The 15 Most Common Dog Breeds At Shelters

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Take a walk through an animal rescue, or a scroll through an adoption website, and you might notice some common dog breeds in shelters. There tend to be lots of Pit Bulls for instance, as well as German Shepherds and Chihuahuas. But the reality is, any dog can end up without a home. And, for the ones you may see more often, there's never any one reason why.

"It’s important to note that most of the animals that end up in shelters do so through no fault of their own," Sheryl Green, of Hearts Alive Village Las Vegas, tells Bustle. "While you may have heard that certain breeds are 'dangerous' or 'annoying,' please keep in mind that every animal has a personality of its own and should not be judged based on stereotypes of the breed."

It's also good to bear in mind that few shelter dogs are one breed, anyway. In fact, only "about 25 percent of dogs in shelters are pure breeds," Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA, founder of Fun Paw Care, tells Bustle. "Most are mixed breeds." And so it can be even tougher to break them down into categories or define them.

It is possible, however, to take an educated guess as to why some dogs may be in need of adoption. Read on below for the most common breeds (or breed mixes) you might spot in a shelter, as well as why they might be the best dog for you.

1. Huskies

Many people adopt Huskies for their fluffy adorableness, as well as their sweet personalities. But it's not uncommon for folks to bring them right on back to a shelter due to the amount of care they require.

"They need a lot of exercise and enrichment, more than a busy family can often attend to," dog trainer Kristi Benson, CTC, tells Bustle. "If they aren’t getting what they need, these smart and self-reliant animals can make their own fun: digging, escaping, chewing, and so on." They also shed and require a lot of grooming, which can come as a surprise.

But for the right person, they can be perfect. "Huskies make a great pet if [you are] willing to put in the time brushing and sweeping, and [enjoy] a dog with a big, fun personality," Benson says. "Huskies are an active part of their family: they sing, dance, and make everyone crack a smile with their antics."

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2. German Shepherds

Like Huskies, German Shepherds are another dog many people want to adopt, only to be surprised by what living with them is actually like. "Shepherds and their crosses might end up in shelters due to their fearful nature," Benson says, which they may cope with by barking or being aggressive.

It can be intimidating for some. But German Shepherds still make great pets, especially "if their owners can keep them feeling safe," Benson says. "Changing a dog’s emotional state is something that a qualified care team can help with, including veterinarians and dog trainers."

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3. Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is another big, fluffy dog that might end up in shelters, especially in more suburban or urban areas, possibly due to their size.

"The problem is that they aren't very 'people focused' and they don't have a lot of respect for fences," Benjamin Morris, of Animal Hope shelter in Fort Worth, TX, tells Bustle.

It's not uncommon for them to hop right on out of their yard, which can be stressful for some dog owners, or be destructive. They do make great pets, though, if given the right home and enough attention.

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4. American Pit Bull Terriers

Pit Bulls, as well as Pit Bull mixes, are commonly seen in shelters around the country. "For years, Pit Bulls were dubbed 'nanny dogs,'" Green says, due to how loyal they are. And yet they're now often thought of as dangerous due to unfair representations of the breed.

As a result, Pit Bulls often aren't allowed in apartment complexes due to state laws banning them, and many owners have to give them up. So if you want to have a sweet Pit Bull in your life, there will likely be many to choose from at a shelter.

"For the most part, they are wonderful with people of all ages and animals of all sizes," Green says. "They are sweet, wonderful pets and should be considered as an addition to your family."

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5. Chihuahuas

"Unfortunately, the biggest challenge with Chihuahuas is that there's just too many of them," Green says. "Irresponsible pet parents choose not to spay or neuter their animals," and shelters are often crowded with puppies as a result.

But for anyone looking for a smaller dog, one of those puppies may be a great choice. "Chihuahuas make great family pets because they live for a long time, are low maintenance, extremely friendly, generally healthy and quite intelligent," Green says, "and [they] love to cuddle."

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6. Border Collies

Border Collies are seen in greater numbers at shelters in rural areas, Steffi Trott, owner and head trainer at SpiritDog Training, tells Bustle, since they often come from farms where their parents worked as sheep dogs.

They're very high energy and tend to need a "job" or lots of attention to keep them from becoming destructive, Trott says, which is one reason why people might give them up.

