FRENCH Bulldogs are being dumped on websites like Facebook and Gumtree after being bought on a whim for their cute looks.
Loved by celebs from Holly Willoughby to Lady Gaga, the breed is set to overtake labradors as the most popular in Britain with the number of litters increasing from 229 in 2000 to 21,475 now.
But welfare campaigners are urging dog lovers to think before they buy the breed which sell for around £1000 per pup.
Teresa Cargill, who runs Phoenix French Bulldog Rescue has rescued 122 dogs in the last year.
The 48-year-old from Bedford said: “These dogs are so popular but the life is being bred out of them.
“Greedy breeders are messing with the genes to create different coloured dogs such as blue Frenchies. A huge 35% of the colours we are seeing aren’t even recognised by the Kennel Club.
“This affects the development of their skin, hair and ears and it’s resulting in a lot of very poorly dogs being born then dumped online.”
One of her more harrowing cases is a pup called Pipkin who she saved from Gumtree.
He was put on the website after being bought for £1000 from a puppy farm and compared to Teresa’s own dog Benoit, who is the same age, his poor health is plain to see.
She said: “When we got him it was heartbreaking. He had mites, was blind in one eye, had an ulceration on his eye, his ear had been ripped in an attack, he had an ingrowing nail on his back paw and ulcerations all over him and scratch and bite scars all over his front legs.
“The bones in his back legs were so poorly developed from being cramped in a cage he could barely stand.
“He wasn’t microchipped – a legal requirement in the UK. He’s the same age as Benoit, one of my pups, and when you put the two of them together you can see the difference of how an ethically bred Frenchie should look.”
She’s slowly nursing him back to health. He’s eight months old now and only weighs a tiny 9kg.
A French Bulldog of his age should be more like 15kg, but he is getting more confident and is settled with her other dogs.
Teresa says educating people about the breed is key. She said: “They are becoming so disposable but they aren’t toys.
“They’re great dogs, very affectionate and loving, but they are headstrong and need a lot of attention too.”
Teresa recommends taking the following steps before owning a French Bulldog.
- Research the breed. The French Bulldog Club of England website will help explain what owning one entails.
- Find an assured breeder. Look for recommendations if you can and make sure they will offer you support once the dog comes to live with you.
- ALWAYS ask to see the puppy with the mother. You want to ensure she is healthy and well cared for.
- Ask for health certificates, a vaccination certificate, a health check report from a vet and a Pedigree or Kennel Club certificate.
- Be prepared to visit your puppy more than once, and for lots of questions and checks on your home. This is a sign of a good breeder.
- Never buy a puppy from someone who will let you pay and collect on the same day.
- Don’t take on a puppy and think you can just leave it and go back to work. You need two weeks pet-ernity leave at least to settle them, then socialisation classes and training.