French Bulldog Scams: How to Avoid Being Ripped Off

French Bulldog Scams

French Bulldogs are one of the most popular and highly sought-after breeds of dog on the planet. However, as with anything that has an ever-increasing high demand the opportunities for scammers to take your hard-earned money has also increased.

New and creative French Bulldog puppy scams are appearing all the time, so in this guide I aim to keep it up to date as and when I hear of new scamming tactics popping up.

Types of French Bulldog scams

Scam websites

The reason why so many people fall for French Bulldog puppy scams online is because this is the place people will often look first.

Website scammers are willing to manipulate your emotions and scam you out of thousands of pounds for puppies that are sick, mistreated or even non-existent.

The criminals behind these schemes no how much emotional investment you will have in getting a French Bulldog puppy and will play on those feelings.

Typically, they will use ultra-cute photos of French Bulldogs which they know will appeal to you… before they steal your money in an elaborate puppy scam. They will also advertise ‘free’ Frenchie puppies to get you hooked in.

Even if the website looks legitimate, be very careful. Many of the French Bulldog scam websites I’ve seen will use a real postal address to make them appear real. Often these addresses will belong to completely innocent people.

When you contact the scammers about a Frenchie puppy, they will usually be very quick to offer you a discount and will use classic sales techniques to pull you in.

Once you have paid the money, they will claim to arrange delivery. This will often by via a fake delivery company – sometimes using another scam website they have set up to look like a legitimate delivery business.

Never buy a Frenchie puppy online. If you are worried that the website you are on could be a scam, perform the following checks.

  • Browse around the website and look out for poor use of English language.
  • Google the website and company name to see if you can find any online reviews or any third-party references to them.
  • Never pay by bank transfer.

French bulldog breeder scams and puppy farms

Puppy farms, while not being a new phenomenon, are increasing in number, especially for breeds that are popular and can be worth a lot of money. And, with French Bulldogs easily costing over $2,500 dollars per puppy, Frenchie’s are one of their favourite breeds to use as part of their scams.

Scam breeders and puppy farms do not care about for their dogs or the puppies in their custody, keeping them in isolated and unhygienic conditions often separated from their parents and without any real human contact. Because of this, puppies bought from them can often be anti-social and afraid of people.

Many puppies bought from these kinds of breeders often suffer from illnesses and, while looking healthy when you first buy them, once you bring them home, they can quickly take the turn for the worse and can often die without immediate medical care.

The whole ordeal can be incredibly stressful and traumatising to both the pet and the new owner.

So, if you are looking to buy a French Bulldog puppy to be a part of your family, how can you make sure that the breeder you buy from is reputable, licenced and trustworthy? And how can you be sure that the dog you buy is healthy, socialised and well raised?

How can I tell if it’s a scam?

There are a few tell-tale signs of a French Bulldog breeder scam. Most of the time you can figure it out by what the advert looks like and your experience when first contacting the seller.

1. Be wary of immediate commitment and scarcity tactics

Scammers want to get your money as quickly as possible, so they will immediately begin to pressure sell even before you speak to them. Often their adverts will say ‘only one remaining’, used to create a sense of urgency in the customer so that they are influenced to hand over their money to secure a puppy.

They will also ask for you to transfer either your money or a despite through an online money transfer website, such as PayPal or Western Union; giving you instructions to mark it as a ‘gift to a friend’, as this then waives your refund protection.

It is advised not to put down a despite to hold a puppy before seeing them, but if you do make sure that it is refundable.

2. Does it look too good to be true?

“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is” is the old saying, and it is still an incredibly useful rule of thumb in situations like this. Purebred puppies are extremely expensive, going for a minimum of $2,500 and easily costing up to $10,000, especially for the rarer colours like blue, sable or chocolate brindle.

When looking at a puppy that is priced lower than the rest, it is important to ask why the breeder is willing to sell a puppy for a third of its recommended retail price, when they could easily get twice the amount for it.

Because of this, if they are advertising a rare fur coloured puppy for less than $2,000, take it as an immediate red flag.

Additionally, there is no such thing as mini-bulldogs, teacup bulldogs or ‘forever puppy’ bulldogs. If these puppies exist at all, they are simply smaller puppies (which may not be old enough to be separate from their mother) which will grow into a normal sized French Bulldogs.

