A shocking new report shows that dog thefts have increased by six per cent across the UK as campaigners urge owners to only ever buy from reputable dealers.

Police figures suggest that at least 2,290 dogs were stolen last year with just one in six (16pc) being successfully reunited with their owners - the lowest level since Direct Line started keeping track in 2015.

Beverley Cuddy, the editor of Dogs Today magazine, a patron of Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance and founder of dog homing website Bark Angel, said: “Sadly, dog theft is still obviously very attractive to callous thieves, as figures show it being up six per cent on last year. Shockingly in 2023 almost three quarters of pet owners didn’t get their stolen pets back.

“The Theft Act still treats this crime as no more significant than the theft of a mobile phone – so all our pets are at risk of abduction.

“We can make it harder for impulsive criminals by never leaving our dogs tied up outside shops and protecting them when at home. Statistics show most are stolen from our own gardens.

"The Pet Abduction Bill will hopefully punish dog thefts more severely, but more needs to be done to change the way dogs are treated as mere commodities by the law.”

See the 3 most stolen dog breeds in the UK amid shocking new figures

The Direct Line statistics also revealed the three most stolen dog breeds in the UK with these fetching thousands of pounds on the market.

English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and XL Bullys were reported to be the most frequently stolen breeds.

English Bulldogs and 'Frenchies' are regularly advertised for around £3000, giving criminals huge sums of money per sale.

The 10 most stolen dog breeds in the UK last year

Figures released last year (for 2022) by Direct Line showed the 10 most commonly stolen dog breeds in the UK.

  1. American Bulldog
  2. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  3. French Bulldog
  4. Jack Russell
  5. Chihuahua
  6. English Bulldog
  7. Cocker Spaniel
  8. German Shepherd
  9. Yorkshire Terrier 
  10. Husky

The Comet: English Bulldogs were the most stolen breed in the UK in 2023.English Bulldogs were the most stolen breed in the UK in 2023. (Image: Getty)

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Pet owner pleads with dog thieves after her Jack Russell goes missing

Anne Maynard from Buckinghamshire, whose female Jack Russell Mouse went missing during a walk at a local golf course last year, said that the disappearance had “absolutely devastated” her family.

Repeated attempts to reach out to people in the wider community on Facebook and through posters have so far failed to return her beloved pet.

She said: “It’s changed our lives completely. You can’t give up. We have no closure. We don’t sleep properly. We get crank calls from people in the middle of the night saying, ‘We’ve got your dog’ and then they put the phone down and we can’t get back to sleep.

“It’s a life sentence. She’s part of our family”.

Addressing the person who might have her, Mrs Maynard said: “They have to do the right thing. She’s a beautiful dog, but she’s not theirs, she’s ours.

“All they have to do is put her somewhere she will be found. No questions asked. She wouldn’t give up on us, so we’re not going to give up on her.”