TV fame behind puppy love
Carlos, Katalin and Olivia Torre love the gentle personality of their French bulldog puppy Zorro. Picture: MIchael O'Brien.

Social media and television shows including Modern Family are fuelling an explosion in the demand for French bulldog puppies in WA, breeders say.

Owned by celebrities including actors Hugh Jackman and Melissa George and pop singer Lady Gaga and regularly shown off on social media, the dwarf breed has become so sought-after that Perth dog lovers are willing to pay up to $5000 for a puppy and sit on the long waiting lists.

Some dog lovers have even been known to fly the puppies into WA from the Eastern States.

But a Perth dog breeder says they feared "Frenchies" could be the latest animal fad and dogs could become neglected once the trend dies out.

French Bulldog Awareness Group WA president Sandra Winter said breeders were receiving at least five requests for puppies a day and some people were looking for particular colours to match the dogs in television shows.

"They've gone absolutely bananas here, we've been here 30 years and when we first got here we couldn't give them away," she said.

"It's the electronic media that's done it - people see them on Modern Family and on Facebook."

Katalin Torre recently bought her bulldog puppy Zorro after learning about the breed's suitability for young families.

She said the puppy, which needed walking less than most breeds, was also well suited to a city lifestyle. "We wanted a dog which wouldn't be aggressive with the kids," she said.

"We could see the personality of the dog on Modern Family and that's part of the reason we bought him."

Ms Winter said breeders were trying to prevent selling the animals to those motivated by internet trends to reduce the risk of them being neglected.

Her group was receiving increasing numbers of reports of scammers trying to cash in on the breed's popularity by enticing buyers in with cheap deals on internet auction sites.

One WA dog lover reported losing an $1800 "deposit" to a scammer on Gumtree who promised to meet her in a carpark with a puppy but failed to turn up.

RSCPA spokesman Tim Mayne said a dog should not be considered "an accessory or fashion item".

We could see the personality of the dog on Modern Family." Katalin Torre

The West Australian

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