Where did the inquiries go?

By Jessica Freni

In the period of Covid restrictions and lock downs, there was an unprecedented surge in puppy demand. People were home, they had time, purchases were spurred by stimulus checks and need for companionship. While the quantity of inquiries was remarkable, it did not necessarily correlate with quality of prospective homes (demand for “fad colors”, mixed breeds, impulsive puppy acquisitions, etc). Rather predictably this remarkable puppy demand has seen some waning.

Across “Dogbook” there is a large contingency of blame the economy (inflation, concerns about job security, fear of war or recession, etc) pushing demand for puppies down. Certainly,  economic factors are not to be dismissed and are for many prospective pet families a consideration. However, we can not so simply dismiss the decrease in demand for well- bred and purebred puppies as simply signs of the economic times, if so there would be a steep decline in other segments of breeding, but in fact the demand for doodle type mixed breeds continues to be high. Not only is there still a sky rocketing demand for mixed breeds with gimmicky names or fad colors (“merle” French bulldogs, “silver” labs, etc) often these puppies are selling at prices far exceeding puppies from titled and tested purebred parentage.

Is what some breeders are observing,i.e. difficulty finding puppy homes, just economic or is it in part market correction? During Covid-19 puppy demand was unprecedented, but it was also unsustainable. Reputable, responsible breeders could not meet the demand, but a lot of people eager to buy,  acquired puppies anyways from less ethical sources. Some of the demand was just satisfied and now it’s leveled out again.

Whatever the reason(s), as demand wavers, we can best prepare ourselves and our puppies for success, not just finding a home, but finding a lifetime home that is a good match. How can we cultivate interest in puppies?

Breed quality dogs first and foremost, there are still those that understand and appreciate purposely bred dogs with predictability from titled and tested parentage and experienced, knowledge breeders. There’s also a number of people who have had less then desirable experiences with trendy mixes, turning back to the purebred dog. Breed! The only puppies available cannot and should not be poorly bred.
Increase visibility. People don’t care about what they don’t know. Venture out with your dogs beyond the show circuit and talk to public for breed education.
Have an online presence. Does your program have a website? A Facebook page? How about adding some cute, pet home friendly content on tiktok or Instagram? This is an area that mixed breed/doodle type breeders tend to excel as opposed to preservation breeders and no small part of their success and appeal.
Contact. Do you reply to all inquires? Even if only to acknowledge they’ve been heard and recommend fellow breeders or maybe a breed better fit for their lifestyle? Do you take phone calls, answer emails promptly,  correspond through social media to open a dialog? Do you send applications out and keep steady contact with those who’ve expressed interest in your breed/ program?
Resources. Are you a resource for those looking for puppies? Do you educate or your breed and their needs/ ideal home? Do you participate in your breed community (clubs) and communicate when you have availability? Does your club have a breeder referral?