3. Beware of hidden costs

Even supposedly free puppies come with a cost. One of the ways that scammers hook you is by advertising a bulldog puppy as ‘free to a good home’; but once you contact them about the dog, they will ask for an exorbitant ‘rehoming fee’.

Often, these puppies may not exist at all and are a cheap trick to get people to transfer money over to them for nothing in return.

Unless your next-door neighbour is giving away actual puppies for free on their porch, it is best never to trust ‘free to a good home’ adverts, especially online.

4. Don’t fall for sob stories

Puppies are very easily sold by playing on a customer’s heart strings, and French Bulldog puppy scammers are all too willing to manipulate your emotions in just the right way to get you to hand over money for a puppy.

Frenchie puppies are adorable, small and helpless, making it very easy for them to sell a sad story about them moving and being unable to keep their dog, or about how they were abandoned by their mother.

Often going hand-in-hand with hidden costs, these stories are designed to get you to open your wallet faster, without looking deeper into the transaction.

5. Always research the breeder

If you have found a French Bulldog breeder online that you like the look of, be sure to check Google for reviews or feedback or warnings about the breeder. Often, victims of a scam will take to the internet to warn others.

Sometimes a breeder will change their name to avoid these reviews, so don’t just check the name of the breeder but also their address and other details which may link them to these reports.

A useful trick to check whether the advertised puppies are what they saw they are, is to reverse-image search on Google to see whether the image has been used in other adverts.

6. Insist on meeting the parents

It is vitally important to meet the puppies before handing over any money to the breeders whatsoever, including any deposits. Always meet the puppies with their mother or both parents, and do not accept any excuses as to why their mother is present.

Puppies, while still being old enough to be separated from their mothers (at around 8 weeks old), they will still closely interact with their mother, who will be very interested in what is going on with her children.

If their mother is acting uninterested in the puppies when they are interacting with you, or the puppies do not interact with her, then she may well not be their actual mother and simply be there for show.

Also, be sure to see where the puppies were raised. If the puppies are afraid or nervous of their surroundings, they may have been brought inside from where they were actually raised.

7. Be wary of anti-social puppies

Puppies are naturally inquisitive and are always willing to go and explore and say hello to anyone new.

However, if they are acting afraid or anti-social to people when you first meet them, that can be a sign that they have not been around humans for a prolonged length of time (a sign of a puppy farm scam).

8. Ask the right questions

There is never a stupid question when buying a dog, and often the most obvious ones are the most important to ask. Including ‘did they breed the puppies themselves?’, ‘how old are they?’, ‘how old are the parents’, ‘are there any health issues?’ and ‘have they been vaccinated’.

Handy Hint: Read this guide to what to ask a breeder for more questions to ask and things to look out for before you hand money over.

9. Ask for documentation

When buying a pedigree puppy, a certified breeder needs to have documentation of the puppy’s first health check, flea and worming treatment and at least the first half of their vaccinations.

Also, as French Bulldogs often suffer from hip dysplasia and other health conditions, pedigree breeders must have a certification of the health and conditions of the parent dogs.

You can even request a vet of your choice to visit the puppies before handing over any money, to make sure that you receive a copy of the results.

Even if you are not looking to buy a pedigree puppy, do not exchange any money until you are 100% satisfied that this breeder is legit and not a French Bulldog breeder scam artist.

As soon as you purchase a puppy, even if you are sure it is from a reputable breeder, immediately take it to the vet for a check-up.

Puppies that can appear healthy can suddenly take a turn for the worse once you get them home, with many suffering from Parvo (an extremely infectious and often fatal disease).

10. Do not buy a Frenchie puppy from a puppy farm

It is often an instinct to want to rescue the puppy you have seen from the unsafe and unhygienic conditions its living in, but in doing so you are funding the continued practice of these unlicensed and cruel breeders.

The one puppy you save will help to find dozens more who will grow up in the same conditions.

If you are aware of a puppy farm scam or disreputable puppy breeder, then immediately report them to law enforcement and report the scam to the relevant organisations.

How do I report a French Bulldog scam?

