Small “Handbag” Dogs Are Being Surrendered to England’s Shelters in Record Numbers

Last Updated on July 2, 2021 by

Last week, when looking at this video by Adam Conover, I talked about some of the problems with purebred dogs. Other than the health issues caused by inbreeding, one of the big problems that crops up with purebred dogs is popularity and backlash; a breed gets popular, many people buy them, and then just as suddenly, they tire of their dogs and shelters start to fill up with the once-popular breed.

Joe Seer /
Paris Hilton and her dogs by Joe Seer /

Sometimes I hate being right, and this is one of those times. According to The Telegraph, a perfect example of that cycle is starting to manifest itself in England. The pet charity Blue Cross has announced that small “handbag” dogs like Chihuahuas, Shih-Tzus, and Yorkshire Terriers are now being surrendered to shelters in large numbers. A recent study shows that after being popularized by celebrities like Paris Hilton and Simon Cowell, the number of small breeds being turned in has increased 120 percent over the last five years.

Part of the problem, according to the charity, is that the people buying these dogs expected a low-maintenance pup. When they find out that it just ain’t so, the dog goes. “Sadly, people often think these little dogs won’t be much trouble to care for, and it’s often too late when they realize they don’t have time,” Kellie Brooks, Blue Cross’ rehoming manager, told the Telegraph. “Celebrities may have people to look after their pets for them, but for most of us even little dogs are going to take up time with their training and exercise needs if we want them to be happy and well-behaved.”

Chihuahua in a handbag via Shutterstock.
Chihuahua in a handbag via Shutterstock.

The problem is that this is just the latest iteration of a very old and very tiresome story that replays itself all over the world. In May, Lisa Plummer Savas wrote an excellent article here at Dogster that gave a broad history of dog fads and the inevitable backlashes. She mainly focused the particularly extreme story 0f how the Tibetan Mastiff went from a status symbol among China’s elite to being sold in bulk as meat, but similar versions have played out here in America. Until people start looking at their pets as friends and family instead of toys, it’s inevitable that we’ll see it happen again.

Via The Telegraph

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