MORE designer dogs are being handed over the RSPCA than ever before, new research has revealed.

The RSPCA rehomed 354 dogs in Hampshire last year and, while Staffies are still the most rescued breed, designer dogs are appearing more and more in the charity’s rehoming centres.

Last year, the RSPCA rescued 138 dogs from abuse and neglect in Hampshire and received 15, 858 calls to its 24-hour cruelty hotline about animals in the county.

As part of the RSPCA’s special rehoming drive Adoptober, new national figures have been released showing that while pure-breed and crossbreed Staffies, lurchers, Jack Russells and German shepherds are still the most common dog to come into its care, more trendy "handbag" breeds and fashionable crossbreeds are also ending up in the charity’s 17 national animal centres.

The number of chihuahuas coming into the RSPCA’s care has gone up by 700 per cent in the last seven years, while the number of French bulldogs is up 236 per cent, Dachshunds are up 600 per cent and Pomeranians are up 440 per cent.

The charity is also seeing more crossbreeds and breeds used for popular crosses - such as cocker spaniels and poodles - arriving in its centres as inspectors shut down puppy farms and collect abandoned dogs and puppies.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: “Although Staffies, lurchers, Jack Russell terriers and German shepherds are still the most common dogs coming into our centres, we are seeing a general decrease in their numbers while seeing an increase in the number of fashionable crossbreeds and so-called designer dogs like Dachshunds and French bulldogs arriving in our care.

“As part of our rehoming drive this October - called Adoptober - we want to shine a light on all of the dogs in our care and encourage people to adopt a rescue dog instead of buying a puppy. All the animals in our care have a lot of love to give and we have a huge variety of dogs in our kennels waiting for homes, of all ages, shapes, sizes and breeds.”

Adoptober is a rehoming drive to raise awareness of some of the animals in RSPCA care who so desperately need a forever home.