UK motorists purchased larger cars during lockdown to accommodate dogs

A study reveals that 35% of new dog owners needed to buy a larger, more practical car as demand for puppies rose by 115% during lockdown.

A survey of 2,000 drivers with dogs by online automotive marketplace CarGurus revealed 22% bought or adopted their most recent dog after the start of lockdown.

The Cargurus survey also found that 35% of recent dog owners said they had to buy a larger or more practical vehicle because of the pet, spending an average of £7,594.

He data suggests of an estimated 800,000 puppies and dogs bought in the UK each year, 280,000 would result in their owners buying a new vehicle. This in turn would mean new owners ‘pupgraded’ their car to accommodate their new canine friends, spending nearly £2.1 billion in total (£7,594 on average per vehicle).

To help new, or future dog owners to find the right vehicle for them, CarGurus has developed a new tool, the CarGurus Pupgrader, which suggests the right vehicle based on the size of their dog and whether or not they also need to transport other family members.

The tool, launched during National Pet Month, has been developed to ensure recommendations are made based on a full-grown dog so consumers aren’t caught off guard by a fast-growing puppy.

It was created after research by CarGurus revealed more than 27% of dog owners admitted they should have thought more about the car they owned when getting their pet – with this number increasing to 61% among the ‘lockdown dog owners’.

Ivan Aistrop, Deputy Editor at CarGurus said: “We’re a nation of animal lovers, so helping people to know what to look for in a pet-friendly car is vital, especially given our research found that more than a quarter of dog owners drive with their dog in the car more than once a week. The creation of the CarGurus Pupgrader helps consumers understand the size and style of the vehicle required, ensuring not only that their dog is transported safely and comfortably, but there’s room for all the passengers, too.

“Looking after a dog is not just a case of making sure they’re eating the right diets, sleeping in the best bed or wearing the smartest collar – it’s important that owners have a suitable car, and for many new dog owners this is often an afterthought.”

Almost two thirds (62%) of new owners surveyed for CarGurus via OnePoll said they had bought a dog as an added companion during lockdown.

The most popular type of dog among respondents was a mixed breed, followed by a Labrador Retriever, Border Collie, German Shepherd and Jack Russell Terrier. Making up the top 10 were Cocker Spaniel, Cockapoo, Golden Retriever, Boxer and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The average price paid for a pooch before lockdown was £437 – but those who have picked up a puppy over the past 12 months have seen that figure increase to a whopping £1,015.

And 83% said welcoming the animal into their home was their highlight of the past 12 months. However, 64% admitted it had been more difficult than they thought it would be.

Alongside creating the CarGurus Pupgrader, CarGurus worked with UK animal charity, National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT), for further advice when travelling with your dog.

Gary McKee, Fundraising and Marketing Manager at NAWT, said: “Part of being a responsible pet owner is ensuring you do your due diligence when searching for a car that suits both the needs of your family and your dog. Owners need to think about sufficient space, safety and comfort for their animals in much the same way they would for themselves and the human members of their family.”