Dog theft: top stolen breeds and how to keep your dog safe

July 31, 2022 - 3 min read

This article was written for the United Kingdom market and the advice provided may not be accurate for those in the United States.

The number of stolen dogs in the uk reached a seven-year high in 2021, according to a freedom of information request that included data from 76% of police forces in the UK.

Although there was a drop in thefts in 2019, they increased again in 2020 during the coronavirus lockdown and last year saw another 13% increase.

Apart from Northumbria, police forces in all areas of the UK saw an increase in dog theft in 2021 compared with the 2020.

The police forces with the largest increase in theft were Northamptonshire (+168%) and Dafyd-Powys (+148%).

The Metropolitan Police saw the largest number of stolen dogs, with 422 in 2021. That figure accounted for 15% of all dog thefts in the UK.

Although you may see pet theft in the news and it's an emotional subject, we'd like to reassure owners that the number of dogs stolen each year is relatively small considering the total pet population.

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For example, in 2021 dogs that had been lost or stolen accounted for only about 0.25% of all claims made to us.

But some breeds are more likely to be targeted by criminals and it's always worth thinking about how you can keep your pet safe.

So we've suggested some tips to help owners prevent dog theft. And if you have pet insurance we show how your policy could help cover the cover of advertising for a lost pet or offering a reward.

How protect your dog from being stolen:

  • Keep an eye on your dog when it’s in the garden and make sure fences and gates are secure and in good repair

  • Don’t leave your dog alone tied up when you go into a shop

  • Keeping a range of photos of your dog from different angles could be used to help identify it if it does go missing

  • Beware of strangers asking questions about your dog

  • Microchip your pet to make it easier to identify if they do get stolen

  • Helpful tip – although other owners are likely to be friendly and ask about your pet, if you feel uncomfortable about the kind of questions someone is asking, you don't have to give accurate information. Some criminals might be interested in stealing younger dogs for breeding, so if you feel someone is fishing for this information you can always add a few years to your pet's age and say they've been neutered.

What to do if your dog does get stolen

If the worst happens and your dog does get stolen, there are a few things you can do to try to recover it. First, report the crime to the police. You should then try to contact your local animal warden and any rescue centres. If your pet escapes or is dumped, these are the places it will most likely be.

If you have pet insurance, contact your insurer because they may be able to offer advice to help find it and pay for a reward and posters.

Finally, use social media. Post pictures of your pet on social networks like Facebook, Next Door and Twitter, and ask people to keep an eye out.

Other ways to keep your pet safe

Here's a few top tips to help get your pup back quickly if they do go missing.

Pet insurance

Insurance will probably be the last thing you're thinking of if your pet is stolen, but your policy might offer lost or stolen cover.

It'll often pay for the cost of advertising to find a missing pet, such as the cost of making posts and a reward. If the worst happens and your pet doesn't return it may cover the value of your pet.

Our pet insurance can cover a reward that's twice the value of your pet. And our Complete policy offers up to £6,000 of cover for loss or theft, which may be worth considering if you have a high-value breed.

Pet trackers

As well as taking all the necessary precautions and making sure your insurance policy includes loss and theft cover, you might want to consider a GPS pet tracker. These either attach to your pet’s collar or act as a replacement collar.

They are usually robust enough to withstand your dog’s rough activities and are waterproof to an extent.

How to secure your home against burglars

There are some simple techniques to help protect your home and your pets from thieves:

  • Fit key-operated locks to all downstairs and easy-access windows

  • Lock all the doors and windows every time you leave the house

  • Hide all keys out of sight

  • Install a burglar alarm and security lighting

  • Consider joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme

  • Look into replacing glass door panels with a stronger laminated glass

The most stolen dog breeds in the UK

These are the commonly stolen breeds in 2021, according to Direct Line Group's analysis of a Freedom of Information request sent to police forces.

Breed of dog Number of dog thefts reported
French Bulldog 45
Jack Russell 24
American Bulldog 20
Chihuahua 19
Pug 14

Staffordshire Bull Terriers were top of the list in 2020 but there's been an 88% reduction in theft of this breed. French Bulldogs were previously the second most stolen breed but have overtaken Staffies last year to become the most desirable breed for thieves. Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, and Pugs also made the top 5.

Some police forces were unable to provide data on specific breeds, meaning the numbers may be even higher for some breeds.

Digby Bodenham
UK engagement team lead

Digby is an experienced journalist in various fields but has specialized in insurance for more than six years. Before joining ManyPets in 2013 he was part of the editorial teams of various magazines, including Retail Week and Drapers. He has a degree in journalism and a cat called Potato.