Dog thieves ditch designer canines and turn attention to traditional breeds

Thieves appear to have gone off trendy designer dogs and are instead turning their attention to more traditional breeds.

In the last year, the number of cocker spaniels stolen has almost doubled, while lurchers have trebled and Yorkshire ­terriers have quadrupled.

Every day, an average of six dogs are stolen in England and Wales, according to research by insurer, Direct Line.

But last year, dog theft fell by 23 per cent – the first fall in six years.

An estimated 600 fewer pets were stolen last year than in 2018, but statistics show that staffies and chihuahuas are the most commonly snatched dogs overall.

Eva Sandstra-Bennett, Head of Pet Insurance at Direct Line, said: “It is encouraging to see that the number of dogs stolen has fallen over the last year and, during the current lockdown period, we expect this to drop even more.

“There is a risk, however, that these numbers may start to rise again as Lucy’s Law – which came into force in April, restricting sale of puppies from third parties – could result in some thieves having to take drastic measures.

The number of cocker spaniels stolen over the past year has almost doubled (Image: Getty)

“Dogs are such an important part of our lives, so to have one stolen is like losing a member of the family. We urge dog owners to be extra vigilant while out on their walks or in the car and not leave their beloved pets alone.”

Below is Direct Line’s guide for what to do if your dog is stolen:

  • Check your pet’s favourite spots in case they have wandered off.
  • Make your dog “too hot to handle” by sharing pictures on social media, putting posters up near where you live and informing local media.
  • Try specific sites set up to help find lost and stolen dogs, such as
  • Report your dog stolen to police and provide as much detail as possible.
  • Also inform local vets, animal shelters, pet shops, dog wardens and the council.
  • Contact the microchip database.

Campaigners want to change the law so pet theft is classed as a separate offence to account for the emotional impact on the owner.

Currently, in the eyes of the law, animals are viewed as inanimate objects and pet theft is not a specific offence.

In a bid to change this, urge the Government to rethink the law by signing an online petition at

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