"A bored Border Collie will dig deep holes in your yard, teach himself how to jump the fence, bark at strangers, and at times even adopt OCD behaviors such as chasing clouds or shadows," she says. "If provided with an appropriate energy outlet, [though], Border Collies are amazingly smart dogs that will learn more than any other dog breed."

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7. Poodle Mixes

"In recent years it has become popular to breed dogs such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, or Schnauzers with Poodles," Trott says. The resulting "Doodle" mixes are fluffy and cute. And thanks to the fact Poodles don't shed, they can also be hypoallergenic.

The thing is, these mixes can be mischievous and often don't respect boundaries. "[Doodles] are always in your face, in your lap, and on your table," Trott says. "It can be very difficult to teach them impulse control and rules."

And yet, as you might have guessed, they're also really great. "Doodles are actually very fun pets if raised correctly," Trott says. "They can learn a variety of tricks and love to be with their family."

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8. Labrador Retrievers

Labradors and lab mixes are seen in shelters in pretty high numbers. And, as with all dog breeds, that could be for any number of reasons, such as a behavioral issues, or a new baby in a family that has a dog allergy, Natalie Buxton, director of communications at Operation Kindness, tells Bustle. You never really know, and that's why it's important not to jump to conclusions.

"Labs are one of the most popular, social, and lovable breeds of dog out there," Buxton says. "They love to please their owners, learn new tricks, and meet new people. They make wonderful companions and are always seeking the next adventure."

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9. Australian Cattle Dogs

Heelers, or Australian Cattle Dogs, may be seen in areas with a lot of cattle farms, due to the fact they're a working breed. And this is also why they might be difficult for some owners.

"When there are no cattle present and a Heeler is bored in an apartment, he will start to nip anything else he can find," Trott says. This is how they get their energy out, and also why they can be a great fit for active people.

"Heelers, like Border Collies, are great pets when they have a job to do and a lot of physical exercise," Trott says. "They are known for their ability to jump very high and are a great partner for playing frisbee."

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10. American Staffordshire Terrier

Another of the dogs in the bull breed category, American Staffordshire Terriers are sometimes lumped into breed discriminatory bans, according to the resident pet experts at Pet Central by Chewy, and may not be allowed in certain apartments.

It's important to keep in mind, though, that despite their muscular build, these dogs are very loyal and, according to Chewy, can be very playful and even good with children when in the proper home.

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11. Dachshunds

Lots of people want a "weiner dog" or "hot dog," according to Chewy. But not everyone realizes they were bred to hunt, and often possess a strong prey drive towards smaller animals, like cats.

They might end up in a shelter due to certain qualities, but always need to be viewed as an individual, and given the chance to learn. "Dachshunds are very smart and lovable towards their people," Chewy says, and love to snuggle.

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12. Jack Russell Terriers

According to Chewy, Jack Russell Terriers are a very popular breed, but may be prone to chasing cats, barking, and needing a lot of stimulation. While that's not for everybody, if you're looking for a fun and loving dog to play with and take to the park, this is your guy.

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13. Boxers

"Much like Pit Bull type dogs, Boxers require a lot of attention and exercise," Buxton says. "If not properly trained and regularly exercised, they can become bored and seek activities that may be frowned upon, like chewing or digging."

Boxers are also very strong, and may end up in a shelter if someone doesn't know how to handle them. And yet, like all dogs, Boxers and Boxer mixes make great pets.

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14. Beagles

Beagles are incredibly cute, but they are also extremely vocal. "Between the barking and the howling, this breed loves to talk about everything," Buxton says. "Their behavior requires work and training specific to their needs and that can take a lot of time. And unfortunately, not every family is ready to take this on. Patience is key!"

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15. American Bulldogs

The American Bulldog is the tallest and among the heaviest in the bulldog family, Chewy says, and one you might spot in shelters more often than others.

They tend to weigh in at about 75 to 125 pounds, which can be a whole lot of dog for some people, and especially those who don't realize their tiny puppy is going to keep growing. They might also not be allowed in some apartments.

That said, American Bulldogs are loyal and loving, Chewy says, and make great guardians and protectors.

If you're looking to adopt a dog, you can definitely take breed characteristics into consideration. But do consider how many shelter dogs are mixes, and that all have their own personalities.

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