Pet prices have fallen significantly from their lockdown peak levels as supply and demand for companion animals settle on “a new normal” post-covid, a new study has shown.
According to the latest Industry Report from pet buying and adoption website Pets4Homes, the average dog or puppy price was £1,329 in April 2022, compared to £2,237 in March 2021 and £876 before the pandemic struck. Cat buyers are seeing similar decreases in price across the top 20 most popular breeds and can expect to pay around 20% less this year than in 2021, the report says.
Compared with last year, there has been a 42% decrease in demand for a new pet, according to the website’s data. In April 2022, 3.5m households in the UK searched for a pet on Pets4Homes, compared to 4.4m the previous year. In 2020, the site experienced 420 potential buyers for each pet advertised on Pets4Homes, stabilizing to a more sustainable level of 50 potential buyers per pet in recent months.
While the pandemic created an initial spike in demand for pets and a shortfall in demand, supply of young animals increased throughout 2021 and has remained relatively high in 2022 due to breeders reacting to the pandemic surge. Hobby breeders have increased their activity to meet the pet supply gap, with an increase in market share amongst unique sellers from 55% pre-pandemic to 75% in April 2022.
As demand and sale prices has stabilised, the average number of litters per seller has returned to pre-pandemic levels, 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. In 2022, the number of breeders breeding for the first time dropped from 40% to 31%.
Dogs remain the most sought-after pets, with 63% of all buyers searching for a dog or puppy. Cats come in second place at 15%, following a decline from 20% in the previous year.
The golden retriever has become the most sought-after dog breed, with 717 buyers for each advertised puppy, followed by goldendoodle, Border terrier and whippet. For the top five cat breeds, the list is similar to last year but the Devon rex has overtaken the Siberian as the most sought-after cat, with 416 buyers per cat/kitten advertised.
Pets4Homes maintains that there is no strong evidence that owners are abandoning their pandemic pets in large numbers, saying that the bulk of new advertisements on its site are related to new litters rather than reselling. Non-puppy dogs for sale, which constitutes the main proportion of resold dogs, were at roughly the same levels in 2022 as in 2021.