People: Claire Brand, Rowena Packer, Dan O'Neill

Vet Compass Project Type: Dog

RVC Pandemic Puppies logo

The initial RVC Pandemic Puppies survey is closed

Thank you to everyone who participated – we are delighted to report that we had 7545 responses. Please click here to read our first newsletter.

What is the RVC Pandemic Puppies survey?

We are investigating how, why and by whom puppies were purchased during the COVID pandemic in the UK and comparing this with puppies purchased in 2019. We also investigated the early life of Pandemic Puppies, including their health and behaviour.

How is the study being done?

We conducted an initial online survey with eligible dog owners (eligibility details below). The survey was open from 10 November to 31 December 2020.

Why is this study being conducted?

There are concerns for the short- and longer-term welfare of puppies purchased during the early part of the Covid pandemic. We want to investigate a variety of factors in the puppy buying process which may influence dog welfare. The information collected will help us provide support to owners regarding their dogs’ future welfare and will inform future educational messaging on how best to buy a puppy to promote dog welfare.

Who is co-ordinating this research?

Dr. Rowena Packer, Lecturer in Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science, and Dr. Dan O’Neill, RVC Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Epidemiology are leading the project alongside Dr. Claire Brand, Dr. Zoe Belshaw, Dr. Camilla Pegram and Dr Kim Stevens.

Who was eligible to participate in this study?

Dog owners who met ALL of the following four criteria:
• Over 18 years of age.
• Resident in the United Kingdom.
• Bought a puppy of any breed or crossbreed home aged under 16 weeks during 2019 or 2020.
• Purchased a puppy from a private seller (i.e., did not breed them themselves, paid for the puppy AND did not obtain them from a formal rescue organisation, as we are interested in the process of buying a puppy).

Results from the study have now been published 

A peer-reviewed paper* from this study has been published in an ‘open access journal’ (free for all to access). This first paper explores the behaviour and motivations of owners who bought a puppy during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.

Please click here to see our infographic summarising some of the main findings and click here to read our second newsletter.

A copy of the paper can be found via the link below.

*Packer, R. M. A., Brand, C. L., Belshaw, Z., Pegram, C. L., Stevens, K. B. and O’Neill, D. G. (2021) Pandemic Puppies: Characterising motivations and behaviours of UK owners who purchased puppies during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Animals. 11(9), 2500

RVC media coverage about Pandemic Puppies

We had considerable coverage in the media about the survey and the initial findings including an interview on ITV news:

Are there any plans for further studies relating to 'Pandemic Puppies'?

We are currently preparing a second paper which will look at the demographics, socialisation experiences, early behaviour and health of Pandemic Puppies. We will share the results of this second paper in due course via the RVC website and social media channels.

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