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pigs faceCharacterising the acquisition of designer crossbreed puppies in the UK

 

Year: 2021

Erin Burnett
Nottingham University, UK

Supervisor(s): Dr Rowena Packer, Royal Veterinary College, UK


 

Demand for intentional crosses of purebred dog breeds (eg Labrador Retriever X Poodle, the ‘Labradoodle’) have recently increased in the UK, often labelled ‘designer crossbreeds’. This study aimed to explore this phenomenon by comparing pre-purchase motivations, pre-purchase and purchase behaviours of UK owners of designer crossbred puppies purchased during 2019-2020 with owners of purebred puppies purchased during the same period. Data from UK-based respondents were collected in an online cross-sectional survey between November-December 2020. Responses from n=6293 puppies (designer crossbred puppies: n=1575; purebred puppies: n=4718) were analysed. Perceived hypoallergenicity was cited as a motivator for breed/crossbreed choice by almost half of designer crossbreed owners (47.1%), almost six times more than purebred dog owners (7.86%) Designer crossbred puppies were more likely to have been acquired via a general selling website (e.g., Gumtree; 13.8%) compared to purebred puppies (7.67%), or an animal-specific selling websites (eg Pets4Homes; 55.7%) compared to purebred puppies (37.4%). Designer crossbreed owners were less likely to see their puppy in person prior to purchase than purebred owners (60.4% vs 67.0%, respectively), and at purchase, designer crossbred puppies were less likely to be seen with their mother (dam 73.1% vs 79.8%, respectively), littermates (67.7% vs 78.1%, respectively). Designer crossbreeds were significantly more expensive, with over a quarter (25.7%) of designer crossbred puppies costing between £2,000-£2,999 compared to 15.1% of purebred puppies. Differences in puppy purchasing have the potential for both immediate and long-term welfare issues in the designer crossbreed population.