Signs of Dog Thieves: Ways to Spot a Dog Thief in Your Area

Last Updated on July, 2024

The word “dognapping” refers to the stealing of a dog. It is also known by its synonyms, dog flipping or pet kidnapping. 

The American Kennel Club reports that dog thefts are up 40% over the previous year. Theft of dogs is rising, and aggressive criminals are using new strategies, such as violence, to seize four-legged family members.

Every Dog owner needs to be aware of Dog thieves and relevant signs to protect their pet Dogs. 

Continue reading to know the signs of thieves targeting your Dog and strategies you can take in advance before encountering the dognapping threat. 

Quick Summary

Dog thefts are on the rise, with a reported 40% increase in the past year, and thieves are employing new strategies, including using violence, to take four-legged family members.

There are several signs and strategies that dog owners can use to protect their pets from theft, such as being aware of suspicious strangers and using GPS trackers.

Popular and expensive breeds such as French bulldogs, Yorkshire terriers, and Labrador retrievers are often targeted by thieves, and it is important for dog owners to be vigilant in protecting their pets.

Why are Dogs Getting Stolen?

a man holding a dog

According to numerous reports of missing dogs, it is suspected that they have been stolen. A dog can be a friend to a dog lover, but a dog can also be a money-making tool for burglars. Here are a few causes for why a dog could be the victim of theft.

  • The stolen dogs can be sold and taken to puppy farms for breeding purposes.
  • Thieves can steal animals while they wait for a huge prize to be announced. They would then approach unintentionally sympathetic caretakers to collect the money.
  • Some people sell stolen and lost animals to scientific and veterinary facilities that use dogs and cats for testing and biomedical research.
  • A fighting dog’s training program may employ stolen pets as “bait dogs.” Doberman Pinschers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and German Shepherds are the most prevalent breeds of these animals.

What are the Signs That a Thief is Targeting Your Dog?

A “cross” is purportedly used to indicate a “good target,” with a pink cross for little dogs, a yellow cross for medium-sized dogs, and a red cross for larger breeds.


According to reports, numerous bizarre signs have been posted outside people’s homes around the nation. Many fear the markings left behind to let thieves know where dogs might be stolen.

  • It is believed that a “cross” marking – pink for little dogs, yellow for medium-sized dogs, and red for larger breeds, is used as a signal.
  • Plastic ties on lampposts, gates, garbage, and fences are among the odd signs in front of individuals’ residences. In addition, it is said that chalk marks reveal crucial details about the house to burglars.
  • According to reports, dog thieves who prey on households with purebred breeds have devised a secret color-coding system.
  • In some households, usage of UV paint markings was reported doubting pet thieves could make the marking.
  • Strangers trying to get closer to your Dog can also be considered suspicious. 

How are Dogs Stolen? 

a dog inside the cage

Unimaginably Dogs are reported to be stolen from cars, the fronts of stores, dog parks and yards using treats as bait. Here are the things that you should take note of. 

  • Thieves can use numerous techniques to determine whether a dog is present in your home. They may even knock on your door to check if you need anything done; they know you have dogs because of that. Be very careful, please!
  • Thieves leave markings and frequently stalk to pick the ideal time to steal your Dog after verifying its presence in your home.
  • Dogs are reportedly taken from yards and homes (Dog snatching).
  • Strangers make a scene to get friendly with your Dog and eventually make them follow their orders and commit Dognap. 
  • Pet thieves can use illegal sprays on dogs to cause them to pass out when left alone in a place where they can reach them.
  • Food items that include drugs can be given to dogs so they won’t fight back against Dognapping.

Dogs That are Most Likely to Be Stolen

French Bulldogs, Chihuahua and Labrador Retriever

You’re absolutely right to wonder whether some dog breeds are more likely to be taken. The most well-known, expensive, friendly, and valuable breeds are most likely to be dognapped. Here is a list of dogs that are reported to be frequently targeted.

  1. French Bulldogs: In the past 18 months, there has been a rise of between 60 and 70 percent in the number of persons looking for French bulldogs, with an average of three to five requests each week. As you can see, it is thus in demand.
  2. Yorkshire Terrier: Yorkies are the perfect Dog to steal because of their small size and outgoing personalities.
  3. Bulldog: Since this breed’s hostility has been reduced and eliminated by breeders over many generations, most of them now make lovely family pets due to their friendliness and patience.
  4. Chihuahua: Despite their protectiveness and territorial energy, Dognappers find them attractive prey due to their small size.
  5. German Shepherd Dog: German Shepherds are among the dog breeds that are most prone to be stolen. German Shepherds are frequently stolen when they are still puppies because of their perceived aggressiveness; at that age, their playfulness and tiny size make them easier prey for thieves.
  6. Labrador Retriever: According to surveys, the most popular dog breed is the Labrador retriever. Unfortunately, the characteristics that make Labradors lovable family pets, sensitive therapy dogs, and warm friends are also the characteristics that make them more easily stolen.
  7. Siberian Husky: These dogs are stunning to look at, expensive to purchase, active, and enjoy playing. They may seem like wolves, yet they pose no harm at all.

