Dodgy dog breeders are creating Frankenstein puppies in amateur labs to sell for up to £40,000 each.
Others being created are described as “hairless French bulldogs”.
Experts have warned unscrupulous traders are capitalising on the reluctance of registered vets to do fertility work and fear the new breeds will suffer poor health throughout their often short lives.
There are also concerns that some clinics are breaking the law by carrying out blood work, dishing out online drugs meant for humans and carrying out artificial insemination.
Last night, leading TV vet Dr Pete Wedderburn, who runs a practice in Ireland and trained at Edinburgh University, said animals suffered in unregulated clinics.
He said: “The rise of these clinics is a scandal.
“It is being driven by proper vets being reluctant to do the work. The reasons are ethical – a licensed vet would never get involved in breeding dogs that will suffer in their lives.
“That has led to a vacuum where these unregulated clinics have sprung up.”
Evidence seen by this newspaper shows the dogs are being traded for eye-watering amounts fuelled by an unquenchable thirst for pedigree puppies.
And two breeders running fertility clinics are currently facing court action related to allegations of unregulated veterinary procedures.
One dealer we identified in the east of Scotland – who we are not naming for legal reasons – has boasted of breeding bizarre puppies including hairless bulldogs.
Evidence provided to the Sunday Mail shows he is selling the rare pups for between £30,000 and £40,000 each.
A probe by the Scottish SPCA led to veterinary equipment at the individual’s fertility clinic being seized last year.
Last week, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said the man was facing criminal prosecution following the raid.
Despite facing court action, the breeder has continued to produce pedigree dogs including one described as “hairless French bulldogs”.
A wildlife crime source said: “These clinics are springing up in every town and city.
“Some are selling pedigree dogs at hugely inflated prices.
“And some are offering their weird breeds for stud. But these are just people out to make a fast buck.
“They have no qualifications and no cares about the well-being of the strange dogs they are creating.”
Blood samples are taken to assess when female dogs are most likely to fall pregnant.
Human hormone medication – often bought over the internet – is given in an effort to speed up recovery for a new mum who has just had a litter of puppies so they become pregnant again.
Another breeder, who helps run a dog fertility clinic in the west of Scotland, is also facing criminal action.
He offers a range of procedures including supplying pedigree dog sperm.
Despite ongoing legal action, he was again licensed for breeding dogs earlier this month.
It also warned that some unregulated clinics were carrying out artificial insemination.
BVA president Justine Shotton said: “We’re deeply concerned about reports of dog fertility clinics advertising veterinary procedures without the oversight of a vet.
“These procedures must always be carried out under the advice and care of a vet in the interests of dog health and welfare, and it is illegal to do so otherwise.
“We know of worrying reports that surgical artificial insemination has been performed at some fertility clinics, which is something that is completely banned in the UK on animal welfare grounds.”
Mike Flynn, chief superintendent of the Scottish SPCA, said: “We are extremely concerned about the increase in unscrupulous breeders breeding dogs and attempting specialist medical procedures without training.
“We are spearheading a task force to look into these issues specifically.
“The risk to the welfare of animals being subjected to procedures by untrained members of the public is very worrying.
“Breeding dogs should only be undertaken by reputable breeders who are willing to spend the time, effort and money to make sure the animals are bred carefully and given the highest quality of veterinary care throughout the process.
“It should never be done on a whim or as a way to make a quick profit.”
In January, a report by charity NatureWatch looked at the growth of fertility clinics.
The hard-hitting report said: “These ‘clinics’ appear to offer veterinary services but they are often run by people who are not vets, and many operate with no veterinary involvement whatsoever.
“These puppy laboratories are creating Frankenstein puppies who are destined to suffer for their looks.
“The number has exploded during the pandemic and our Animal Crime Investigators have seen a worrying rise in unethical and potentially unlawful practices.”
It warned the clinics were selectively breeding "flat-faced dogs” such as bulldogs and said: “Many flat-faced mums need assistance to give birth and over 80 per cent of French bulldog puppies are delivered by caesarean section.
“Some clinics are even advertising puppies for sale on the internet.
“Like puppy farmers, their motivation is money.”
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