Adopting a dog is cheaper than buying one from a breeder, and much more ethically sound than purchasing from a pet store supplied by puppy mills. Many people who head to the animal shelter would be happy to adopt a dog of any breed. But choosing the right breed helps pet owners ensure that they can meet all of a dog’s needs. (Lots of vigorous exercise versus just a daily walk, or a home without children versus a house full of kids and grandkids, etc.)
To help you do your research, PetBreeds created a list of the most popular dog breeds you’ll find at every shelter. Read on to learn about the breeds you’re most likely to encounter at your local shelter.
The Rottweiler is the fifteenth most popular breed at animal shelters across the United States. According to the AKC, the Rottweiler makes an excellent police dog, herder, service dog, therapy dog, obedience competitor, or companion. The AKC reports that this large dog “responds quietly and with a wait-and-see attitude to influences in his environment.”
According to Animal Planet, “This is a powerful breed that needs socialization, consistent training and daily exercise to be the best it can be — a loyal family member and guardian.”
Next: This dog breed is easy to train and bonds strongly with his humans.
14. Rat terrier
Many people have never met a rat terrier before. But this common dog breed is one of the most popular in animal shelters across the United States and makes a wonderful family pet. The AKC characterizes the rat terrier as “friendly, lovable, inquisitive,” and “fearlessly game for just about anything.” These small dogs are a “delight to train,” according to Animal Planet, and develop strong bonds with their humans.
Next: This dog breed has gained a reputation for intelligence and athleticism.
13. Border collie
Another popular dog breed you’ll see at most animal shelters? The border collie. According to the AKC, these medium-sized herding dogs are “remarkably smart workaholics,” but they’re also “not averse to a good cuddle.” These dogs win their owners’ hearts with their intelligence, trainability, and athleticism. Animal Planet reports that border collies number among the most intelligent and obedient breeds, but they do need mental and physical exercise each day if you want them to act calm indoors.
Next: This dog breed needs an owner with patience and a sense of humor.
12. Jack Russell terrier
The Jack Russell terrier routinely appears at animal shelters across the United States. The AKC characterizes this hardy little dog as an alert and inquisitive companion. Jack Russells are very active dogs and love to have lots of exercise and playtime each day.
DogTime, however, does note that training a Jack Russell can pose a challenge. You’ll need time, patience, and a sense of humor to train a Jack Russell, who typically has a mind of his own and a low tolerance for boredom.
Next: This dog breed makes an amusing pet.
11. Shih tzu
Many shih tzu owners love these beautiful little dogs, and most would say that you’d be lucky to find one to adopt at your local animal shelter. The AKC characterizes this toy group dog as outgoing, affectionate, and playful. These dogs make entertaining pets and respond well to training.
According to Animal Planet, a shih tzu, though small, typically has a big personality and an independent streak. They love to play and to welcome houseguests. Shih tzus also make devoted companions and form strong bonds with their owners.
Next: This dog breed thinks he’s a lapdog even though he’s pretty big.
10. American bulldog
One of the most stereotyped breeds, the American bulldog makes a lovable pet despite all the misconceptions. According to Animal Planet, these dogs form strong bonds with their owners and will defend them against any threat. American bulldogs also love children and get along well with other pets — particularly if you train and socialize them well as puppies.
According to PetMD, the American bulldog is very similar to the smaller English bulldog. This gentle, affectionate dog often thinks he’s a lapdog.
Next: This dog breed has a ton of energy and loves to have a job to do.
9. Australian cattle dog
The Australian cattle dog is commonly found at animal shelters across the U.S. The AKC characterizes the breed as alert, curious, and friendly. These medium-sized dogs need a lot of energy — or a job — to remain happy and calm members of your household.
According to Animal Planet, these agile dogs need mental and physical challenges each day. If you provide an Australian cattle dog with plenty of exercise, he’ll become a responsive and obedient dog.
Next: This dog breed makes a gentle and happy family pet.
