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Handbag dogs are being abandoned by owners who can’t afford pooches’ medical bills

South Korea Dog Meat Rescue (Manchul Kim/AP Images for Humane Society International)
South Korea Dog Meat Rescue (Manchul Kim/AP Images for Humane Society International)

THEY used to be the must-have furry fashion accessory — but now they’ve turned into a toy dog time-bomb.

A decade ago so-called handbag dogs were the height of canine couture thanks to their popularity among celebrities.

But the Pugs, Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas – many of which have been bought from unscrupulous breeders – have grown up with a host of health problems associated with small pedigree dogs.

And unwary owners are increasingly faced with vet bills that can run to thousands of pounds.

Elsewhere dog homes have admitted they’ve been inundated with sickly toy dogs abandoned by owners who can’t care for them.

Many sickly pooches have genetic problems ranging from cataracts to life-threatening brain conditions.

These are more likely to occur as a result of unscrupulous puppy farmers who breed animals with the potential for severe genetic defects for a quick profit.

Aimee Llewellyn, Head of Health and Research at the Kennel Club, said: “We’re seeing a huge increase in the number of these types of dogs and with it an enormous rise in the number of health problems that go with them,” explained Aimee.

Aimee Llewellyn
Aimee Llewellyn

“They seem very fluffy and cute but many of these types of dogs are not for everyone.”

Breeds like the hugely popular pug are especially at risk, according to Aimee – and treatment could cost owners hundreds or thousands of pounds.

In 2000 there were fewer than 500 Kennel Club-registered pugs in the UK – but now there are more than 10,000.

Sandra Lawton, manager of the Glasgow Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre – said the number of abandoned small dogs has rocketed in the past 10 years.

“We never really saw a pug or a Frenchie (French Bulldog) who had been abandoned.

“Now they come in all the time as people struggle to cope with their needs.

“The short snout makes them look very cute but also gives them serious health problems.”

It’s important to remember, according to the Kennel Club, that companion dogs aren’t just cuddly toys.

“Underneath their fluffy exterior you have to remember that your Chihuahua is a dog,” said Aimee.

“Although they love affection they need to be walking around, sniffing and investigating things, and they need exercise.

“They’re not meant to be left in a handbag.”


KENNEL Club Assured Breeders are subject to inspections and high standards which help weed out genetic problems.

Puppy farms can undercut accredited breeders by hundreds of pounds.

Here are some of the prices you pay for toy and companion dog breeds at Kennel Club Assured breeders.

French Bulldog

French Bulldog
French Bulldog

Kennel Club Assured price: approx £1500+

Independent breeder: £550

Health problems: Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). Can develop a twisted spine through disc disease. Reproductive problems. Cataracts.

Shih Tzu

 

Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu

KC Assured price: £550+

Independent breeder: £300

Health: Prone to inheriting underdeveloped kidney disorder. Eyes can bulge out of it socket. Can suffer from breathing problems and ingrown eyelashes.

Pug

Pug
Pug

KC Assured price: approx £1200 and upwards

Independent breeder: £500

Health problems: Can develop inflammation of the brain. Tends to suffer from breathing problems and a deformed back.

Lhasa Apso

lhasa apso
Lhasa Apso

KC Assured price: £550+

Independent breeder: £350

Health: Can develop hip problems, slipped kneecaps, kidney disease, back and eye problems. Also prone to glaucoma or blindness.

Boston Terrier

Boston terrier
Boston terrier

KC Assured price: £850+

Independent breeder: £400

Health problems: As well as cataracts, ulcers on the eye and knee dislocation, this breed is prone to several types of breathing problems similar to pugs and French Bulldogs.

Chihuahua

Chihuahua
Chihuahua

KC Assured price: approx £800+

Independent breeder: £400

Health: Can develop a collapsed windpipe, slipped kneecaps, eye disorders, heart diseases, and water on the brain.

Miniature Shcnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer
Miniature Schnauzer

 

KC Assured price: £1,000+

Independent breeder: £550

Health: Particularly prone to eye conditions like cataracts and rolled eyelids, kidney stones, muscular dystrophy and Von Willebrand’s disease (VWD), a blood clotting defect.

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terrier

KC Assured price: £600+

Independent breeder: £300

Health problems: Portosystemic shunt, a kidney problem, is common in Yorkies, and can cost several thousand pounds to fix. Prone to developing a limp.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

KC Assured price: £800+

Independent breeder: £575

Health: Prone to mitral valve disease, a brain disorder called syringomyelia, eye problems like cataracts and keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or dry eye.

 

Maltese

 

Mixed Maltese
Maltese

KC Assured price: £1000+

Independent breeder: £350

Health problems: Can suffer from portosystemic shunt. Is prone to developing shaker dog syndrome and begin to shake uncontrollably.


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