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Adopting a dog from a rescue can be an incredibly rewarding experience, as rescue dogs can bring a lot of love and energy into your family.
However, it is also a big responsibility. Pups that find themselves in rescues may already have had a tough life. This is why it’s so important that they find a stable forever home with no chance of them ending up back in a shelter.
This is also why rescues and shelters spend quite a bit of time trying to match dogs with potential new owners. Still, you don’t need to leave everything in the hands of the shelter. When adopting, it is a great idea to spend a bit of time researching different breeds and understanding which ones might make a good match for you.
“But wait a minute,” you might be thinking. You aren’t going to find a lot of purebred dogs in shelters, right? Actually, you’d be surprised to learn this isn’t always true.
In fact, the demand for certain breeds means overbreeding and irresponsible breeding and buying in general often leaves a lot of purebred dogs in rescues and shelters. We’ll take a closer look at why so many dogs end up in rescues below.
To help you choose the perfect breed, I’ve put together a list of seven dog breeds that are commonly found in shelters and also make great pets.
We’ll have a look at some of their characteristics to help you decide which breed might be most compatible with your lifestyle. Hopefully, we will leave you one step closer to finding your forever companion.
Contents & Quick Navigation
- Why Do So Many Dogs End Up In Rescues & Shelters?
- The Best Rescue Dog Breeds
- FAQs About Rescue Dogs
- The Verdict
- Save To Pinterest
- Top Picks For Our Dogs
Why Do So Many Dogs End Up In Rescues & Shelters?
Many dog lovers can’t imagine ever abandoning their beloved pets, but unfortunately, not everyone is equally responsible. Moreover, even the dogs of the most responsible owners can find themselves in shelters.
For example, dogs often find themselves in shelters when they get out of their yard or otherwise get lost and do not have identification that can enable them to be reunited with their owners.
This is why it is important to have your dog microchipped, and it’s preferable to have a visible ID on them at all times. If you do find a lost dog, turn them into a shelter. Their distraught owner is much more likely to check the local shelters than knock on every door in their neighborhood.
There are also many other reasons why a dog owner might choose to surrender their animal to a shelter. According to information collected by shelters and rescues, the most common reasons given are:
- Moving somewhere that they cannot take their dog, such as another country (transporting your dog to Australia is particularly challenging).
- The owner having health problems, or even dying, and not having anyone who can help them look after their animal.
- Not having enough space for the dog or being told by a landlord that their dog can no longer stay on the premises.
- The owner can no longer afford the cost of maintaining their dog.
- The owner realizes they do not have time to appropriately care for their dog.
- Homes cannot be found for all the puppies in a litter.
- The owner is unable to control their dog’s behavior, which leads to the dog engaging in problematic activities such as biting or excessive barking.
Many purebred dogs also end up in shelters thanks to irresponsible breeders overbreeding and simply abandoning the pups that they can’t sell. There are also the sad cases of abused dogs that have been saved from a negative environment and need a new home.
Most of the stories you hear about shelter dogs are about pups that have come from difficult circumstances and been recuperated in a loving home. This, however, is actually only a small percentage of dogs.
While some dogs may have suffered from lack of companionship or exercise, most of the dogs you encounter in rescues just need a bit of love and attention to get them back to their naturally fun and spunky selves.
The Best Rescue Dog Breeds
When looking for a rescue dog to make a member of your family, it is a good idea to choose a breed that is likely to be compatible with you and your household. This will make it easier for you all to settle in with one another and build strong and lasting relationships.
The following seven dog breeds are commonly found in rescues and shelters and all make great family pets. Different breeds will be better for different people, so check out the characteristics of each to see if they are a good fit for you.
1. Labrador Retriever
Because Labrador retrievers are such a popular breed, there are a lot of them around, and sadly, some of them end up in rescues looking for a home. You will find many Labs and Lab mixes when in shelters around the country.
Labrador retrievers are medium-to-large dogs that usually weigh between 55 and 75 pounds and have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years.
They are highly energetic and need lots of exercise; between 45 and 60 minutes per day is ideal when they are in their prime. Their size and energy also mean they do best when they have quite a bit of space at home to roam around in. Apartment living can be a struggle for most Labs.
