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Across the U.S., pet stores are finding it extremely difficult to sell Kerries. As a result, they lose money on the breed. Here's a look at why.
Why Pet Store Kerries Are Hard To Sell
Customers are unfamiliar with the breed. The general public is unaware of our breed, and most people have never seen one before. To them, a Kerry puppy simply looks like a mutt. So why would they buy one?
Black puppies don't sell as well as light-colored dogs. That's a fact already known to most pet store owners and the reason why most of the dogs they stock are light-colored. Informal surveys done at shelters attest to the fact that black dogs are also the least likely to be adopted, and black terriers are the most likely to be overlooked and eventually euthanized.
Customers don't want a 40-lb. dog. Virtually all of the breeds stocked by pet stores are toy breeds, with the exception of a few extremely popular and easily recognized breeds such as the Lab. One reason is that the puppy mills (where 90% of the pet store dogs come from) can cut costs on dog food and kennel space by breeding only small dogs. The price they get from the dog broker (who sells them to the pet stores) is the same for a small breed as a large one. Besides, most pet store customers don't want to spend more money on dog food or time on exercise than they have to.
Kerry puppies aren't as "cute" as other breeds. An objective comparison of a pet store Kerry puppy and the others in the store bear this out--even to those who love the breed. Pet store customers are impulse buyers, and buying decisions are often made solely on the basis of a puppy's face.
Kerry puppies are too active, unruly, and feisty for most customers. Puppies that whine and bark, rowdily fight with its cagemates (if there are any), bounce off the cage walls, and bite probing fingers and hands are serious turn-offs to pet store puppy buyers. They want a calm dog that's "sweet" and won't be too much trouble.
Most customers aren't willing to pay the high prices. In order for the pet store to over its costs and make a profit, Kerries are priced as high as $1499 (33% higher than healthy, quality pups responsibly bred by Kerry breeders). Even when the price is reduced to spur sales, most of the other puppies can be sold for much less, and customers are always looking for a bargain.
Juvenile conjunctivitis in Kerries is common, and a big customer turn-off.Gummy eyes that need to be cleaned and medicated several times a day is not something most pet stores want to deal with, or have the staff and time to do. And the puppy with the gunky eyes is passed over by the puppy shoppers.
Why Pet Stores Lose Money on Kerries
Long sales cycle. Most stores sell puppies within 1 to 2 weeks of delivery. Those stores that have stocked Kerries have had them for up to 6 weeks or even longer. During that time, the dogs need to eat, have their cages cleaned, be vet-checked and innoculated, and they take up precious space on the store floor. The longer it takes to sell the Kerry, the more it costs in overhead. In the meantime, the risk that the puppy will develop costly health problems (due to lack of fresh air and exercise, stress, and the incubation of serious diseases) greatly increases, as does the likelihood that a sick puppy will be returned soon after it is sold. As the puppy ages, it looks less and less appealing, may acquire neurotic behavior patterns (from long-term cage confinement), and yet its price has to be reduced to encourage a sale. Therefore, the longer the Kerry sits on the shelf, the less profit the owner makes.
High returns on sold Kerries. Kerries that finally sell are more likely to be returned to the store than other puppies. Many customers quickly realize that dealing with a coat that requires daily brushing to look decent (and regular trimming at the grooming shop--if they get that far) is more than they bargained for. They also quickly learn that housetraining a dog that was raised in a cage can be extremely difficult. And they were also not likely prepared for the high energy of the breed, its potential for dog aggression, feistiness, separation anxiety, and stubbornness, nor its nature to view other family pets (cats, rats, hamsters, rabbits, and others) as prey to be killed. And like all pet store puppies from puppy mills, the Kerry is just as likely to become ill, exhibit genetic defects, have behavior problems, and display an unsound and unpredictable temperament. By the time the Kerry is returned to the store, it is several weeks older, less attractive to customers, and therefore less marketable.
Pet Store Liability. Dog aggression is already common in the breed, and even more prevalent in puppy mill Kerries that had to fight for food and space since the day they were born. Inbreeding and careless breeding practices also contribute to producing dogs with aggressive tendencies and unstable temperaments. The unsuspecting owner who is unfamiliar with dealing with dog aggression will sooner or later get bitten when breaking up a dog fight--or worse, the owner's child will get bitten. The only party the owner knows to blame is the pet store. This means that every Kerry sold by a pet store is a future potential lawsuit. That's why store a big issue with Kerries and why more and more pet stores aren't willing to risk it.