- The price of pedigreedogs is at an all-time high, and demand too. 2017 saw a 7% rise in the number of registered puppies in the UK.
- We visited Crufts, one of the world’s largest dog shows, to find out why people spend so much on pedigree dogs.
- A Tibetan mastiff sold to a businessman for $US1.9 million in 2014, yet years later the breed was being abandoned en masse. Why does this happen?
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How much do you love dogs? Enough to spend $US1.9 million on one? That’s how much a Tibetan mastiff was sold for in 2014. For dog breeders and owners, taking care of their pet becomes a lifelong obsession. So why are pedigree dogs so expensive?
Every year, over 21,500 dogs from 43 countries compete at Crufts, and it’s here that you can see some of the world’s most sought-after dogs: Akita, Chow Chows, Löwchens and Samoyeds. Here, you can also buy dog treats, accessories and fashion items, as owners continue to invest money in their pets. The value of the UK pet products and services market is forecast to reach £2.1 billion by 2023.
According to Caroline Kisko, Secretary of The Kennel Club UK, people invest in pedigree dogs because of the traits they exhibit. “If you have a dog from a breed that has always rounded up sheep,” said Kisko, “you tend to have a dog that will round up the family. So there are some instincts that we have bred into dogs over the generations. Which tend to come out now. So if you have a dog that’s always bred to be a good companion, something like a Pekingese or some of the other toy breeds, then they will naturally make good companions.”
While Best in Show winners at Crufts receive a trophy bowl and a modest £100, other competitions award larger cash prizes.
Breeding can also save vulnerable breeds of dog. The Löwchen – a tiny breed worth up to $US10,000 – has been around since about 1442. But by 1944, they were extremely rare. Breeder Madame Bennert brought them back from the brink of extinction, and in 1971, the Löwchen Club of America was formed.
But while there are responsible breeders, there are also cases of irresponsible breeding. It was reported in 2018 that thousands of Tibetan mastiffs were being abandoned in China. Once the most sought-after dogs in the world – costing up to $US1.9 million and sought after for their rarity and status, there was a complete collapse in demand.
We spoke to Cat Wood, a Veterinarian at the RSPCA. “If a breed becomes very popular, then breeders can charge a lot more,” said Wood. “There are obviously a lot of breeders out there who care a lot about animals and who are breeding them to the best of their abilities. But if they are unable to get enough puppies out there for the demand then that’s where the unscrupulous breeders will come in. And they can make an awful lot of money.”
What’s fashionable or photogenic plays a big part. Instagram is flooded with Tibetan mastiffs, huskies, Shiba Inus, chow chows and Akitas. Demand is growing for the pedigree market, with a 7% rise in the number of registered puppies in the UK in 2017.
Pictures from Channel 4/ Filming by kind permission of the Kennel Club Ltd.
Crufts 2019 will be shown on catch up on All 4.
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