These dogs also shed a lot, so they aren’t a great match for anyone with allergies or obsessive about keeping their home dog hair-free.
Nevertheless, Labrador retrievers are among the most popular dogs because of their naturally friendly temperaments. They will quickly become a member of your family, and you won’t see them barking at or being aggressive towards strangers.
Labradors are also considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds, and they are naturally very eager to please their owners. This makes them highly trainable, which is why you will often see them working as assistance or service dogs.
Additionally, Labrador retrievers make great dogs for active households with family members who have lots of time to spend with them. These smart, lovable dogs like to be around their people all the time.
As well as pure Labs, most Lab mixes make good pets, as they tend to inherit the friendly temperament and intelligence of their Lab parent. Nevertheless, if you are thinking of adopting a mix, meet the dog first, as their characteristics can sometimes manifest in unexpected ways.
Dachshunds, or “sausage dogs,” as many affectionately refer to them, are pretty small and rather cute little pups that are highly desirable. However, these small dogs are a lot more work than many people imagine. They have a strong prey drive, and they tend to hunt and sniff out everything and especially love to bark at passing cats.
Also, while Dachshunds are loving, they tend to be a “one-person dog” rather than warming up to an entire family. As a result, some families decide their Dachshund isn’t for them, and the dog ends up in a shelter.
Dachshunds tend to be relatively small, weighing no more than 30 pounds, and their little legs mean they do better with less space than dogs like Labs. They are still playful and energetic, though, and they like to have some space to run around in.
These dogs don’t shed or drool much and are pretty easy to take care of in terms of drooling. They also are fairly independent and do better when left alone than many of the other dogs that you see on this list. Because of this, they don’t tend to suffer from separation anxiety.
However, they can be willful and aggressive, especially towards other animals. Dachshunds are natural hunters, and they may kill rats and birds and have even been known to kill other small dogs. They also have a natural urge to bark at everything. While they are trainable, these natural instincts are incredibly difficult to break.
Dachshunds make good apartment-dwelling dogs for anyone who wants a companion to join them on adventures but doesn’t need an excessive amount of exercise. While they can be left alone while everyone is at work, owners do need to take the time to commit to training them properly.
3. German Shepherd
Many people get a German shepherd to act as a guard dog or for security in general and then don’t have the time and capacity to care for them properly. Because of this, many German shepherds find themselves in shelters.
Although German shepherds have a reputation for being aggressive and their large size (up to 90 pounds!) can be intimidating, they are actually great family pets.
They are friendly, playful, and gentle and will become the dedicated protectors of the smallest members of the family. They are also highly intelligent and easy to train, which is why they are often used as working dogs.
Still, there is no denying the fact that these big dogs need lots of space and lots of exercise. It is not realistic to think you can look after them if you don’t have the space or the energy to take them out for daily exercise. If you’re up to the task, though, the German shepherd is an excellent and rewarding dog to bring into your home.
4. Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell terriers have been extremely popular dogs ever since Eddie graced our screens on Frasier. But while Eddie was a very well-trained dog, Jack Russell terriers are boisterous, playful, and often highly independent. They need a firm hand and lots of exercise and stimulation. Not everyone is up to the task.
While Jack Russell terriers are small and don’t shed much, their high energy levels mean they do best when they have a backyard to run around in and an owner who is willing to take them out for exercise occasionally. But if you don’t really like grooming and don’t want to spend a lot of time on training, they are a great choice.
These dogs have a high prey drive and love to chase pretty much everything, and they are also quite verbal. They’ll bark to get your attention and just bark when they are happy and having a good time.
They do great with families with children, though they aren’t recommended around infants or toddlers. Their energy levels can easily overwhelm smaller children, but older kids will love to play with these bundles of energy. Just don’t leave your Jack Russell at home unsupervised for too long, or they can be destructive.
Chihuahuas have been popular lap dogs for decades, but again, they often find themselves in shelters when owners looking for a cute pup realize how much work is involved in training and caring for them. These energetic little dogs can be nervous and have a tendency to bark at strangers, which can put some owners off.