While there are Facebook groups, Reddit pages and other online blogs dedicated to reporting puppy farms and dog-breeding scams, there are a few official organisations you can report to if you have been the victim of a scam or are concerned that a breeder you have found isn’t legit.

Contact your local law enforcement and your bank (if you have paid for the animal already) as soon as you suspect you have been the victim of a scam. The longer you leave it before reporting, the harder it may be to press charges, or even track them down.

Places to report French Bulldog scams include:

  • this website that collects and reports on known pet-selling scams online and has a comprehensive list of known scammers reported to them. Report a scam with them.
  • Better Business Bureau: this is a non-profit organisation that focuses on promoting reputable business practices throughout the USA and Canada. The BBB is not affiliated with any government agency or businesses. While they cannot recommend or endorse any specific businesses, they do offer a place to report online scammers.
  • IPATA: the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association mainly focus on the trading and transportation of animals, they also have a page on internet pet scams, outlining what to look out for and provides contact details to report any suspicious breeders. They also have a list of known pet scammer email addresses and websites; which you can use to cross reference any breeders you are considering.

How can I find a reputable breeder?

It is always better to be safe than sorry when buying a French Bulldog puppy, especially if you want to make sure that they are completely healthy, socialised and well-bred. Because of this, most vets and breeders recommend to only buy from breeders found through referral or recommendation.

Online out-of-the-blue breeders are often designed to scam you, but by contacting a known reputable breeder you will be directed to a number of trustworthy and fully licensed breeders.

If you know someone who previously purchased a Frenchie puppy, ask for the contact details of their breeder. Even if that breeder does not have any puppies for sale, they will be able to recommend another breeder that can help you.

While the price of a reputable French Bulldog puppy won’t often go below $2,500, shopping around is still recommended. Even if it doesn’t save you money, it will give you the opportunity to compare the different breeders and the different litters of puppies.

Always go away and think about a puppy before purchasing it, and do not accept any pressure selling tactics to buy immediately – this could be a scam too.

Always trust your gut, and if something seems wrong, don’t go for it.

Related questions

I hope this has given you a better insight into what a French Bulldog scam looks like and how easy it could be to be parted with money for a puppy.

If you are getting a Frenchie, I recommend you spend a lot of time searching around my website, and pay particular attention to the pros and cons of ownership. They are not an easy breed to own, and you need to be committed and sure you can offer them all they need.

Why get a Frenchie?

Frenchie’s often get a bad rep because of their predisposition to health issues, such as breathing problems, hip dysplasia and back problems. However, by purchasing from a reputable breeder you can go a long way to making sure that you get a healthy and happy pup.

Health insurance is also essential to cover any cost of possible medical issues, including surgeries, therapies or medications, with plans costing around $50 to £80 a month.

Personality-wise, Frenchie’s are incredibly friendly and sociable, with a goofy side to their personality that really makes them a delight. They aren’t known for their excessive barking, meaning they are great for apartments and attached houses, and are known to be great with children (although, as will all dogs, they should be supervised when around young children).

Should you buy from a professional breeder?

Professional breeders are often in high demand, with long waiting lists that can make alternative options far more attractive if you aren’t prepared to wait.

However, because of this, there has been an unfortunate rise in irresponsible breeding practices and puppy farms, breeding popular dogs in poor and often dangerous conditions for maximum profit, with no real care or attention to the dogs.

It is important when buying a puppy that you see it interacting with its mother, and also that you know what it’s bloodline is. Careless breeding can result in inbreeding and mixing incompatible breeds, which can lead to health defects that can range from difficulty breathing to predispositions to diseases.

If you want a pure-breed French Bulldog, you get what you pay for and while that may involve a bit of a wait and a slightly higher price tag, you will be sure to get a happy and healthy Frenchie.

If you are not fussed about getting a top-range bloodline, then it is highly recommended that you adopt from a local rescue centre, pound or shelter. Puppies and young dogs are often dropped off there, as well as older dogs who also need a loving home to get the love and attention that all these adorable pups deserve.


French Bulldog scams are on the rise.

Don’t get ripped off. Be very careful.

Marc Aaron

I am one of Claude the French Bulldog's human parents. I write about all the things we've learned about owning a Frenchie, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way. Read more about Marc Aaron.

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