10 Dog Breeds Commonly Found In Shelters

Popularity can be a double-edged sword. Just ask all the popular dogs surrendered to shelters when their owners tire of pet ownership. Other dogs were surrendered because their former owners died, moved away, or failed to provide enough exercise or training.

The good news (for would-be adopters, at least) is that your local shelter is crowded with perfectly adoptable dogs just waiting for someone to give them a second chance. Read on to learn more about the dog breeds you’re most likely to find in your local shelter. One of them might be the perfect addition to your family!

1. American Pit Bull Terrier

Photo: Flickr/Eli Christman

It’s hard to find a dog more misunderstood than the American Pit Bull terrier, whose unfortunate history as a fighting dog has led to more breed discrimination and high rates of euthanasia. This is especially tragic because Pit Bulls — who also overbred, contributing to their vast overrepresentation in U.S. shelters — are actually loving, loyal, and great with kids.

2. Chihuahuas

Photo: Flickr/barnimages.com

They may be small, but chihuahuas are big on personality, fiercely devoted to their owners, and – thanks to shows like Legally Blond and The Simple Life – more famous than ever before. Sadly, this dog breed is surrendered to shelters (and frequently euthanized) when their owners realize dog ownership isn’t as easy as it looks on TV.

3. Labradors

Photo: Flickr/Paulo O

Labradors have been America’s favorite dog breed for decades, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). Tragically, such steady demand has also led to decades of overbreeding, making this beloved breed also a mainstay in U.S. shelters.

4. German Shepherds

Photo: Flickr/Ronoli

German Shepherds are big, strong, easily trained, and intensely loyal – hence why they’re so frequently tapped to become police and military K-9s. But these high-energy dogs often wind up in shelters when their owners don’t provide them with enough exercise or training, which can lead to aggression.

5. Dachshunds

Photo: Pixabay

Dachshunds were initially bred to hunt badgers, which explains this small dog breed’s assertive personality, high prey drive, and affinity for burrowing under blankets and pillows. But Dachshunds can also get aggressive and anxious if they aren’t properly trained, resulting in barking, biting, and a one-way trip to the shelter. This is really a shame, because these cute and protective pups can make fiercely loyal additions to the right family.

6. Boxers

Photo: Pixabay

These high-energy dogs are adorable and really love their people, but sadly wind up in shelters when their owners don’t give them enough exercise or attention, which can lead to destructive behaviors. Boxers are also prone to cancer and health issues, leading some owners to callously dump them in shelters rather than provide them with medical care.

7. Beagles

Photo: Flickr/Phil Darnell

With their floppy ears and friendly demeanor, Beagles are another one of America’s favorite dog breeds. But these popular pups are also quite vocal, which often leads to rehoming when neighbors or landlord complain. This is really a shame, because Beagles can be trained to stop howling with some patience, training, and dog treats.

8. Australian Cattle Dogs

Photo: Flickr/Llima Orosa

People who adopt Australian Cattle Dogs (aka Blue Heelers) must be prepared to give this energetic working dog lots of exercise and outdoor space. Sadly, these dogs often wind up in shelters when they’re adopted by families who are surprised by the boundless energy of this medium-sized dog breed.

9. American Staffordshire Terriers

Photo: Flickr/Maurice Koop

Like their “Pit Bull” brethren, American Staffordshire Terriers have a misplaced reputation for aggression, hence their large numbers in U.S. shelters. But contrary to popular opinion, “Staffies” are actually very sweet dogs who love people and kids, making them great family dogs — albeit ones that require regular exercise.

10. American Bulldogs

Photo: Flickr/Tony Alter

Like many dogs on this list, the American Bulldog proves appearances can be deceiving. This “bully breed” may look tough and mean, the American Bulldog is actually quite loving and protective of his family, making him an excellent guard dog. Even so, don’t adopt an American Bulldog if you live in an apartment, because this muscular pup needs outdoor space and room to exercise.


Certain dog breeds are frequently surrendered to shelters through no fault of their own. Please visit your local shelters to meet perfectly adoptable dogs who can make excellent pets in the right homes.

Additional Resources

  • Popular Dog Breeds & Where To Adopt Them
  • 10 Best Dogs For Apartments & Small Spaces
  • 10 Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds
  • 10 Velcro Dog Breeds
  • 10 Lap Dog Breeds That Love To Cuddle
  • 10 Energetic Dog Breeds For Active Families
  • Lazy Dog Breeds That Will Be Happy To Let You Stay In Bed On Saturday Morning
  • 10 Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds
  • 10 Dog Breeds That Are Smart As A Whip
  • How To Adopt The Perfect Rescue Dog
  • Help Rescue Animals

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