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The Chihuahua is a tiny, cute and popular dog breed, and one that many people aspire to own. If you’re a member of any Chihuahua forums or online groups, or follow social media feeds about the breed, you’ve probably spotted occasional appeals for help after a dog of the breed has been stolen, which is naturally very alarming.
It can be hard, however, to be objective about how high the threat of a Chihuahua being stolen is – and many Chihuahua owners think that the breed is targeted by dog thieves more than others.
So, are Chihuahuas at higher risk of being stolen than other breeds? Are Chihuahuas stolen more often than other dogs? This article has the answers. Read on to learn more.
According to information published by insurers Direct Line in July 2020 and based on 2019 figures, an average of six dogs per day are stolen across England and Wales. While that is still six dogs per day too many, it is a lower number than many people suspect, and does actually represent a fall of almost 25% on the number of dogs stolen in 2018.
How things look in 2020 remains to be seen, but it is fair to say that calling 2020 a weird year is something of an understatement; we’ve spent the majority of the year under Covid-19 restrictions, including for several weeks, what amounted to essentially a full lockdown and significant restrictions on travel.
This will have impacted on the movements of dog thieves too and so, the levels of dog theft, just as it impacted on everyone else, and so it is entirely likely that the figures for 2020 will fall once more, albeit potentially more due to logistical reasons than anything else.
Based again on Direct Line’s published figures from July 2020, a total number of 50 Chihuahuas were reported stolen in 2019, and a very similar figure of 52 dogs of the breed stolen the prior year in 2018 too.
Again this is still 50 dogs too many, but when you consider that the Chihuahua is the second most popular dog breed in the UK overall, is really not a significant number of dogs of the breed and means that while it would be devastating if it happened to you, Chihuahua theft still cannot be said to be common.
So, are Chihuahuas actually stolen more often than dogs of other breeds, and is the Chihuahua the breed most likely to be targeted by dog thieves? No, although they are near the top of the list.
As the second most popular dog breed in the UK you might expect the Chihuahua to be the second most commonly stolen, but they take third place in this respect, with Staffordshire bull terrier thefts and the theft of mixed-breed dogs outstripping Chihuahua theft by some margin.
There are a number of factors that make Chihuahuas appealing to potential thieves, and the high level of demand for them, reasonably high purchase price, and desirability of dogs of the breed all factor in.
They’re also small and portable and so tend to be easy to keep in small homes, and their resale value is reasonably high if the thieves are able to successfully sell a stolen dog on.
While Chihuahuas can be feisty, their petite size makes them relatively easy to take and move around; and the high number of them in the UK means that they don’t stand out so prominently when advertised as missing compared to a less common breed or very distinctive individual dog, as there are so many Chihuahuas around.
The reason behind why any given thief steals any given dog can be variable, but the reasons for Chihuahua theft generally fall into one of three broad categories:
A lot of people’s instinctive answer to this question would be unprintable, and of course, people who steal dogs are not what we might think of as being “good” people, to put it politely.
But it can be helpful to understand the more objective answer to this too, and again the type of people who steal Chihuahuas can loosely be split into three categories:
Professional, organised dog thieves who may work as part of a network, steal to order, target specific dogs and plan their thefts in advance. This is uncommon.
Local, casual or standalone thieves who may steal a dog as a one-off to try and sell or breed from, or if they know they can sell or profit from a one-off or occasional theft, with little to no organisation behind this.
Individuals who would not normally be involved in thefts but who steal a dog on impulse because they like it; such people rarely think such things through, and may be suffering from emotional or mental health problems, and might intend to care for the dog very well or later regret their decision and return it or surrender it.
Chihuahuas can be somewhat easier to steal than other dogs, for a variety of reasons. They’re small and portable, and often taken out in a carrier or bag, which means that if this is left unattended it is even easier to make off with by an opportunistic thief. They’re also easy to conceal, and are one of the breeds most likely to be owned in busy urban areas where they can disappear into a crowd quickly.
Chihuahuas also tend to be out and about with their owners more than most breeds, and so may be easier to target.
It is important to take steps to make things harder for dog thieves, like not leaving your Chihuahua unsupervised in the garden, not tying them up and leaving them outside shops, and if they’re in a carrier, always keeping them in sight of you.
However, the odds of someone stealing any Chihuahua are very, very low, even if you were not vigilant, and so the threat of this isn’t something you should allow to keep you awake at night.
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