The final year figures will not be published until February, but the numbers so far show a drop for Britain’s less well-known breeds.
Paul Keevil, a founding member of the Kennel Club’s vulnerable breed committee, said: “Lockdown saw a fantastic demand for puppies, and the people who breed for profit have seen it as a wonderful business opportunity.
“They’ve whacked up their breeding programmes and doubled or even tripled their prices. But those of us who keep rarer breeds, the lockdown has been a bit of a disaster. We are not motivated by profit but by a passion and love for the breed.
“Lockdown has presented problems logistically. For me and my Dandie Dinmont, using a stud dog I would probably have to travel a few hundred miles to find a dog, and then there’s the veterinary after care and how do you interview prospective owners in lockdown? Logistically it was a nightmare, so most people have put everything on hold this year.”
Breeder Caz Martel’s Glen of Imaal terrier, Fern, has recently given birth to her first litter of seven puppies. Although she has owners ready to take all the puppies as there was a waiting list, none of them have been able to see either the mum or dad dogs or meet their future family member.
Ms Martel is not sure yet how or when they will be able to collect their puppies, as the prospective new owners are based all over the country.
“I wanted to make sure my girl was a champion before breeding her, but one of the difficulties with Covid is there were no shows,” she said. “Crufts [held in March] was the last opportunity, and she was one point away from being champion.
“If we hadn’t managed to get her pregnant when we met up with the male dog I would have had to leave it for this year because there were no other dogs near me and we would have missed her season and had to wait another eight months.
“Ideally you always want buyers to see both parents but I haven’t been able to show them the mum or dad. Normally I would invite the new owners to come and see the puppies at five weeks old, but I can’t do that at the moment.
“I’ve set up a Whatsapp group and send them pictures and videos. But they’ve not been able to choose their puppies. We’re having to wait til they start developing their own personalities more and then we will have to try to match them with people.
“The other difficulty for a lot of breeders is vets. We have been lucky that my vet is just down the road and have allowed us in for appointments, but I know some if they’ve had a problem with a puppy they are only being offered a phone consultation.
“The Glen of Imaal is a lovely dog – they’re very amenable and a great all-round family dog, but people just don’t know about them.”
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