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Demand for pets ‘nearly half that of pandemic peak’

The Golden Retriever has become the most sought-after dog (Victoria Jones/PA)
The Golden Retriever has become the most sought-after dog (Victoria Jones/PA)

Demand for pets has almost halved since last year as the peak seen at the height of the pandemic levels out, new figures suggest.

Demand – measured by buyers per pet – fell by 42% in January to April compared with the same period last year, according to a report by Pets4Homes, the UK’s largest online pet marketplace.

The number of would-be buyers per puppy or dog advertised on Pets4Homes in April 2022 was 168, down from more than 300 at the beginning of the pandemic.

The drop in demand has seen the average price for puppies falling to £1,329 in March 2022 from £2,237 in March 2021, while the price of cats has declined by 20%.

The average number of litters per seller has returned to normal levels seen pre-pandemic, with licensed breeders on average having two litters per year, breeders having 1.4 litters per year, and hobby breeders having 1.2 litters per year, the study found.

Dogs remain the most popular pet, attracting 63% of all buyers. The Golden Retriever has become the most sought-after dog, with 717 potential buyers for each advertised puppy.

The Devon Rex has overtaken the Siberian as the most sought-after cat, with 416 buyers per advertised kitten.

Zaphy, a 12-year-old Devon Rex cat, finds shelter underneath a deckchair in north London, during a heatwave (Yui Mok/PA)

Lee Gibson, UK managing director at Pets4Homes, said: “For years, the UK has suffered from a chronic undersupply of puppies and kittens that has failed to meet the demand for pets, in particular during the height of the pandemic.

“Inevitably, this discrepancy has enticed unscrupulous sellers and those involved in the low welfare and illegal puppy trade to profit from people’s desire for a furry companion.

“We are glad that we are finally seeing these trends reverse with a rise in breeding by UK hobby breeders while demand is normalising.”

Mr Gibson said fears that the surge in pet ownership during Covid-19 would lead to people giving away their “pandemic puppies” had not been realised, with data showing that the surge of advertisements on Pets4Homes could be traced to new litters rather than reselling.

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