Dog thefts in the UK have soared by 20 per cent in two years, particularly among breeds popular with celebrities.

Since the beginning of 2013, 5,288 of the pets have been reported stolen, and the numbers have risen sharply year on year, figures reveal.

Pugs and miniature French bulldogs, fashionable with the wealthy and famous, are especially likely to be targeted.

In 2013 1,490 dogs were taken. In 2014 the figure was 1,599, rising to 1,776 in 2015. In the first four months of 2016 alone, 423 were reported stolen.


Tiny toy breeds of dogs have especially popular thanks to celebrities being seen walking - and carrying - the animals. In December last year actress Carrie Fisher took her French bulldog Gary on to the Graham Norton Show while promoting the last Star Wars film.

Dog experts said a shortage of puppies has created a market for the thieves, particularly among fashionable breeds.

Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club, said: "Generally second-hand dogs have no real value but, because of popularity, a breed can carry a perceived value which people will pay for because they want to be part of the trend.

"Because the potential owner doesn't know where the dog has come from, they're paying a couple of thousand pounds for a dog that could have health problems.

"There is not enough breeding in this country, which means there is space to sell dogs that have been stolen or bred in puppy farms abroad."

Of the 37 police forces that responded to the Freedom of Information requests by the BBC, 24 reported more thefts in 2015 than two years earlier.