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RSPCA sees worrying rise in rescues of fashionable ‘designer’ dog breeds

The number of designer crossbreeds coming into RSPCA centres is on the rise.

The RSPCA has had an influx of fashionable dog breeds and ‘designer’ crossbreeds arriving at its national centres.

The worrying trend reflects an increasing demand for specific breeds which the charity is seeing within the puppy market and which is the focus of its latest campaign.

Sadly, these popular breeds and crossbreeds can later be abandoned or are not cared for properly.

In October 2015, the RSPCA launched its Scrap the Puppy Trade campaign to tackle the unscrupulous puppy breeders, traders and importers selling dogs in the UK.

As responsible breeders struggle to keep up with the demand for popular breeds, many prospective dog owners unwittingly turn to puppy farms and, all too often, dogs with health problems or behavioural issues end up in the care of animal charities such as the RSPCA.

As demand for specific breeds goes through the roof, we’ve seen more and more dogs of specific breeds and crossbreeds arriving at our 17 animals centres across the UK.

As has always been the case, Staffordshire bull terriers remain the most frequent residents of our rehoming centres, but the overall number is falling. The RSPCA cared for 404 staffies last year, less than the charity rescued in 2014, 2013 and 2012.

And Staffordshire bull terrier-crosses accounted for 173 of the overall number of dogs in RSPCA national centres in 2015, again down from previous years.

Although the total number of dogs coming into our centres has fallen - from 3,131 in 2012, to 2,600 last year - we are seeing a concerning rise in the number of fashionable crossbreeds arriving.

Popular pedigree breeds, publicised by celebrities such as Paris Hilton and made famous by a new trend of Instagram dogs, are also on the up.

While the individual numbers seem low, the figures do reveal a concerning trend: while numbers of traditionally common rescue dogs drop (such as staffies, lurchers and Jack russell terriers), the number of ‘designer’ breeds and crossbreeds are climbing.

The number of Chihuahuas rose dramatically - by more than 100% - in just 12 months, from 14 in 2012 to 29 in 2015. And while we saw just two Chihuahua-crosses in 2012, we rescued 21 in 2015.

As the popularity of ‘designer’ crossbreeds - such as Labradoodles (Labrador cross poodle), Puggles, pictured right (Pug cross beagle), and Cavachons (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel cross Bichon Frise) - booms, as do the numbers coming into our centres.

The RSPCA has seen the number of Bichon frise-crosses coming into care increase more than 10 times - from two in 2012 to 22 last year - while the number of pug-crosses has more than doubled from six in 2012 to 14 in 2015.

The RSPCA had no King Charles-crosses in our care in 2012 but saw a spike of 10 in 2014.

We are also seeing more cocker spaniels and cocker spaniel-crosses as the popularity of breeds such as the cockapoo (pictured above) surges. We had 10 pedigrees in 2012, climbing to 23 last year, while the number of cocker-crosses rose to a high of 24 in 2014, up from just one in 2012.

Meanwhile, springer spaniel-crosses are also on the up - from three in 2012, to a peak of 16 in 2014. And the number of other small toy-type crossbreeds have also been going up. We rescued no lhasa apso-crosses in 2012 but saw a high of eight in 2014; while we took in just one miniature poodle-cross in 2012, but rescued 10 in 2014.

The RSPCA is also seeing a rise in other breeds of dogs, such as Dogues de Bordeaux and husky-types, as people buy dogs based on popular culture trends such as the Twilight films and Game of Thrones series.

The RSPCA has seen a steady stream of Siberian huskies over the past three years, taking in 50 in 2014 and 42 last year, and the numbers of Alaskan Malamutes are also rising. American Akitas are also on the up, with the RSPCA rescuing two in 2012 compared to nine in 2014.

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