The tiny size of chihuahuas (only 3 to 6 pounds on average) make them great dogs for people who don’t have a lot of space but still crave canine companionship. Unfortunately, though, their small size doesn’t mean they are low-maintenance. They have high energy levels and like to bark, so they will keep you on your toes around the house.
On the other hand, though, Chihuahuas are intelligent, easy to train, and easy to groom. And while they might be playful, they also love a good cuddle on the couch at the end of the day.
They are also quite affordable dogs since they don’t eat much, but this cost can be offset by the fact that they are prone to breed-specific health problems. Just make sure you have appropriate pet insurance if you adopt one of these unique little dogs.
Boxers are large, muscular dogs that have been popular since the late 1990s, which led to over breeding, and therefore an excess of them in shelters. They are a very active breed that does well with children, but they can easily become frustrated if they don’t get enough exercise. Boxers often prove to be a bit too much for some unprepared owners.
Boxers are big dogs, considering they can weigh up to 80 pounds, and their square heads can give them an intimidating appearance. However, in reality, they are incredibly friendly and playful rather than aggressive.
While they need lots of exercise to stay happy and healthy, boxers are actually fairly apartment-friendly. They know how to laze around, and they don’t shed or drool very much. They can also tolerate being left at home or at your apartment for a few hours while you are at work or otherwise doing what you need to do. Their low prey drive means they don’t tend to chase smaller animals or bark excessively.
These dogs can slip into families that already have other animals more easily than most and tend to adapt quickly to their new circumstances.
Gorgeous, floppy-eared beagles have been popular dogs for decades and are generally loving and docile household pets. Unfortunately, as well as being popular with families, they are also popular with the scientific community as research animals. This has led to overbreeding and plenty of beagles in rescues and shelters.
These small dogs with big eyes and floppy ears will melt your heart the moment you meet them. They tend to do fine in apartments, as they only weigh around 20 to 30 pounds, and while they need exercise daily, they won’t destroy your apartment as long as they have their own chew toys to keep them occupied.
The biggest struggle with beagles is the fact that they tend to be howlers, and this trait can be very difficult to train out of them. If you aren’t careful and diligent with training, you could have the neighbors complaining frequently.
Nevertheless, beagles fit into their families quickly, bonding with adults, kids, and cats alike. But make sure not to overfeed them. They like to indulge and can gain weight if you don’t carefully manage their diet, so be sure to feed them healthy, nutritious food.
Looking to adopt? Check out these dog adoption websites.
FAQs About Rescue Dogs
What is the best dog to get from a shelter?
Shelters work hard to match you up with a dog compatible with your family, lifestyle, and experience with dogs. You will find many highly desirable dog breeds in shelters. Among the best breeds, however, are Labrador retrievers and Lab mixes.
What dogs are least likely to be adopted?
Statistics suggest that American Staffordshire terriers are the least likely to be adopted and get adopted at a rate 50% lower than average. There is also something called “big, black dog” syndrome, as big, black, adult dogs often struggle to find forever homes, perhaps due to their intimidating appearance.
Adopting a dog from a rescue or shelter is an exciting and fulfilling experience, but it is also a big responsibility. After all, you are agreeing to give your new dog a forever home. While you can return a rescue dog if things don’t work out, this is the last thing a dog who has already spent a bit of time in a shelter needs.
Give yourself the best chance of forming a permanent bond with your rescue dog by choosing a breed that is likely to be compatible with your family and your lifestyle. The easier it is for them to slip into your household, the better your chances are of making a forever connection.
The seven dog breeds on our list are commonly found in rescues and shelters and all make great household pets. Choose one with the characteristics that best suit you for best results when it comes to long-term compatibility. Three of the best rescue dogs on our list you might especially want to consider are:
- Labrador retrievers
- German shepherds
Do you have any experience adopting a dog from a rescue or shelter?
Share your insights with the community in the comments section below.
Save To Pinterest
Top Picks For Our Dogs
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack - Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
- BEST CHEW TOY
We Like: KONG Extreme - Great toy for heavy chewers like our Labrador Retrievers.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
- BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.
For a list of all the supplies we get for our new service dog puppies check out our New Puppy Checklist on the PuppyInTraining.com blog.