Common Dog Breeds Available in a Shelter

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Have you ever gone to the dog shelter looking for an Afghan hound or a Maltese? The slacker breeds just can't be found. What you will find are a lot of Chihuahuas, a lot of Labradors, and almost everything else you'll see in there is a Labrador mix. One site states that Chihuahuas make up 30% of the dog population in California animal shelters. Some shelters have so many of them that they ship them to other locations where the small dogs have more of a chance to find homes. Why do these two breeds dominate the shelters?

Part of the problem is with the Chihuahua breed. People see advertisements using Chihuahuas or see Chihuahuas in movies and want to buy them because they are cute little dogs. They expect perfect little apartment residents and do not treat them like dogs, allowing them to run around the house and take over the furniture. Before long, the dogs become aggressive. When the little Chihuahua bites their child in the face, they decide that it has gone too far and take it in to the animal shelter. Of course, most of them do not admit that the dog is a biter, so the new owner takes home a potential problem dog.

Many of the Chihuahuas surrendered to animal shelters have never been house-trained. When they come from a puppy mill and were raised in fecal material, even normal instincts are lost and these dogs are hard to train. Some of them had a good start in life but were just purchased by families without a clue.

A big source of the Chihuahua problem at the animal shelters are the backyard breeders. They think they are going to make a little money off of their dogs after having seen reality stars and pop divas carry around the tiny dogs. (The people that think those photos are cute do not realize that those stars have employees to clean up after their dogs.) They breed whatever male and female they happen to have around and end up with a bunch of deformed puppies they are unable to sell. The only thing to do with the production problem is to dump it off at the shelter.

When visiting the shelter, the other breed that everyone notices is the Labrador Retriever. One source states that over 25% of all dogs coming into shelters are purebred, and many of these are registered Labs. Any dog with Lab features is listed as a Lab cross, and since Labs have become well-known as family dogs, they are overbred and their progeny are filling up the kennels at the animal shelters.

The worst is the black lab; if his cross-bred puppies have the misfortune to be born black, it is going to be even harder on them. If the employee receiving the dog happens to mark down “Rottweiler cross” or “GSD cross,” the adoption process will be that much more difficult. A lot of shelters will not even accept “Pit Bull cross,” so the savvy owner will just tell the employee it is a Lab cross when dropping the puppies off.

How to Help Out Animal Shelters

Is there any way to decrease the number of these dogs at the animal shelters? There are not many. As long as reality stars like to carry tiny dogs around in their purses, the TV watching public will want to buy little Chihuahuas and the shelters will end up with the reject puppies, the adolescents who can´t be housetrained, and the adults who become aggressive or just obnoxious. Movies come out starring Labrador Retriever sidekicks and sites ramble on about what great family dogs they are. People breed, people buy, and no one bothers to neuter or spay these dogs, so even more of their puppies end up without a home. When family circumstances change, the adults get dumped at the animal shelter too. The chances of a dog like that finding a home are slim.

So how can you help?

  1. You can make a donation to your local animal shelter and earmark that money for a spay or neuter. I have not included a link here since this is best done through a local organization and not through a national group where much of the money is lost paying for expenses. If you can do this, take a moment to find the phone number for your local shelter and give them a call.
  2. You can refuse to purchase from a backyard breeder the next time you are searching for a dog. If these people knew no one would call when they listed their puppies in the newspaper, they would be a lot more likely to spay and neuter their pets.
  3. You should consider looking at the Chihuahuas, Labradors, and other dogs at your local animal shelter. Especially if you do not have a specific requirement, such as a dog that does not shed (much).
  4. Volunteer. This is not going to do anything about the Labs and Chihuahuas, but you can make a big difference if you are willing to help out at your local shelter.

So if you go down to pick up a mixed breed dog at your local shelter, be sure to keep your eye open for an older Chihuahua or a Lab cross. The Chihuahua will only need to be taught that it needs to behave like a dog. It has most likely been spoiled and given few or no boundaries. Set up some dog rules, give your little Chihuahua some obedience training, and almost all of them can be housetrained and make good pets.

Do you get nervous hearing shrill barking and need a larger dog? There are a lot of benefits to a Lab cross. Purebred Labrador Retrievers suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, cataracts, retinal and other eye diseases, as well as numerous behavioral diseases. A cross bred dog is a lot less likely to have health problems and will be a great pet. Puppies get snatched up almost as soon as they are brought in, but if you are willing to adopt an older dog you will be making even more of a difference; a lot of times those types never find a home.

Make your choice. A cage full of Chihuahuas and a kennel of Labradors are waiting.

Rrr on April 25, 2018:

They are so cute. P.S thank you for being helpful

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 15, 2012:

Thanks Suhail I think of you as one of those with a specific requirement (your Kuvasz) so I am glad you read this.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on July 15, 2012:

Discouraging backyard breeders and owner education are two things I would suggest to reduce the risk of disowning a pet. It is imperative that people looking to get a dog as a pet do research to find one that matches with their lifestyle. I know of a close friend's family who got a kitten as an impulsive decision and despite our encouragement to continue with her, left it at a local shelter only after two months.

