Unwanted ‘handbag dogs’ increase as family favourite pets fall out of fashion

Going up

  • Chihuahuas – their numbers have more than doubled since 2011
  • Miniature pinscher, pugs and Pomeranians – virtually unknown at Blue Cross centres five years ago, we took more than 20 of each last year
  • Lhasa Apsos – these fluffy favourites are climbing, from just seven at Blue Cross centres five years ago to 18 in 2015
  • Pugs – five times as many pugs were handed into us last year, compared to five years ago
  • French bulldogs – this fashionistas’ favourite has crossed firmly into real life, with Blue Cross now taking in around five every year

Falling out of fashion

  • Labrador retrievers – numbers of this family favourite at our rehoming centres have gone down by 33 per cent since 2011
  • Jack Russell terriers – there has been a drop of ten per cent for this popular breed in the past five years
  • Border collies – Blue Cross took in less than half the number of border collies last year than it did back in 2013

For the first time ever, dog breeds traditionally thought of as British family favourites could be overtaken by ‘fashion breeds’ on rescue centres’ most unwanted lists. 

The face of dog ownership may be permanently changing, and we worry that the influence of celebrity owners and fashion trends means many more pets are bought for the wrong reasons and soon given up.

Lhasa apso puppy Aslan was only five months old when he found himself at the Blue Cross in search of a new home. Bought from a puppy farm, Aslan was under socialised and didn’t get on with the other dog in his home. His owners sadly realised they couldn’t cope with him and brought him to Blue Cross to find a new home. 

Alyson Jones, Head of Rehoming Services for Blue Cross, said: “Puppies like Aslan are pretty hard to resist and his owners made the right decision by bringing him to us, but sadly it’s not an isolated case.

"The fact that it’s so easy to buy a pet online often leads to heartbreak, as owners can be tempted by a quick purchase without realising what’s involved or end up with a puppy from an unscrupulous breeder with health or behaviour problems.

“There are of course trends in pet ownership, just like everything else, but our concern is that people are increasingly basing their choice of breed, where to get it from - or even their decision to get a pet in the first place - on what is fashionable and quick.

"Five years ago, we did not see breeds like pugs or French bulldogs, but now we take in a steady number of them each year - they are definitely becoming more and more common in our rehoming centres.”

If you’re thinking about getting a new pet, please take your time and do research into the right pet for you.

Carefully research rescue charities or reputable breeders before taking the plunge, and ask questions about costs, the time it will take to care for your pet and the needs of different kinds of breeds.