S$14,000 for a dog, S$12,000 for a cat: Are pedigree pets in Singapore getting even more expensive?
Singapore witnessed a pet boom during the pandemic which resulted in an increase in pet prices. But is demand for a “designer” furry friend here to stay, and will prices keep increasing?
Around the world, COVID-19 isolation resulted in a boom in pet ownership as people sought the comfort of animals amid ongoing lockdowns. In Singapore, animal ownership has been on the rise, due in part to travel restrictions and work-from-home measures.
This has resulted in paws-perous business for pet shops and breeders in the country. And as demand increased, so did prices.
A spokesperson from local pet shop Wag A Tail told CNA Luxury that “prices have increased exponentially since the beginning of the pandemic”.
While costs range widely for different breeds, a small-sized breed such as a Toy Poodle will cost from S$6,000 to S$8,000, Wag A Tail shared.
A medium breed such as the Shetland Sheepdog will cost around S$7,000, while Shiba Inus and Corgis cost between S$7,880 to S$8,500. Large breeds such as the Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever cost between S$8,000 to S$9,000.
Elsewhere, checks by CNA Luxury discovered that a Bichon Frise can cost up to S$12,800, while a French Bulldog can cost S$9,500. A Chow Chow can cost S$13,900.
But while prices for dogs were at their highest post-circuit breaker, these have steadily come down, Wag A Tail said. “The pricing graph is rather even right now, although it is not back to pre-pandemic numbers, it is much lower compared to right after circuit breaker,” the company said, citing the example of a Corgi.
Right after the circuit breaker, a Corgi could cost as much as S$12,000, but at present, a Corgi puppy is priced in the S$7,000 range. Pre-pandemic, a Corgi puppy could be had from S$6,000.
The costs of pedigree cats have increased, too. A local cattery lists the cost of Ragdoll kittens as ranging from S$4,000 to S$8,500 and up, depending on breed standard. A British Shorthair cattery lists the cost of its kittens as upwards of S$8,000.
“When COVID-19 first broke out, I started to panic,” recalled Andrew Choo, owner of Genetique Cats, which specialises in Bengal cats. With the pandemic disrupting the economy, Choo worried about a drop in business for his company. But to his surprise, that was not the case. Instead, more people were interested in purchasing a cat, even though Genetique’s cats are priced in the thousands.
After witnessing an increase in demand, Choo adjusted the prices of his felines after seeing that many other pet shops and breeders were doing so. At present, prices for its Bengal cats range from S$5,800 to S$12,000. Its silver snow lynx Bengals, an incredibly rare breed, are priced from S$7,500.
While prices for dogs seem to be tapering off, Choo expects the cost of cats to remain the same. Although more people are increasingly returning to the office or resuming their travels, demand has not been affected. Genetique maintains a waiting list of between six months to two years.
Meanwhile, Alfred Khan, owner of “exotic cats” pet shop Designer Bengal Singapore, has witnessed a “conversion of dog people to cat people”.
“A lot of people who used to have dogs now suddenly prefer having a cat. They feel that cats are easier to care for and are more independent. Because they are now at home more often, they don’t want to have too much energy in the house, and cats are milder and easier to manage,” Khan said.
Khan also expects demand for cats to remain the same. “I believe at this point in time, where people are more confined in their environments, they need some mental distractions. So they look forward to having a pet as they want some companionship in their lives.”
MORE EDUCATED BUYERS, SOME SAY
The commercial pet market is not without its flaws. Some questionable practices that exist in the industry, as highlighted by breeders CNA Luxury spoke to, include pet shops purchasing animals from overseas backyard breeders and labelling them simply as “imported”. There are also those who purchase from local backyard breeders at low cost and proceed to sell them for high prices.
But buyers are getting more educated, some believe. They conduct their own research and ask questions about where the pet is from and its bloodline. They are also aware of vaccinations and blood tests the pet should have gotten before it is brought home.
These additional health checks expected of shops and breeders also contribute to the rising cost. “Pet vaccinations costs have somewhat remained the same, with little adjustments. However, as owners now become more prudent in choosing their pets, breeders and [pet shops like] us send the puppies for additional vet checks to ensure the health and quality of puppies. This also adds on to the costs,” said Wag A Tail.
But others, including a local cattery that CNA Luxury spoke to that preferred not to be named, shared that at least half of its enquiries come from customers who simply desired to bring home a pet, without asking the necessary questions.
'IT’S NOT LIKE BUYING A LOUIS VUITTON BAG'
Despite growing demand, not everyone gets to go home with a pet. Responsible businesses conduct screening of potential customers to ensure that pets go to only the best homes.
“By screening, we require prospective owners to know what they want in their furry companion. They should not get a puppy just because they think a puppy is cute and cuddly. We will ask owners questions pertaining to their lifestyle and needs. In a way, owners should know what they want,” said Wag A Tail.
“We have had, in our own prejudice, stopped many a sale from happening or continuing if we feel that certain owners are not ready, or suitable to be a pet owner.”
“One of the first things we ask is if the customer already has cats at home, as we want to know how experienced they are in handling cats. We will then ask them if their house is cat-proofed," said Genetique's Choo.
"We will also subtly ask them what they are working as. Cats are a long-term commitment, and they must be financially capable of providing for their care. It’s not like buying a Louis Vuitton bag, where if you don’t like it anymore, you just chuck it aside or store it away,” he cautioned.
For those considering adoption instead, new guidelines introduced on Jan 14 include clearly written adoption agreements and a pre-adoption screening process covering the responsibilities and expectations of adopting a pet.
"Owners should know that a pet is not a toy," Wag A Tail advised. "They are a commitment for a minimum of 10 years or more. Puppies chew, bite, bark and can be destructive. They need to eat and will soil the house. As they age, they will fall sick just like human beings. But they are part of the family."