Dogs as Fashion Accessories – Do We Have a Problem?

Animal charity Battersea Dogs & Cats Home says it has seen a 40 per cent increase in the number of ‘handbag’ dogs coming through its doors this year, with many suffering from behavioural issues after being mollycoddled by their owners.

Yorkshire Terriers were the most popular small breed needing Battersea’s attention, with over 90 already coming into the Home so far this year, compared to 54 the year before – a 67 per cent increase. Chihuahuas are also an increasingly popular breed at Battersea, with a 36 per cent increase coming into Battersea since last year.

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Ali Taylor, Head of Canine Welfare Training explains: “Small dogs have become very popular and fashionable in recent years and sadly Battersea sees the repercussions of people taking on these dogs with little thought of how to care for them. They may be small but they are still dogs, and sadly people treat them like babies or accessories without letting them behave as dogs should.”

In next week’s episode of ITV1’s new series Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs, viewers will be able to see dog-lover Paul O’Grady being advised not to handle a seemingly cute Chihuahua at Battersea. Bobby was a small dog with a big attitude. The troubled Chihuahua had been spoilt and pampered in his previous home and developed signs of severe possession over his owner and would snap and bark at anyone who came near. Unable to cope, Bobby’s owner sought help from Battersea.

Yorkie Princess Tamara is one of Battersea’s current residents who came into the Home as her owner could also no longer care for her. The four year old miniature Yorkie arrived with her very own carrier filled with a variety of outfits including a fur Gillett and a pink ‘Spoiled but not rotten’ t-shirt. Although the little princess was loved in her previous home, she had developed handling and stranger issues because she was babied and carried around.

Battersea is advising people to do their homework before taking on a dog and urging owners of small dogs to treat their pet as a dog not a fashion accessory. Ali Taylor adds: “You wouldn’t carry around a St Bernard or a Rottweiler but people tend to pander to the little breeds and it can make their behaviours worse. There’s no denying that many of the little breeds we see here were once loved by their owners but spoiling them can create behaviour problems and even breakdown the relationship between dog and owner as that spoilt syndrome takes over. Bobby was a classic example of this but he’s now found a new home where he’s discovered his inner-dog and is doing really well.”

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