The new statistics show there were more than 66,000 searches for the fashionable breed in just one month (February 2017) on the popular classified online marketplace, Gumtree.
French bulldogs are the most searched-for breed for sale online, closely followed by Labradors and pugs, in a study which the RSPCA is using to highlight the risks and realities of buying puppies on the internet.
The figures also show that the use of online websites to sell and rehome dogs has exploded within the last decade as Gumtree recorded a 785 per cent increase in the number of dogs being listed on its site in Great Britain in the past ten years.
Teaming up with Gumtree, the RSPCA has warned buyers to take care when looking for dogs online, as the internet can provide the perfect marketplace for unscrupulous puppy traders who, they say, put profit over welfare.
RSPCA’s Justine Williams said: “These figures are hugely concerning as they show the sheer number of people using the internet to buy and sell dogs. These are living, sentient creatures, which are being traded as easily as a second-hand car or a piece of furniture.
“While classified websites, if used responsibly, can be an effective method of advertising for responsible breeders and rescue organisations, sadly, far too many people abuse the internet and this has led to many animal welfare issues arising.
“The web provides the perfect marketplace for unscrupulous breeders and dealers to advertise puppies without arousing suspicion. And traders are finding clever and cunning ways to fool not only the buyers, but also the websites themselves.
“The RSPCA has found that 87 per cent of calls it receives on puppy trade issues are those where the puppy was bought online.”
Gumtree’s research shows that in just one month (February 2017), almost 10,000 listings were posted on the site advertising dogs, while there were more than 286,000 searches by prospective buyers for ‘puppies for sale’.
And during a year, 204,182 adverts for dogs were posted on the classified site.
Gumtree UK’s Morten Heuing said: “Whilst most people have safe and successful experiences rehoming dogs on Gumtree, there are a minority of unscrupulous breeders and dealers who put profit ahead of the health and welfare of the animals.
“We take the welfare of animals very seriously and work hard to ensure our site is a safe place to find pets in need of rehoming.
“Our dedicated safety team takes steps to make it as hard as possible for illegal traders to operate on the site. For example, we do not allow ‘wanted’ ads in our ‘Pets’ category and we delete any ads we believe are encouraging or indicate signs of animal cruelty.
“If users have concerns about an ad on our site, they can use the ‘Report an Ad’ button on our website and our safety team will then investigate it.”
Top ten searched-for breeds:
French bulldog – 66,439 searches
Labrador – 57,771 searches
Jack russell – 55,013 searches
Pug – 48,296 searches
German shepherd – 47,406 searches
Chihuahua – 47,110 searches
Dachshund – 44,341 searches
Pomeranian – 37,690 searches
Yorkshire terrier – 35,829 searches
Shih tzu – 33,109 searches