A Tauranga pug owner has praised Trade Me's decision to ban the sale of the cute but illness-prone dogs.

Karen Vermaak, who has a 10-year-old pug named Leyla, said she did not think any animals should be sold online but Trade Me's move was a good start.

The online auction company announced on Wednesday it was banning the sale of pugs, British bulldogs and French bulldogs - crossbreeds and purebreds - from March.

They could still be listed for adoption.

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Read more: Some breeders worried about customer reaction after Trade Me ban on pugs, French and British bulldogs

Trade Me policy and compliance team leader James Ryan said that the breeds were being banned due to a medical condition they share.

"These breeds suffer acutely from brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (Boas) which dramatically impacts the quality of their life.

"Research we've seen shows that 90 to 95 per cent of these dogs have Boas to varying degrees."

Karen Vermaak with Leyla at the Hug a Pug fundraiser for New Zealand Pug Rescue. Photo/Andrew Warner
Karen Vermaak with Leyla at the Hug a Pug fundraiser for New Zealand Pug Rescue. Photo/Andrew Warner

Vermaak is a supporter of Wairarapa-based New Zealand Pug Rescue and has helped organise Hug a Pug fundraisers.

She said the rescue often took in animals abandoned by owners who could not afford the sometimes "astronomical" medical bills that often come with owning a pug.

She hoped Trade Me's ban would cut down on the number of less-than-responsible backyard breeders and puppy mills who had capitalised on the breed's increasing popularity - at the expense of dogs' health.

"There are responsible breeders who will have waiting lists, that's the better way to go. That way you know your puppy will be as healthy as possible and have had the best start in life."

She said the gene pool for the breed in New Zealand was small and that was contributing to the issue, as well the breed's distinctive look and lovability.

"They draw attention, that's why the hug-a-pug days are so popular."

Vermaak said Leyla was her third pug and moved with her from South Africa to New Zealand.

Leyla struggled with the heat, breathing issues and arthritis on longer walks, so Vermaak often pushed the almost 11-year-old around in a stroller.

"If I run into Bunnings or Mitre 10 with her I always get held up. People want to hold her or touch her or take a photo.

"You see heads turn when you walk with a pug."

The SPCA and New Zealand Veterinary Association have also applauded Trade Me's ban.