RSPCA seeing less Staffies and more fashionable breeds

The RSPCA is seeing a growing number of French bulldogs coming into its care as owners struggle to take care of them due to complications and expenses caused by bad breeding.

In 2020, the RSPCA took in more than 6,500 dogs with the majority going into the charity’s network of branches* and 1,242 moving into its 14 animal centres across England and Wales.

Analysing those 1,242 dogs, by breed, this National Rescue Dog Day (Thursday 20 May) shows a shifting trend in the types of the dogs the charity is seeing coming into care with the number of Staffies and Staffie crosses – although still accounting for the highest number in total – declining over the years, while the number of breeds such as French bulldogs increases.

The RSPCA’s national centres has taken in 2,650 Staffies over the last six years (2015-2020), rescuing and rehoming 601 in 2015 compared to 191 last year; a drop of 68%. However, over the same time period, the charity has seen a total of 257 French bulldogs coming into care, 3 in 2015 and 50 in 2020; a staggering increase of 1,567%.

During the same period, fashionable dogs like cocker spaniels and designer dogs such as cocker crosses (such as cockerpoos) have increased by 34% from 41 in 2015 to 55 in 2020; and pure-bred and crossbred Chihuahuas have seen an increase of 27% from 51 in 2015 to 65 in 2020.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “We seem to be seeing the same shift in the trends of ownership and popular breeds among the dog-owning population being reflected in our rescue population which means while the number of Staffies, lurchers and crossbreeds seem to be declining, the number of French bulldogs are really increasing and, although small in numbers, cocker spaniels and Chihuahuas seem to be growing too.

“We suspect this is as a result of the surging demand for increasingly popular breeds like Frenchies fueling bad breeding practices and the puppy trade. Unfortunately we’re also seeing an increase in the number of dogs like French bulldogs – with brachycephaly (shortened muzzle/flat faced) – coming into our care because their owners cannot afford their vet bills.”

As a member of the Brachycephalic Working Group, we are urging people to stop and think if they want to buy a flat-faced dog and to consider an alternative breed or crossbreed with a lower risk of health problems. If they are determined to get a flat-faced breed then we would ask that people adopt rather than buy.

Whatever type of dog is being considered, prospective dog owners need to first do their research, and think long and hard about whether a dog is right for them.