There’s a booming black market for French bulldogs because of their easy-to-snatch size and the breed’s popularity among celebrities, animal experts told The Post Thursday after Lady Gaga’s dogs were stolen at gunpoint.
The petite, pointy-eared pooches have become all the rage in recent years — topping the list of New York City’s most-owned mutt — and can now fetch between $1,500 and $5,000 in some circles, according to American Kennel Club Vice President of Public Relations Brandi Hunter.
“There has been an increase in celebrity ownership, and a higher visibility — and with that comes a higher demand, ” Hunter said. “But they’re not just a fashion accessory under your arm — they’re a living, breathing family member.”
Celebs like Cara Delevigne and John Legend have been photographed in recent years toting their French bulldogs, fueling the breed-based trend.
Along with becoming a “fashionable” breed, the dog’s size makes it more vulnerable to black market swindlers, she said.
“It’s compact, portable size plays a role. Are you going to steal a Rottweiler? I don’t think so,” she said.
On Wednesday night, Lady Gaga’s dog walker, Ryan Fischer, was reportedly shot in Los Angeles by a gunman who swiped two of the superstar’s beloved French bulldogs.
“There’s tremendous fadism of these dogs,” Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, said of the dog’s high-price tag. “The procuring of popular breeds has been much more profuse recently.”
He said he’s yet to see an investigation into how widely the breed has been targeted in back-alley circles or how smuggling rings work. But there have been “cases of shelters broken into to obtain certain dogs,” he said.
The theft of Lady Gaga’s dogs wasn’t the first time a Frenchie had been targeted by armed crooks in Southern California, police told Patch.com.
Last month, Joshua Reneau, 29, and Serenity Gershon, 20, allegedly met a woman selling one of the dogs on Craigslist — and Reneau then pointed a semi-automatic handgun at her and demanded that she hand over the dog, according to Moreno Valley Sheriff’s Office.
Gaga is now offering a $500,000 reward for the safe return of her four-legged friends.
“Our prayers are with her that she gets them back safely,” Hunter said.