May 28th 2020“I DESPERATELY WANTED a Labrador or a Basset hound,” says Imogen Patton, a maternity nurse from Somerset. “I had to give up, because al
“I DESPERATELY WANTED a Labrador or a Basset hound,” says Imogen Patton, a maternity nurse from Somerset. “I had to give up, because all the breeders said their pups were sold out before they were even born.”
A dearth of puppies was not among the shortages anticipated as a result of the crisis, but Britain is suffering from one. Families looking for ways to entertain their offspring and adult children worried about lonely aged parents are after them. But rocketing prices are driven up not just by the increase in demand: dog-market developments have made the supply chain vulnerable to disruption.
Pedigree hounds used to be working dogs—breeds created by Victorian aristocrats in a period of heady innovation that produced most modern canines. Pet dogs were mongrels, until rising disposable incomes turned pups into luxury items and drove up demand for Kennel Club-registered breeds. In the past decade a new trend has emerged: the designer crossbreed. These posh mongrels with pure-blood parents are outstripping their pedigree Kennel Club cousins in popularity (see chart). But they are just as difficult to produce.
In contrast with the parents of bog-standard mongrels, which have little trouble hooking up, pedigree bitches and studs are often separated by geography. Lockdown has created an unexpected barrier. “I couldn’t travel to visit the stud dog,” laments…