More people than before are deciding to get a dog - and Labradors and spaniels are top choices

Gundog puppies from traditional breeds such as spaniels and Labradors are becoming more expensive and harder to find due to raised demand following lockdown.

Shooting Times contributor and gundog breeder Jeremy Hunt of Fenway Labradors remarked:

“The demand for Labrador puppies, and not just working ones, has gone crazy. The same thing is happening with cockers and springers.”

“Last week I had over 150 enquiries in five days, 99.9% from people to whom I would never consider selling a puppy. Normally I would have four enquiries a day.”

According to Jeremy a good Labrador puppy that has been health checked would normally sell for around £1000. But figures from The Kennel Club and Pets4Home put this at £1700 in May 2020, due to a combination of demand and unscrupulous breeders driving up the price.  Shooting UK found cocker spaniel puppies for sale on Gumtree for £2,500 each, as shown below.

Cocker spaniel puppies for sale on Gumtree dated 9 June

Labrador puppies for sale on Gumtree dated 9 June

Finding a puppy from working stock is harder too. “The problem is that a lot of puppies out there bred from working dogs will have been mopped up as pets, so a lot of potentially good shooting dogs won’t go to the right homes,” Jeremy adds. 

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Homebred Tarncrag cocker, had to keep this one .. photo by Paul Ardley #tarncraggundogs #workingcockerspaniel #workingcockerspanielsofinstagram #puppiesofinstagram #gundogsofinstagram #gundogtrainer #gundogtraining #spanielsofinstagram #countryliving #countrylife #lechameau1927

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Spaniel specialist Fran Ardley of Tarncrag Gundogs agrees: “I’ve had a hell of a lot more phone calls and e-mails, from the wrong people, who are asking the wrong questions, such as what colour is the dog or how much. They should be asking what the parents are like.”

On the other hand this rush for gundog puppies does mean that if fieldsports fans wait for a month or two then Labrador and spaniel puppies are likely to turn up in specialist rescue centres, which could be an excellent opportunity for those looking for gundogs. 

Jeremy Hunt predicts that many of these dogs will end up in rescue homes,”not because the puppy has a problem but the circumstances in which it was chosen were wrong.”