8 things you should know about shelter dogs

A lot of people have this negative mindset about shelter dogs, and the bad press and publicity is making matters worse. So when people, especially non-animal lovers think of shelter dogs, they often imagine a vicious, volatile creature that was sent to the shelter due to bad behavior. However, that’s not true! Shelter dogs make wonderful pets, companions, friends, and family members.


October is “Adopt a Shelter Dog” month, hence, let’s show you some interesting things you should know about shelter dogs:

About 25% of shelter dogs are purebred

It is a myth that you cannot find a pure breed in a shelter. Studies have shown that nearly a quarter of the shelter dogs are pure breeds rather than mixed breeds.

Some shelter dogs are surrendered by families who can no longer manage a pet, while some are rescued from inhumane breeding facilities.

You can call your local rescue shelters to confirm if they have the breed you’d love to have. You’ll be surprised that they have almost all breeds of dogs, including the pure breeds.

Shelters always want you to find a dog that fits your situation and needs

A lot of people think shelters try to push problem dogs to people, but that’s not true. The staff at your local shelter are more interested in getting you a dog that will be a friend and work for you.

In fact, many shelters perform behavioral testing before they release a dog to you for adoption. This assessment focus on factors such as reactivity, feat, and potential for aggression and resource guarding.

So the good thing is you can ask your local shelter if they perform such testing. This way, you can easily find out the results of your potential adoptee before making a decision.

Adopting from a shelter is cheaper

If you desire to save some bucks, then adopting a shelter dog is way cheaper than working with a pet shop or breeder.

Most shelters won’t charge you more than $250 for adoption fee. However, getting a dog from a breeder can make you spend as much as the cost of getting some car.

Shelter dogs are trainable

Shelter dogs are not bred for appearance like most dogs these days. Instead, the dogs are smart and can be trained to work with you. You can visit the nearest shelter around you to find a smarty pants.

However, if you need a purposefully-bred dog, like one that will herd your flock of sheep, that’s a different conversation on its own. We mean a family pet dog here.

A lot of people have the misconception that it is hard to train an older dog from the shelter, but that’s not true. The truth is that any dog can learn, just like any person. You can even get a dog in the end that is already house trained.

When you adopt an adult dog, most of them already have the groundwork training for living peacefully with people.  Most dogs are surrendered due to factors like financial hardship, sudden loss of family, moving, and other reasons not related to behavior. So in the end, you might even discover that adopting a shelter dog is much less work than getting yourself a puppy to train from the scratch.

More so, older dogs have little life under their belt. They are often more patient and have a deeper well of calm than any puppy. They already know the ropes, have lower food and exercise needs, and often just need your company and affection than any other thing.

Who knows? An older dog might just be the perfect option for you.

Shelter dogs have their unique personality

Don’t make the mistake of thinking of your dog as a “shelter dog,” instead, think of them as your dog. All dogs do have their own unique personality. So getting to know your dog’s unique self is the best way you can honor them.

It is important to note, however, that while a dog has their unique self, sometimes, it takes a whole for that personality to shine through.

There’s a model for adopting a dog, and it is called the 3-3-3 model. It basically goes like this – The first 3 days might be full of stress behavior as the dog is seeing a new environment and doesn’t know what just happened. You need to be extra patient this period. The first 3 weeks, your dog should feel settled in, knowing the routine and expectations.

At this point, their true personality will start to poke through. By three months, your dog should feel a lot secure in your family. They should know and feel at home. At this point, their personality starts to shine through.

There are about 3,500 Shelters in the United States

The Human Society of the United States have clearly shown that there are 3,500 shelters in the U.S alone. And as of 2014, there are about 10,000 animal sanctuaries and rescue groups. That year, about 6-8 million dogs and cats entered the shelter system.

The number is way lower than what it was in 1973 when the total number of pets reached around 13 million. Every year, about 4 million of these companion animals are adopted from the shelter system.

Shelter animals are euthanized annually

Statistics have shown that about 3 million shelter animals are euthanized every year and out of this, about 670,000 are dogs.

Some animals are selected for euthanasia because of medical conditions, age, or behavior issues that may affect adoption. However, about 2.4 million of those euthanized animals were adoption ready.

The good news is that this number keeps decreasing since 2011. The downturn in euthanasia can be traced to higher overall adoption rate, fewer animals being surrendered, and better animal recovery owing to microchip technology.

Also, there are new online tools that is making it easier for people to search dogs in their area that are up for adoption, making it a hassle-free process of finding the perfect match.

About 1.6 million dogs are adopted annually

Thanks to the successful outreach programs, adoption rates are growing massively, and shelter dogs are gaining stronger presence in their local communities.

Different programs take different forms to serve the need of each locale:

  • Rehabilitation services: These programs are designed to give a second chance to dogs with behavioral issues due to abuse and neglect. They use modern behavioral training techniques to save the lives of dogs that may be otherwise euthanized. In other words, they remind us that good dogs are not born but made.
  • Relocation initiatives: These programs help to move dogs from places with a high number of shelter animals to those with lower rates. This is designed to help more surrendered animals find a place to call home.
  • Disaster preparedness training: These programs are intended to offer educational support to shelters to help them know what to do to serve our canine companions in times of natural disasters. This is effective to boost the rate of adoption after such incidents.


Shelter dogs are good options to adopt and welcome to your family. Forget all the myths and misconceptions carried around about these dog types. Most times, life just happened to them and they do not have control over the circumstance. You’ll be surprised that adopting a shelter dog can be less stressful and more cost-effective.



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