$4,000 for a mutt? Coronavirus pushing up puppy prices in Manitoba

If you’ve scrolled through listings on Kijiji in hopes of finding a canine companion to get you through COVID-19 lately, you probably experienced sticker shock.

Sellers across Manitoba are pricing their mixed-breed puppies at astronomical rates, many double what breeders are charging for Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) registered dogs.

Looking through the listings late last week, Global News found several listings for mixed breed puppies priced at $3,000 or more.

Kijiji.ca
Kijiji.ca. Kijiji.ca

“Maltichon Puppies – $3,000” reads one listing. “The mother is a Bichon Frise and the father is a Maltese.”

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“Teacup Pomeranian X Maltese ONLY 1 FEMALE LEFT – $3,500,” reads another. “The male is charting to be around 5.5- 6lbs and the female is charting to be 5lbs. Each puppy comes with their vet papers and a puppy starter pack.”

“3 French Bulldogs – $4,500” says a third, which makes no mention of the dogs being certified purebred.

Read more: Should you adopt a pet during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Out of the 108 adds that were up on Kijiji at the time of writing this story, we counted only two ads for puppies with prices under $500, with the exception of a few local rescues.

Most of the ad prices ranged between $1,000 – $2,000.

Global News contacted more than a dozen sellers asking for comment on why they were charging so much for their puppies. Only two responded and both politely refused to comment.

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So what is going on?

Designer dogs

The puppies that are going for the highest prices are what legitimate, registered breeders derisively call “designer dogs,” said Winnipeg Humane Society CEO Javier Schwersensky.

The dogs tend to be smaller in size and many claim the puppy they’re selling is hypoallergenic and from purebred parents.

However, there is no guarantee this is the case, said Schwersensky.

“The outside look of a pet does not guarantee any pedigree at all,” he said, noting that the shelter regularly deals with people who have purchased a puppy only to find out the dog is nothing like they were told.

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The fact people are spending upwards of $4,500 for a dog – when legitimate breeders often sell for thousands less – with no guarantees of health, breed or temperament is frustrating for the shelter, he added.

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Quite often, owners buy the dog without seeing the parents, checking out where the puppies live or without any kind of contract, which are big red flags, he said.

“You need to have a contract because if there’s any dispute, that is your only recourse,” said Schwersensky.

“If an unknown medical condition crops up, then you know what is going to happen.”

Read more: Canadians must include pets in coronavirus emergency plans, advocates say

Schwersensky said he understands people are wanting companionship during the COVID-19 crisis and often think a smaller dog will best suit their needs, but said shelters throughout the province have medium and large breeds that may actually fit families better.

And shelters and rescues do get smaller dogs in, but they go quickly and people need to be patient, he added.

“We see over 9,000 animals every year and they all are amazing,” he said.

“They are going to provide joy to whomever, you know, adopt them. So I would strongly recommend to go to rescues and shelters before heading to Kijiji.”

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