Pedigree dogs suffering - RSPCA
Owners of fashionable pedigree pooches are unaware their "handbag dogs" could be "born to suffer", the RSPCA has said.
Research by the animal charity revealed many people believe pedigree dogs and puppies are healthy, quality animals that come from good breeding stock.
However, the dogs, which are primarily bred for their looks, are vulnerable to unnecessary disease, disability, pain or behavioural problems.
RSPCA senior scientist Claire Calder said: "Everyone needs to be aware of the serious health and welfare problems affecting pedigree dogs and that dogs bred for looks are born to suffer.
"A cute-looking puppy or dog can be hard to resist, but the result of not looking beyond this can be thousands of pounds spent on vets' bills and a pet with long-lasting health and welfare problems. This is one of the biggest challenges facing dog welfare in the UK today."
A survey commissioned by the charity found dog buyers are not doing enough research before getting a new pet.
Pollsters asked 2,127 people what they associate with pure-breed or pedigree dogs. The top six responses were that they are expensive, well bred, from good breeding stock, quality, responsibly bred and healthy
Victoria Stilwell, presenter and dog trainer from the TV show It's Me Or The Dog, said: "I have nothing against dog showing and nothing against responsible breeders.
"But what I do have something against is breeding animals just for the way we want them to look, even though that animal is compromised both physically and, a lot of the time, mentally. So we have to change. Why are we destroying these animals just because we like the way they look?"
The RSPCA is launching a campaign, Bred For Looks, Born To Suffer, in order to raise awareness of the issue.