets are being advertised ethically and legally – but there is still a long way to go.