Fickle owners and affluence make a dog's life deeply hairy

Where have all the Rottweilers gone? Graham Ball on victims of pet fads

The pedigree pet is no longer a pampered pooch. The dogs which were once the elite of the canine world are now as likely as mongrels to end up abandoned.

Increasing affluence has also fostered a new breed of dog owner who regards his animal as a four-legged fashion accessory. These designer dogs often experience a high rejection rate.

"Where are all the rottweilers today? A few years ago every street seemed to have one, now they are completely out of fashion," says Beverley Cuddy, editor of Dogs Today.

"The new fad breeds include huskies and Japanese akitas. The demand appears to be for any dog that resembles a wolf. In fact some dealers are selling wolf-hybrids, wolves that are crossed with dogs, and people are paying up pounds 500 each for them.

"It would be a lot healthier if a dog like the King Charles spaniel became a fad. They at least have been bred as a pet for generations. People buying wolf hybrids as a guard dog are in for a disappointment and huskies cannot sensibly be kept in towns and on housing estates."

Ultimately, says Ms Cuddy, "it really is time we got the dog out of the pet shop."

Those involved in the care of stray dogs say that, paradoxically, growing prosperity has led to greater discarding of animals.

"It seems that as soon as people get some money in their pockets they want a pet," says Lisa Tooley of the National Canine Defence League (NCDL). "Dogs have become a commodity - you can literally dial-a-dog as easily as ordering a pizza.

"The trouble is that no matter how kind-hearted their original intentions, many find that they can not balance their lifestyle with the responsibility dog-owning entails.

"I am afraid that what we are seeing is the downside of the consumer society," she adds.

Last year there was a 13 per cent increase in the number of stray and abandoned dogs on Britain's streets. A survey of local authorities has revealed that together they handled 106,000 cast-offs. And the NCDL, which commissioned the survey, estimates that 17,000 of them were needlessly destroyed.

The increase in the numbers of discarded dogs represents a sharp departure from the trend. Every year that Britain's economy was in recession the number of abandoned dogs fell.

"Our flourishing economy does seem to be bad for dogs. With more disposable income we take more holidays, move house more frequently, buy new furniture and become more house-proud" says Beverley Cuddy.

"Another aspect of the problem is that it has never been easier to acquire a dog. Dealers and breeders are open long hours and all day Sunday, they take credit cards and it becomes all too easy to make an impulse purchase.

"Too many families end up with totally unsuitable dogs," she says. "Many breeds have been developed for special working purposes and were never meant to be pets."

The NCDL survey revealed that some parts of the country take less care of their dogs than others. Northern Ireland , for example, has one stray dog for every 100 people and there is one deserted dog for every 250 of the population in the North-east.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the London area has the lowest ratio of stray dogs to the community , with one for every 2000.

But even there the problem is growing. Holidays are often to blame. "We have noticed a seasonal variation and the summer months are now among our busiest" says Shirley Piotrowski, of Battersea Dogs Home.

"People go on holiday and they do not want the additional expense of kennel fees, or else they farm their pets out to people who are not equipped to handle them"

The Battersea Dogs Home, a 137-year-old charity, manages to find new owners for as many as 94 per cent of the strays that it takes in.

"Some people believe that we put dogs down if we can not find a home for them but this is a myth," says Mrs Piotrowski. "We have no policy of destroying animals. We had one dog, a greyhound, with us for two years before he found a home. We will only put a dog down if it very old or infirm."

Would-be dog owners visiting Battersea follow a strict induction process. The first step involves the viewing of a video that high-lights all the drawbacks of keeping a dog. The applicants are then interviewed and assessed by the staff before touring the kennels. Once they choose a dog they are left alone together is a special room to gauge their mutual compatibility.

"We ensure that the right dog goes to the right home. For example, we will not let a Jack Russell go to a home where they have not had Jack Russells before", she says.

"People assume that with a Jack Russell they are getting a small dog and are often appalled when it starts behaving in a big dog fashion."

Mrs Piotrowski also detects a change among her charges. "Once, pretty well all the dogs here were mongrels. They still make up the majority but in recent years pedigree breeds have been turning up with greater frequency. I think the owners believe that a pedigree dog will be less trouble somehow or better behaved than mixed breeds but a dog is a dog no matter how aristocratic his background."

t Battersea Dogs Home is holding its third annual reunion for owners and their pets in Battersea Park , south-west London, from 11am this morning. A thousand dogs are expected to attend the day-long event which will feature competitions, side shows and family entertainments.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam