With perky ears, a please-pick-me-up-and-cradle-me gaze and their short-legged crocodile waddle, French bulldogs have become the “it” dog for influencers, pop stars and professional athletes. They are now the second-most-popular U.S. dog breed. They are also being violently stolen from their owners with alarming frequency, the New York Times reports. Over the past year, robberies of French bulldogs have been reported in Miami, New York, Chicago, Houston and across California. Often, the dogs are taken at gunpoint. The price of owning a Frenchie has for years been high — puppies typically sell for $4,000 to $6,000 but can go for multiples more if they are one of the new, trendy varieties. Yet owning a French bulldog increasingly comes with nonmonetary costs, too: The paranoia of a thief reaching over a garden fence. The hypervigilance while walking one’s dog after reading about the latest abduction.
Patricia Sosa of the French Bull Dog Club of America was not aware of any tally of annual thefts. Social media groups created by Frenchie owners are often peppered with warnings. If you own a Frenchie, says one post on a Facebook group dedicated to lost or stolen French bulldogs, “do not let it get out of your sight.” Sosa, who has a breeding business north of New Orleans, said the lure of profiting from the French bulldog craze had spawned an industry of fake sellers demanding deposits for dogs that do not exist. She said breeders were particularly vulnerable to thefts. Dan O'Neill leads a group of veterinary surgeons and other experts in the United Kingdom who urges prospective buyers to “stop and think before buying a flat-faced dog,” a category that includes French bulldogs, English bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Pekingese and Boxers. Flat-faced dogs often have multiple health conditions, including having a hard time breathing. The group's warnings have not stopped French bulldogs from rocketing in popularity, propelled in large part by social media.