The Labrador retriever has been the most popular dog in the United Kingdom during the coronavirus lockdown.
A study shows the dogs, which are known for their assistance skills, enjoyed a surge of interest since the lockdown was announced on March 23.
As many people were advised to either work from home and several others furloughed, interests in dogs for company grew significantly.
Head of health and welfare at the Kennel Club, Bill Lambert, said: “The Labrador is one of the most popular breeds in the UK and has been for decades – they’re an affectionate and loyal all-rounder.”
Data on Google Trends show the Labrador retriever saw a spike in searches, which peaked on May 30 with a volume of 72.
The Labrador’s closest search competition is the cocker spaniel and dachshund.
Reports indicate that the UK may face a shortage of puppies as a result of the rising demand for dog companions during the lockdown, an issue which is of great concern to Mr Lambert.
He said: “When demand for dogs outstrips the available supply, we always have concerns that people might start to look for puppies from lower welfare sources, including puppy farms in the UK and dogs imported from overseas.
“We also know that some countries don’t always have the same animal welfare standards or legal protection as the UK, which can result in imported dogs and puppies suffering due to poor welfare and breeding conditions.”
Experts have also warned against potential owners getting a dog only for the lockdown.
As the lockdown eases and the UK begins to to get back to normal, the search for dogs sees a decline with the search volume for the Labrador retriever falling to 55.
Mr Lambert said he can understand why many people would want to get a puppy now as they have such a positive impact on wellbeing and mental health.
“Please don’t make a decision to get a pet just because you’re at home now.
“You need to make sure you can properly care for a dog for its life, including when we go back to ‘normal’,” he said.
RSPCA’s dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “It’s important to think about your previous lifestyle and whether you would have been able to get a puppy at that point.
“As well as being wonderful and very rewarding in many ways, puppies are messy, noisy, destructive and very demanding of time and energy on a daily basis.”