From April to June 2020, the UK braced for coronavirus. The shops shut and we stayed at home, except for our daily dose of permitted exercise. With so many of us working from home and getting out for daily walks, it created a perfect storm for a puppy buying panic.
In the first week of May 2020, there were around two-and-a-half times as many Google searches for ‘puppies for sale’ in the UK than in the first week of January, which traditionally marks peak puppy buying season.
The first half of 2022 slumped back to pre-pandemic puppy buying levels. Here’s our breakdown of which pups have fallen the most in popularity and what breeds have won an enduring place in the hearts of UK dog owners.
The pups the UK went mad for during the lockdown
According to our data, these were the most popular pandemic puppies:
Astonishingly, Cockapoos accounted for 10% of all the puppies we insured that year.
And one-in-four of all pups insured was either a Cockapoo, Labrador or Cocker Spaniel, showing just how overwhelmingly popular these three breeds became at that time.
But has their popularity endured? Or have some breeds fared better than others in the years since the pandemic?
Which puppies saw the biggest fall post-pandemic?
Some of the most popular breeds saw an absolutely meteoric increase in Google searches during the first few months of the pandemic.
The UK went mad for cuddly Cavapoos, with a 186% increase in interest in these pups compared to two years previously. And although interest in them has declined sharply by April-July 2022, that’s not the steepest drop in interest we noticed.
The pup that the UK seems to have fallen out of love with is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which suffered a 74% drop in interest since the pandemic puppy buying boom. That’s despite seeing a 134% increase in interest during lockdown compared with 2018.
Cocker Spaniel puppies have also seen a real boom and bust in popularity from 2018-2022. They had the second-highest increase in interest, but also the second-highest drop in interest post-pandemic.
Out of all these breeds, only the French Bulldog seems to have plunged in popularity compared with pre-pandemic interest.
Dachshunds on the other hand saw a big increase in interest during the pandemic and have remained pretty popular ever since.
|Puppy breed||Increase in Google search April-July 2020 versus April-July 2018||Decrease in Google search April-July 2022 versus April-July 2020|
|Staffordshire Bull Terrier||134%||-74%|
Puppy prices since the pandemic
It’s funny how some of the smallest breeds that peaked in popularity during the pandemic were also the most expensive. The diminutive Cavapoo and French Bulldog were the dogs with the highest price paid in 2020 and remain so in 2022.
The Uk’ favourite Poodle crosses – the Cavapoo and Cockapoo – are the only two that have seen a drop in price during the pandemic. This probably reflects supply and demand – these puppies were so sought after in 2020 that prices rocketed. They've since returned to more stable levels.
|Breed||Average purchase price 2020||Average purchase price 2022|
|Staffordshire Bull Terrier||£ 720||£949|
What’s happened to the pandemic puppies?
The Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association (PFMA) highlighted in its 2022 Pet Population Survey that while 4.7m households have acquired a new pet since the start of the pandemic, sadly 3.4m have given up a pet over the last year.
Younger pet owners aged 16–24 gave up a pet mainly due to changes in living arrangements with 34% giving this reason. Financial reasons and a change in working arrangements were also major reasons.
It’s really important to make sure you know how much a dog or cat will cost before you buy a puppy. Pet insurance will help cover the cost of unexpected vet bills, but you should also make sure you understand the cost of annual vaccinations, regular dental care and one-off expenses like neutering and microchipping.