Vets warn of puppy misery, as a third suspect illegal imports

The most common breeds suspected by vets to have been illegally imported are those that are in hot demand, made popular by celebrity owners or promoted through merchandise. Half of vets surveyed voiced concerns about illegal imports of French bulldog puppies, with Pugs (29%) and Chihuahuas (16%) coming in as the second and third most common.

 Vet Gudrun Ravetz, President of the British Veterinary Association, said:

“Illegal importers only care about profit, not puppy welfare. As vets, we’ve heard awful stories of people buying puppies only for their puppy to be dead 24 hours later because of the way it was bred and cared for in its early days outside of the UK.

 “It’s extremely concerning that we’re seeing so many flat-faced breeds, like French bulldogs, being brought into the country given the serious breathing and health issues that they already suffer from, let alone the added disease risks associated with illegal imports.”

 Illegally imported puppies have often been poorly bred, without the correct vaccinations or health checks needed, which can result in life-threatening but preventable illnesses like parvovirus and giardia. Often owners are not aware of their puppy’s background and buy an unwell puppy that needs extensive veterinary care, or in the worst cases, euthanasia.

 BVA’s findings come at a time when potential owners may be considering getting a puppy for Christmas. BVA President Gudrun Ravetz continued:

“A dog should never be bought ‘for Christmas’ as it is a stressful time of year with lots going on that can unsettle and distress pets.

 “It might sound silly, but dog ownership begins before you even own a dog! It’s a life-changing commitment and we'd advise anyone thinking about getting a dog to speak to their local vet first and use helpful tools like the online ‘Puppy Contract’ to make sure they buy a happy, healthy puppy.”

 To prevent illegal profiteering practices and ensure purchase of a healthy puppy, BVA is advising anyone considering buying a dog to wait until the New Year and use the ‘Puppy Contract’, a free online guide which outlines both the owner and breeder’s responsibilities in buying and selling a puppy as well as simple tips on what to look for such as always seeing a puppy with its mother. More information can be found at


 Notes to Ed:

  1. BVA is the national representative body for the veterinary profession in the UK. We represent the views of over 16,000 members on animal health and welfare, and veterinary policy issues to government, parliamentarians and key influencers in the UK and EU.
  2. BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey ( is a bi-annual survey of veterinary surgeons and veterinary students drawn from BVA members and carried out by the independent research company, Alpha Research The Voice of the Veterinary Profession captures the profession’s views and experiences by asking questions about animal health and welfare, public health, and trends in the veterinary profession. The panel is broadly representative of the BVA membership, which is largely in line with RCVS membership. The Autumn 2016 survey was completed by 1014 BVA members between 27 September and 19 October 2016. 

 The Spring 2016 survey asked panel members:

Have you seen puppies that you had concerns had been imported illegally in the last twelve months?

  • 31% - yes
  • 69% - no

If ‘Yes’ what are the most prevalent breeds you have concerns about (list up to three in order of concern/prevalence)?

  • French bulldog – 50%
  • Pug – 29%
  • Chihuahua – 16%
  • Cross breeds/designer cross breeds (non-specific) – 13%
  • Bulldogs (non-specific or other eg. American, English) – 11%

 For more information, please contact the BVA media office on 020 7908 6340 or 07503 190 247 or via


 Felicity Quick