'It did my head in' - Dog breeders on demand for lockdown puppies

Dotty will be shown at Crufts next month. Picture: Covehithe Coonhounds

A coonhound at Covehithe Coonhounds, a dog breeders near Lowestoft. - Credit: Archant

Demand for puppies has calmed since the height of the pandemic, but is still higher than previous years, according to dog breeders across the region.

Interest in household pets soared over the first lockdown last year, with requests spiking again before Christmas - leading some to fear for the welfare of the animals.

Michaela Betts, who runs Shelpet Cavalier King Charles Breeders in Trunch, near North Walsham, has not bred any puppies for two years due to coronavirus. 

A litter of 10 puppies bred at Covehithe Coonhounds has produced four crufts qualifiers and three se

- Credit: Archant

She said: "In lockdown people wanted to get a puppy, but a lot of unscrupulous breeders were cashing in, and they pushed prices up, charging silly money."

She said it now costs around £2,000 for a cavalier, while before the pandemic it was £950. 

"Reasonable people are charging around £2,000, but puppy farms are charing from £3,000 to £5,000. And puppies are not coming with any health testing at all.

"I keep warning people, please don’t buy a puppy in lockdown, it’s not fair on the puppy and your neighbours."

Ms Betts said she thinks the prices "will never going go down again".

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"It’s a lack of quality puppies available, because accredited breeders have not been breeding puppies during the pandemic."

Antonio Skaboullous, of Covehithe Coonhounds near Lowestoft, said: "During lockdown, emails were coming in left, right and centre, with people wanting puppies, but we made a point of not breeding.

"We didn't want people coming in and out during lockdown looking at puppies.

"We were getting so many emails from people who had no idea what the breed was, whose kids wanted a puppy. We didn't want to be adding to the puppy craze."

Demand is not as high as this time last year but it is still "pretty high", according to Mr Skaboullous.

The RSPCA is reporting a dramatic increase in complaints against puppy farms Picture: GETTY IMAGES/i

Last year, the RSPCA is reporting a dramatic increase in complaints against puppy farms - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Another dog breeder, who did not want to be named, said: “Demand is slightly less now but last year was terrible.

"I don’t sell to lockdown people. You can tell, they’re very needy. 

“I had over 900 enquiries last year, people in London living in flats. I said you’ve got to be kidding. 

“When you rear a litter and you love them, they mean the world to me, so of course I’m going to question people in every aspect," she said.

Last year, she was getting ten emails a day. “It did my head in. I’m glad it’s sort of calmed down.”