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According to The Dogs Trust, the number of toy dogs being handed in to its rescue centres has increased by 44 per cent in the last two years.
Chihuahuas, dachshunds, pug crossbreeds and pomeranians of the kind favoured by Paris Hilton and other celebrities are among the small breeds being abandoned by Brits.
It is thought the craze is largely celebrity-inspired but, despite often forking out more than £1,000 for a puppy, many owners have copied the trend without considering the needs of the poor pooch.
Staff at The Dogs Trust in West London were recently stunned to find that a miniature dachshund dropped off at the centre was barely able to walk, having been carried for much of its life.
It is now being rehabilitated with the help of a lurcher.
Sadly, as is often the case with fads and fashions, the interest is likely to wane, leading to growing numbers of dogs needing a new home.
Paula Boyden, veterinary director at The Dogs Trust, said: "This illustrates just how dangerous any fashion that involves dogs is."
The charity has launched a campaign this week entitled A Dog is not a Toy, aimed at educating impressionable teenagers as to the reality of dog ownership.
What do you think of the trend for 'handbag' dogs - are the celebs to blame? Leave a comment below...