How Can You Protect Your Dog From Theft?

a dog on the ground
  • Be suspicious of strangers asking you about your Dog, petting them, or slowing down their car around you.
  • No matter how secure the neighborhood seems, you should never tie your Dog up in front of a store. They become an attractive target for pet thieves.
  • Change up your walking schedule and routes because some dogs are watched and then abducted while being walked.
  • Track your Dog’s location frequently using GPS pet trackers that attach to your Dog’s harness or collar. 
  • Never put your Dog’s name on its collar, harness, or ID tags since doing so makes it simpler for criminals to help attract them in. Using a microchip to store the personal information can be helpful if someone else finds your lost Dog.
  • Train your Dog against Dognappers.
  • Avoid sharing too much information about your Dog on social media, such as your residence and place of employment. Be mindful of privacy settings.

What to Do if You Doubt That Your Lost Dog Might Have Been Stolen?

It can be upsetting and traumatic to look for a missing pet. But if you follow a few easy instructions from the professionals, you can get your pet home sooner.

  • You are lucky if you have already attached a tracking device with your Dog. If so, you can monitor its whereabouts using your mobile phone.
  • Call the police and contact your neighborhood Humane Society if you suspect your pet has been stolen.
  • If your pet is not found after the initial search, start creating colorful flyers; but don’t mention the reward amount. 
  • For help finding your Dog, go to nearby animal shelters.
  • Use the technology resources appropriately to find your missing Dog. Share the incident with your friends and groups.

Stay calm, and keep looking for your Dog even though a few days have passed.

How Can You Track the Location of Your Dog?

There are two popular options that you can use to track your Dog.

  1. Microchip your Dog: This can work only if your lost Dog is found by someone and taken to a vet. The vet can locate the owner’s registered database by scanning the Dog’s implanted microchip, and the owner will be notified of the Dog’s whereabouts. 
  2. GPS Dog Tracker: Dog GPS trackers can let you know where and what your Dog does. The GPS tracker will give you a travel route of all the locations your Dog frequently visits. Some trackers will also provide information on your Dog’s fitness and activity level, assisting you in maintaining your pet’s well-being.

Related article: How to track a stolen dog?

What Happens if You Buy a Stolen Dog Unknowingly?

a human buying a dog

The original owner may file a case against you if they have the necessary proof. The court serves as a public venue for resolving individual disputes. It is a crime to have a stolen Dog. Be aware that you don’t buy a stolen Dog.

Final Thoughts

Dog stealing is becoming more prevalent. According to the American Kennel Club, dog thefts have increased since last year. Dog theft is rising, and violent criminals are employing new tactics like assault to take possession of four-legged family members.

More pets are being stolen and sold by criminals looking to take advantage of petless people’s need for animal companionship and various other reasons.

Besides being taken from yards, vehicles, and shops, dogs in high demand are also the targets of house invasions and armed robberies in public places.

Tracking your Dog’s whereabouts from time to time is essential. You can microchip your Dog, but attaching a GPS Dog tracker is the best choice for tracking.

GPS dog trackers can be used to monitor your Dog 24/7. You can check more about the Dog’s GPS trackers and the best dog GPS trackers here.



Yes. Pet theft is a significant issue not just in the US but throughout the world. Every year, around 2 million Dogs are reportedly stolen around the globe.

Request the papers outlining the Dog’s history to confirm it matches the seller’s information. To ensure everything is in order, request to see the Dog’s medical records and make an effort to speak with the seller’s veterinarian.

Yes. Pet thieves can remove identification tags, such as microchips and GPS collars, and replace them with new ones. But GPS trackers can give you the map of paths your Dog traveled before the device was removed. 

Pit bulls are occasionally taken and used as “bait dogs” to train fighting dogs, claims the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

Was this article helpful?

User Avatar
Thomas Villalpando
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of Dogs Academy. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. He has been featured in MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Sun, Entrepreneur & More. You can find more about him here.

Leave a Comment