In the last year we have seen the cost of buying a dog soar from approximately £700 to well over £2000. Is this a true rise due to a lack of puppies or are people taking advantage? Last summer it was reported there was a shortage of puppies due to COVID-19 preventing people initially from travelling and therefore would have had an impact on being able to have matings. Combined with a lack of puppy availability there was an increase in the population finding themselves working from home, re addressing their work life balance and being forced to stay local. Surely that is the perfect time for a new addition to the family, it would keep the family occupied, provide a focus and allow a reason to exercise.
As vets 6-9 months later we are seeing a number of concerning things. Firstly there have been puppies that we have seen with numerous health problems, including genetic defects, systemic illness and questionable breeding. There have been a rise in first time breeders that have perhaps not sought the correct advice on which dogs to breed (seeking the correct genetic tests/ health screens), preparation for the impending litter and caring or looking for responsible homes.
From the outside looking in your 2 year old female dog could be the ideal candidate for breeding…….. However have you considered the danger to your dog? What happens if she needs a caesarean section? This involves a general anaesthetic and puts your pup at a surgical risk, this can easily cost £3000 if it happens out of hours. Can you afford to cover this cost especially if none of the pups are viable? Then there is the cost of rearing, raising the pups. This is a full time job for 8 weeks, not to mention having the responsibility of making sure these puppies are going to good homes. Are people who are contacting you the right owners? Have they had dogs before? Do they know what they are letting themselves in for?
Now these “lockdown pups” are hitting their adolescent phase at about 6-9 months there has been a sudden increase in pups being sold through social media, the internet and rehoming centres are becoming overwhelmed. Perhaps circumstances have changed, people have gone back to work, now back to home schooling, the weather is cold/ dark, perhaps even redundancy from their jobs. This all leads to not having the time or money to look after your new addition. Other pups have found themselves victim to behavioural issues which are on the rise including separation anxiety, nervous aggression, and many other socialisation problems.
As vets we ask new owners to consider if a dog is right for you? Is that breed right for you? Be careful where you find your new pup, is the breeder responsible? Are you able to see the parents of the puppy? Can you give your new pup enough time? Have you considered the long term cost of your new addition?
As a general guide – not including vets fees / costs of anything destroyed in the house/ puppy training a small breed dog with a lifespan of approximately 14 years would cost approximately £15,490, and a large breed dog with a lifespan of 11 years would cost £16,080. These are just estimates but include the cost of buying the pup, lifetime insurance, flea/ wormers/ food and vaccinations.
There is more to owning a dog than bringing it home, there is the monetary aspect along with a lifetime of commitment, time and love.