The beagle is a popular family dog — one you’ll definitely want to adopt if you see him at the animal shelter. The AKC characterizes the beagle as “happy-go-lucky, funny, and — thanks to their pleading expression — cute.” These very active little dogs need plenty of exercise, and they love children and other dogs.
Animal Planet characterizes the beagle as “one of the most amiable hounds.” Beagles love exploring the outdoors. They’re extremely tolerant and gentle with children, and they always want to join in the fun.
Next: This dog breed loves children and active families.
You’ll often see boxers at animal shelters, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t make good pets! The AKC reports that these fun-loving and loyal dogs enjoy challenges, both physical and mental. They also love children and get along with other dogs.
Animal Planet characterizes the boxer as “playful, exuberant, inquisitive, attentive, demonstrative, devoted and outgoing.” So, the boxer makes the perfect companion for an active family.
Next: This dog breed always wants to go on an adventure.
Another dog you’ll often see at animal shelters? The dachshund. The AKC reports that this lively dog breed has a friendly personality and an impressive level of intelligence. Because they’re so smart, these active little dogs get bored easily and need to be kept busy.
According to Animal Planet, the dachshund ” is bold, curious and always up for adventure.” They like to join in on their family’s activities whenever possible. Dachshunds also get along well with children in their family, though most are reserved with strangers.
Next: This dog breed loves to get his owner’s affection.
5. American Staffordshire terrier
The American Staffordshire terrier, one of the breeds commonly known as “pit bulls,” might not appeal to everybody who heads to the shelter to adopt a dog. But you shouldn’t believe the unfair stereotypes about these great dogs. The AKC characterizes the American Staffordshire terrier as an intelligent dog who’s an excellent guardian.
These good-natured dogs make entertaining companions. Though their stubborn streak makes them a little challenging to train, he wants nothing more than his owner’s affection, according to Animal Planet.
Next: This dog breed makes a devoted companion and a versatile working dog.
4. German shepherd
If you see a German shepherd at the animal shelter, you may want to think about taking him home. According to the AKC, these beautiful, muscular dogs are “smart, confident, courageous, and steady.”
Most German shepherds also want to please their owners. And while they need lots of exercise each day, German shepherds make devoted companions. Animal Planet reports that the German shepherd makes an incredibly versatile working dog, but also loves to spend time with his family. They get along well with children, too.
Next: This dog breed may be the ultimate family dog.
3. Labrador retriever
You might be surprised to see the Labrador retriever, the most popular dog breed in the United States, come in third place among the breeds most commonly found at animal shelters. However, people give up their pets for a variety of reasons that often have nothing to do with the specific animal.
The AKC characterizes the Labrador retriever as intelligent and family-friendly. Labs want to please their owners, and they excel in a variety of working tasks. They also make outgoing and friendly family dogs and always want to play with children or other dogs.
Next: This dog breed has a huge personality in a tiny body.
In second place, the Chihuahua is a pretty common sight at animal shelters across the U.S. The AKC reports that these tiny dogs have huge personalities. “Inside each little Chihuahua is a miniature king or queen ready to rule their realms, so they need to be taught what is acceptable in human kingdoms.”
Fortunately, their intelligence and enthusiasm make them relatively straightforward to train. Animal Planet reports that Chihuahuas often act reserved with strangers. Nonetheless, they get along well with other household pets.
Next: This dog breed makes a loving and intelligent pet — no matter what stereotypes say.
1. American pit bull terrier
It probably won’t surprise anyone familiar with dog breed stereotypes to learn that the American pit bull terrier turns up in animal shelters the most of any breed — and that some potential pet owners are reluctant to adopt them thanks to rampant misinformation. Unlike the misconceptions might lead you to believe, Animal Planet characterizes the American pit bull terrier as eager to please, loving, and intelligent.
DogTime notes that the breed actually used to be known as the “nanny dog” thanks to its gentle and devoted nature around children. These dogs benefit from firm and consistent trainin. But they make excellent and loving companions — and often lousy guard dogs thanks to their eagerness to greet guests at the door.
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