SAN FRANCISCO (NewsNation Now) — The theft of Lady Gaga’s French bulldogs highlights the breed’s popularity that also makes the trendy canines a target on the black market.
According to the American Kennel Club, French bulldogs are among the top five in popular breeds. They are usually worth thousands and due to high demand, there is a booming black market.
When it comes to dog thefts across the San Francisco Bay Area, French bulldogs seem to be an increasingly popular target over the last several months, reports NewsNation affiliate KRON.
Last month, a San Francisco woman was robbed at gunpoint for her Frenchie.
On Thursday, pop-star Lady Gaga is offering a $500,000 reward after her French bulldogs were stolen from her dog walker in an armed robbery. It’s not clear if Gaga’s dogs were targeted because of her celebrity status or for their breed.
Underscoring the breed’s desirability, a recent survey done by pet company Rover.com, French bulldogs were the fifth most popular dog in San Francisco.
In high demand and expensive, thieves looking to make some quick cash by reselling stolen dogs are finding buyers in the area. Since last summer, there have been several reported cases, sometimes violent, where the dogs have been stolen.
Dmitry Perkin and Kateryna Zabashta are French bulldog breeders and co-owners of Emma’s Frenchies in Brentwood.
“It’s shocking that this is happening and it’s happened more and more recently,” Perkin said.
Frenchies are small and mild-mannered, making them easy for thieves to snag, they said.
“Frenchies are really cool looking and they have this aura about them that makes you more like a celebrity and that’s why this is happening so you’re attracting attention and with being a celebrity you can attract bad attention,” Perkin said.
With a price tag between $5,000 to $6,000, the canines are a luxury addition to the family. A Frenchie with lilac and tan combination coats can cost up to $8,000.
The most popular pick for customers of Emma’s Frenchies has been the blue nose.
“It’s a certain look to the dog that’s very different than your average Frenchie and if you have a blue Frenchie you’re a pretty good target,” Perkin said.
One of those unfortunate Bay Area targets was Chloe, a blue nose that was stolen at gunpoint in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood.
Sarah Vorhaus told KRON she was walking Chloe the night of January 5 when several men attacked her and took off with the dog.
In another case from last summer, a burglar broke into a home in the city and stole a pair of 10-week-old puppies.
Breeders say the Frenchie community can be pretty tight-knit but the search for these stolen dogs can be difficult.
The best advice for owners is to be aware of their surroundings when out with their dog.
“You’re the boss here. We’re all human beings and we can all be more cautious and we should be,” Perkin said.
There’s now a $20,000 reward for Chloe, who more than a month later, still hasn’t been found.
A campaign and a website have been set up in hopes of bringing her home.
NewsNation affiliate KRON contributed to this story.