This is an awesome hub and I am taking lot of stuff from here as a take-away.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 15, 2012:

Thanks for the comment Helena. People can be odd.

Helena Ricketts from Indiana on July 14, 2012:

I adopted a black lab mix (he was also part Chow) 20 years ago and another black lab mix 18 years ago and both of those dogs were wonderful. Unfortunately they have both since passed away but I'll always remember Jordan and Jenny. Not one time have I ever purchased a dog. It feeds the problems that we have today with overpopulation. That's shocking about people not liking black dogs but people can be odd!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 14, 2012:

I do not think I have ever heard a good answer to that. Maybe they just don't show up as well when people visit, maybe they appear meaner and adopters worry they wont be good pets. When I lived in Morocco I found the villagers had the same preconceptions about black goats. If the goat was red they would feed it and keep it on the porch but a black goat would have to fend for iteself. People are weird!

wetnosedogs from Alabama on July 14, 2012:

well, glad I got jenny, part lab. but she is not black, mostly red, except for a spot of black on her tail. I would have brought her home anyway.

Why is it people don't like black labs?

America’s Most Popular Dog Breeds For 2020 Announced

Each year, Rover, the world’s largest network of pet sitters and dog walkers, analyzes their database of over 1 million pet parents to figure out which dog breeds are most popular. America’s most popular dog breeds for 2020 were recently posted and some may surprise you.


The silver lining of the current global pandemic is that more people are fostering and adopting dogs as they spend more time at home. Maybe that contributed to mutts becoming the most popular breed this year.

While Labradors are a known favorite and have been for the past decade, it was nice to see boxers make the top 10.

Below are America’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2020:

10. Boxer

Boxers are silly and playful dogs who get along well with children. They are quick learners who excel in obedience and make great family dogs for active families. Their popularity was increased over the years due to their sweet temperament and unwavering loyalty. Their typical life span in 10-12 years. If a boxer sounds like the perfect dog for you, consider adopting one through West Coast Boxer Rescue.

9. Goldendoodle


A goldendoodle is a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle, which creates a friendly and intelligent pup. People cannot resist these affectionate and gentle dogs that are great for families or as therapy dogs. Their life span is 10-15 years. Does this low-shedding hybrid sound like the perfect match for you? If so, please adopt. Check out some ready to find a forever home at IDOG Rescue.

8. Dachshund


The short-legged, long-bodied dog is also known as a sausage or wiener dog. They were breed over 300 years ago in Germany to hunt badgers but are now loving companions to many. Don’t let their size fool you, these dogs are courageous and good watchdogs. Life expectancy for this breed is 12-16 years. Consider adopting one through Dachshund Rescue of North America.

7. Shih-Tzu


While considered a toy dog breed, these dogs are lively and sturdy pups that love to follow their people around the house. Bred solely as a companion dog, they love to snuggle and are super affectionate. Their life expectancy is 10-16 years. If you are looking for the perfect lap dog, adopt one at Shih Tzu Rescue.

6. Yorkshire Terrier


Weighing a mere 7 pounds, Yorkshire terriers are tiny dogs, but have huge personalities. Although feisty at times, they make great apartment dogs and are loyal companions. Typical life expectancy for the breed is 13-16 years. Check out all the adorable yorkies available for adoption here.

5. Golden Retriever


This breed’s golden coat and friendly demeanor has made it a family favorite for decades. Originally bred to be a bird dog, these dogs are now loving and devoted family members. Life expectancy is 10-12 years. If you are looking to add one to your family, please consider adopting one from As Good As Gold.

4. German Shepherd


These velcro dogs are courageous and intelligent companions that excel in anything they are trained to do. They are not only amazing companions, but make great therapy, police, and military dogs. Life expectancy is 9-13 years. Active families or individuals are the best match for this breed. Check out some ready for adoption at Sedona Shepherd Sanctuary.

3. Chihuahua


The world’s smallest dog is also one of the most popular due to the breed’s irresistible personality. The lively dogs never leave their owners’ side and are renowned watchdogs. Their life expectancy is 12-20 years. They tend to bond closely with one person, so if you are looking for a lifelong friend, consider adopting a Chihuahua from Enchantment Chihuahua Rescue.

2. Labrador Retriever


Labs are a favorite breed around the world. Their easy-going personalities and friendly demeanors make them perfect companions and working dogs. They excel in search and rescue, therapy, and are extremely kid-friendly. Life expectancy is 10-12 years. Adopt one from Midwest Labrador Retriever Rescue.

1. Mixed Breed


We can only hope this means more rescue dogs! Mixed breed dogs are also called mutts and are the result of unintentional breeding. They range in size, color, and personalities. Check out all the adoptable mutts at your local rescue or by searching the national database here.

Rover broke down the most popular dog breeds even further and allow people to search the most popular dog breeds by choosing one of 50 U.S. cities. Did your favorite make the top five in your city?

