dog being patted

UK Dog Theft

Facts and figures for dog theft in the UK

This is every dog owner’s worst nightmare, but the shocking truth is that 60 dogs per week either go missing or are stolen.

The fact is Dog theft have risen by 24% in the last three years, which equates to 60 dogs going missing per week and not all the most commonly stolen dog types are pedigree dogs. This is organised with gangs operating across the country and are often targeting specific dogs and sadly only one in five dogs stolen are reunited.

Over the years I have worked with many dogs that have been reunited with their owners, but in this article, I am going to examine the facts and look at why dog theft in the UK is on the rise.

So why is dog theft on the rise?

The facts that this 24% rise may be that since 2015 dog theft is being better recorded and we have an increase in communication between the police and local authorities.

Regular request by insurance companies and rescues for data statistics from police forces across the UK have help us get a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of how many dogs are truly missing.

As the protocol is now to contact the police and report your dog missing or stolen it has brought a better response and awareness on the part of police forces.

Social media and independent volunteer groups like Dog Lost have also played a part by continually highlighting the scale of the increase in dog theft.

This increase in awareness and data have not only given us an insight into the level of dog theft in the UK, it has also shown us a clear pattern of the type of dog breeds that are commonly targeted.

To date the five most commonly stolen dog breeds were:

1. The Staffordshire bull terrier.

2. The French bulldog.

3. The Chihuahua.

4. The Jack Russell.

5. Cross-breed dogs.

There is a few reasons why these are the most common stolen dogs but breeding and money seems to be the dominate motivator.

So how do we keep our dogs safe and what can we do to limit and prevent this happening?

Below is a list of suggestions sourced for the Blue Cross including a link to the full article:

  • Think twice before leaving your dog tied up outside a shop. You will make them a vulnerable and tempting target for opportunist thieves.
  • Don’t leave your dog alone in the car, even for a few minutes. Thieves can easily break into your car to steal your precious pet.
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped and that you keep your contact details up-to-date, especially if you move to a new house or change your telephone number. Dogs and puppies in the UK must be microchipped by eight weeks old, by law.
  • Your dog should always wear a collar and ID tag with your name and address on it. This is a legal requirement when your dog is in a public place. A mobile number is also a good idea, but avoid putting your dog’s name on the disc.
  • Take clear photographs of your dog from various angles and update them regularly. Make a note of any distinguishing features.
  • Have lots of photographs of yourself with your dog, to help you to prove ownership if needed. Train your dog to come back when called, and never let them off the lead if you are not sure they will come back to you. If in doubt, use an extending lead, especially if you are in an unfamiliar area where your dog may get lost more easily.
  • Take care when choosing someone to care for your dog if you are going away from home or need a dog walker whilst you go to work. Use a reputable company or boarding kennels and check references for people who provide dog or house-sitting services.
  • At home, make sure your garden is secure and fit a bell to the gate, so you hear if anyone opens it
  • Keep your dog in view in the garden, don’t just leave him outside unsupervised
  • If you breed puppies for sale, take great care when inviting people in to view; ideally have someone else present and limit the numbers of people you allow in at a time. Show the puppies in one secure area.
  • Decide who owns the dog in your household. Discuss who would own the dog in the event of bereavement or break up and draw up documentation to this effect. This may seem unnecessary, but pets can become the centre of ownership disputes in these circumstances.

Sourced from

60 dogs per week are stolen or go missing that is 2880 dogs per year, don’t let your dog become a statistic because remember just one in five dogs are reunited with their owners.

It is something we hope we will never have to face as it is truly your worst nightmare as a dog owner.

Stay alert and stay safe and responsible.


Paul Daly
HDipCCB One of the UK’s Leading Dog Behaviourists
I have made it my purpose in life to help you understand your dog and build a true relationship which is based on trust. I have worked with 1000’s of dogs and their owners with 70% of these cases being aggression to both dogs and people. Whilst the remaining 30% of cases were made up of pulling on the lead, over excitement, recall, prey drive behaviour, separation anxiety and training related issues.

Photo by Adam Griffith