RSPCA has witnessed 517 per cent increase in French bulldog rescues (Image: GETTY)
The huge increase in popularity of fashionable French bulldogs, Chihuahuas and dachshunds is being mirrored by the numbers being rescued by the RSPCA, the charity said today. Only weeks after the Kennel Club declared the French bulldog the nation’s most popular breed, new figures show how there has been 517 percent increase over the past three years in the numbers being taken in by the RSPCA. Because wannabe trendy pet owners are not researching the commitments needed to look after dogs, the charity is warning how it is seeing more designer breeds being cruelly treated and dumped.
It was in the run up to Crufts that the Kennel Club announced that “Frenchies" have surpassed the Labrador as the nation’s most popular dogs, with a 3,483 percent rise in puppy registrations over the past decade.
The popularity of designer breeds has been fanned by celebrities being pictured with their pampered pooches poking their heads out of handbags or parading on red carpets.
Yet for the country’s biggest and oldest animal charity, the fallout from stars-in-their-eyes owners spending small fortunes on pedigrees they cannot handle is becoming a serious welfare issue.
In 2016, the RSPCA did not rescue any dachshunds but last year took in 28. Chihuahua rescues have leapt by 317 percent over the last three years.
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French bulldogs have become the UK's top dogs over the past decade but more need rescuing (Image: GETTY)
RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said today: “We know that the breeds of dog coming into our care often reflect the trends in dog ownership in the wider world and, at the moment, it doesn’t get more trendy than ‘designer’ dogs like French bulldogs and dachshunds.
“As The Kennel Club has seen registrations of these breeds soaring and more celebrities and social influencers post their puppies online, we’re beginning to see more of these breeds coming into our care.
" Sadly, as the popularity of these dogs rockets, so too do the number of people taking one on, some of whom haven’t properly researched and considered the responsibility involved in caring for these dogs.
“This means we’re seeing more French bulldogs, Chihuahuas and dachshunds being cruelly treated, neglected and abandoned.”
Two long coat Chihuahuas in RSPCA care (Image: RSPCA)
It is not the first time the RSPCA has been affected by dog welfare problems fanned by zeitgeist. When Twilight and Game of Thrones hit cinema and televisions screens there was an influx of unwanted wolf-dog breeds such as huskies and malamutes coming into its kennels.
What worries the charity is the popularity of so-called “flat-faced” handbag breeds is also creating dog health issues.
Ms Hens continued: “Unfortunately, many of these ‘designer’ dogs come with major health problems which can affect their quality of life and lead to expensive insurance premiums or vet bills.
“Some of these dogs are bred badly on puppy farms or smuggled into the country from abroad while breeders here struggle to meet the huge demand.
“And other dogs face severe welfare problems due to the way they’ve been selectively bred in order to exaggerate features such as short, flat faces to meet the demand for smaller, ‘cuter’ ‘handbag’ dogs.”
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Frenchie the bulldog at RSPCA rescue centre (Image: RSPCA)
Shifting patterns in dog popularity appears to be having improved consequences for Staffordshire bull terriers, notoriously some of the most abandoned animals in the UK.
While the national trend for all dogs ending up at RSPCA rescue centres last year showed a 10 percent decline since 2016, the number of Staffies needing to be rescued decreased by 29 percent.
The RSPCA says prospective designer puppy buyers should consider adopting a rescue dog while also studying the commitments required for owning a dog.
Anyone thinking of getting a dog can find more information about adopting from the RSPCA online.