Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Pet Expert: Pandemic Puppy Price Gouging An Ongoing Issue

COVID-19 has brought on unprecedented demand for puppies in 2020, as many stuck at home look to cure boredom and loneliness. The extra time spent at home during the pandemic presents the perfect setting for bonding with a new canine companion – something those working out of the home rarely have a chance to do.

Soaring demand has led to a drastic shortage and long wait-lists for breeders all across the country. Shelters and rescues are receiving hundreds of applications for every pooch that comes into their care, as well. Currently, the Canadian Kennel Club estimates that inquiries for breeders are up 40%.

Unfortunately, rising market demand has also led to inflated prices. Sellers are taking advantage of families desperate for new puppies knowing they are willing to pay whatever it takes. Many breeders are now charging up to four times the regular price for a puppy compared to one year ago. For example, a labradoodle puppy that may have cost $1,500 in 2019 is now selling for $3,500-$4,000.

This has led to an increase in ‘backyard breeders’; those who don’t normally breed dogs but see an opportunity to make some quick cash. With mixed-breed dogs of all varieties selling for upwards of $2,500, this type of breeding can be a tempting, lucrative opportunity. This often leads to an influx of poorly-bred puppies with less-than-stellar pedigrees.

While there are no guarantees in life, poorly-bred dogs are at significantly higher risk for genetically-predisposed health problems later in life. The most common health problems associated with backyard-bred dogs include joint and mobility problems, autoimmune issues, heart conditions, and more.

Many would-be puppy owners are also falling prey to scammers. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, there were more pet scam complaints in September of 2020 than there were in all of 2019. One popular scam includes posting pictures of puppies online, and requiring an immediate e-transfer deposit to hold your puppy without the opportunity to even see them in person. Because of COVID-19, the idea of meeting only once to exchange the balance owing for the new puppy doesn’t seem to raise red flags for buyers. Unfortunately, with this scam, there often isn’t a puppy to begin with.

If you’re considering welcoming a new puppy into your home during this pandemic, do your due diligence first. The excitement of getting a new puppy can easily cloud our judgment; we become impatient because we want our puppy now, and we will often overlook certain things in our pursuit of immediate satisfaction. Be patient, find the breed of dog that meets your criteria, get to know a reputable breeder, and get on their waitlist.

How urgently do you want a new dog? Considering how much puppy prices have skyrocketed this year, waiting until the pandemic is over may save you thousands of dollars.

Alternatively, speak to your local animal shelters and rescues to be pre-approved for adoption. There are thousands of adult and senior dogs in shelters and rescues across the country waiting for their forever homes. While a new puppy comes with much excitement, older dogs, particularly seniors, are in much less demand, and are especially deserving of loving homes.

Whether it’s a puppy, an adult, or an elderly dog, getting a new dog is always a wonderful experience for the whole family. However, there are certain individuals who will take advantage of others by scamming and price gouging when demand for dogs is at its highest. Ensure you don’t become a victim by using patience, diligence, and above all, trust your instincts. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Brandon Forder, known as The Pet Expert, is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, an industry leader in healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon holds multiple certifications in pet nutrition, and has more than twenty-five years’ experience specializing in pet health and behaviour. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, radio, and the popular Ask the Pet Expert Blog. Brandon is highly skilled in pet problem solving, and enjoys teaching others about smart and responsible pet ownership. To learn more, visit

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