These Are the Dog Breeds You Always See in Shelters

Let’s face it: Even though cats have their charms, dogs make great companions.

Even the most aloof breeds are loyal, and a lot of dogs are considered easygoing. Still, there are some breeds people steer clear of, and many of those are the dog breeds you see in shelters.

Dogs in cage waiting to be rescued

There are just some dog breeds you always see in shelters. | Silk-stocking/iStock/Getty Images

On National Dog Day on Aug. 26, you might be tempted to visit a few animal shelters as you think about giving a furry friend a new forever home.

We’ll introduce you to some of the dog breeds you’re likely to see as shelters (we can call them the least-adopted dog breeds), but first, we want to show you some startling numbers about shelter animals in the United States. According to the ASPCA:

  • 6.5 million animals enter shelters in the United States every year. Of those, 3.3 million are dogs, and 3.2 million are cats.
  • Of the 6.5 million animals entering shelters, only about half (3.2 million) leave via adoption.
  • Shelters euthanize roughly 1.5 million animals each year, 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats among them.

The dog breeds you always see in shelters

1. American bulldog

Big, stocky, and muscular, an American bulldog’s physical presence is enough to frighten novice dog owners perusing shelters. They also need a lot of exercise and open space to run around, so they are less than ideal dogs for city-dwellers.

2. American pit bull terrier

Despite what you’ve heard, pit bulls are terrier mixes and not a specific breed. Still, any dog with the pit bull title attached frightens most people even though bull terriers are generally friendly dogs. But insurance won’t cover them and lots of states ban them.

3. American Staffordshire terrier

American Staffordshire terriers are another breed lumped into the overarching “pit bull” category. Even though it’s a muscular and powerful breed, dogs are typically friendly and intelligent.

4. Boxer

Chalk this one up to guilty by association. Boxers have big heads and muscular bodies, which are two defining traits they share with pit bulls. When people see big dogs and think they might be dangerous, they steer clear, which is what happens to Boxers you find in shelters.

5. Chihuahua

A Chihuahua dog owner presents his dressed up pet during the 'Run of the Chihuahuas' annual race in Washington on May 4, 2013. The annual Chihuahua race marks the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo celebrated on May 5. (Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)

Chihuahuas aren’t great for every family, and many remain in shelters. | Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

Small and snippy with big personalities, Chihuahuas tend to bite when they’re nervous or threatened (even if the threat isn’t great). That kind of temperament doesn’t work well for families with small children.

6. Finnish lapphund

Even though it has a shaggy coat, grooming isn’t too difficult for the Finnish lapphund. However, it can develop several health issues, which is why it’s one of the dog breeds you always see in shelters

7. German shepherd

Similar to the way people think of pit bulls as aggressive fighting dogs, German shepherds have the same reputation. As Chewy notes, this breed isn’t outright aggressive, but it is active, loyal, and protective.

8. Jack Russell terrier

Jack Russell terrier playfully biting the fingers of its owner

Jack Russell terriers are energetic and high-maintenance. |

Also known as the Frasier dog, Jack Russell terriers are intelligent, small, active, and high-maintenance. That last trait can be a turn off a lot of would-be owners.

9. Komondor

If you don’t know the komondor, you might know it as the dog on the cover of the Beck album Odelay. The komondor is No. 177 of 194 on the American Kennel Club popularity ranking, so it’s not a favorite among dog-lovers. The shaggy coat needs professional grooming, and the breed tends to develop eye problems that require constant care.

10. Labrador retriever

The Labrador retriever is the most popular dog in American, according to the American Kennel Club. Which is why it’s one of the breeds you always see in shelters. Everyone who wants one probably has one already. Thanks to overbreeding, there are more than enough Labradors to go around.

11. Lowchen

The lowchen’s flowing coat looks marvelous, but it requires a lot of grooming work to maintain it. They also shed a lot, so you’ll have to work harder to keep your house clean.

12. Pharaoh hound

With thin skin and short fur, the pharaoh hound rightly loves the warm weather, so it’s not an ideal breed for any location with long winters. It’s also an active breed that needs a lot of exercise, which is a reason why it’s one of the breeds you see in shelters so often.

What do you need to know before you adopt?

We know it’s easy to experience love at first sight when a shelter dog looks up and you and excitedly wags its tail, but don’t get too eager. Here are a few things you should consider before bringing that puppy home.

three colours of Labradors

Three Labradors. | Lizcen/iStock/Getty Images

Are you ready to adopt?

Bringing home a young shelter dog is committing to 10 to 15 years of pet ownership. Are you ready for it and all the things that could change during that time?

Make the right choice

Per the ASPCA’s adoption tips, you need to consider your lifestyle and your home to make sure the dog you choose is right for you.

Be ready to puppy-proof things

Your home is more dangerous than you realize, which is why parents tend to baby-proof things. The same goes for dogs, especially puppies. Houseplants, holiday decorations, garbage cans, and toxic foods are all things you need to worry about once Fido comes home.

Is your wallet ready?

Starting with spaying or neutering, your adopted dog needs food, toys, accessories, tick prevention, and veterinary care. Is your wallet ready for that commitment?

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