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10 Common Dog Breeds Found In Shelters

Published by admin on March 9, 2021

Popularity can be a double-edged sword. Just ask the many popular dog breeds that were bought by breeders and then dropped off at animal shelters when their owners discovered they weren't prepared for the responsibility of owning pets. Other perfectly adoptable dogs end up in shelters because their owners have died, moved away, or failed to study the specific needs of certain dog breeds. There are many reasons why you should adopt and not shop, but finding a rescued dog that will fit in with your family is also important.

The good news is your local animal shelter is overflowing with adoptable pets just waiting to find their eternal family. Read on for information on the most common dog breeds in animal shelters.

American Staffordshire Terriers, like their "Pit Bull" brothers, have an inappropriate reputation for aggression, hence theirs big numbers in US animal shelters. But contrary to popular belief, "staffies" are actually very cute dogs that love people and children and make them great family dogs – albeit those that require regular exercise.

Like many dogs on this list, the American Bulldog proves that appearances can be deceptive. This “bully breed” may look tough and mean. The American Bulldog is very fond of and protective of his family, which makes them an excellent watchdog. Still, don't adopt an American Bulldog if you live in an apartment, as this muscular pup will need outdoor space and exercise space.

Happy Tails -- Dogs Adopted or Pending

Roman (aka Little Romeo) loves people and wants to be close. He follows members of his foster family from room to room, stands or sits on their laps, curls up beside them on the couch, or lies in his nearby dog beds. He is a 9-year-old, chocolate, toy Poodle who walks well on a leash, is agile (can climb, jump, run), rarely barks except when excited, is very food-motivated, and loves to sleep under the covers, snuggled up close to his humans. He is house-trained but has had a few accidents, so his new family will need to take him outside consistently. He takes one pill twice a day for an enlarged heart and mild heart murmur. He is thin but eating very well and gaining weight. Sometimes he does not like to be picked up, and we do not believe he would do well with small children. Roman is also not good with cats, but he has lots of love to give to humans.
More pictures of Roman.

Gabbie is a 4½-year-old female, possibly a Chihuahua mix. Her foster mom says she is a wiggleworm, loves the doggie door, and is getting along with the other dogs in her foster home. She is more people-oriented than dog-oriented and loves to lap-sit with either her foster mom or dad.
Another picture of Gabbie.

Coffee is a small male Chihuahua mix. He is young and frisky and very friendly.
More pictures of Coffee.

Buttons is a 9-year-old female Chihuahua mix who weighs almost 13 pounds.
Another picture of Buttons.

Baxter is a one-to-two-year-old Great Pyrenees, and he will need a home with a tall privacy-fenced yard. He is calm and easy-going. Baxter shows no aggression to other animals. It would be best if he goes to a home with no small children. Baxter seems to have had some obedience training, and his foster family are trying to work with him. Baxter walks well on a lead and is a great dog who deserves a great home.
More pictures of Baxter.

Murphy is a small, very handsome terrier, around one year old. He is very spunky, full of puppy energy, and loves to play with toys. He likes kids and does well in the home with only 2 accidents. He does like to get into small trash cans, so it's best to either close the door or pick them up. He sleeps in the bed with his foster family or on the couch at night. His foster mom puts him in a crate when she leaves him alone. Murphy will require lots of play time and stimulation. with lots of toys to keep him busy! He loves rope toys. He does like to gnaw on your fingers (a habit which his foster family are trying to break), so he will need more work on stopping that behavior. He has not been tested with another dog yet,
More pictures of Murphy.

Anyone who meets this adorable pooch,immediately falls in love with her. Introducing Shelly, a 19-pound, 2-year-old sheltie/yorkie -- a shorkie bundle of joy who loves everyone she meets. Shelly gets along well with other dogs and cats although we haven't tested her with children yet. Shelly is so calm and low key, she would probably be fine. She is totally housetrained, but we are not sure about crate-training because her foster mother hasn't needed to use a crate with her. Shelly loves to go on walks and walks well on a leash, but she also just loves to sit on the couch and relax and cuddle with her family. This sweet dog would make a wonderful pet for any kind of family. Please help find her a forever home.
More pictures of Shelly.

Hi, Dog Lovers! Go on, resist this face if you can! This is Ferris, our latest rescue guy. He is a small terrier mix who is relatively young and really wants to be picked up and held -- he seems like a real "people" dog and to like everybody. He's frisky, happy and active. He is being treated for some skin issues right now, from a bad case of fleas, and he is scheduled to be neutered soon. We don't know much more right now, but we will find out more about his personality and level of training once he is in a foster home.
More pictures of Ferris.

***"Other Adoptables" (when listed) are NOT in the SARG program, but they still need love and a forever home. Please contact the owners directly by clicking on the link. Please do not contact SARG. SARG offers no guarantee in any way related to any non-SARG animal -- the rescues, shelters, or owners involved provide their own descriptions, terms, and guarantees.

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