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French bulldogs are the UK’s most popular dog breed overall, even given the fact that they are right at the top of the list in terms of how expensive they are to buy. The average Kennel Club registered French bulldog costs around £1,530, and even unregistered and non-pedigree Frenchies cost an average of £1,337.
However, these figures don’t even come close to paying for dogs at the top of the price scale – and French bulldogs that have excellent conformation and looks, that have won shows, that are related to show winners or that are exceptionally healthy commonly attract prices of well over £2,000, and even over £3,000 in some cases.
The popularity of the French bulldog and the often prohibitive purchase cost of buying one also means that French bulldogs are one of the most commonly stolen dog breeds in the UK – in fact, data from 2017 indicates that they’re the third most likely to be stolen dog breed in the UK overall.
While dog theft isn’t an acute issue in the UK – a total of just under 2,000 dogs of all breeds and types were reported stolen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2017 – French bulldog owners should be aware of the potential risk of theft, and take steps to safeguard against it.
If you own a French bulldog and want to ensure that you do everything possible to protect your dog from thieves, this article will share some tips and advice to follow.
First of all, all dogs in the UK should be microchipped in order to identify their owners – and this is not just good practice, it’s also the law. Microchipping your French bulldog (and keeping your details up to date) won’t actually stop them being stolen, but it will mean that their ownership can be traced back to you – which might mean that if your dog is stolen and subsequently found, or even taken for treatment to a vet at a later date, their microchip will be scanned and your details found and flagged.
Putting a collar with ID tags on your dog is also a legal requirement in the UK too, and while this again isn’t something that will stop a theft, it does clearly identify your dog as owned. This may deter an opportunistic theft, or someone finding your dog and simply deciding that a lack of collar means they’re a stray or don’t have an owner.
You should also take pictures of your dog (and update them regularly) and keep them safe in case you ever need to spread the word about your dog being lost or stolen. It is wise to take pictures specifically for this purpose, taking a range of head-on and side views that clearly show your dog’s colours and distinctive markings in clear light.
These pictures are more useful in identifying your dog than pictures you might have simply taken because your dog looks cute, but that aren’t designed to show their exact features.
Additionally, if your dog’s colour or appearance changes throughout the year or as they get older, update your pictures regularly and keep them safe just in case.
French bulldogs are an appealing target for opportunistic thieves, who might simply spot your dog out and about and make a snap decision about making off with them.
Don’t leave your Frenchie tied up outside of the supermarket or shops, and don’t ask a stranger to watch them for a minute for you either. Additionally, don’t leave your dog alone in the car – even for just a few minutes – while you’re out of sight.
When you let your Frenchie out into your yard or garden, make sure that they are securely fenced in and cannot escape – and that no one can simply reach over the wall and pick your dog up, and that a gate or doorway will alert you if someone comes in.
Always keep your dog in view and earshot when in the garden, and don’t leave them out on their own without supervision, particularly if you pop out.
If you are looking for the services of a dog walker or sitter, choose them carefully – make sure that they are who they say they are, can provide ID, have references, and are appropriately insured. Thieves will occasionally pose as people offering dog-related services, using this as an opportunity to scope out viable targets for theft and gain your trust.
When it comes to when and where you walk your dog, try to vary your routine so that you don’t always go to the same place at the same time, to avoid people mapping your dog’s movements. Pay attention to your dog when you are out on walks, and keep them in sight and earshot.
Many dog lovers have a real soft spot for French bulldogs, and may often want to stop and pet your dog and talk to you about them – and this is perfectly normal and rarely has any ill intent. However, be wary if someone seems to be asking you overly personal or intrusive questions about your dog, such as their pedigree, spay or neuter status, how much you paid for them, or anything else that is unlikely to come up in general conversation.
If you use your dog for breeding, it is important to consider the possibility that thieves may pick potential targets from ads for puppies for sale. Check the details given to you by any prospective puppy buyer, and again, be alert to strange questions or anyone who seems to be as interested in your home and security as they are in your dogs. Report any suspicious enquiries or interactions to the police.
If you don’t intend to use your dog for breeding or stud, have them spayed or neutered, to reduce their potential appeal to thieves.
If the worst does happen and your French bulldog is stolen, report it to the police immediately. Inform the local dog warden, vets, animal care shelters and any other appropriate bodies too, including your microchipping company.
Start circulating your dog’s details – including the pictures we mentioned earlier – as widely and as quickly as possible. Use national lost and found registers, local groups, social media, and anything else you can think of. This maximises the chance of someone spotting your dog with a thief, and may even let the thief themselves know that your dog is being actively pursued and so, might increase the chances of them surrendering it to a shelter or otherwise deciding that it is more trouble than it is worth to keep.
There are lots of different French bulldog-specific social media groups and websites too, which often have very proactive communities who are also likely to recognise the other Frenchies in their local area and be able to keep an eye out for a new or strange dog appearing suddenly with a new owner.
The faster and more widely you can spread the word about your stolen French bulldog, the better the chances of them making it home again safely.
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