Cute outfits, birthday parties and luxury daycare, the last two years have given rise to a new, spoilt breed of dogs. Christobel Hastings investigates the rise of the pampered pooch.

It’s an ordinary Wednesday night and I’m scrolling through Instagram, looking at photos of a glossy-haired cavalier King Charles spaniel. There are shots of it swaddled in blankets and being pushed on a swing. It poses with a pink-frosted birthday cake – presumably, its own – and frolics in a paddling pool. The one that holds my attention the most, however, is a gallery of the dog rolling through the park in a pushchair like an actual baby. It’s captioned ‘They see me strolling’, and it’s seriously adorable.

The star in question is Coco, aka @littlemisscoco_thecav, a pup with an enviable wardrobe and thousands of followers. Her “mummy” is 36-year-old Holly, a writer who lives with her husband in London and brought Coco home in March 2020. “She’s our little fur baby and we adore her,” Holly says. They do everything together, including frequenting their local coffee shop. “The staff fetch Coco a blanket and give her toys. I have a latte and she has a puppuccino.” For the uninitiated, that’s whipped cream served to spoilt dogs in a coffee cup.

Holly isn’t alone in her puppy infatuation. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 3.2 million UK households have acquired a pet, and there are 18.5 million photos tagged #furbaby on Instagram. Supermarkets have warned that the “unprecedented” boom in pet ownership may cause a shortage of some dog and cat food products. Interestingly, the rise has been driven by Gen Z and millennials, with 59% of new owners aged between 16-34, and 38% of them claiming their pet is just like having a new baby, according to a survey by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association. 

Read the full feature here.

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